Author Archives: spatulena

Flat tires in foreign lands

IMG-3242Last Sunday I found myself in an inopportune situation with a flat tire after a nice stroll at Crescent Beach, BC. Whenever this happens in the States, I end up going to a bike shop since my tires are essentially bike tires connected to my push rims. I go to a bike shop, because it’s a much easier process than trying to find a medical supply company that specializes in wheelchair maintenance. In the past I’ve dealt with reps that try to pawn off their old supplies on your, offer terrible advice on how your chair should be, or make it difficult to even see someone and require a doctor’s script before they even look at you. In other words, navigating the US healthcare system sucks. Do I bypass and go straight to people who can get things done.

So. This is what I did in Canada. I know that the health system here is different, but since I am not a citizen with healthcare rights, I thought the best way to deal with this situation was to go to a bike shop. I ended up going to two. The hardest part was that the type of tube that I need is a weird size, made specifically for wheelchairs (go figure) and bike shops don’t carry in stock the smaller size of tube. But I’m usually okay waiting for them to special order. But the supplier was out of stock. Leaving me hopeless.

But wait! I hadn’t tried contacting a Canadian medical supply place for the tube. Surely they could have one in stock. And… lo and behold they did! I called one place who had one in stock and reserved it for me to pick up but they didn’t have the specialty to actually install it. I’d have to go to a bike shop for that. Which was fine. I had the part. But then, I called another supply place and they have the part and a professional on staff who could install it in house. Perfect! So I called the first store to let them know they didn’t need to reserve the special tube for me anymore, and in true Canadian fashion the man on the telephone was just so happy that I was able to find another supplier who could help me. He didn’t even care that he lost business!

So then I went to the new supplier. While the wheelchair tech was working on my chair I made myself comfortable on one of the fancy La-Z-Boy recliners. When my chair returned, not only had the tech fixed my flat tire but he noticed a screw from one of my push handles was missing and replaced it, and also saw that one of my axel screws was loose (a result of traveling to Amsterdam 2 years ago…. I never fixed it because no shop in the US would see me so I’ve just been dealing with it for that whole time… the biggest annoyance being that one of my sideguards would rub on my wheel like having a soft parking brake…. builds character I suppose). In other words, this tech gave me a brand new chair in less than 15 mins. It’s amazing when your wheelchair works the way it’s supposed to. The front office clerk asked if I had the royal provincial insurance and I said no, I was just visiting and I’d pay out of pocket. $40 Canadian. What. That’s like $30 American. Includes parts and labor. That’s essentially just a co-payment in the US.

I recognize that I was very lucky that I spoke the same language that they do in Canada and I was there long enough to justify fixing this situation immediately rather than just adapt as I am wont to do in other countries (ie. Amsterdam). But it got me thinking how easy it still might be traveling in a foreign country (albeit maybe a more developed one) to just get things done even if you pay out of pocket, and made me wonder what was actually possible when traveling in a foreign land and things break down. Maybe I’d be okay when the inevitable happens. Like a flat tire.

5 reasons why I love Canada so much

This summer I’m staying in Canada for about 2 months, with some small interludes to the States in between. I’m really traversing the country during that time, going from Vancouver to Victoria.

vic-van-map

Every time I visit Canada I’m just filled with such joy and I’ve listed 5 reasons why below, in no particular order.

1) America’s hat — Canada just sits so quietly and pleasantly on top of the US. It’s just a country, hanging out up North. It has the same population as all of California (actually California has a few more million), and it just exists as its own country, doing stuff.

Image result for america's hat

2) Parallel Universe — you know those books/shows that have parallel universes? Fringe, The Golden Compass, Dark Matter… to name a few. Being in Canada is like being the star in your own sci-fi parallel universe. It looks a lot like the States. There are McDonald’s and cars drive on the right side of the road and they speak English. But then there are little things here and there that snap you back to reality and makes you think, where am I and how did I get here??? Things like all the labeling on products are in both French and English (I still can’t decide whether that’s fiscally draining, but I also don’t care if it is). Instead of a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on every block, there’s a Tim Horton’s. The road signs have Maple Leafs on them and measure things in different units. And then you’ll be talking to someone normally and all of a sudden they’ll say “aboout” or “pro-cess” and the signs will be spelled with things like “centre” or “favourite”. Which leads me to my third reason….

Image result for i guess this planet is worth living on afterall futurama

3) The accents

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Ryan Gosling, 1992 👀 Via: @cinephilia_universe👈

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How could you not love a tiny Ryan Gosling speaking in a Canadian accent?!?! The Canadian accent is one of the truly most cherishable things in this world. It is just so friendly and inviting and makes me want to hug things.

4) Friendliness — I was told the other day (from a Canadian, obviously) that the friendliest Province in all of Canada was Newfoundland, which is where he was from. He was indeed very friendly as evidenced by him inviting me to a dinner later that evening. Newfoundland is home to the city of Gander, which is where all the planes were diverted after September 11th and suddenly the town doubled and tripled in population and were taking people into their homes until it was safe to fly again. There’s a broadway musical aboout it; Come From Away. When asked which province was the meanest, he said Ontario. I thought this was very fitting, as most of my family is from Ontario. But the meanest province in Canada still is probably better than the nicest state in the US. Maybe.

Image result for come from away

5) The French — I am very biased on this point as I studied French in high school and college and still seem to butcher the language. But I love to hear it all around me. My favorite is that when you’re outside of Quebec, the rest of the country speaks English and it feels normal, but then there will be some random French thrown into the sentence as a little surprise. My favorite has been when listening to CBC public radio, there’s a correspondent who speaks regular English for her news stories but then has a French last name. “With CBC radio I’m Danielle…. *French nasal sounds*.” (Danielle d’Entremont)

 

What are some of the reasons why you love Canada?

 

Orionids and Orion-nopes!

Last week was supposed to be the best time to see the meteor shower next to the constellation “Orion”. A very reliable source (the internet) told me that the best time to see these meteors was right before dawn. So I woke up at 4am to venture into the foothills of California to see these marvelous wonders. However, things did not go as well as expected.

 

me trying to keep warm

 
A friend brought their digital camera and blow up mattress to watch the stars with. Here is a nice long exposure photo that she took.

 

look! a shooting streak! (photocred: @beclshum)

 
This was around 5:30am.

However, when dawn came, our view of Orion was masked by an intense fog that came rolling over the “mountains”. Needless to say, we were unable to see any meteors after that.

  
So we hunkered down with our giant blankets to keep warm and waited until 7:30am so we could go eat breakfast at “Alice’s Restaurant” near Woodside.

   

i need glasses to sleep

 Even though i didn’t see much, i was able to see 2 meteors….and most importantly of all, the banana bread french toast and country potatoes for breakfast made everything worth it. I guess there’s always next year.

led zeppelin’s “misty mountain hop” comes to mind

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Let’s Go! – Fashion Free in Paris

A few weeks ago, one of my blogs about Paris was published for the student online travel blog “Let’s Go”. Click the link below to read what I had to say.

http://www.letsgo.com/2015/10/09/fashion-free-paris/

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