O Canada

I’m writing this in our new home of Lloydminster, on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Facebook friends have seen photos and read updates, but I haven’t had the time to actually write up something here. Also, I forgot that I have this blog …

So, Canada. Why Lloydminster of all places? What about Vancouver? Toronto? Ottawa? Well that’s an easy one: Lloydminster needs doctors, and I’m married to one. In fact, I’m married to one of the best doctors I know, and I’ve seen my fair share.

We left Johannesburg on the day after Julius Caesar was assassinated, and the day before St Patrick’s Day. Off to Zurich on Swiss International Air Lines, with a seven hour layover before flying to Toronto for a three day holiday.

Except our Toronto flight was cancelled.

So what do you do? All flights out of Europe were full. If we wanted to get the next one, we’d sleep in Zurich’s airport because we didn’t have Schengen visas. We’d also miss an entire day of our Toronto trip and lose bookings on various excursions, which cost a fair amount of money.

Fortunately we had decided (well, I was dragged along) to get US visas a week before we left. That was fortuitous because we were able to get Swiss to fly us to Toronto via Boston in the US. Massachusetts, thank you very much.

We didn’t see much of Boston: some blurry photos in the skywalk, and a four hour sleep in the airport’s Hilton Hotel.

We got to Toronto 14 hours later than planned, but sufficiently rested (well, barely) to make our bookings, which included a very pleasant surprise in the form of “Young Frankenstein, the Musical”.

Toronto is a distant but good memory already, except for the tooth ache. Ah yes, I managed to bring over an abscess with me. $83 to see a dentist, and $36 for the antibiotics and painkillers, were almost as painful as the toothache itself.

The city seems very clean. The Canadians were super friendly (and mostly still are – you get the feeling that the writers on “How I Met Your Mother” are just exaggerating real people).

The food is expensive, though. $10 – $15 per person per meal, and up to $50 or more eating out. Unless you like beef. Beef is cheap. Luckily I like beef. On the other hand, there’s cholesterol. So, ja. The portions are huge too. I’ve left a few plates and glasses with food and drink respectively.

Best burger ever: Hard Rock Café in Toronto. Seriously.

Niagara Falls was really awesome, though a little chilly. This winter thing tends to run a month later than you’d expect.

After Toronto was Saskatoon, or “Toon Town”. It is the biggest city in Saskatchewan, with over 200 000 people. Regina (rhymes with, well, yes … moving swiftly along) is the capital, with fewer than 200 000 people. Huge, thriving, mega cities, as you can imagine.

We were taken on a tour of the city, and half an hour later, we ate food at one of the finer establishments. Then we were taken to shops. Lots of shops. Lots and lots of shops.

Registration at the College of Physicians and Surgeons was quick, at 2 hours and 15 minutes, and then a Lloydminster doctor’s husband (Tommy) came to fetch us. We joked and said to bring a big car because we have lots of luggage. He arrived in a Toyota Tundra. Not the small one either.

The drive to Lloyd, as the locals call it, took around three hours, but fortunately it went quickly because Tommy is a good conversationalist and was able to tell us a lot about the city, the clinic, and other things like how to buy a car.

We got to Lloydminster and went to visit people at the clinic, and then off to our new house. It is a two bed apartment on the ground floor, with a thermostat and lots of storage space. It was missing window treatments when we arrived, like curtains and / or blinds, so we hung a sheet for the first night!

It snowed on Tuesday and Wednesday. 10 – 12cm in fact. I think they arranged it just for us.

Today we bought a new car: a Nissan Rogue SL something or other. It’s shiny and has a sunroof, which is really important for these weather conditions :-). Marinus loves it and I really like it too. We looked at a black Ford and a red Toyota, but the Nissan stole our hearts. My Mandela-emblazoned card helped pay the deposit.

I think it’s bed time. But that should get you into the picture for now.