If the Canadians hadn’t impressed me enough already over the fist 10 days of being in their county then the last 4 days have absolutely cemented my opinion of them being some of the kindest people on earth.
Having heard from many people that Lake Cowichan was breathtakingly beautiful we decided to have a little detour inland to see for ourselves. Unfortunately, and not for the first time we have headed somewhere beautiful, the weather gods decide to show us who’s boss. As we ploughed on to Lake Cowichan the weather turned from grey, to dark, to darker, to drizzle, to full on rainstorm and by the time we arrived we were well and truly soaked. We found the tourist office to ask about the best places to camp only to encounter the worst tourist office ever. The two young girls didn’t seem to know anything, if there was a campsite, a hostel or even a hotel within a 15km radius. We weren’t allowed to access their wifi and were told we had to pay to use their computers in order to find out for ourselves where best to stay. Luckily their only piece of sound advice was that the local supermarket had wifi so it was to there we pedalled. Luckily they also had a cafe so it was over two massive pots of tea we tried to plan our evening. By unanimous voting we decided to find a hostel, there was only one in the area, which was full. People are amazing, we called and even though he was full Marshall who ran the hostel told us to come over anyway and he would find somewhere to keep us out of the rain. What we arrived to was pretty much a farm. Pigs, chickens, emu’s, goats everywhere – it was brilliant. Marshall, true to his word found us somewhere to stay dry which was a great result.
The next day we had arranged to stay with Anne from the website ‘warm showers’. It’s the cyclist version of ‘couch surfing’ where fellow tourers lend a hand to others either through places to camp, do laundry or as the name suggests, take a wash when they are on the road. We arrived at Anne’s to be greeted like old friends. Anne, her partner Laura and mother Margaret were so kind in making us feel welcome, opening their home to us and letting us do much needed laundry. They helped us with our route further into Victoria and even provided us with various garden produce to take on our way. The home grown pears did not last long!
Having a much needed (for Loz) easy day cycling into Victoria we were headed back out of town looking for a camping spot for the night where we pulled over to pick up some dinner. Returning from the supermarket I was greeted as usual with Herbie chatting to a stranger. I know I’ve said before that carrying your life around on a bicycle attracts conversation. Luckily for us this was Harry, a fellow Irishman no less who had also spotted the Tricolour sticker on the side of Herb’s panniers. After a little chat he asked where we were headed for the night, after explaining we were off to find camping he immediately insisted we stay with him and his wife offering us to camp in his garden and share homemade pizza. We considered this for at least 0.23 seconds before accepting, although we did insist he ask his wife first. I’m not sure if Harry makes a habit of collecting people as well as groceries at the supermarket but we wanted to be sure it was ok. Harry and Kim went above and beyond, having us stay in their house for two nights, feeding us brilliantly and Harry even giving us a personal tour of Victoria which included three swimming spots. They are a family of explorers, their eldest daughter having completed the same trip as us cycling to South America, they have done bike touring, motorbike touring, hiking, IronMans, mountain bike races and everything in between. We ate the best courgette chocolate cake, greens from their neighbour Patrick’s garden and probably the second best homemade pizza in the world**.
To conclude we have had the most wonderful last few days of Canada and have been blown over by just how many kind people we have met along the way. I know the news is always full of doom and gloom and living in a big city such as we do in London can often make you wary of people being genuine. But these last few days have opened our eyes that there are so many wonderful people out there willing to help to stinky cyclists.
So here we are, sat on a ferry to the U S of A! Thank you Canada, you’ve been epic!
** I only say the second best homemade pizza because in the Garrod household Thursday night is pizza night. Always homemade and is as much an institution as the Garrod Christmas day run.