Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Of fish farms, Pow Wow's and big cities

So as I said in the post a little further down containing the Grotto video's, it's been quite a while since my last blogpost. I haven't been able to find the time or place to make a new post untill now, and quite a bit has happened since my last. That means this post could end up being pretty lengthy, so I hope you guys won't fall asleep half-way through ;-).

So last time I was supposed to meet up with George the day after he drove me to Little Current. But when I first called him in the morning it was evident I was not going to be able to meet his deadline because I had to go out of town for quite a bit. By foot it would take me a while, and hitching there depends on the kind of rides you're getting, so I wouldn't be able to make it with certainty. So we rescheduled my visit for the next day. I took it easy in town during the day, walking around and checking the internet at the local college for a while. Around 17:00 I walked out of town and set myself by the side of the road and started hitchhiking.
It didn't take long before I got picked up by a car in which were seated two native American gentlemen and a woman who took me down to the road I needed to follow to get to Sucker Creek.
After thanking them all and shaking their hands I got out, picked up my backpack and started walking down the road toward the coast where I would find campgrounds to spend the night. When I arrived nobody was present at the office and nobody picked up the phone, and so I sat at the office for a while.
As chance would have it, a car pulled in at one of the campground's cabins, and a man got out talking quite loudly on the phone. I recognized George's voice and decided to walk over. He was pleasantly surprised to see me there, and he invited me to come for a drink during the evening after he had finished his paperwork.
So I walked off to pitch my tent and returned a little bit later on, where I met Jeff, one of George's friends who had arrived in the meantime.
That evening we spent talking outside and drinking a few cold beers. Jeff left after a while but was to return the next day as a guest to visit the fishfarm, just as I was. He turned out to have worked on a fishfarm in the past, and I guess that this sparked his interested in seeing George's.

The next day I got up at 7:45 and ate some bread for breakfast, and by 8:25 I was standing at the nearby pier where I was supposed to meet up with Jeff and George's colleagues. The fish farm was on a seperate island out in the Georgian bay.
After a small delay we set off toward the farm, which took us about 45 minutes to get there. Along the way we met another ship heading to the same place, pushing a large cage with small fish in it, which were supposed to be thrown into one of the farm's cages where they would grow big before being harvested.
Now, those who know me know that I despise fish. The smell of it is usually enough to make me nauseous. Why I was going to a fishfarm I don't even know myself. I guess I felt I shouldn't let any opportunity unused, even if that meant being surrounded by stinking fish.
The smell turned out not to be as bad as I had expected it to be. The farm turned out to consist of several cages alongside a walkway. Each cage had thousands of fish in them. There was no way to miss if you decided to throw a spear at them. The entire farm was surrounded by a large amount of seagull's trying to find an easy meal. The biggest fish however were too big for them, and the smallest fish were protected by a net hanging over the cage. Jeff told me a bit about fishfarming and I spent the biggest part of the day walking around. There wasn't all that much to see and nothing to do so at the end I was becoming quite bored and I was pretty glad when the boat left to go back to the Manitoulin. Even so I would like to thank George for the experience. It was interesting to see, I just wouldn't have minded that much if I had been able to go back earlier.
The best part though was that one of George's colleague's told me there was a Pow Wow to start the next day at the Wikwemikong Reserve, and so naturally that became my next goal! I spent a second night on the campgrounds, and set out during the next morning. I still had not been able to find or contact the proprietors and so I simply left.

Early in the morning I walked back to the highway and hitchhiked back to Little Current. I got a ride from a native American called Josh who was around my own age. I had to backtrack because I had actually passed by the Wikwemikong Reserve on my first day on the Manitoulin, when George had given me a ride to Little Current.
It wasn't that far off so I again spent some time on the internet in town before moving on later on that day. The distances were short enough for me to take my time after all! Just outside of Little Current I got a ride from another Native who didnt tell me his name. It's quite easy getting rides on the island here because a lot of the natives do a lot of hitchhiking around. Many of them can't afford a car, so whenever they need to go somewhere they stick out their thumb. The reserves are tightly-knit communities where most people know eachother and so will often stop to help eachother out. I might be a stranger, but the concept of the hitchhiker doesn't receive the suspicion he or she might receive elsewhere.
This man turned out to go right past the Pow Wow grounds at Buzwah on his way to Wikwemikong, so that's where he dropped me off. I reshouldered my pack and walked to the Pow Wow grounds.

I stood near the grounds for a while looking around when I was approached by a young boy who later on turned out to be twelve. His name was Bradley, and his mother was helping with the organisation of the Pow Wow. I was able to pitch my tent a short distance but in full view of the Pow Wow, a short 100 metres away. After I had put up my tent I decided to go and see if I could help out with the last preparations for the next day, which is when the Pow Wow would start. I was a night early.
I walked up to a man who was shoveling dirt into holes in the ground to prevent from people tripping over them. I helped him out, but he wasn't very talkative. When we ran out of dirt he pointed me toward an older man who was standing nearby. His name was Ambrose and he was one of the elders with a lot of functions during the Pow Wow. He was going to the town of Wikwemikong to pick up chairs and tables, so I got into the truck with him. We were joined by Bon (I'm not entirely sure of the spelling of their names to be honest), a friendly and very talkative man who loved to crack jokes. We spent the rest of the evening fetching tables, chairs and an extra load of dirt. It was dark when we were finished, around 22:00, and Bon invited me to drop by his home in about half an hour. He lived close by and was preparing chili and scone's to sell during the Pow Wow. Obviously I took him up on the offer and a little bit later I met his girlfriend Lynn and we sat talking at the table untill 2:00 in the night. He informed me about life in the reserve and the meaning of some of the items in his house as well as the rituals that were performed during the Pow Wow.
Each morning at sunrise there was a ritual to greet the new day, which I unfortunately missed both times. I have a horrible time trying to get out of bed and both mornings I felt absolutely wasted still when the alarm set off, so I stayed in bed.

There was a special teepee as well, in which burned the ceremonial fire, that was supposed to keep burning all throughout the Pow Wow, and burn it did. Each night it was guarded by a few people who stayed in the teepee taking turns to sleep and watch over the fire. Bon had suggested for me to drop in on them on my way back to the tent, and out of respect I did. When it comes to ceremonies and stuff like that though I suffer from some serious social anxiety, and I stood outside of the teepee for quite a while untill I had gathered the courage to step inside, grab some of the specially prepared medicines, walk half a cirkel around the fire to face the east (which was the direction of the teepee opening), say a prayer of thanks and throw the medicine in the fire to burn and with the smoke take up my prayer to the sky.
It would have been so typical for me to be the only white person around and mess up so simple a ritual haha.

The next morning I crawled out of my tent and prepared to eat breakfast. Before I had even opened my bag of bread though I was called over by Ambrose and Bon to join the volunteers breakfast in the large tent nearby, and so I did. And what a breakfast it was! I had some really nice pancakes with maple syrup that morning. When I finished a woman walked up to me and introduced herself as Gail. She had a market-stall there and followed the Pow Wow Trail throughout the season. During the day I spent some time with her at her stall, as well as looking around with Bon and Lynn.
 After breakfast we still had to wait for a bit before the Pow Wow officially started at noon, so I returned to my tent and spent the rest of the morning writing and reading.
At 12:00 the Pow Wow started so I made sure to be there on time. It all started with a ceremony to honour the veterans of the reserve, those who had served their country in whatever war it had happened to be involved in. They got special medals and a document for their service. These were not official army citations though, but rather extended to them by a seperate organisation set up by a Native husband and wife who thought that veterans were not receiving enough credit, and thus stepped in to do something about it.
After the ceremony and the planting of various flags the Pow Wow started in earnest. The drum groups started pounding their drums and began singing, just as I expected they would sing haha.
I made a video of it, and it's best to just let you hear and see it. The dance performed here was a men's only traditional dance, regalia required (so no guys in jeans).

Their were various dances though. Women's traditional, men's traditional, a song dedicated to the children, and various 'inter-tribals' where everybody was invited to dance.

Some pictures below, the first one showing the starting ritual with flag and staff carriers up front.

The rest of the day and the next I spent walking around the market stalls and looking at the dances.
I even participated in two of them, but I was again so overcome with social anxiety I found it hard to keep the pace, so preoccupied was I with the idea of people watching me fuck up. But oh well, at least I went ahead and did it, and I can't regret that!

During the two days I spent at the Pow Wow I got to talking with Gail, and she turned out to be heading out to Ottawa after the Pow Wow here was done. Another Pow Wow was to start on thursday in the city. She kindly offered to take me along. Now, Ottawa is a looong drive from the Manitoulin Islands, so I could not pass up this opportunity. I accepted her offer. We were supposed to leave either that evening or the following day, and ended up leaving the day after the Pow Wow, on Monday. 
That night we spent sleeping in the ceremonial teepee. The Pow Wow being over, the fire had been put out but we rekindled it. It is a rare thing for people to sleep in the ceremonial teepee when there is no need for them to, and so it was quite the honour to be allowed to sleep in there! 

Me in front of the ceremonial teepee

Inside the teepee

Inside the teepee the following morning

The next morning I walked down the road to say goodbye to Bon and Lynn but could not find them, which made me a bit sad. Ambrose lived a bit further down the road and so I went there too to say goodbye. I knew that he would be at home because the night before he had offered to let me take a shower in the morning. Gail and me were about to leave though, so I decided to take the shower in Ottawa instead. 
I had a great time at the Pow Wow. Helping out got me a few new friends and respect of most of the people who volunteered to help, noticed because their treatment of me which obviously made me feel really good.

On the first day I missed dinner which was offered freely to me as a volunteer, and one of the people I had not talked to yet walked up to me inquiring if I had had dinner yet. His name was Randy. When I told him I hadn't had dinner yet he told me to come along, and he gave me money to buy a taco and a Coke (dinner had run out). At first I refused saying I had money to buy food, I couldn't take his, but he insisted. "I have seen you. You helped us when you got here. And food is free for those who have volunteered. So take it." 
On the second day Bon walked up to me and gave me a keychain with a little black moccasin attached as a reminder of my time at the Pow Wow and my newfound friends. He had some trouble pronouncing my name, so at first he simply introduced me as 'his new friend from Holland' but Ambrose came up with 'Annén', a word in Ojibway that means 'give me some' that sounded very much like my own name. And being a hitchhiker, Annén did seem pretty appropriate so that's how I was introduced to other people from there on out :-)

When Gail and I drove off it was around 10:00 in the morning. When we arrived in Ottawa it was 18:00!
But she was a very pleasant conversationist and so the time seemed to go by really fast, and I didn't have the feeling as if I had been sitting in a car for 8 hours at all. She helped me find a cheap place to stay at a place called the Ottawa Backpackers Inn, that charged me only 27$ for a night, while the nearest motel charged 160$. After that she left, because she still had another two hours to go before she was home.

In total I spent four nights in Ottawa. On the first day I walked around the city for a while, looking to buy a small laptop, which I obviously found. I had not been able to upload the Grotto video's if I hadn't. Fortunately it doesn't take up too much room in my backpack!
The second day I did a lot of configuring of the laptop as well as my laundry, but stayed in during the evening to watch a movie. On that same day I also called the sister of Leigh who lived in Ottawa. When she had heard about me staying with her sister she had offered to show me around Ottawa should my travels take me there, and so that is how I spent my third day. She took me through a big part of the city, showing me government buildings, museum's, a few parks, and this being thursday and thus the start of the Pow Wow in Ottawa, we made a visit there as well. We didn't stay very long but I did get a chance to talk to Gail again, which was nice. 
The next day Tracey, who had been showing me around town, was supposed to drive down to visit her sister, and she offered to take me along. Ottawa was pretty nice but I tired of the city pretty quickly, and I was anxious to get out.  So on the fourth day I got out of Ottawa, and drove down with her to the vicinity of Toronto, from where I started hitchhiking toward Barrie, my goal for the next couple of days.
On tuesday I have arranged for me to be picked up again in the vicinity of Toronto by Leigh and Tracey, to head back to Ottawa again (logical eh?) for Canada Day. I didnt feel like spending those days waiting in the big city.

So near to a big city it took me a while to get a ride, but after about 45 minutes to an hour I managed to get a ride from Matt, a young guy who took me to Port Perry.
From there I walked a bit further down the road to find a good hitching spot. I turned around to set down my pack and sat down on the protective railing, and looked in the direction I came from for oncoming cars.
When I turned my head to the other side, a car was already waiting for me. Where the hell did that one come from? It was as if it had appeared out of thin air, I had not noticed him at all. So obviously I ran like hell to get to him before he drove off, and thankfully the driver had gotten out of the car to open up the back hatch.
His name turned out to be George. He had stopped to pick me up because his son was a hitchhiker as well, and he had been traveling all over the world, and was still out there. So in a way George was building up good Karma for his son, while he also liked the prospect of having somebody to 'shoot the shit' with.
He was heading up north for a long weekend in a cabin with a friend and so still had a pretty long drive to go. He took me all the way to Orillia, which was about 95 kilometres further. He was a nice man and interesting to talk to.

In Orillia I had to walk for a while to get out of town. There was a split in the road ahead and so it was useless for me to start hitchhiking in my current position. I ended up at the split road, and followed the road going to Barrie across a bridge that spanned over a big highway below.
Thankfully there was a good spot on the other side of the bridge for cars to pull over. It didnt take long before a cab pulled over. The driver offered to take me along on his trip to Barrie for 3 dollars, and with the sun rapidly setting and the night darkening I accepted his offer. I didnt think I would get a ride any other way that late on the day. Hitchhikers by night are found to be even more suspicious than by day.
The driver didnt introduce himself but did talk quite a bit, telling me he had spent several years living in Holland. As a result he did understand Dutch, but after the years he had forgot how to speak it. He helped me to find a motel in Barrie, which is where I have been staying for the past two nights and the night to come. I will be moving on tomorrow.

My days here in Barrie were pretty uneventful. I walked around town for a bit, but spent most of my time overseeing my video uploads and watching movies on my laptop. I don't mind, because I like the downtime and I love watching movies. Netflix is a great solution as long as you have a consistent network connection!
Anyways, it's time to finish up this post because it's long enough as it is. I hope you guys enjoy reading my stories, and untill next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment