Police Abusive Use of Force: Yatim and Floyd Case

Who Remembers the death of Mr. Sammy Yatim? In the midst of a global pandemic and the most recent police brutality of Mr. George Floyd, it’s hard not to sit and think. Yatim, died of a similar extreme use of force by police officer, Mr. James Forcillo in July 2013. Yatim was a distressed 18-year-old in an empty Toronto streetcar, wielding a knife who was shot 9 times. Three years later, on July 2016, Forcillo was sentenced for attempted murder. This was the first time a Canadian police officer was convicted for brutal use of force, leading to death. Between 2013 and 2020, many abuse of police power had transpired, but there are some that are more sensational than others. The question is, how is our nation dealing with this issue?

Most recently, a Black man was killed by the abuse of police power in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020. Floyd, a 46-year old, father of two children, the youngest is 6 years old, moved to Minnesota from Houston, Texas to better his life. Police Officer, Mr. Derek Chauvin executed a brutal arrest procedure, by kneeling in the neck of Floyd, leading to his death. As a past Correction Officer for Young Offenders, I had been trained on the use of force techniques, and to be aware of asphyxiation. When I watched the news clip of Officer Chauvin resting his knee on Floyd’s neck, that was the first thing that came to mind. With so much adrenaline going through Floyd’s body during the arrest, he was being deprived of oxygen. Asphyxiation is worse for anyone who suffers from other illnesses, including mental health. In this case, Floyd may have been under the influence (I’m no doctor). That said, why didn’t Officer Chauvin know this?  

Here we go again. The question of police officers’ fatal use of force is up for discussion. What do we, as a nation, do about it? The Yatim family are most likely sitting in their living room, watching the news, and recalling the death of their son. Was a 6-year prison sentence enough to deter wrongful police conduct? As of January 17, 2020, Forcillo is out on parole, having served almost all of his sentence on house arrest with his loved ones. Is that fair for the Yatim’s family? Floyd’s children and most recently, a grandchild will be growing up the rest of their lives without a father and a grandfather. What will Officer Chauvin’s sentence be? Whatever it will be, it won’t be enough to wash out a system ridden with racial practices, and abuse of police power. 

Justice Edward Then, the Toronto judge in Yatim’s case stated, “Officers should only be drawing and using their firearms when they are faced with an imminent, potentially mortal threat.” The judge asked, rhetorically, “…is police training overemphasizing use of force, fatal and otherwise, in situations where the average citizen, lacking the benefit of police training, would see that force is not called for?” When an average citizen looked to see Floyd’s lifeless body on the ground, and had to ask the Officers to check the pulse, we have to sit and think. If this were another race, would Officer Chauvin have acted with such brutality?

No sentence given by the Courts of Justice is enough for crimes against police officers who fatally abuse their power against citizens, whom they are called to serve and protect. My recommendations are these: (1) Drastic review of legislations and policies are needed in our societies, pertaining to the police use of power by a designated Taskforce. (2) The police training programs ought to be seriously re-evaluated in every state. (3) A police audit should be conducted on Police forces nation wide. (4) Criminologists should be given the go-ahead to conduct research on racial profiling within the Force. (5) An apology to the families should be personally done by the chief of police every time a loved one is taken by the hands of police officers, including paying their respects at funerals. (6) Finally, the state of Minnesota ought to recognize May 25 annually by a police officers’ march.

These recommendations are a few steps to be taken to make lasting change in our nations’ Justice systems. If not, we will continue to forget martyrs like Yatim and Floyd who had to die by the hands of a police officer’s brutal use of force, leading to their deaths. Let’s not allow it to happen again.      

“What’s My Problem?”

Throughout this time of Covid-19, I have been cajoled in a corner of reflection. I learnt a few things about myself: I have a problem. I have been hiding from myself for years; behind the busyness of work, volunteer work, travelling, and visiting friends and family. Perhaps, they were all a method of subconscious distraction. Covid-19 has shown me that this inner dissatisfaction with my work, that doesn’t go away even when I change jobs, is the result of my inner problem. But, rather than facing myself, woman to woman, I have been filled with anxiety. Yes, I was scared. The thing is, I didn’t even know I had a problem.

Since March when the Ministry of the Attorney General closed its doors, the staff were committed to an on-call schedule, more or less, once or twice a week. That’s when anxiety set in. What was I going to do now? In fact, I indirectly requested my supervisor to let me come in to work more. Work had been my routine, and I was used to it. Routines and structures help to get me through each day, like a faux sense of control on life. So now what?

Each day for the next two months, I tended to wake up approximately seven o’ clock in the morning, with the sound of my Alexa device playing music. I started with my disciplined devotions, which consisted of reading the bible and praying. I set my intentions for the day, and a schedule to go with it: Walking/yoga, Spanish, Bible study, Personal self-care, Connect with family, Entertainment, Journalling, and of course time for meals preparation. Yes, it’s been exhausting, and the regimented approach left no room to feel bored, or having to think about my own feelings.

To be honest, I gained new perspective from all of the “stuff” I was doing. Like, I learnt to cook new cuisines; fish soup, and other seafood dishes, guacamole dip, and others. I even started to make time to maintain my hair and nails. I took to shaving, tweezing and plucking regularly. These were the things I didn’t have the patience for, and preferred paying for the services whenever I felt desperate for some self-love. I also realized that it was cold in my basement apartment, I know, right?! I wasn’t really here much, so it didn’t affect me. One morning, I joined the long line at Wal-Mart and purchased an oscillating standing automatic heater. I can’t believe all the functions on one heater. I only had to set it at my desired temperature, and never touch it again. I felt I was taking care of myself. I started assessing my own self image, and making purchases I normally would not have the time for; making online purchases of make-up, new prescription glasses, or things I needed around the apartment. And I was feeling great about myself for doing it, proud even! But then, after month two, I dove deeper into my inner self, the place I feared most, the place that made me, lonely.

By month two, loneliness set in. Not like a bulldozer, more faint, like a tiny flicker of light. With most of the major distractions out of the way, I felt it profoundly. There was a small dip in my mood, two days in a row. It was like all the things I was doing, even though they had me feeling good, I sensed that I was not great. What was my problem? How could I possibly feel like this when I had so much to do? For the entire day, I had no motivation to do any of the things on my list. I didn’t even feel like cooking, and I didn’t. I had a packaged soup for lunch, and leftovers for dinner. By evening, I decided to go for a walk while talking to a seasoned friend. He said,

Look over your life and see what your strengths and weaknesses are. This will help you figure out what is next for you.

Dr. Rupert Francis

I wanted to tell him I already did that. And I didn’t really plan on doing it again. But, before bedtime, and just after yoga, this still small voice got my attention. Get your journal and reflect on your life, all your accomplishments and disappointments. So, I sat on my yoga mat, and took to writing.

I couldn’t stop writing. After going through the journey of my life, all the questions popped up. Why do I distract myself with all these extracurricular activities/volunteer work ever since high school? Why do I want to solve the problems of the world, my workplace or family dysfunctions? Why do I think it’s my job to do all this? All the questions poured down like rain, questions I had never thought of before. Why am I driven to even work in the Criminal Justice system? Then I wrote down answers to them, to the best of my knowledge. When there wasn’t any answers, the still small voice said,

Fixing other people’s or organization’s problems, is not Your responsibility. You weren’t made to do that.

Holy Spirt

Wow, right?!

You do not have to try to be useful by busying yourself with so much each day. Just relax.

Holy Spirit

Are these what my problems are? I am afraid to feel useless? Is that the inner struggle I had been having all these years? This is like a Martha syndrome. Remember in the bible, when Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciplines, while Mary was sitting by Jesus’s feet, listening? What did Jesus say?

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10: 41-42

Mary chose to relax at Jesus’ feet and leave the work for someone else. Someone else can fix the problems of the world, the workplaces, or the family dysfunction. It is not up to me. I only just need to relax. What a reassurance! The burden can be removed from my shoulders and I am allowed to do nothing, or even better whatever I want to do during COVID-19.

This doesn’t mean that I will become a couch potato, or that I am going to become a sloth. It just means that I am allowed to not have to worry, feel anxious, or useless for any reason.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:34

In conclusion, I am happy to have gone through this difficult season of COVID-19. It brought with it a flood of emotions, it gave me time to reflect, to shift priorities, and hopefully to become a better person. Indeed, I will come out of this pandemic with 2020 vision.

Boston Beach, Portland

By: Rochelle Knight | Adventures from Elle https://adventuresfromelle.com/2019/06/15/boston-beach/

I’m convinced that Portland has Jamaica’s best beaches! Boston Beach was a long drive from Kingston but that was quickly forgotten by time I arrived. Although it was my first time visiting this beach, I was always aware it existed because just next to it is the Boston Jerk Centre, home to Jamaica’s most famous jerk chicken and pork, a place of which I’ve always heard but never visited.

Boston Jerk Centre is actually a cluster of several rustic stalls offering taste-and-buy meats, meaning you get a sample of the jerk you’re purchasing before paying and if you change your mind and no longer want theirs, no worries. While I’m not 100% convinced that their chicken is the best I’ve ever had, it was certainly fantastic. The pork though? Phew, child! It definitely wins the title of Jamaica’s best jerked pork. Please visit their stalls and take your pick. I wish I remembered the names of the ones I bought from. Sides include festivals, breadfruit, roasted yam, sweet potato and plantains. If you come across a Rasta man trying to sell you cane juice too, bargain with him for a fair price and take a bottle with some cups of ice chips. It was absolutely refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to a sultry Jamaican afternoon. You can learn more about Jamaica’s unique eats here. Anyway, I’m here to talk about the beach so let’s dive into that.

From Kingston, there are two ways to approach Boston Beach. One is via the Junction main road which links rural St. Andrew and St. Mary, and serves as the gateway to Portland. The other goes through Bull Bay, another rural end of St. Andrew, then through St. Thomas and eventually Portland. I took the latter route this trip despite Google Maps listing it as 10 minutes longer, simply because I planned to stop at Reach Falls afterwards. In fact, Reach Falls was the main reason for this trip but I decided to make the extra half hour drive to experience what is reputed as Jamaica’s best jerk. Thus, I hadn’t even researched Boston Beach in the least, except consulting Google Maps to find out how long the drive to the jerk centre was from Reach Falls.

My heart was absolutely full. The drive is long but oh-so-beautiful and filled with lush countryside, cool mountain air, quaint churches and houses, jaw-dropping coastal views and fresh sea breezes. The road surface fluctuates between excellent and freshly paved to pothole-riddled so drive carefully. In fact, the communities through which you’ll drive are farming villages so don’t be too alarmed if you see cows or goats leisurely crossing the roads. Unfamiliar with livestock on main roads, I stopped in the hopes that these cows would get the message but they continued to saunter across unbothered until I made it clear I needed to pass. That’s when they stopped in their tracks, much like a pedestrian who thought better of jaywalking into the path of oncoming traffic. It was actually hilarious and brought back memories of my Gut River trip last year where the several hundred goats we passed were not accustomed to vehicles using the road at all.

Boston is open every day of the week from 9am till 5pm, and admission is JM$200 per adult. They have restrooms, changing rooms, showers, a restaurant and bar, lifeguards and surfing is available. In fact, Boston Beach is one of Jamaica’s best surfing spots and you’re likely to see a few surfers in action like I did. You’re allowed to bring and eat outside food on the beach too, huge plus. Thus, I bought food from the jerk centre which is a minute’s drive away then ate it at the beach instead of buying from their restaurant. Covered seating is available also.

Re surfing: Boards can be rented and instructors are available at a price (didn’t check the cost though, sorry).

The Beach

Truly, I’ve not been this pleasantly surprised by a place in a long time. Mind you, I’m always happy to visit the places I do but I tend to at least have seen them before on social media or a website, so I always know what to expect before I see the place for myself. Boston? I hadn’t the slightest clue and in fact, I was wondering if it would be worth spending money on a beach I didn’t plan to spend long at (err.. only wanted to have lunch at). It ended up becoming the best $200 I’ve spent in a few months!

The waves were perfect! Not gentle but not too rough, not cold but not too warm, crystal clear, not too salty, literally perfect. This is the most refreshed I can recall ever feeling by seawater in my life. The temperature was even too, not fluctuating like at Frenchman’s Cove where one step it’s warm and the next you’re shivering due to the river which ends its course there. In fact, a Jamaican author, blogger and friend of mine, Alexis Chateau, mistook a throwback post I made on Instagram at Frenchman’s Cove last month for this beach and I can see why. Boston Beach looks identical (I know! uncanny), albeit wider, minus the river and much, much cheaper.

As a nice perk, there’s a very Instagrammable swing and some adorable puppies call this beach home. This was also the first time I’ve ever seen surfing in real life. You could tell the lone surfer was having the time of his life being centre of attention, but it looked so exciting. With a life-jacket on, maybe someone could’ve convinced me to try.

Wrap Up

Spontaneous is good! It goes against my meticulous nature but these are the moments you cherish just as much as the moments where everything went according to plan. I left a little sliver of my heart at this beach which I rate full stars, ☆☆☆☆☆. Next time I visit though, I must stay overnight. The drive from Kingston while running on E post-exams was exhausting and I really had to leave too quickly. I imagine sunset from this beach would’ve been wonderful.

If you enjoyed reading about this beach, you’ll also enjoy:

If you are a woman travelling to Jamaica solo this is a must read.

by Marylin of GirlfriendTours

Source: If you are a woman travelling to Jamaica solo this is a must read.

Forget what your friends say, what you have read, or what you have heard, pack your bags and experience Jamaica. Ever since that movie (you know the one I mean), came out in the 1990’s, single female travel to Jamaica has come under scrutiny. Far from increasing and encouraging it, this movie well may discourage the shy shrinking violet of the “fairer sex”. Throw away the stigma and pack your bags for one of the most “lady-friendly” spots on our planet.

My friend, Angelia Hairston and I (Marilyn Williams), would like to introduce you to the beautiful Island of Jamaica, WI. Extensive research of the Caribbean Island finds that all roads lead back to Jamaica. Jamaica will offer you more for the money, more excitement, more geographical vistas, more wonderful people, more diverse shopping experiences, and more reasons to return.

My first trip to Jamaica was made with a rather quiet and withdrawn female traveling companion. Jamaica did not work her magic on my friend as she did on me. Two months later I was frantically trying to find someone to return with me. Having no takers, I had to go solo. This would only be the second trip I had taken alone in my life, and not to mention I was going international.

To travel to Jamaica you will need a valid passport, or an original copy of your birth certificate. If you opt for the birth certificate, and you are married or divorced (therefore your name is different than that on the birth certificate), then it is best to carry along a copy of your marriage license/divorce decree. I have never been asked for these documents personally, but another female traveler on the board mentioned a problem in this area.

My rule of thumb for finances in Jamaica is to carry $100.00 for everyday I plan to be on the island. Please don’t panic…. you will by no means spend that per day, but I like to have that cushion just in case. Traveler’s checks will work for you fine in Jamaica and are probably advisable, but I don’t like them personally. I have two friends who travel solo and they bring their ATM cards and very little cash. There are ATM machines in all of your major cities, so they go get cash in little dribbles as needed.

Most hotels and resorts in Jamaica offer in-room safes for a fee. These may give you some peace of mind, but guard your safe key carefully. A lady traveler, who attended Bashment in Negril, was robbed by a gentleman she invited to her room for the evening. I must hasten to mention that he was a fellow tourist and NOT a Jamaican.

This is probably as good a place as any for me to mention that you still must remember everything your mother taught you and apply it in Jamaica as you would at home. All cautions are still on here even though you are on “vacation.”

You will land in bustling Montego Bay and be whisked away to seven miles of perfectly beautiful beach and exciting non-stop nightlife. But Negril is not the only destination in Jamaica. The entire Island is traveler friendly; therefore it is “lady friendly.”

The Myths…

  1. All the men aren’t Romeos intent on separating you from your hard earned money. Caution errs on the side of reason when it comes to courtship on ANY vacation. Can you really find your “soul mate” in 5 days???? When leaving your hotel or resort with a friend for any reason let someone at the hotel know whom you are going out with. Try to insure that your bellman or front desk sees your “date” escort you from the property. I know you are a big girl, but you are out of your comfort zone.
  2. Jamaica is NOT full of crime. Very little if any crime against tourist is reported in a given year. The data probably is not nearly as bad as your hometown. Use all the cautions you use at home regarding your person/valuables. Don’t get hypnotized by the cool breeze and beautiful ocean and leave your purse, passport, or $400.00 camera lying around unattended.
  3. Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Why take a chance, and no one there is impressed with things like that. They will be more impressed with your smile and goodwill.
  4. Pack light. No sequined dresses required. Comfortable casual clothes and shoes, wraps and swimsuits, and one nice “club” outfit should get you through your Jamaican adventure.
  5. Make some friends, Jamaican friends, and get out and experience the country. You can get some great references from people on Jamaicans.com or from the Jamaica Visitor’s Bureau.
  6. Hire drivers, you don’t want to try to drive in Jamaica, especially not on your first trip.
  7. Check with your fellow board members for lodging and tour recommendations.
  8. Purchase one of the little waterproof money carriers that you can wear around our neck when swimming/diving etc. I bought mine at a dive shop and it comes in very handy for all the water situations you will find in Jamaica.
  9. Check with fellow board members for the name and number of good local drivers. If you use the ones lined up at the door of your hotel/resort they are likely to overcharge you as they owe a kickback to the hotel.
  10. Ask your fellow boardites for tips on excursions in your destination area. They can help you secure transportation and give you and idea of approximate cost. Plan as many of these before your trip as possible it will make for a more relaxing trip.
  11. Remember to be courteous and respectful in Jamaica. By in large, the treatment you give is the treatment you will receive.
  12. Tipping in Jamaica is 10-15%. Tip where deserved and follow your conscious. Unfortunately, All-inclusive resorts do not allow tipping, and if the employee is caught accepting your tip their job could be in jeopardy. Use caution.

Relax…and let Jamaica enfold you in her loving embrace and suck all of that female stress right out of your body. Nowhere else on earth can do it like Jamaica.

If Angie and I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us at www.girlfriendtours.com, or e-mail us at girlfriendtours@aol.com.

Christian Meditation: God is Good and Perfect

Revealing the Christian Life Ministry

A King had a male servant who, in all circumstances always said to him; My king, do not be discouraged because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes. One day, they went hunting and a wild animal attacked the king, the servant managed to kill the animal but couldn’t prevent his majesty from losing a finger.

Furious and without showing gratitude, the King said; if God was good, I would not have been attacked and lost one finger. The servant replied, ‘despite all these things, I can only tell you that Godis good and everything He does is perfect, He is never wrong’.

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his servant. While being taken to prison, he told the king again, God is Good & Perfect. Another day, the king left alone for another hunt and was captured by savages who use human beings for…

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Historical Site: Anne of Green Gables

The countryside on my way to Cavendish, PEI, was breathtaking. There was a continuous stream of lush greenness. This was the last activity on my list, and I was cutting it awfully short to the Ferry schedule. I had exactly 30 minutes to walk through the Museum before I had to get back on the road.

It wasn’t hard to find Green Gables Heritage Site, and the great thing about driving here is the roads are practically empty. Of all the sites I wanted to see, this one was on the top of the list. Growing up in Canada, I’ve always heard about Anne of Green Gables. But it was in my adult life that I watched the series on Netflix. I loved it. So, it would be a little disappointing to come all this way and not actually get to see this Historic site.

Anne.jpgLucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, wrote this, her first book in 1908. The book is based in PEI, and is about an orphan girl, named Anne who was adopted by two middle-aged siblings; Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. They initially wanted a boy from the orphanage to help Matthew on the farm, but after a series of events, the Cuthberts developed a strong affection for Anne and adopted her. It was impressive to walk through a fictional house, though in real life this farm was the home of David Jr. and his sister Margaret, cousins of Montgomery’s grandfather. Although the author never lived in this fictional house, she had visited her cousins many times.

In the 30 minutes I had, I paid $6 for admission, and walked towards the house. It’s not a big house, but I like the experience of stepping into history for all of 15 minutes. There was a trail behind the house, but time did not allow me to go hiking. Instead, I walked through the barn, and into the gift shop. That’s when I met this teenage girl behind the counter. I’d come back to die here, she said matter of factly, in between, you have to go exploring, see the world. But, I would want to come back here. She paused. It was a great place to grow up. What did you like about being at Green Gables? It’s just so pretty. I felt free. That my parents never had to worry about my safety. That they always know where they could find me, which, in a weird way, made me feel free to do whatever I wanted. 

Anne10.jpgI, at least hope to visit again for more than 24 hours to experience that freedom. I checked the time. I still had 10 minutes. Waving goodbye to the young cashier, I made my way to my vehicle, and back on the road I went: Mission Accomplished. Halifax, here I come.

………

Anne9That evening, in Halifax, I had my last supper prepared in my honour, with a glass of Chardonnay, as a final salud to all of the week’s excitement. Life is beautiful in all of it’s experiences, both the bitter and the sweet. Let’s experience them all with appreciation, and know that the next great one is in your hands to shape. They don’t just happen.

 

Touring The City Of Charlottetown, PEI

The following morning I woke up later than planned. Even with just an hour to get ready for the day, I couldn’t leave my airbnb without walking into the back yard. There were no cows or horses. But, there was that fresh greenness with due on the grass. That tranquility that you could never get from the city. I stood there, imagining. What solitude. No one in site. What calmness. For 10 minutes, I stood in perfect stillness, and savoured it. Then, quietly walked inside to get ready for the day ahead.

All the routes were perfectly mapped: From Downtown Charlottetown to Anne of Green Gables Park. From there, I go to the Ferry Terminal. From Ferry terminal to Halifax.

ch10Upon arriving at the Founder’s Hall, the receptionist directed me to the Harbour. Follow the boardwalk and you should see signs for the tour bus, she said. I did. I saw the woman at a small booth with the Tour company’s information: Sightseeing TOURS Grayline. I showed her my phone with the confirmation email, and she gave me an actual ticket. The tour will leave at 10:15. 10:15, I thought it was 10:00. You had me rush here for no reason? We both laughed. I was actually grateful that I had a few more minutes to roam around the harbour without feeling rushed. I parked my car across the street, for a price of $1.75 per hour. Yea, I know, $1.75 only! I could see that the big cruise ship had come in, and a lot more people were out walking around on the boardwalk, compared to the day before when I was out here.

Bob was our tour guide. He spoke on the Province’s history from Confederation in 1864, where the first meetings were held, that led to the creation of Canada in 1867. By then, Prince Edward did not sign the union. It was not until 1873, when PEI negotiated to join Canada, in order to have their railway debts financed. Barry, my seat neighbour, is from Toronto as well. He went up to New Jersey to catch the cruise, just so that he could see the Eastern side of Canada. Barry, like most people I meet on these excursions was a senior. Probably retired, and obviously have time to travel and have fun. I hate to think we have to wait until that long to see the world, or at least do the things we always wanted to do. 

ch2Bob talked to us about the continuous name change that the Province went through, depending on which country owned it. As a French colony, the island was named Île Saint-Jean. Then in 1763, Great Britain claimed the island, as part of Nova Scotia, then divided it, and renamed it, St. John’s Island in 1769. Meantime, the lot from North Carolina sitting across from me requested the driver to turn back on the air in the bus, as they were getting hot. I was too. I took off my sweater. Briefly, Bob asked about the hurricanes, but this couple lived inlands so they weren’t affected. There are lots of Carolians that come in to PEI, Bob said. I noticed that as well. Patty, whom I had met at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia was also from there. She had come in with her grandparents, leaving her husband at home.

Ch5As Bob drove us around the city, he talked Politics, and house prices; and he made mention of names of some famous people who owned the houses we were passing, some by Governors, judges, and writers. He talked about where Will and Kate stayed when they visited, at the Lieutenant Governor’s home. He talked about the many churches, and how the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) replaced two previous institutions;  the Prince of Wales College and St. Dunstan’s University. Bob explained that education was affiliated with your religious background. If you were Catholic you went to one school, and if you were protestant, you go to another. But the UPEI is a liberal arts school.

The tour brought us back to the Harbour where we were picked up, and with many thanks, we went on our separate ways. So much learning in one day. History sure is taught better with being present where it took place. I don’t think I’ll forget the details I learnt about confederation, having now seen the room where the meetings were held, and where the agreements were signed. Well, I didn’t go inside the buildings, but Bob said at any point we could, perhaps on our next visit.

Charlottetown6I went inside the Founder’s Hall to book the ferry ride back to Nova Scotia, but I was handed a brochure and told to call the toll free number to do so, or book online. With that I went to retrieve my car from the parking lot across the street. Even though I knew I stayed for at least 15 minutes pass the hour, I was only charged $1.75. I did not question it. Next stop: Anne of Green Gables Tour.

Part II: Adventures In Prince Edward Island

Admittedly, when I arrived at my airbnb- a private duplex just for me, I walked through the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom, dashed up the stairs into the bedroom, and then into the half bathroom. All for me! This was all for me. This duplex was way too gorgeous to stay for one night. The sun was beaming unusually bright compared to how it had been for the last couple days. My friend, who had been so intricately involved with the planning of activities, organizing my itinerary on the travefy app, and keeping me motivated to get through my itinerary, certainly didn’t want me to spend an evening indoors. Go into town, he encouraged. I had already been up since 6 o’clock in the morning. I had to check out of my airbnb in Halifax, and drive to Prince Edward Island. Well thanks to my GPS, I took the ferry for part of the journey, but it was still about three hours drive, half of it in Nova Scotia, and the other half in PEI. In total I had been travelling since 9:30 am and now that I was settled again, it was 4 o’clock. Nonetheless, it would serve no-one any good, if I were to stay in and cozy up on the bed, which was what I really wanted to do. Spending a few minutes to see what restaurants were downtown, I then set my GPS; and off to downtown Charlottetown I went.

Charlottetown9I donned my sunglasses to avoid some of the glare, and took off up the road. My facial muscles started to flinch, a smile was coming on. No, a grin. This was too good to be true. The realization that I was in PEI, driving on my own in a Sports vehicle, suddenly dawned on me. The music was bumping in the vehicle and my head bobbed to the rhythm. I drove on University street, and could see the University of Prince Edward Island on my left side. Down the street, and then up another one, and within 15 minutes I was downtown.

Without any effort searching for parking, I turned into a parking spot in front of the stores. I took out my wallet and looked at the oddly shaped alien eye ball for a parking meter, trying to figure out how to use it. A yell distracted me, but I could not make out what the stranger was saying, or whether he was talking to me. At the same time, I was gazing at a young black man who was walking towards me. The stranger came closer and yelled, You don’t pay. The young man walked passed both me and the stranger. He helped me answer the question I was wondering ever since I got here. Do black people live here? I didn’t want to be the only one of my kind on this entire island. Though I was prepared to be. It wouldn’t have been the first time. 

Don’t waste your money, you don’t have to pay, the stranger repeated. My attention shifted back to this man standing in front of me. Hi sir. It’s my first time here, you don’t have to pay for parking? He looked at his watch. Yea, don’t waste your money. You don’t have to pay in the evenings. He and I were shoulder to shoulder now, and he wanted it to be clear that I don’t pay to park. He walked across the street, after the lights changed colour. My first experience speaking with a local. I looked back to see where the young man went. He was long gone. I smiled, knowing that I wasn’t the only one. And that, strangers were not shocked and wondering what I was doing in their town.

AGGS-Header-740x285I proceeded down the street giddily, not certain where I was going, but was going to figure things out. I walked into the Anne of Green Gables Store. It was the activity I should have been doing today, but didn’t feel like driving another hour to get to the Museum. In case I don’t get to go to the Museum, maybe this store would give me some consolidation. I stepped inside directly in front of a young girl cleaning the glass door. I’m new to town, and I’m curious: How far is the Anne of Green Gables Museum? I think it’s about 30 minutes from downtown. You take Route 2 to get there. It’s on Cavendish Road. What’s the cost of it? I was looking at the website and it quoted different prices. I don’t think it’s that expensive. Do I have to pay for parking? You shouldn’t have to, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there. I saw her walking off to attend to other customers. One more question, if you don’t mind. What is the best road to walk on to get a feel of downtown? I used my shoulders and my hands to gesture what I meant. She pointed to both intersection that the store was on. Both of these streets should be fine. Queen Street takes you to the harbour, but you can turn off on any of the streets. What restaurant would you recommend? The one next to us is pretty good. I saw that I had interrogated her long enough. Thank you Olivia for answering my questions. She smiled and disappeared behind the counter. Leaving me to roam the store. There was a chair with Anne’s hat and red hair, hanging there, waiting for someone to take a picture. I glanced at it, and stepped out of the store.

Charlottetown7Down Queen street I went, and the closer I got the more amazed I was. What a beautiful harbour. A handful of people circulated, snapping pictures and continuing on the boardwalk. I sat on the lawn chair, where another woman was sitting only a few steps from me, taking in as much of the sunset, glistening water, and perfect view as we could. It was a quintessential Autumn day. After a few minutes, I decided to walk along the boardwalk. So surreal. Compared to Toronto this was quaint and charming; and without the crowd, it felt so much better.  The sun was going down though, and I needed to eat. At least, in Toronto I wouldn’t have to be worrying about when restaurants closed, but here, who knows if they hadn’t closed already. It scared me too when I walked into a cute shop and saw no one. After inquiring about time, the waitress informed me that she closed at 5 o’clock. Realizing that it wasn’t even a dinner setting, I made my way up the stairs to a deck. I tried all the doors of the restaurant, but no one was there either. This wasn’t looking good. 

Charlottetown1I resumed walking further up the street, until I passed The Brickhouse. I examined their menu on the outside, and decided I would treat myself to a delicious Salmon. I sat at a small table for two, alone, near the cashier’s register. The waitress presented the menu to me, and then served me water. I decided I would have my favourite drink, a mojito. Except this one had ginger. Yes I will still try it. I asked for the Salmon dish, and potato on the side.

Yea, it’s always awkward to do certain things alone, and dinner is one of them. It’s an empowering experience though. You have to be confident. To be absorbed in your own world, and not care what others may or may not be thinking. It also takes even more boldness to be alone and not look at your phone, pretending someone is texting you. I used my spare time while waiting for the food, to scribble a few things on a piece of paper. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant at the time and had to ask the waitress. Olivia was especially kind to me in a subtle way; with her eyes and smile, coming back every so often to inquire whether I liked my Mojito, with the ginger in it. It helped remove the ounce of discomfort. Like I had one friend here that was too busy to sit with me.

Within minutes, my meal arrived. I savoured every bite, because it was just that good. Initially, I thought I had ordered mashed potatoes, but they were diced, or at least cut on an angle. The salmon melted in my mouth, carrying with it a bit of the sea with every taste. The potatoes too were scrumptious, maybe even the best I’ve had. Nothing was left on my plate, except for the garnishes. There goes the end of my day’s adventure. The sun had almost disappeared. These are the days that makes you want to live forever. I made it back to my car, and decided to do a bit of grocery shopping.

I took special notice of this dessert place called, Cows. I passed one down at the Harbour and another closer to where I’d parked. I didn’t know it was there until after I purchased a bubble tea in place of desert. Maybe next time. Later on, I was informed by my tour guide that Cows is the best ice cream in Canada. I’ll just have to come back to taste it for myself.

 

Adventures To Prince Edward Island

Everybody needs to see Prince Edward Island. It’s nice to grow up here, a teenage girl at the gift shop in Cavendish, PEI, told me. In between, you have to leave to explore. But, I’d come back.

PEI4The 75-minute ferry ride over from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, PEI was a dream. To think this all happened by fluke! This morning when I left the airbnb where I was staying, I had my GPS set for 3.5 hours, no tolls, to PEI (but then changed to tolls to lessen the distance). Ninety minutes in my journey, I see a booth, and behind it, a ferry dock. If my eyes could have paved a road across the sea, it would have, the way I stared in total bewilderment. How did this happen? Ed, the booth guy came out to explain after I parked on the side of his booth. I requested his time, so as not to block the other drivers behind me. I needed more than a speedy, tell-me-what-to-do-now speech. I needed Ed to lay out my options clearly, so that I could logically make a good decision:

2The GPS will always take you to the ferry because it’s the shorter route, so that’s what happened. Now, if you were to drive back to Truro, that’ll take you an hour. From there to the bridge, another hour. You’d get to Charlottetown about 3 o’clock this afternoon. Whereas, if you wait here for an hour and a half for the ferry. The ferry leaves here at 1pm. It’ll take you 75 minutes to get across. From there, an hour to Charlottetown. So, you’re pretty much looking at the same amount of time. You know you don’t pay to get on. You pay when you’re coming back. What does that mean? So what if I don’t come back. You don’t pay. You only pay when you’re getting out of PEI. Wow. Why is that? Well, the government of Canada has come to an arrangement where they subsidize part of the cost. You can pay $78 by ferry when you’re coming back, or you pay $48 by bridge. So, right now, it depends on what method you feel like taking. Drive or take the ferry. The answer was clear. Ferry it is! It was only 11:30 am when I arrived, but by the time Ed and I ended our talk, 15 minutes had flown by. There is a small cafe across the parking lot, you can grab something to eat while you wait. Park your car in lane 10 right at the front. Thanks Ed.

PEIBy 12:30, not even an hour after I finished speaking with Ed, the loud speakers were beckoning drivers to get back into their vehicles, to prepare for the ferry. In synchronized fashion, the vehicles followed the instructions of the man in front. We parked, and climbed up the deck. I went all the way up to the top of the deck, so that I could get a better view. There was a bit of wind, but every once in a while the sun came from behind the clouds. The sea was glistening. Unlike at Peggy’s cove, the sea was calm and controlled. The tiny rippling waves reflected the colour of the grey puffy clouds above. The sun was playful on my face, making my layers of clothes extra warm. The ferry was moving swiftly across the water. All of this was an experience I’d never had before. I wonder if I could spot a shark in these waters?

 

How can I explain how peacefully content I was? How sanguine I felt about this decision, to see PEI, travel around Canada, to just live my dream. The only thought I had now is how could I keep doing this, instead of having to go back to work? Thanks to my GPS, I didn’t have to drive across the Confederation bridge, though I’m sure that would have been a different kind of extraordinary. I wanted more of this experience, and I couldn’t wait to see what PEI was going to be like.

In an organized fashion, the speaker beckoned everyone to their vehicles again, as the boat was preparing to dock. The time flew by so quickly. Then, once again, the vehicles drove down the ramp in perfect order, not a car out of line.      

PEI12In PEI, I had two activities scheduled: A tour of Anne of Green Gables, and a City Tour. I already booked an airbnb to spend the night on a farmhouse, or was it a house on a farm? Well either way, it looked like an ordinary house on the airbnb website. After a long day already, all I wanted was to drive to my accommodations, and stay there, instead of rushing into things. After leaving the boat, there was a feeling of this stripping away of my schedules, plans, and expectations. By the time I started driving in PEI, all I desired was to be in the presence of the moment; taking in one candy-like, Alice-in-Wonderland experience moment by moment. Every second, something new captured my attention. The running layers of trees of different shades of colours, the bed of red blanket covering the soil, the bright green grass that spread for miles, the fresh blue sky making itself so visible, that the cotton like clouds had to bundle themselves elsewhere. I was in paradise, and I didn’t want the experience to end.

Peggy’s Cove Tour, St. Margaret’s Bay

Halifax is known for more than it’s wartime or maritime experiences. There is much to see here. Upon boarding the Tour bus, Ambassatours, by the Halifax Harbour near the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, we went on our one hour drive to Peggy’s Cove, with our driver and tour guide, Ed.

Peggy’s Cove, located in the St. Margaret’s Bay, is one of those breathtaking experiences. It is a small village of approximately 40 residences who live there year round. The lighthouse, Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, established in 1868 is situated  right on the coast. I come to see that everything has some history behind it, even Peggy’s Cove. Apparently, no one is exactly certain where the name came from, but has made up stories, which passed down orally. One of the stories is that, in 1766, Saint Margaret’s Bay was named by Samuel de Champlain, after  his mother, Marguerite, and her nickname being Peggy. Another folklore about the name being, a woman was found on the Cove after a shipwreck, and later married a resident from the Cove. Since she was named Peggy, she became Peggy of the Cove.   

peggy5Millions of years ago, tectonic movements in the Earth’s crust, caused the rocks at Peggy’s Cove to be formed. The breathtaking landscape at the Cove was and is because of the migration of glaciers, and the thrashing ocean tides. Now, imagine standing on these rocks looking into the horizon across the big Atlantic Ocean, watching  the powerful waves beat on the rocks, and feeling the strength of the wind. The wind carrying with it small droplets of the sea that you feel on your face. Your eyes are fixated on the sea because truly there is nothing quite like it. The sea has gone wild, it seems, and the waves are tumbling over each other, in every direction. There is no order here.

We only had 75 minutes to experience Peggy’s Cove before Ed had to take us back to the city. While there were other parts of the island to walk, I felt that this section by the rocks: Walking over the rocks, and looking into the sea, far required my time and attention. How long can one stare into the sea? Til when your thoughts begin to reflect back at you. Til you can hear the ocean whisper its secrets. Til you can feel the waves in your core, with every splash or crash it makes on the rocks. Something happens. In the stillness and subtleness, something always happens. 

peggy8I’m walking back towards the lighthouse. There was still 30 minutes before boarding. I passed the lighthouse and looked yonder. More rocks, and more thrashing waves. Others were out there, battling the rock climb, and the wind. I decided I had to try as well. A stranger was ahead of me, though it appeared she was climbing downwards. Now I stood above her, walking horizontally, and awkwardly. Are you going to walk across? The stranger wearing brown boots down below asked. Her boots were not the kind to be climbing on rocks. Who knew we’d be going rock climbing? It’s true. I had a whole other thought about what I’d be doing at Peggy’s Cove. I imagined I’d be on a ferry ride going out to sea, spotting whales. Sometimes, things don’t go as expected, and you simply reshape your thinking. Patty, who was from North Carolina came down on a cruise line, and now we were rock climbing together.

We made it to the top. There were so much more rocks in the distance, but we were satisfied in that instant. Standing there at the highest point, and looking across at the lighthouse, and the sea. There is that powerful feeling that you know how minute you are compared to the grandness of nature. All you have to do is respect your place, and stand there in awe. 

peggyApparently, this small village was formed in 1811, when six German families were given a land grant by the government of Nova Scotia. The families built their economy on fishing, farming, and pasturing cattle. Today, tourism in this area has grown, and is of great economic importance. The government has restricted land use, and regulations about who can live in the region.

In 1962 the Peggy’s Cove Commission Act was passed, declaring the Peggy’s Cove a preservation area to ensure no development can occur, in order to protect the natural appearance of the Cove. So, that does it. I know that I can come back in 10 years and expect that Peggy’s Cove will remain the same. Nova Scotia’s beautiful coastal regions has gotten to me. Who wants to live on an island when we have all this beauty here in Canada? I can finally see what others have told me. Canada is a grand country. A judge once asked, Can you swim? I can. Good, you need to know how to swim if you live in this country. His point was, there is lots of large bodies of water in this country, and swimming shouldn’t be optional. Well, even though I swim, I don’t think I’d like to let myself slip into this part of the Sea at Peggy’s Cove. I’m certain these powerful tides would ravage my body before I can a chance to make one stroke. But, I love the feeling of looking at the natural rustic beauty, and let my mind flow with the wind. Until next time. Farewell Peggy’s Cove