Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Mon premier jour en Trois-Pistoles!

My Trip to Trois-Pistoles / Mon Voyage a Trois-Pistoles
Yesterday, I woke up at 6 am for my trip to Trois-Pistoles.  The train departed London at 7:44 am.  I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew that morning but I ended up seeing several people: Jonathan Boulter, Sarah from Q1 Hamlet, Andrew Cannon, and Mitch Hammerstedt.  I sat with Cannon on the train until we got to Toronto where we parted ways.
I have travelled on trains before, but this was my first EPIC train ride.  By epic, I mean I rode three trains and it took a total of 17 hours to get from London to Trois-Pistoles.  The only thing that worried me was that I would miss my next train or I would get on the wrong one.  I had no reason to worry really because the VIA Rail employees were all very friendly and helpful.
I’ve discovered I really like travelling alone.  The hours between departing Toronto and arriving in Montreal were really relaxing.  I had my netbook with me, and VIA has wireless (sans chords?) Internet, so I could surf the web, go on Facebook, Twitter, and create my own blog (bloggue?).  Even though VIA blocked sites like Youtube and Grooveshark, they didn’t block others like CBC, CTV, etc., so I watched most of an episode of The Tudors.  I started reading Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass as well, but too late into the journey.  Once I began reading, I wished I had spent less time on the Internet because from the first page I was really enjoying it.
When I got to Montreal, I had an hour to kill before my next train.  I had checked my baggage in Toronto, but didn’t realise that it was being sent to Trois-Pistoles right away; I spent about 20 minutes waiting for my luggage in Montreal and when it wasn’t there, I realised that it probably was already on the train.  I asked a VIA employee and she confirmed it.  Next time, I’ll know!
I went to line up for the train, and I saw a group of people my age talking together.  I stood within earshot so I could listen for any indication that they were headed to Trois-Pistoles.  Sure enough, they were!  I went over to join them.  I met John, Sean, Erika, and Christina, then later came Erik, Mustafa, Jessica, and Elyse.  We quickly became friends and all sat together on the train.
Part way through the train ride, we decided to go up to the “Observation Deck,” which is basically a seating area a little bit higher than the rest of the train and the ceiling of the car is glass.  We had a panorama view of the countryside.  The sunset was absolutely beautiful.  On the Observation Deck, we also met Laura and Dan.  We all talked for hours about everything: films, T.V., school, family, how much French we did(n’t) know, our favourite foods, our favourite sports.  We pretty much talked about everything.
The train attendant for our area’s name was Dave.  Dave is hilarious!  He’s in his late 20’s, a native Quebecer, spoke English incredibly well, and had a great sense of humour.  He took a liking to us (probably because he was really bored and we were having so much fun) and he made us a quiz en francais about different facts about Quebec and the French language.  He was so nice and funny and gave us some really good advice for Trois-Pistoles, such as interesting places to visit.  He also came up later and gave us all free mousse cake and “shots” of milk.  It was a joke because we were asking him if we could win free shots for answering his questions correctly.  We all pitched in and gave him a tip, about $17-20, I think. 
By about 10 pm, we were all getting sleepy, especially me and Erik because we had been up so early to catch the train in London.  I ended up falling asleep in the Observation Deck.  It was cold because there was a fan circulating the air at a pretty high speed.  I began to regret leaving my mum’s lined spring jacket at home (and I have continued to regret it since, because, despite the warm temperatures in Trois-Pistoles, it is situated right on the St. Lawrence River, and I did not take into account the cold front coming off the water).  I fell asleep for a little bit, then Erik (I think) woke me up when we got into Trois-Pistoles.  I was really tired.
We got off the train and were met at the station by the co-ordinators and the host families.  I was paired with Stephanie and Benoit Dumont, a very nice couple, probably in there late 30’s.  I was also to room with Usha (?) at the Dumont’s.  Their house is beautiful!  It is very modern looking, inside and out, but also very comfortable and cozy.  The Dumont’s have 4 children.  The eldest is 14, there is a 6 year old daughter, and the other children (les autres enfants) I did not meet and cannot remember their ages.  I was looking forward to staying with the Dumont’s.  Then I saw cat toys.  Not good.  I am extremely allergic to cats; the Dumont’s have TWO (deux)!
I told them I was allergic and I would have to leave.  I felt really bad about it, but I would not be able to survive in that house.  The Dumont’s were very understanding and Stephanie called the co-ordinator to explain the problem.  I had filled out my allergies on the registration form, but these things happen.  The co-ordinator (Rachelle?) drove out to the Dumont’s house to pick me up and took me to Roger and Yvette Tremblay’s house.
The Tremblay’s have a very small dog called “PomPom.”  I’m not sure what breed she is but she’s very tiny and has puffy black hair.  So far, I have not had any allergic reactions to PomPom (knock wood).  She doesn’t shed at all, unlike Phoebe.  She is a very nice, quiet dog.  The Tremblay’s are very nice and quiet, too!  They are an older couple, retired, and moved to Trois-Pistoles some years ago to become host families for the students (les etudiants) who take part in the immersion program.  I am also living with Elyse.  We are the only students with the Tremblay’s this week, but next week (la semain prochaine) more students will arrive.
Well, I’m tired now; it’s 12:24 am and I have to be up at 7:30, so I’ll sign off now.  Hope you stayed awake for this post.  It’s long, but so much happens here and I might as well record as much of it as I can for posterity.
I’m going to bed now (je me coucher).  More tomorrow.  Bonne nuit! 

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