There’s a lot of name-dropping to follow, however I can’t help but acknowledge the people responsible for all the warm hospitality I’ve received in just the first three days of my journey.
I set off from Oakville after an entertaining lunch with Maria Bell, who by the way, if you haven’t met and had at least one meal with, you need to. She has an unquenchable thirst for all that is food. After a four hour drive, I arrived that evening in a small town just outside of Ottawa, situated right on the Saint Lawrence River. I was welcomed by Marshall and Conchita Barkley at their new home (Conchita’s brave story here) who I expected to see, and pleasantly surprised by Ponce Padua, Conchita’s brother. It was five star service all around. Over the next day and a half Ponce and Marshall slaved over the stove cooking for the group. We philosophized over things like the absurdity of Breatharianism. Drank craft beers. Ate s’mores. Watched some great Netflix. These now rare gatherings always make me long for our daily coffees together, from another chapter of life gone by. The view of the river from their expansive window made even instant coffee and powdered cream taste like the finest of espressos. Massive ships sail by to fill the entirety of the window pane. In between shazaming songs on the radio, Ponce would query his phone for each ship to find out where it was from and where it was going. I will cherish these couple of days and hope to see you all again soon.
Next stop was Ottawa. Marshall, without hesitation, called up his sister Delma in Ottawa and asked if I could crash at her place for a night. Not only was I welcomed with open arms by Delma and her son Sami, but I was also given a bike tour of the city, alongside the Rideau canal. The tour highlighted all the hotspots of Ottawa. Delma and Sami are seasoned road-trippers. They’ve been to most places you can name in North America, and are now officially my heroes. I had lots of questions on routing and must-see places. They were happy to help and even shared a few vacation videos with me. I feel privileged to have gotten to know both of them a little better.
I now sit in a diner in the town of Montebello, Quebec. The French chatter of the restaurant makes for perfect ambient noise to do a little writing. I will be spending the next ten days at the Vipassana Meditation Centre. Vipassana translates to “to see things as they really are”. The center is strictly about learning this certain type of non-sectarian meditation. You are asked to leave all distractions behind. This includes your phone, laptop, books, writing materials. There is no speaking or social interaction during your entire stay. The center is an international organization solely run by volunteers and donations, and donations are only accepted once you have completed at least one course. They can be made in the form of money or volunteer time. Never have I encountered an organization so selflessly run. I’m attempting to go in with no expectations, however, will contradict that by saying that I hope to come out with at least some tools to be more at peace with myself and live more in the moment.
From here I sign off. Thanks for reading and see you in ten days!