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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

New France

SAINT PIERRE AND MIQUELON | Sunday, 28 May 2017 | Views [445] | Comments [1]

Today I woke up extra early to set out for Saint-Pierre & Miquelon. It's the last bastion of New France. Chris Farrell would have to work some incredible travel magic again as I nearly didn't make it here at all today. With the ferry setting sail at 3 PM, I left Patrick's house at 5:30 AM and would need every single minute of time to make it. Running on fumes with only two hours of sleep, I didn't even make my morning coffee as I knew I'd have to walk a fair bit just to reach the Trans-Canada Highway. I didn't know I could walk or hitch on the highway until I saw a cyclist. Whilst it was still foggy and gloomy out, I was picked up by a Nigerian girl who just finished her overnight shift at Tim Horton's. From there it was a lot of walking. The hardest part for sure would be getting out of St. John's. After walking for nearly an hour, a local would drop me at the outer edge of St. John's and then a fisherman named Brendan would give me a lift about another 50 km ahead. He offered me part of his joint but I wasn't interested. There seems to be a stereotype that hitchhikers like to smoke pot. After being dropped at the turnoff to Argentia it was after 9 AM, and I was starting to get concerned. I got something to eat and then hit the road again. Another short lift would get me another 10 km up the road and I was in a good spot where I could be seen easily. Even with my sign with "Fortune" written on it, it wasn't helping and I started getting frustrated. Anyone going to Fortune would very likely be going to Saint-Pierre, so I had a sure destination written down. Stuck for more than an hour, two teenagers named Nick and Keith picked me up. They said they've never picked up a hitchhiker and that they would have felt bad about just leaving me there. They were heading to Chance Cove for their grandmother's birthday but they had a bit of time to burn. There are some funny names for places here, including Come By Chance, Goobies, and Dildo. Nick and Keith agreed to drive me a bit further and I offered to buy them something to eat if they drove me all the way to Fortune. They didn't have that much time, but agreed to drive me as far as they could until the clock struck noon. When they dropped me, I was still 140 km away but in a much better position than an hour earlier. The weather was beautiful and sunny and I continued to walk until a courier driver named Phil picked me up. He was going to Marystown, halfway to Fortune. I was extremely tired by then so I had a power nap with the hope of completing the journey and reaching Saint-Pierre. If I were to miss the ferry, the next one isn't until Wednesday and the flight on Air Saint-Pierre isn't cheap. I offered Phil $20 for petrol to give me a lift all the way to Fortune but he had some parcels to deliver, but he did drop me off at the road leading to Fortune. It was 1:30 PM and I had to walk around this large section of road construction. I'm surprised at the size of Marystown: looking at it on a map it looks like a little hamlet but it's big enough for stoplights and a McDonald's. There were quite a few vehicles and I figured this is traffic heading to Saint-Pierre. Fear had set in that I was afraid I was going to fail but I told myself, like always, that I can't say I didn't try. With my sign and thumb out, a ute stopped. When I heard the French accents of the young men, I knew they were going to Saint-Pierre.

A beautiful French lass stepped out of the ute and said "you must be Christopher." She is Clemence, my CS host. One of the guys said it's not going to be comfortable as I had to sit in the back of the ute with a camper shell but I said "it doesn't matter where I sit as long as I get there." With that feeling of relief I sat calmly but I wouldn't fully breathe until I was on the ferry. With much road construction going on it seemed we were driving in circles until we finally reached Fortune, and we had no time to waste. With my passport out and $93 in hand, the ticket lady said "let me call the captain and make sure it's OK to book another passenger." My heart started to sink; it would be absolutely devastating if I came all this way only to not get on. In Fortune, fortune was on my side across the board as I did get on board the le Cabestan. As I emptied out a pocketful of Canadian coins the guy at the counter said "we only accept euros on this boat," so I had to dig out some euros from my bag as I wanted change for a coffee.

Less than 40 km from Newfoundland is a small piece of France virtually unknown to the rest of the world...

Upon landing in Saint-Pierre, I had to go through customs and then Clemence and I walked to her apartment. Beforehand I needed a photo in front of the sign.

You won't see the maple leaf fluttering anywhere on Saint-Pierre as the island is financed and governed under the tricolour.

Her partner, Francois offered to take me on a tour of the island as we walked toward his French car. There are few trees and the island is very windswept. We drove up to a lookout point where I got some colourful photos since the sun was shining. As in St. John's, the homes are very colourful.

Clemence and I did our best to get a photo even though the wind blew her hair into her face.

We'd drive to the southwestern tip of the island where I was freezing and ready to go back after a short walk, but not without getting some beautiful shots.

Clemence' friends Bertrand and Karine would invite me to their home for my first apéritif: a pre-dinner glass of wine with a snack of peanuts and a lot of conversation. Why doesn't this sort of culture exist in the US? Why is it that Americans work as hard and often as they do and then just sit at home? A Quebecois visitor named Martin was extremely curious as to how I even know about Saint-Pierre. It's one of the last entities I ever learned about but I explained how I treat my travels as like a classic car collection and how visiting a place like Paris would be like having a modern-day Toyota. He said even many French don't know about Saint-Pierre. Although I'm really exhausted tonight, the excitement of being in a new place is what's kept me awake. After our lovely apéritif (apéro), Clemence suggested making some pasta at her place. Since I've been provided with both food and wine tonight, tomorrow I'm being the chef and barman. If I could travel the world simply by sharing food and wine, I'd be a happy camper. Exhausted and depleted after my mission today, I would end up falling asleep like a rock.

A girl I met in NZ once referred to me as the "Houdini of travel" and I can say after today it's an accurate statement as I needed to work all my magic to reach the last bastion of New France.

 

Comments

1

tks for saying my two boys was teenagers made me feel younger again. love keith and nick mom

  vicki clarke Jun 19, 2017 7:46 AM

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