Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vancouver Blues

I flew to Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday for the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society conference, where I chaired a panel on Hispanic Literature and spent a good deal of time hanging out with the panelists, who happen to be old friends of mine from graduate school.

Vancouver, apparently, is beautiful, although after a flight that arrived an hour late, followed by another hour through customs and yet another hour on the shuttle bus for an accidental tour of the city’s downtown hotels, I was in no mood to find the place charming.

I found my friends Damian and Eric already at the hotel. I’ve seen Damian lately, but Eric I hadn’t seen in a good four years. I was pleased to see he’d acquired some grey.

We strolled down to the waterfront. It had rained earlier in the day, and the sky was still overcast (apparently in the Pacific Northwest, gloom is the default; meteorologists forecast when office workers can dash outside to catch a moment of fleeting sunshine). It was quite chilly as well.

We looked across the inlet and watched seaplanes land and take off. Out on the water floated a dock dominated by a giant Chevron sign, presumably so the planes can fuel up without coming to shore.

Gloomy or not, waterfronts always cheer me. I’ve often said that if it hadn’t been for my tendency to get seasick just by stepping on a dock, I would have been a sailor.

We ambled into Gastown, the historic downtown, which has gone from urban blight to urban renewal in the past few decades (although there’s still plenty of blight to be seen; we must have been accosted by half a dozen homeless in the space of a few blocks). In the middle of it all stands a statue dedicated to Gassy Jack, the legendary founder of Gastown. Unfortunately, Gassy Jack received his nickname for talking too much; I was hoping for a much more aromatic tale behind his moniker.

When hunger struck we went looking for someplace to eat. We rejected McDonalds, which, despite the red maple leaf emblazoned on the golden arches, struck us as not quite quintessentially Canadian. I’m not quite sure how we ended up at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

Once comfortably seated I decided to try communicating with the natives in their own dialect.

“Where’s the washroom, eh?” I asked the waitress. We achieved communication and I found the restroom.

1 comment:

Mama Luka said...

Hey, you look so tall, dark, and distinguished in this picture, eh?