Saturday, May 26, 2007

Into the Canadian Rockies

My parents are *tough* travelers - their last adventure was a 5,000-mile drive through South America. They dodged Amazon wildlife, a politically unstable Colombia and even fought tooth-and-nail with dicey Paraguayan policemen, who unsuspectingly asked for a $5 bribe to cross the border. They settled at $3.

The idea of traveling with them is unsettling, but it had to happen. At her emotional best, Mom asked "Do you want to come to the Canadian Rockies with us?"

Mom's always wanted to take *the* adventure trip with me after an Africa trip with my two siblings. "Ummmm...," I hesitatingly said.

"We're paying for it," she said.

"Ok Mom. When's the trip?" As easy as apple pie.

From Vancouver, we headed for the town of Kamloops, a one-day stopover before riding to the Canadian Rockies. Driving deeper into Canada, residential houses and rest stops vanished, replaced by the raw beauty of ice-capped mountains and a river flowing alongside the road, sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left.

Finally, we had enough of nature -- the urge to go was high. Ignoring the mountains, we scrounged around for a bathroom. We hit paydirt after 65 miles -- the bathroom had no tap, paper towel or soap, just a liquid handcleaner. This is an environmentally friendly way to save nature, according to a note on the wall.

Outside the latrine was an even bigger surprise -- a snack shop, with a lone, middle-aged Punjabi lady in salwar-kameez selling Kit Kat, chips, hot dogs and the last thing you'd expect in remote Canada -- *warm samosas* -- with chutney and tamarind sauce to boot.

"Are these [Samosas] home made?" I asked. [For reference: A samosa is an Indian snack, fried dumplings with a filling of potatoes, spices and herbs.]

"Yes! I made them an hour ago," she said. The Samosas were rotating in a warming device.

"I'll take two vegetarian!" I said. Screw the hotdogs.

"Are you Indian?" she asked.

"Yes, my parents are here too," I said, pointing down the mountain to my parents, who were duking it out over who'd drive next.

A warm smile spread across her face, and she asked where I was from. As I chowed, we chatted. She lived in a nearby town, splitting store time with her husband. They made samosas at home and brought it on duty change. They came to Canada from Punjab a long time ago. They settled down and made friends in the area. Their kids were now in high school.

"You are lying," said Mom, when I told her that Samosas were sold in that tiny store on top of that little mountain. "If you're incorrect, you give me $5," she said.

"Mom, look at her. I won't profit from identifying her as a Chinese woman."

I smelled danger as a stunned Mom looked at the Punjabi woman up the mountain. Mom loves to chat -- she gobbled up 1,374 minutes of my cell talktime in just 3 days. They met and chatted like long-lost friends.

The Punjabi lady's life revolves around the massive labor shortage in Canada, she said. That fact was more evident in Kamloops, our next stop, which I will explore in the next entry.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home