I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get this post up for a few days – but I’m already learning to make time here for what is important. If you’re reading this, you’re important in my life, so thank you!
My take-off at the Victoria airport was a little hectic on Thursday morning. Heavily concerned that my second checked bag would be far over the maximum allowed 70lbs, I was informed that I was barely over fifty, and wouldn’t even pay an overweight fee. I was overjoyed, but instantly regretted a few of the items I had urgently tossed out of my suitcase the night before in a panic to remain legal to fly (my other coat, some tea, and many, many extra pairs of socks).
Nonetheless, the hard part was over, and my bloody heavy bags were out of my hands.
With a new miniature hookah under my arm and a backpack on my shoulders, I ventured through security. As always, I was randomly selected to for an extra search. You bet I chose the pat down – there are few simple joys in life as making an airport security guard as uncomfortable as their existence makes the general public. Also, those scanners really are shit for your health.
Upon arriving in Vancouver, I had three or so hours (to nap, obviously) before my flight to Sandspit. I woke up with enough time to connect with some of the other students also waiting. As boarding begins, more of us realize we’re all on this trip, and so do the locals who are joining us on the plane. They’re as excited for us as we are, and the chatter is loud and enthusiastic as we all board a rad little Bombardier prop plane for the 2-hour jaunt over to Haida Gwaii.
Francois had given me the perfect book for the flight: ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road’ – Willie Nelson’s memoirs, ramblings and life-lessons. I was reading it intensely for nearly two hours. At his insightful suggestion that “maybe Earth is a school where we come to learn lessons,” I looked out and saw these mystical islands, rising out of the mist as if only just coming into reality themselves, knowing that I was in for one hell of a lesson these coming months. Somewhat out of fashion for this time of year, the weather was absolutely clear upon landing:
From the small airport, we boarded a bus to the ferry across the bay to Graham Island, where we will all be living and learning. One of my three roommates and I were given a ride to our house by ‘Captain Gold’, our new friend and landlord! He is a kind-hearted Haida historian at the ripe age of 71, though you’d never guess that if you saw him. In the 1970s, this man paddled his canoe more than 200 kilometres up the coast in order to establish formal protection of his heritage, and the heritage of all the Haida people from this land. He secured this by forming the Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program, which works to keep an eye on important historical sites in Haida Gwaii, and educate visitors of their significance. On the short drive, he told us some local folklore, shortened versions of his people’s stories. I’m excited for the privilige to hear these stories in their full.
Our house, rainbow stairs, is aptly named:
It’s a bright, incredibly large space, with a lot of room to share with anyone who is able to visit! It’s also full of art – photography, painted drums, flags and local maps. My room (which is amazingly larger than the small shed I had previously been sharing with my boyfriend!) has my favourite map in the whole house. It’s probably six feet tall, and encompasses the geography of this beautiful place.
My roommates and I are quickly getting to know each other. Everyone is so wise in their own way, and also well-travelled! It makes me excited to voyage out around this little rock in space, maybe even beyond. Here’s to the first day of a new adventure!