Sunday, 13 June 2010

Bienvenue à Montréal

June 12th 2010

So after an adventurous tube journey from the East End to way out West London, me and my friend who was acting as my ‘mule’ (thank you Cat) made it to Heathrow in plenty of time (before my parents) so enjoyed coffee and cake. Once my parents got to the airport I got a bit carried away with chatting (no surprise there) and so despite being one of the first to check in, I was one of the last to board. (I made it with 10 mins to spare).
On the plane I was wedged between 2 elderly ladies. 1 who looked Greek Orthodox to me and she prayed at the beginning of the flight, she was also very fat so had to get the person in front of her to put their seat up every time she wanted to get out which was entertaining because it clearly go on both party’s nerves. The other lady was very elderly, she looked close to death and she coughed pretty much the majority of the journey, at some points I was concerned that she was going to die there and then, but she didn’t, thank god. I swear people that old, I mean close to death old, shouldn’t be allowed to fly, I was genuinely scared for her health! The flight itself was very smooth, not so much as a bump or ears popping on take off and landing, hats off to the pilot!
Then, of course, next I had to go through immigration, the fact that my landing card declared that I am here for 6 weeks raised eyebrows and so I had to reassure her that despite only having $50 in my wallet I did have a credit card (well actually it’s a debit card with an authorised overdraft, but that concept doesn’t seem to exist in Canada. I seem to remember from my last visit that they don’t have Visa Debit here like we do.) She also asked me my occupation, which is an expected question at Immigration but then she asked me what I studied. Was she trying to check I wasn’t lying about the fact that I’m a student? Anyway I got the magic stamp that lets me in the country.
The first thing that hit me about Montreal is that its more French than I remembered. Every road sign and billboard advert is in French, I swear they were bilingual last time I was here! I had a bit of trouble understanding the taxi driver because of his strong Quebecois accent combined with a weird version of Franglais. But after my ears tuned in I had a nice chat with him about how although we do study the region of Quebec and other Francophone countries (such as Haiti where this taxi drivers family was from) at university, we most definitely only study the French language spoken in France. But then to my dismay he said ‘mais vous ne parlez pas la lange française de la France, vous parlez en français avec un accent anglais’ (‘but you don‘t speak France French, you speak French with an English accent‘)
- ‘Oui, merci, je sais, c’est évident que je suis anglaise!’ (‘yes, thank you, I know its obvious that I’m English!’)
Alas, if I can’t fool Les Québècois then I definitely won’t be able to fool Les Français in October when I’m in France.
So I got to my 1* hotel and had a lovely chat with the proprietor who seemed delighted that I could speak French and asked me if I was from Guadeloupe (errrr, non) but anyway turns out there’s some problem with the roof or something so he transferred me to another hotel which turned out useful because I passed the coach station when I was walking there, so I will walk there tomorrow morning instead of getting the Metro. The room is bigger than I expected and is perfectly satisfactory but definitely on the budget end of the scale, but, hey, I’m a cash strapped student!
I just tried to ring the school I worked at last time I was in Canada in an attempt to warn them that I’m planning to turn up on the door tomorrow and hoping to stay for the week. However I couldn‘t get through so I will be surprising them tomorrow morning! (Don’t worry readers, I have a back up plan if they say ‘no’, one of the teacher’s knows I’m coming and has offered me a bed as hers for as long as I want as has her son offered me a place to stay in Montreal.)
Alors (that’s ‘so’ in French by the way) right now I am watching TV and listening to the clubbers outside my door and the tube run underneath me (I said it was budget! Its central location has downsides!)
Canadian TV makes me laugh - adverts for ‘real Canadian cheddar’ (er, Cheddar is in England) and cereal adverts that show the actors poor milk out of a plastic bag in a jug - oh Canada, you and your silly ways! I’m watching a stand up show which 1) isn’t funny (because North American humour isn’t) and 2) after every commercial break we are warned ‘this programme contains coarse language and adult content, viewer discretion is advised’ - well it is 10.30 at night so I wouldn’t expect a child to be watching TV right now. Good old England and our ‘watershed’.
Anyway I feel I’m rambling so I’m going to go to bed as I have an early start to catch 1 of the only 2 per day coaches to Montebello (the town where the school is) and hopefully I will be welcomed back with open arms! Wish me ‘bonne chance’ (good luck)!

P.S. An actress on an advert, just said ‘erb’ not ‘herb’, oh god I’d forgotten about THAT annoying North American pronunciation!

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