random events and amazing encounters… morphing together into journey’s worthy of being remembered!

Today I was trying to meet a friend whom I had not seen since they left Australia close to a year ago to return to Canada. I had also made arrangements to meet a pretty amazing person I had randomly met for the first time four days before. I was to meet them two bus and a ferry ride away and we were to get a ride together out to Cathedral Grove (I had no idea how to get there). My friend was running quite late and I waited what I thought would be too long to make it to the second bus and thus the ferry. I boarded a bus giving it all to chance – attempting to follow the randomness of the chance meeting – only to see my friend cross the street seconds later…

I decided to go with the chance encounter. As the bus made it to downtown I kept looking at my watch all the way. I happened to look out the window as the at what turned out to be the right moment – I saw the second bus with a line of people. I jumped off at the next stop and fully loaded with all my gear ran back to the cross-street… I had managed to make it with about a minute to spare – things seemed to be falling into place…

Things slowed down as this bus arrived at ferry terminal with around 30mins to spare. The boat ride to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island about 1.5 hours – exposing me to beautiful views of islands, forested hills and rivers (added to on a subsequent trip two weeks later when these peaks had recent snow on them). I realised once again how scenic the coast islands are after 5-years of absence and subsequent memory loss.

As the ferry pulled docked at Nanaimo I had no idea whether this new friend would be there. The timetable we had previously seen and based our ‘meeting time’ on was completely wrong: my boat pulled in before 3 and we had arranged to meet around 3:40. Given that she would have worked this out when she arrived at Horseshoe Bay, I had no idea of when she would be there…

As the clock ticked towards 4:30 things were not looking to good and I was close to giving up and believing that we may never see each other again. As the last bus out of town (the Tofino bus) arrived, it appeared that was where I would be spending the night and not in the Grove.

Then, almost out of nowhere this new friend walked into the ferry terminal! It appeared that our journey together would continue…

Getting a ride into town – a 45 minute trip – had taken about 5-hours. Hence why they were late. So we set off together for the Grove. The 30 minutes we waited for our first lift did not dampen our enthusiasm, nor the 30 minutes for the second ride. As the clock ticked on more than two hours waiting for the next ride – at the edge or Parkesville, the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped we both began to consider out options. I did have a tent and sleeping bag – albeit my sleeping bag is a bit small for two!

As darkness increasingly blanketed us and the temperature continued to drop (it eventually became the coldest night of the season to date – and for days to come) we started to think we were spending the night somewhere close and not the Grove. Moments later a car pulled up about 100m short of us. We had had two cop cars pass in the 2+ hours we had been trying to get this ride so we were not too sure if it would be them or who else it could be (apparently it is illegal to thumb a ride in BC). A figure approached, the dark silhouette possibly a cop. As they closed in, we had not idea of their intentions and stood there in silence. It was my friend broke the silence – she had hitched across the country from Halifax – with hello. The response was ‘are you travellers… would you like a home cooked meal and a warm bed for the night’!

You can only imagine our surprise and relief. The kind of offer you hear stories about from the sixties/seventies… of course we were like yes. The couple who picked as up only lived a little up the road and were non-violence activists from the sixties. They were their way home from hospital major afyer one of them had major eye surgery… making the generosity of the offer even more amazing. Their hospitality and their persons furthered this.

After they cooked us dinner (before cooking themselves something else) – and vegan to boot after inquiring (they assumed we were) – we sat and talked about non-violence as both an ideology and a way of life. They espoused non-violence in every way. The way they talked, their mannerisms and actions. They were obviously very much in love and had been perhaps their entire lives. Their house they had built themselves some 18 years ago with the structural elements and windows reclaimed from a building being torn down. They had 4 kittens they were raising for the SPCA (4 others from the litter had already grown enough so they could go back for adoption).
We all shared stories and talked for hours. By the time we were ready for sleep, there was a pile of books on the table that they wanted to share with us as they had had profound impacts on them (I hurriedly wrote down authors and titles)…

They had prepared for us a bed near the fire – it had not been long for me, but it had been months since my new travelling companion and friend had slept in a bed. For me it was a nice size and not the hostel bunks I was forcibly being accustomed to. It was nice to be sharing a bed, and for it to be someone I was increasingly finding deep connections with!
In the morning, breakfast was offered as soon as we arose. We talked more about things and the beautifulness of the hospitality abounded again. What an amazing start to my Canadian adventure. I had met my new friend on my first full day in Canada and a simple meet you at the Nanaimo ferry terminal on Wednesday had turned into a full-blown adventure…!

Oh, and we were driven the remaining 20km to the camp at the grove… such wonderful people.

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