After a whole year in Denmark – the longest time I have spent there for about 5 years, I am now again on traveling foot and loving every minute of it. This time I have been granted a 1-year working visa for Canada, and although I am only a month into my travels, I already feel like it won’t be enough with merely 11 more! This country is just so incredibly beautiful and the people here are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Here is a brief account of my very first meeting with this great land and it’s awesome humans…
Even before I arrived in Canada, I knew that this was going to be a superb journey. Tyrone of The Jungle, my great couch-surfing host to be, had replied to my request in such a friendly manner, that it felt like I already had a good friend waiting for me on the other end. This feeling turned out to be truer than I could have imagined, even in my most optimistic moments.
Sitting discreetly on the corner of a busy East Vancouver intersection, The Jungle is strangely under the radar of the snow-balling gentrification regime that is sweeping across British Columbia’s relaxed largest city. Besides being the shabby old diamond of a house that it is, The Jungle is both spacious and cheap, the latter allowing for its creative crew of 6 to still afford the ever increasing housing prices in ”Van”, as the locals fondly call their beautiful city.
My new first friends in Canada thus became this cool crew of Cole, Doug, Duncan, Kevan and Tyrone. They are something so rare as a healthy bunch of active young guys, responsibly sharing all the chores of a household. While they all pursue their passion for the arts, they also cover a broad range of other talents and skills, from magic tricks to cooking, counseling, building, teaching and so much more. They seem to always be sheltering friends and strangers alike and to keep a full fridge and a clean kitchen (!), and all of this without the least drama or fuzz. It was the perfect place for me to land in a new continent, and get my first bearings.
My first mission was to buy a car, and not just any old car, but a Toyota RAV4 more specifically. Coming from a country where cars are taxed as if they were made of gold, I have only once owned my own vehicle, and so I was still as excited as an 18-year-old about the prospect of getting my very own 4-wheel-drive. Back in my crazy hometown of Christiania, a fellow sauna guest who was from Greenland, had told me that a RAV4 was the business when it came to buying a cost-efficient second hand 4×4 that could handle arctic weather conditions, and that was exactly what I was after.
Every day for a full week I plowed through North America’s most popular website for classified ads; the incredible virtual treasure chest of Craigslist.com. As soon as I saw the first picture of Trusty, however, I just knew that this was going to be my new all-terrain home and traveling companion for, hopefully, a long time to come. I bought her from a nice and laid-back, pet-treat company owner in the posh suburb of Kitsilano, and he had his even more laid back and funny stoner uncle hand me the keys for my ultimate boyhood dream. I couldn’t have been more pleased if I had bought a flying car that day.
Meanwhile, courtesy of The Jungle Crew, I was also very busy having a lot of fun around Vancouver. From assisting with the rescue of a high-strung Iranian/German dental hygienist from her redneck family and making my first 20 bucks delivering a bed for a friend, to jamming on the porch with some of Canada’s upcoming talents or downing delicious craft beer in Gastown while listening to top-notch contemporary jazz and going to North America’s largest Night Market & Dinosaur Park (go figure), I, simply put, had a very interesting time in the most excellent company.
Above all, I cherish the friendships I made among the Jungle Crew and their friends. Between letting me live in such a great space and supporting me in my scramble to get organized in a brand new place, they all made me feel so much more welcome in Canada than I could have ever hoped for, and I am deeply grateful for that amazing start to a new adventure. Thank you guys – you rock!
I am sure I will be back to stay at The Jungle again and I am even more sure that this first encounter with Canada and its people have set me on the right track to an amazing adventure. Bring it on 🙂