Royal B.C. Museum & Other Small 'Tings'
We woke up to a very beautiful, sunny Sunday and made our way to the Royal BC Museum where the first exhibit was on the people of British Columbia and it had some of the drawings the Native Canadians had doodled in school and then some of the homework from kids who were homeschooled in the early 1900s and their journals were open for perusal. We began to read over their homework and suddenly we were both SO TIRED within like 5 minutes of walking through the door of the museum.
So then we were about to go on to the natural history section and we stopped to find the loo and Patrice saw the Mammoth by mistake before I did and he was swearing because he spoiled it for himself. So we walked up to it, but some kid had set off an alarm because he got too close and then vanished. An old museum guard came up to me and asked how long the thing had been going off. I told him a kid did it and then he pointed out to us that there was actual ice in the exhibit and Patrice wanted to know if the mammoth was the size of a real one and the man said he had no clue at all but that he was pretty sure it wasn’t a real one and that when “the museum started it was much smaller but it grew up from a baby to a big one.”
The exhibits really put most natural history museums to shame because they had real running water (like better than some zoos) for taxidermied animals and it even smelled like you were outside on the shore frolicking with sea lions and seals. We saw a bunch of hawks and eagles and I was saying so many “Oh Nos” it was ridiculous. Then at one point there was this really neat oceanic exhibit and there was this gigantic king crab and I was totally terrified of it and it was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I mean the thing wasn’t even prehistoric, this awful guy is alive and out to get us Somewhere Nearby. The exhibit was very Steve Zissou-esque. Kind of like this
And I’ve never seen such a thorough, modern museum. I mean most museums tend to have some part of them that are outdated but this one was so consistently awesome. Kind of like British Columbia itself. So on the second floor there was this exhibit called War Brides (Description: Meet war brides who, in the name of love, left behind everything they’d ever known to join their servicemen husbands overseas and see their portraits done by a BC artist) As we walked up to it I was thinking that Patrice probably wouldn’t like this exhibit so much because there are no falcons or mammoths but we started reading the sign for 30 seconds and Patrice turned around and said to me, “There are tears in my eyes!” I said, “WHY?” He said, “This woman during WWII from Saskatchewan had to move to New Zealand with her husband and every time she heard the Bing Crosby song ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ she would cry because she missed the snow in Canada!” He was serious! He was sad for this Saskatchewan woman– I started laughing really hard and my heart also melted.
After the museum, we went to get some espresso that I enjoyed while listening to a banjo and had cigar smoke blown on me by some guy sitting nearby who was probably 19 but wearing a fedora and reading Henry James. And when a man on a motorcycle holding a dog wearing goggles rode by, the cigar-kid totally scoffed at him. Come on! Doggiegoggles! Then we got a bag of lychees at the Chinese market and ate those (delightful fruit) while listening to a folk man sing Leonard Cohen songs and right as I was talking about mandarin oranges the man sang “she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China…”
We began our lovely walk to the neighborhood of Oak Bay where we found the Penny Farthing Pub, a nice British pub in a old Queen Anne house, we had a Canadian beer and the waitress was very helpful in telling us where to walk and she had a funny accent for sure. At one point there was a shop called Déjà vu and I kept saying “are you getting the feeling that we’ve been here before? There’s a place called Déjà vu, doesn’t that seem familiar?” Patrice didn’t seem to think it was as funny as I did.
We saw some big fancy houses and walked down a street actually called Sommass Drive which turned out to be a cul-de-sac. I thought I cul-de-sac was a circular drive way to ride your bike in, but it literally means dead end or “bottom of the sack” according to French-speaker Patrice. As we walked down to the beach a dog came running towards us with a GIANT stick in his mouth the size of a small tree trunk and his masters didn’t even smile.
We walked to a beach where we enjoyed the sun and a great view of Mt. Baker. We saw lots of people playing with kids and decided that those kids had all been kidnapped. That’s why the people in Victoria are so nice because they’re kidnappers in disguise. At one point we saw some Indian “kidnappers” in front of us and Patrice asked the girl where a store was nearby and we ended up walking with her and her friend and the little kids for a long time. The girl told us all about her family and Indians coming to Canada and a story about someone marrying out of her caste and how the elders wouldn’t participate in certain wedding customs. We made a friend! At one point she was saying her brother-in-law was a smart cookie and Patrice wanted to know what that was. I said, “It’s not an Oreo.” We said bye to them and found the market, bought some stuff and took it to Gyro Park and sat on the beach again.
Then we took a bus which luckily went right downtown. A man got on the bus carrying a hockey stick and some bags of cans that he had collected. Everyone on the bus was talking to him about when he plays hockey each Sunday and where he gets the cans. Back at the hostel, we changed our clothes and oh, we drank a beer that we got at the store and then decided to take a shower to remove the sand. Later, Patrice said, “Where did my beer go?” I said, “It probably spilled out in my bag.” Turns out, it did! So we tried to rescue everything that got wet and it was a horrible mess. The picture fell off the wall, it was pandemonium. Patrice said, “We’re in British Columbia and our hostel is called Turtle Hostel and there’s a picture of Greece hanging in the room.”
After that, we walked to find the Caribbean restaurant and had plantain chips, a good ginger ale and Appleton rum and then shared jerk tuna which was SO GOOD and a kind of curried red snapper and prawns. Oh yeah, the menu had headings that said things like “Small tings” and “featured tings.” So we looked over the menu and Patrice said, “So should we just get a couple of tings then?” which is his normal accent. Is Patrice from the Caribbean? The waitress was talking weird and then it turned out she was also from Quebec and she was really distracted and out of it. She offered us the hot sauce only after our meal was over and said she could put it in a container for us. Why?
We did stop in the graphic novel shop at one point and found some interesting titles. We discussed who learned more in their life from graphic novels and Patrice said that from Tintin he learned about “a clown in china and the seceding war.” From Asterix he learned about Julius Caesar and the “Goals.” What else did he learn? “Not too much, obviously,” he admitted.
We were pretty tired after the restaurant but were able to walk to take a picture of the Government Building lit up at night which did remind me of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disney World. We planned our trip for tomorrow and I found a book called Sarah Binks. She is the Saskatchewan songstress poet and Patrice read aloud one of her poems. It sounded very nice. Then he said, “I have no idea what I just read.” I said, “Well it was totally amazing!” The poem was about someone who walks with crisscross feet!! I had to get up and show him what I meant. Later I found out the Sarah Binks biography is totally fake. She never existed.