Day 22 (Sept. 25): Giddyup!

It was another early Saturday. I’m beginning to see a trend here. On the one hand, weekends are supposed to be the days of relaxation – a time for sleeping in and taking a break. And yet, on the other hand, it is precisely because of this free time that I start scheduling all my interviews on these days. Something had to give.

Today my destination was the Nepean National Equestrian Park. Who knew Ottawa had an equestrian park? Heck, who knew Ottawa had equestrians? I certainly didn’t. But there I was hopping on a train at 8:50 a.m. to catch two different buses and buckle down for an hour-long commute to the middle of nowhere.

The buses were running late and I was stuck sitting at one particular stop for almost 20 minutes. I would have missed my bus too if the driver hadn’t been nice enough to honk at me as he was passing. There was some chasing involved. That same driver also saw me miss my stop. In my defence, I was paying attention to the street signs. I pulled up a Google map on my iPad and everything! But there was a large, beefy man sitting across from me and kept talking to me about how Sony is the best thing since toilet paper. And would it kill the city of Ottawa to make those street signs a little more prominent? I’m tired of craning my neck (and occasionally smacking into the window pane in the process), trying to read the sign hiding behind a tree or under a bush.

Either way, I ended up walking for about 45 minutes along what appeared to be a highway in the middle of nowhere. It was only thanks to the tiny horse-shaped figures in the distance that pointed me in the right direction. I must have looked like a hitchhiker because there were absolutely no buildings or anything else that might lead one to think civilization had reached this part of Canada. In fact, it’s like looking at a Canadian history textbook. Nothing but tall grass, forest, mud, swamp, bog, and algae-covered pond. Civilization didn’t look like it was coming for another 2000 years.

I finally made my way to the entrance of the park. Then there was the 2 km long driveway to get across, with the added bonus left behind by thousands of Canadian geese that decided to call the driveway their own personal sewer system. It was like trying to navigate through a field of land mines!

When I finally made it to the park, I managed to find my interviewee and we ended up talking for a two hours! Let’s just say there are a lot of stories to tell after over sixty years of busy living. I only hope I have that many stories to tell when I’m that age. I don’t really know where to take my article anymore, but I suppose it’s better to have too many options than too few.

After the interview, I stuck around for a while and watched my first polo match ever. Prior to today, the only polo I’d ever seen was the logo on a Ralph Lauren shirt, and trust me, it’s nothing like the real sport! The whole event was called Polo for Charity and there were real professional polo players! It was Canada against the US so people were pretty excited, or at least as excited as you can be with an enormous storm cloud hanging overhead all day. The winds were really strong today (all the more fun for those of us trying to scribble furiously into notebooks) and it was raining on and off all day.

I started heading out at around 2:15 p.m. and ended up wandering around completely lost in the middle of nowhere on my way to finding a bus stop. There were no bus shelters anywhere. My stop ended up being a little red sign stuck to a traffic light in the middle of an 80 km/h road – so not ideal!

I did eventually get on the right bus and after hanging around the mall downtown with my friends for a couple hours, I made it back to res all in one piece.

Now it’s 11:51 p.m. I was aiming for an early night. Ha! Well I suppose I tried. On the bright side, tomorrow’s Sunday, which means I get to go to church! I like church. It’s refreshing and it feels like taking a really good, clean gulp of air after trekking through Beijing for the whole week.


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