8 am for an 8 hr ferry to return to Prince Rupert, we dash to a cafe for coffee, muffins and sandwiches to take with us before boarding. Ferry food is pretty crap and the coffee is abysmal. We are definitely eating more and drinking more coffee with Ren. Gilbert and I happily manage with far less, and I usually lose a bit of weight when traveling. I guess when Ren said “I usually gain weight when I travel”, might have been a clue. Not a problem…haha!
Haida Gwaii is a bit like stepping back into the fifties. People wave as you drive past. Greet you with a smile and a hello when you pass on foot. You are welcomed into shops and invited to join them when you sit. Time has somehow slowed down. The car rental lady said, “just leave the car unlocked at the ferry terminal on the side of the road, with the keys under the mat and we’ll pick it up there”, to make it easier for us. We felt very welcome. Ren as usual fits right in and when refuelling the car was asked if she had a ‘band’ number the Haida have, to get a better rate.
It’s been a lovely stop off and we wish we could have have stopped a few days more at least, but there’s always a trade off with organising travel. You’re balancing out whether you’ll like the place, the cost of accommodation, the transport available. You’re trying to coordinate times for getting in and out of a place. With unlimited time, we would have stayed longer, but sadly we are moving on to other adventures today and need to look forward.
The Ravens and the Eagles are the two most prominent groups here and they are represented in almost all art work we see.
On the ferry we chat with a lady and her daughter who live on Haida Gwaii, but travel back and forward to visit family further inland from Prince Rupert. Her daughter is very Chinese looking and I’m wondering if people see Lauren and I, and might wonder at our differences as she is so Asian looking, but then she tells us it takes longer to get to her family across the water, then it did to go to China where she picked up her daughter. We laugh and chat on, but then curious I ask her which part of China she collected her daughter from. As I had assumed, it was an adoption. When in Beijing we saw groups of American couples in hotels, with very Asian babies and discovered they were being adopted out. All were girls that we saw and from women birthing out of marriage, or a second baby, or an unwanted female. We felt really sad about all those reasons and Gilbert and I wondered about how the new families will teach their new children about where they came from.
We were spending time in China in the village Gilbert’s Father came from to give our children some of their Grandfathers cultural history and these children were being whisked away to the Americas to give them a better life. How will they give them their language, culture and their own family history?
The time passed easily and I fell into my book which whisked me into 1482, Venice, Rome and Florence. Maree had given me this book and at the beginning was keen to get rid of the weight and size of it but hadn’t been inclined to read at all. Now I was absorbed in the plot and could visualise the landmarks from our Europe trip, it was pulling me in and I was almost sorry the trip was just eight hours.
We are met by Arthur whom Ren had met in Vancouver. He lives in Prince Rupert and invited us to stay when he heard we were passing through. Gilbert asked me, “how old is this guy?”. I told him from what I had gathered from Ren, about our age with children, so was surprised when Arthur met us off the ferry. He looked about 35 but told us later he is 47. He is proudly First Nations. On the drive home he pointed out totem poles, his grandfather, a master carver, had carved.
Tall, fit and strong. He filled us with stories of helicopter logging, fishing, taking tourist groups to see grisly bears and whales. How the land provided and no one should ever go hungry here in a place that was bountiful, with seafood particularly. How his family of ten siblings harvests and stores in all manner of ways from all seasons. He laughingly told us his Dad used to say…’only a lazy Indian goes hungry’. He peeled off seaweed they had dried and then also explained how they harvest roll and press seaweed and cut it into small chewy bits for snacks but lamented that the last season was so hot they weren’t able to get much. It was so dry they had a fire ban. Nobody could believe it. A fire ban in a rain forest?
After a dinner of fresh caught halibut that was amazing, he showed us his ropes, hooks and nets neatly hung, ready for the next outing. Hooks so huge we had to ask…so how big are these halibut and salmon you speak of? He held his hands a metre or more wide as our eyes widened. “40, 50 kilo sometimes, he says. The really big ones can be as much as 300 kilo”, he smiled. He opened up his smokehouse and explained how he shelves them and the smoke draw beneath as I drink in the smells. A very spiritual man he also told us of his life leading him into shamanism. Of rebirthing and his ancestors visiting and helping him through his phases of learning. It was interesting and positive and full of humour and it didn’t feel frightening or even strange. It simply was his story.