Soundtrack: The summer – Josh Pike
But time is like the ocean
You can only hold a little in your hands
So we swim before we’re broken
Before our bones become
Black coral on the sand
Arriving at the Sommet du Fjord hostel means a new beginning for me, settling in a new place for a longer while and adapting to new circumstances. My last weeks of travelling have been so hectic that I have really been looking forward to some stability, leaving out of my backpack for a moment and getting some rest. But only after arriving do I realize how much I have longed for that stability, how much I have craved sleeping in a bed that I could call my own for more than a week. Here at the hostel I have my private space where I can relax on my own when I want to. And it feels just right. I have enjoyed traveling more than anything I did before in my life, but after more than 2 months on the road I am looking forward to doing something else. I settle really fast at the hostel, I unpack everything and put away my bag for the next three weeks. Lisa and Robin will be staying here as well for a while. Lisa is a cook from Switzerland, travelling for three months in Canada and Robin is French and travelling for six months, just like me. We’re all about the same age and get along really well.
We help around the hostel as much as needed and spend the rest of our time doing mostly nothing. I realize how much of a luxury it can be to just not do anything at all. After all this time on the road, all I truly want is to press the pause button for an instant. Just take time to read, a lot, think about the future, plan the rest of my travels and do as little as possible. I spend a lot of time day dreaming about opening my own hostel someday. I do some research on real estate prices back home and the current market for hostel establishments in the South of France. Nothing too concrete yet but definitely a persistent idea in my mind. How could I ever go back to my previous life after everything I have experienced during this trip? Sometimes it seems like it would be such a waste to just go back to the way things were. I am worried that once I get home I’ll fall back into the same circles and everything will have been for nothing. I don’t want this journey to be a parenthesis, an escape from my regular daily life. I want this trip to forever be a part of me, to let everything I have discovered help shape who I am and who I long to be. I want to remember every detail and every realization, every challenge and every breakthrough and use these lessons to never make the same mistakes I have made in the past. I have learned so much more about myself in the past few months than ever before, so much about who I truly am and what I truly want, what I can strive for and what I can cope with. And I never want to forget any of it.
Lisa leaves us after my first week and it is just Robin and I for the rest of our stay. Ben and Julie, the owners, are here as well of course, with their two year old son Kizak and sometimes their mothers. We do family dinner every night, which is probably my favorite thing here. Ben and Julie buy the groceries and Robin and I cook most of the time. When Lisa was around, she also cooked for us some delicious meals. I haven’t had real home made dinners in a while and it is a real treat. Robin and I joke that we eat way too much and should probably calm down, but if I am entirely honest, I really don’t want to. Food is great, right?
If I were to choose only one word to define the people I have met here, I would say “generosity”. Everyone here, has been so generous it is truly heartwarming. I am always amazed by how much people have to give and how little it actually costs to simply be nice to people. I have always been a preacher for kindness and believed that you should be kind to people no matter what. But sometimes you meet people that take kindness to a whole new level. The people I am surrounded with here are exactly this type of people. Robin and I get along really well, we work perfectly together and help each other out and as we spend most of our time together, we redraw the world in endless conversations about politics, business and travel.
Time passes so much faster now that I am settled in one single place. Days come and go, one similar to the other and soon I hit the hallway mark on my trip. We spend most of our time around the hostel but do go on some adventures sometimes. The hostel is located in one of the most beautiful spots of the region, right above the Saguenay fjord and the view from the property is simply amazing. At night, when the sky is clear, we can see thousands of stars light up the sky. I practice taking galaxy pictures and hope to see the northern lights, that are sometimes visible from here. It’s starting to get cold here already, summer is coming to an end and with it the nostalgia of my first solo trip coming to a turning point. On our second to last day in the Saguenay, Robin and I get a day off and go explore for a while. We go on a cruise to see the whales and are very lucky to see lots of them. I have never seen whales in the wild before and it is truly an amazing experience. We see five or six fin whales, which are the second largest whales in the world (approximately 20 meters long), they blow water out the surface of the St Laurent for a few minutes before heading back down underwater. We also see a mother humpback whale with her baby. They also blow water out but when they dive back down their tale comes out of the water for an instant. I am completely mesmerized by the spectacle and for an instant I wish we could stay out here forever. We spend the rest of the day driving around and have a very good dinner in Tadoussac that evening. We then meet Ben, Julie and their friend Pierre at a local bar. Pierre worked with them last summer and is visiting again. I drink more shots than I can count and the night ends in dance and laughter.
Soon after that Julie, Robin and I drive back to Montreal. Our time in the Saguenay region is already up and I have no idea what my next step will be. I planned on going to New Orleans for six weeks after that but the place where I was supposed to stay doesn’t seem to be able to host me anymore. There is nothing else I would really want to be doing and yet I know I’ll have to find a back up plan. I wish I knew exactly what to expect but instead I can’t get a clear answer on whether or not I am awaited in NOLA and I can’t make up my mind on whether or not I want to do something else. On the ferry we see dozens of belugas playing in the water as if they were wishing us farewell. We drive the entire day and arrive in Montreal late at night and I am hit by a feeling of strong nostalgia. Coming back here, in the city where it all started, marks an important milestone in my journey. It is the end of a major step. The end of my Canadian travel. I know there are many more adventures to come, yet this definitely marks an ending. There is a proverb I like that says “every ending is a new beginning, we just don’t know it at the time“. I like that idea. We are used, or at least I am used to see endings just as that, a bitter sweet conclusion to an amazing experience, but endings are never followed by nothing, they always bring something new, a new step, a new chapter, and whether or not we know what this chapter will bring, there will be experiences, more people we meet along the way, more paths to walk on and more stories to write. No matter how hard it is to say goodbye to something, we should always keep room in our hearts to say hello to something new. We spend our evening drinking a beer on the roof of a loft in the Mile end of Montreal, sharing stories of our lives and the next day we say goodbye and I head to the other side of town to stay for a while with Nadine and her family, who I met on the Maggies.
I am so grateful and happy to get to see them again. They are my surrogate family here in Canada, always looking out for me. I have rarely met people so kind and generous and I am so glad we’re developing a friendship that will, I hope, last for years to come. I spend a week at their house, trying to figure out what to do next. I spend as much time as possible with Annouk and Ulysse. They all work and go to school during the day so I am mostly on my own, but we have dinner all together in the evening and spend time together before bed. Spending time with them makes me realize how much I miss my own family but it feels good to have a feeling of “home” for a short while. Plans keep falling apart and I feel a bit discouraged. I spend a lot of time waiting for answers and no matter how much I have been looking forward to New Orleans, it gets clearer and clearer that it will not work out. I am a bit overwhelmed by the idea of starting over from scratch and struggle to find motivation to come up with a new plan. But as usual, things fall back into place quickly enough. I contact Laina, who I met in the Maggies as well and has a hostel in Hawaii. I had plan to go there only after New Orleans but I decide to see if they have room for me, and they do. So Hawaii it is. It’s difficult for me to be truly excited in that moment. I absolutely want to go and I am 100% convinced that it is the right decision but I still feel a bit weird, sad , tired, nostalgic maybe. But I don’t take to much time to overthink it. I book a plane ticket for Maui that leaves in only a few days and prepare my bags. I buy a farewell card for my Canadian family that says “People like you make the world more beautiful” and it could not be more appropriate.
Crazy how time has past since I first left home. Three months already and three months only at the same time. Time is a strange thing isn’t it? We don’t always appreciate it when we have it and then always beg for more when we run out. Traveling is a perfect reminder of how precious time is though and that we should make the best of it so I’ll keep on trying to do that. Very soon it is time for me to head to the airport again. I don’t know what this new adventure will bring but excitement is slowly rising. Wait for me Maui, I am on my way.
‘Till next time,