Celebration of Light!

Well, I should begin this pleasant post by getting some of the necessary unpleasantness out of the way.

Bedbug Update:

Thank God, the little buggers seem to have finally disappeard.

Aafter two K9 inspections (a cute little dog that sniffs out the bedbugs or "hotspots"...what a job, I was expecting an Alsatian like in K9 or else a big furry mutt like in Turner & Hooch...dontcha just love the '80s?!), followed by three sprays which involves clearing away ALL of your (newly unpacked) belongings into the bath and having to wash and dry every item of clothing to make sure there are no dead bodies in there.


So, as you can imagine with two exasperated Irish people, we didn't even bother sorting through any of the clothes and just stuffed them all into the industrial-sized machines and hoped for the best. Well, turns out the best is shrunken t-shirts and off-white skirts but we honestly couldn't care less at this stage, we just want the whole ugly drama to be over.

In one month, we were forced to pack and unpack the place, wash and dry our clothes at extremely high temperatures and at a cost (the landlady gave us some dollars as she felt bad, but still!) and we also couldn't go into the apartment for eight hours after each fumigation -- we were assured it would only take one -- because of the chemicals so we had to sit in Denny's restaurant on Davie Street ordering cup after cup of coffee!! We don't have full-time work yet so we've nowhere else to go!

However, before I forget my P.M.A. ways, all the hassle has been worth it as, from last week, they seem to be gone and we've another inspection on Wednesday so fingers crossed peeps!!

There's nothing worse. I've an insect phobia (probably because a moth flew into my brother's ear when he was a kid and got stuck there, and an earwig crawled into my sister's ear while she was sleeping and she wore earbuds in her ears for the next ten years...I think she still does...bleurgh, no wonder I've a phobia!!) So the fact we've put up with these vermin eating us every night says a lot about just how much we love this apartment!

Apart from the drama within the confines of our own home, Vancouver has been treating us very nicely indeed.

Each year, there's an amazing and awe-inspiring competition called the Celebration of Light where four countries compete to throw the best fireworks display...I mean, that's a childhood fantasy, who could ask for more?!

So, last Wednesday Canada opened the festivities as they won last year (amazing, half an hour of the most brilliant fireworks I've ever seen, all to the tune of 'The Wizard of Oz' and to the monetary tune of $1 million!) (BTW, is anyone else going "one millllion dollars" in their head right now, Dr Evil style?!)

Then on Saturday it was South Africa's turn and I must say they put on some show. I don't want to annoy my fellow Vancouverites but I'd put them at the the top of the billing...it was just firework after firework, growing bigger and bigger into the sky. The fact that there was the most unbelievable thunder and lightning storm during the event probably helped matters though...at one stage we were convinced the thunder actually HIT a firework, but that was probably giddiness on our part if I'm honest!

The rain didn't even deter the million or so people who turn up every year to watch this spectacle -- I've never seen such crowds in all my small Irish life! -- but one million people crowded around one beach in downtown Vancouver is definitely quite a feat and, as we've come to expect, there was hardly any pushing or shoving and little or no altercations with police. Bless this city, y'all really know how to throw a family-oriented event!

This Wednesday is the turn of the UK. It'll be interesting to see how our neighbours do it (and how they heard about it when we didn't!), and then of course China's on Saturday which we expect will bring us out with a bang (see what I did there.)

I've noticed that Canadians are great for doing something different and for getting everyone involved. I don't wanna diss my own country because of course I love it, that's a given, but we couldn't get over how respectful everyone was, even gangs of teenagers. I'm sorry but if that was in Ireland everyone would be drinking and there would definitely be fights between these gangs looking for trouble and the GardaĆ­ (the Gaelic for our police force.)

We didn't see any evidence of drunken or disorderly behaviour and everyone seemed to have this unspoken It was very well organized as police lined the streets and some were even based on building tops, filming all the crowds so I presume to have any evidence of any misbehaviour on tape...which there wasn't!!

It was quite an eye opener to see how things are done here. People just respect the law and respect their surroundings, which is lovely to see. Not to tar everyone with the same brush but our young hooligans could learn a thing or two, that's for sure.

Another thing I've noticed is that at the end of Davie Street is a most beautiful city garden that's just recently been created, to bring some green spots back to downtown Vancouver.

Now, it's quite a large space on the corner of the street across from a gas station, some very popular gay niteclubs, pubs and a whole host of restaurants, plus it only has a tiny wooden fence protecting it after dark (it's open to the public until night-time should you want a wander around) and not one - NOT ONE! - person would dream of vandalising it, and the homeless people who live beside it leave it alone and even look out for it!!!

I love the Irish as much as the next person but we all know that if that was at home - or in the UK, Europe, the US...in fact anywhere but Canada! - some drunken yobo would get in there and either: a) urinate all over the plants b) get off with someone in the flowerbeds or c) become aggressive and break all the flowers, but not so here - it's left alone.

In my opinion, no-one would dare touch it as if they were caught - which they would be as there's always someone watching around here - they know they'd suffer the wrath of the entire community, gay and straight!

As I noted in an earlier post, the sense of camraderie here is palpable. You walk down the street and every second person smiles and says "Hi!" You walk into a shop, no matter how big or small, and the attendants or cashiers ask how your day's going and can't do enough to accommodate you. Even the servers here are literally your best friends, and not necessarily just because of the tip!

Because you feel included and a part of the community, you don't want to wreck the place.

We have the same dynamic in our new favourite greasy spoon, Joe's Grill on Davie Street, which is right beside the community garden. It's such good value that it's always packed (value for food is something sacred in Vancouver!) from morning until 4 o'clock but, even if there's a long line-up, everyone respects each other's space and the servers are only too helpful to try to get you a seat as soon as possible. We find ourselves going there every weekend now for a fry to cure a hangover (an Irish tall tale to offset the Catholic guilt, although I will say they do the best and most Irish sausages in Joe's!) and they always remember us and some of them even remember our orders (turns out we're very predictable!) so it gives you a sense of belonging.

I don't have a "local" anything in Ireland, even a local pub as I've moved around so much, so it's strange yet refreshing to find one here.

I can't describe it, maybe it's because Vancouver (I can't speak for the rest of Canada just yet!) is so health and green conscious, but there's this inherent sense of respect for the people and your surroundings. Even drinking on the beach is forbidden and people, for the mostpart, or at least reasonably, respect that.

It's a whole new world - and one that I want to help save! :)

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