Admittedly the appeal of a blog without the addition of photos can run very dry. Not to worry, however, that will soon be fixed once I find a compatible USB cord for my SII.
The sunlight in the morning blinds me for an instant, sending illusory stars against my pupils, nearly causing me to miss my bus. Gradually as my eyes adjust to normal, I miraculously manage to make my way along with my suitcase on board. A brief wait later and the bus pulls out of the transit bay, rolling along the road and towards the highway. Next stop: Tsawassen Ferry Terminal.
Despite having barely managed to cover any sleep the night before, I somehow find the energy to glance over my phone and check any remaining messages. Goodbyes, farewells, maybe one or two conversations with my adjacent neighbor about the woodpecker chipping away at the side of my duplex. Nothing important.
Outside of the bus, the landscape slowly began to change, replacing the concrete and asphalt to long stretches of trees and rural farmlands. The skies remained partially cloudy, providing a serenity whenever it was the sun decided to make an appearance – the sort of imagery that could never be reproduced on film. Interestingly enough there was a comfort that one could never imagine being far away from the accessibility of modern technology and the urban fast pace. There is a feeling of peacefulness; watching the trees vanish along the way, replaced by the surrounding ocean encompassing the final stretch of road before the terminals.
The subtle qualities of the waking world are soon replaced by the scathing reality that is an overloaded suitcase. After dragging my belongings across the length of half the damn terminal, there is a literal facepalm when I realize that all my fetish gear is stored in a separate duffelbag that could reduce the weight limit. Fuck’s sake.
An hour later the ferry arrives and people begin pouring out of it. I’ve only been to Victoria once before, that was back in the days of junior high, and even then the experience was cut short when my glasses broke during the trip. The time since my last visit leaves me feeling far too old for comfort. Eventually after one last smoke I shoulder my backpack and board the vessel, pushing my way past the other passengers, and work my way up towards the tail end of the vessel. Sidenote: I honestly don’t remember what nautical terms are for the left side and right side of a ship.
The sight of distant Vancouver with its bright lights and fast pace leaves a sudden absence in my heart. I imagine it will some time before I return to the city, before I find myself back to my friends and chosen family. Truth is I’ll frankly miss it up until the rest of the world spirits away the thought of home. With one last horn blow, we pull out of port and I leave Rain City behind. Just like that, as the saying goes, I left it all behind.
Nothing, I mean nothing, truly compares to the feeling of wonderment upon embarking on an adventure let alone one of such a scale. The part about leaving would seem easy, the part about the other challenges I face would be an entirely different issue. I admit to being a cynical person, someone who often takes refuge in audacity and dark imagination, yet with the cold breeze sweeping against my jacket and the sight of the passing islands lifted that in an instant. The taste of adventure left all the fatigue and sleeplessness behind.
Touring the ferry boat there came another most peculiar incident – another old face from back home. Along with her travel companion, I encounter an acquaintance heading for the same direction, which serves to pass the time for a spell. The sight of a familiar face always did make even the most alien of places seem less daunting. We speak about our mutual destinations and bidding me only good luck, I eventually made my separate ways. She may well be the last familiar person I encounter before my upcoming journey.
Aboard the top deck, the morning chill becomes a nightmarish test of mettle and endurance – lesser (perhaps more sane) men retreat past me to the decks below. The craving of nicotine will forever be a testament to the will for stepping out against scathing winds; the difference between seeing the surrounding islands outdoors rather than indoors clearly speaks for itself.
I make a new friend. Its name is CAAARRWWGGHHL. It is a seagull, accompanying me by the rails. Sadly it proved to be a bit camera shy.
The conversation we had went like this:
Me: Good morning.
Me: How’s Victoria this time of the year?
Me: Really? Is there a lot to do out there?
Me: Well, if you say so. Amos. Nice to meet you.
I decide to go back inside before I wind up talking to the safety buoy.
As soon as we arrive, people begin scrambling aboard and for good reason, I miss my bus due to baggage and rearrangements I had to make, let alone the face that the shuttle became overcrowded in an instant. Fortunately it doesn’t take very long for the next one to arrive though the trip became much longer.
The attitude of the locals here in Victoria is described best as being Canadian to a point of stereotypical proportions. Not only does the bus driver direct me to the nearest hotel, she also gets the attention of another transit driver and carefully analyzes the most economical options as well. Take note of this, Translink, someone deserves a bit of a raise.
It must seem very tourist-like of me to describe the farms and fields of Victoria with awe. There are houses along the hillside roads beyond which are scattered cattle farms and horse ranches. I’d seen these sights elsewhere in the parts of Surrey and Langley but never with such a bizarre combination of suburban and rural feel. The morning dew upon the grass throughout the farms of Victoria seem to shimmer whenever the sunlight glances over them. I try my best not to act like a tourist and shoot photos of nothing but farms and grass. Why, Yellow, its just a plain old cattle ranch and a bunch of stupid looking cows.
Eventually we leave behind the pleasantries of the country side and return towards the urban center that is Downtown Victoria. In contrast to Downtown Vancouver, there isn’t a large amount of traffic, no junkies yelling or cursing in the streets. The police presence is smaller in comparison and while the populace carries on their own, it comes to me as no surprise that even the bus drivers greets its residents by name. I suppose the people of Victoria stop short of handing out flower wreaths in terms of hospitality.
The concierge at my hotel is a friendly woman, the kind that gives you a genuine smile rather than a professional one. In fact, there’s sincerity to her approach and after assisting the developing frugality at the room prices, I manage to score a pretty bargain for a week long stay. Sadly my room, despite the modest appearance, leaves a bit to desire but that’s what you get when you drive a hard bargain home. It’ll do for now.
Immediately I set the DO NOT DISTURB sign outside my door. Force of habit and all, given that I’d rather be present whenever housekeeping comes along; the rate of theft, that is across larger cities, remains very much a possibility. I don’t wish to speak ill of quiet Victoria but one must always carry some measure of precaution. As I unpack, it becomes increasingly clear that I need to become even more resourceful than ever – I’m missing my phone charger, hair gel, speedstick and a laundry kit. Inquiring about the distance of travel by foot, I’m pleasantly surprised at the commute duration of moving around Downtown Victoria. The atmosphere is one that I can only attempt to capture with the limitations of the English vocabulary.
Imagine for a moment being transported away from a large urban center, corporate chains and modern shopping lines, into a place that seems entirely from a different time. The buildings of the city while seemingly ancient carry with it only small traces of the modern digital era. Ma & Pa stores dating back almost half a century, bakeries bred into diners featuring aging booths and faded coffee cups, line the streets of Victoria in abundance. There is a sleepy laid back atmosphere that gives reason as to why it is a tourist hotspot. However, do not let its calm exterior fool you, the food prices and commodities are extortionate and adequately so, given that it is far from the mainland and stock prices go up when far from accessible resources. For now, despite the temptation to indulge in $8 sandwiches and homemade coffee, I stick with the timeless palette of the modern day college bachelor: Fast Food.
Thanks to vast array of information provided by modern day networking, it does not take very long to find the first group of people I intend to visit, and that evening I venture towards the smaller yet close knit group that is Victoria’s fetish community. I hit the shower, embrace the loving and never abandoning gift of caffeine, and set out into the night.
Next Update: Wherein yours truly spends time with fellow deviants, partially charmed by the foundation their community is built upon; the venerable gay concierge and the seemingly tireless night owls of Victoria.