I am a firm believer that adventure begins long before we ever set foot off a plane or onto a train platform. There is something to be gained from every encounter, and I am immediately reminded of this while setting out to Vancouver, Canada for the first time. Perhaps it is the fact that I'm excited to be further exploring North America, or even that it is my first time to use my new passport, but today I am insanely sociable and chatty.
I almost immediately strike up a conversation with the elderly couple sitting next to me. Their names are Steve and Sherry, and they're native Canadians. To my pleasant and honored surprise, I discover we have a lot in common.
“We're coming back from 2 months in Honduras,” he says, as I notice their matching sun-dried red complexions.
“Our families think we're crazy, but they're the crazy ones. We leave all the time and come back to find them doing the same thing as before, and they're not even happy with it !” says Sherry.
“Haha. That's right love,” begins Steve as he places his hand sensually on her thigh. “We sold all of our companies that we'd spent years building up to do this. We can honestly say that this was the better choice.”
I smile at them as if to smile at myself. It's nice to chat with fellow vagabonds, especially ones so well aged. The time passed with them prepares me for the coming adventure, and inspires me to maybe be a bit like them some day.
My first thought after entering customs at Vancouver International Airport is one that I don't think I've ever had in my life.
“Why are there so many Asians ?!”
I see the signs in English and French, which was to be expected. However, I become startled after seeing Chinese everywhere. As I take a better look around I began to see why, and after talking to a few people I am happy to learn that my first thought was an appropriately ignorant observation.
Forty-three per cent of Vancouver metropolitan residents have Asian heritage, which is a much higher proportion than any other major city outside of Asia. (www.vancouversun.com) 1-in- 5 of every Vancouver resident is of some Asian descent, making it the largest metropolitan Asian population outside of Asia. By the year 2031 it's expected that those of Asian descent will be the majority.
My previous perspective of Canada as an always cold, Mountie moose laden land filled with Caucasians and occasional Indians, like Russell Peters, eating maple syrup and staying really healthy while listening to Celine Dion was the last thing on my mind has I roam a city where the population is just as colorful and eclectic as the landscape. I'm used to hearing people speak several languages during travel, but that's because they're tourists. This is the first time I've heard so many languages spoken by residents; French is a given, while several dialects of Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean clash with varieties of Spanish and Portuguese. All of this makes sense considering that 52% of residents do not speak English as their first language.
I thought I had heard it all until I approach a man to ask how I could get into the harbor to take some photos. He replies with a Liam Neesoneque accent, and I look back with a blank stare. He’s kindly giving me directions and the whole time I am waiting on him to tell me about his particular set of skills and to wish me 'good luck'.
He never does.
Vancouver's population provides a linguistic voice while its beauty and nature provide the music. Fresh mountain air and seagull songs. The Princess Royal cruise ship pulls out of the dock making percussion of the flowing waters, while the sun's reflections off of the the buildings are the perfect lighting for this show.