Saturday, June 30, 2007

Stuck in Kamloops -- Part 3

(Part 1, 2)

After spotting a Punjabi woman selling samosas in remote Canada, atop a mountain, we headed to Kamloops, a a snug city in a valley where two rivers meet.

There's not much to see there, but Kamloops' real vibe is in people's lives. (Much like Vancouver and Victoria). Overworked and struggling, life seems like a daily struggle. For good or bad, seems like they have nowhere to go.

Take the hotel manager. He complained working 14 hours a day, with their massive turnover rate. He couldn't even find people to carry luggage. Bah, this is just a manager's rant, I thought, heading out to trek.

On Day 2, I headed to the reception to get Kamloops' maps. I waited as a receptionist was chatting on the phone, giving what seemed more like a phone interview.

"Yes, I can come to Vancouver any day for lunch," she said, smiling and aware of my presence, but trying not to make eye contact.

She was thin, well groomed, with short blond hair. She was also in a bind, with me hearing the interview. I smiled, behaving like I didn't hear anything.

Another chat with her would be great, I thought. We did chat later in the day, about life in San Francisco and about Canada's skilled labor shortage, a rather grim topic among Canadians.

Kamloops is a stepping stone to big places like Vancouver and Victoria, she said. There's no shame in giving open interviews, even her bosses know that she intends to move on. She was perhaps the only qualified person available to staff the reception desk; her managers had no choice, she said.

That didn't ring true; there must be resorts as Kamloops downtown seemed weirdly active. In the evening, no downtown parking spots were available though *all* stores were shut. It just defied conventional logic. Comparable to New York or San Francisco. I kid you not.

It's a big ski town, the lady said, but lacks social life and the excitement of a tourist town, she said, as I watched her charming face turn to disgust. No Greek parties, few salsa dances. Skilled labor tries to avoid a life like this, she said.

Kamloops is only a stopover for nature enthusiasts and the timber industry, she said. I agree with that -- Kamloops' riverside is beautiful. We were greeted to a stopover of migratory geese; watching them sloppily parade around. What fun. Also got my weekly run in.

"It gets more remote as you head to Jasper [in the Canadian Rockies]," she said, adding "and I'm not going there." She's bent on getting to Vancouver, leaving Kamloops in the dust.

"Do you want my job?" she asked, with a twinkle in her eye.


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