As I sit aboard my Canada 3000 flight, sipping my Kokanee beer and wistfully staring out the window at a rapidly shrinking Vancouver, I can admit to feeling a little homesick for Canada already. The past 12 months of my working holiday visa have rushed by in a blur, and thats not because I have been providing non-stop financial support to Whistlers drinking establishments. Honestly.
Rather its like the old cliché: time flies when youre having fun. So much fun and so many challenges in fact that its hard to pick out the highlights. However at the risk of sounding like an Emmy award winner, I would like to mention a few top memories.
First of all, Id like to thank my parents, God and all you beautiful people for getting me here today. Oops, didnt realize how easy it is to slip into that mode.
But seriously, my first impressions of Whistler when I arrived in July 2000 were quite mixed. On one hand I felt the town lacked soul and character compared to other ski towns Id been to Europe and U.S possibly just the hallmark of a young resort. But on the flipside, there were the fantastic surroundings and huge ski terrain, plus my new home.
Now you realize you have moved into a party house when the taxi driver knows the address before you do. "Im staying at my friends big house in Blueberry " I said, scrambling through my address book.
He interrupted. "Thatll be Tyrol Crescent."
He was right. Twelve months on, I can state that living with 12 others is fun when you get such good people and that flat meetings can be extremely productive when applying the Lord of the Flies method of the speaker holding the gourd in our case, an orange. Tyrol Crescent also taught me you can survive on local fuel foods such as perogies, poutine and tuna Kraft Dinner, that some hip-hop music is awesome and Canadian culture is great, aye.
Speaking of which, the excellent marketing efforts of Molson beer and its "I Am Canadian" campaign must go a long way towards bumping up patriotism. There were enough caps, T-shirts, bumper stickers and beer glasses sporting that slogan around Whistler to make you go cross-eyed and start thinking you are one of them. Or maybe its because after living in Whistler for more than six months, for all intents and purposes you are Canadian. Take lining up to get into the clubs for instance: "Come in for free. I recognize ya, youre a local."
With all these influencing factors, I have decided to officially go for that Molson hat by applying for landed immigrant status. This action goes against the advice of two immigration officers I might add, who both suggested that I just marry a Canadian.
"The system sucks, just marry, it is way easier," they laughed down the phone.
Alternatively another option is washing ashore in a rubber raft seeking asylum from political persecution. Since I come from New Zealand, this is hardly a valid option, although I have heard rumours of a sheep uprising.
But I do want to come back, for many reasons. Maybe it was the moment of watching the red sunrise over Whistler on that fresh tracks breakfast on Jan. 1, dancing at the Altitude SnowBall, or flying by helicopter over the Pemberton Ice-cap and realizing, I havent gone there yet. Or just the experience of working with such great friends and colleagues at Pique and CBC Radio. While I have achieved a lot in my time here personal highlights include features on tracking wild bears, on bald eagles, on going ice-boarding, snowmobiling and rock climbing there is still so much to do. Any takers for a story on heli-boarding, for instance not that I dont enjoy the more mundane news stories, of course.
So wish me luck with convincing the Canadian authorities that I am a national treasure, or something of that ilk. In the meantime, it is Europe that will be blessed with some outstanding pieces of investigative journalism along the lines of, "Which truly is Europes favourite beer?" and "Who hosts the best parties, England, Germany, France or Spain?"
If all goes well, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Ill be back."
Thanks for everything Canada, may Ullr bless you in 2001 and keep on partying.