Stampede, storms and sore feet – Calgary, Alberta, Canada

After hiding out in the woods for a time we decided to venture back into civilization. We drove back to Calgary and stopped in to visit my friend Matt (from South Africa and Hungary). He was just trying to adjust to getting back into the `life` and had just moved into his new digs. We reminisced about old times and he showed me some of his photos from way back when in Cintsa. Then we met up with his sister and all made our way down to the stampede grounds.

I don`t know what I was thinking wearing new boots. Clearly, I wasn`t thinking at all. After only about 20 minutes of walking I had already developed a nice quarter size blister. I have managed to avoid the Calgary Stampede my entire life but finally I would see what all the hype was about. We paid our 14 dollar entrance fee and walked into the sea of cowboy hats and cotton candy. First we watched a hypnotist on the main stage which when you`ve seen one, you`ve seen them all. But since Max had never seen it and my feet sorely (excuse the pun) needed a rest so we plopped down on the grass for the next hour to let ourselves be entertained.

Next we wandered through the tangle of rides but were turned off by the line ups longer than the Nile. We checked out the impossible to win midway games…the usual `break the plate`, `throw the dart`, `put the ball in the basket` variety. We thought we should find something to eat but found our choices limited to hotdogs, steaks, sausages, burgers, chicken legs, and other assorted mystery meats. We ended up settling on a slice of veggie pizza and barely finished our last bite before we noticed the blaze of lightening in the distance. It didn`t take long before we were in the center of a massive `tormenta`.

We took shelter under a overhang and watched the 15 year olds dancing and yelling as the bullets of rains pelted down on them. The lightening lit up the warm dusk evening with spectacular shades of yellow and pink. The thunder thumped loudly drowning out the relentless U2 cover band, as if to remind us all that nature will always trump us. We decided to junk the rest of our day at the carnival grounds and head over to see Matts friend play at a downtown nightclub.

The only obstacle was getting to the car which was parked 10 blocks away. We came up with the brilliant idea of makeshift rainsuits donated to our cause by the cleaning staff. Max and I even found a double garbage bag (think massive) that fit us both so we ripped open a circle for our faces, grabbed onto each other and ran like nobodys` business. Luckily we were picked up by our brave and much healthier footed counterparts who ran ahead to fetch the vehicle. We ended up borrowing the bands` stage passes to get into the bar saving us from the mile long wait in the rain.

After guzzling a few crisp cold Canadians, I had enough of the smarmy old men trying to cop a feel and the drunkards were thrashing dangerously close to us. So we made like a banana and split. By the time we got home my brain was fried but I attempted to play a game of Trivial Pursuit anyway. I was beat before I started, especially since during the game I kept thinking I was just a spectator and dozing off here and there. The next day we visited an old friend from high school who had acquired a new home and husband since I had been gone.

Chris and Hyunji took us to an event where at least a thousand people got ridiculously drunk in the HOT summer sun in the middle of a big field. It was interesting especially since Max and I don`t really drink much. A few hours later we made our way back to the same bar we were at the night before and surprise surprise the same band was playing as well. I know that we have some pretty good chemistry happening but I really started noticing the amount of people who were staring at us when we would kiss. Whats the big deal people? Have you never seen a couple in love? We had several comments and one guy even came over to congratulate us.

Perhaps before I may have been self conscious of such a thing but after being through South America where PDAs (and I`m not talking about handhelds here) are commonplace, no way. Now coming from Argentina where EVERYONE kisses hello, even bosses to employees, I feel little strange here. I realized how `untouchy`, cold and reserved people are back home. Max and I whipped off our cowboy hats and ended up on the dance floor before the night was through.

The next day we ate dim sum which Max is quickly becoming quite fond of, then headed off to try out his brand new rollerblades. Hyunji and Chris, more experienced and quicker on the skates, glided ahead down the smooth pavement. It was a gorgeous sunny day as we navigated the boardwalk along the riverbank in the city center. We stopped for a drink and there was a man holding two exotic birds on his arm. We went over to talk to him and he let us hold the docile and stunning creatures. They were very well taken care of and it was such a great experience to be able to interact with such friendly characters. We did the dinner and movie thing before turning in to rest for our long drive home the next day.

This entry was posted in North America. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply