Wine and Cheese in Port Moody and Émigrés Compare Notes

This after­noon Pam and I took the Sky­train out to the Lougheed Town Mail sta­tion, where Matt picked us and fer­ried us up to a Wine and Cheese Par­ty at Oan­na’s house up the hill (about a 15 minute dri­ve, and a great help). It was a bright, sun­ny day, and a lit­tle cool, but gen­er­al­ly pleas­ant. We saw lots of patch­es of melt­ed snow as the car climbed the small moun­tain where Oana’s house was.

We had a real­ly nice time, meet­ing a lot of her friends and Oana was par­tic­u­lar­ly help­ful in giv­ing many guests a prop­er intro­duc­tion so we knew of where inter­ests might inter­sect. Some­times we also learned of oth­er coin­ci­dences that only arise after a bit of con­ver­sa­tion, like the fact that the small town of Wait­s­field, Ver­mont was also fre­quent­ed by one of the oth­er par­ty guests, who often vis­it­ed there from Mon­tre­al(!). Oana had assem­bled a great vari­ety of cheeses includ­ing Sage Der­by, Aged Gou­da, Wens­ley­dale with Man­go, Tiger Blue (which is a BC bleu cheese that is quite good). and sev­er­al oth­ers, and Matt also con­tributed some fiery (and even more fiery!) sal­sas. We brought some Bril­lat Savarin, a lit­tle Salt Spring Island Chévre and some Mimo­lette, which were also munched on along with the rest of the ‘cheesy comestibles’, as the Mon­ty Python sketch goes.

It all Depends on Your Point of View
We also met anoth­er cou­ple of Amer­i­can émigrées. Ceci­ly and Lar­ry moved here from Cal­i­for­nia at about the same time we did. They were retired from work­ing in IT with a daugh­ter in col­lege, and are now liv­ing in Bel­car­ra, an area on the east side of Indi­an Arm (a north­ern fjord of the Bur­rard Inlet), about an hour or so from down­town by car.

After each of us told the oth­er our sto­ries ? which were sim­i­lar enough; We’re all escapees of Bush’s Amer­i­ca, even though were were safe­ly sur­round­ed by friends and rel­a­tives who were in blue states ? we got to com­par­ing the dif­fer­ences that we noticed between where we were now and what we remem­bered of the US.

Mass Tran­sit: They felt that it was­n’t done right here, main­ly because there weren’t park­ing lots near some of the key Sky­train hub sta­tions, mak­ing a ‘park-and-ride’ strat­e­gy incon­ve­nient or down­right impos­si­ble. In addi­tion, they said that they sus­pect­ed that a lot of peo­ple did­n’t pay the fare (it is on the hon­or sys­tem). I’d have to say that we did­n’t expe­ri­ence this at all, since we don’t have a car, and I nev­er gave a thought as to whether there was ram­pant cheat­ing on the part of pas­sen­gers (since we were so care­ful that we thought we’d be caught if we ever did­n’t pay and nev­er asked anybody).

Roads: They felt that Cana­di­an roads were not main­tained as well, nor were they as wide or fast as Amer­i­can free­ways. Again, with­out a car, we had no way of know­ing. In fact, when we have dri­ven up to Van­cou­ver from Seat­tle, we’ve noticed that the road appears to get bet­ter after you cross the bor­der, but this is just one high­way, and we just don’t have expe­ri­ence with the rest of the roadways.

Cost of Liv­ing: We both agreed that some things were much more expen­sive: our biggest com­plaint (no sur­prise) was wine. Com­ing from Cal­i­for­nia, they par­tic­u­lar­ly missed good, cheap wine. Here wine is nei­ther good, nor cheap. Odd­ly enough, they felt that there was less vari­ety of fruits and veg­eta­bles in the mar­kets, where we, com­ing from Boston, had observed exact­ly the oppo­site. That’s not all that sur­pris­ing. I was hap­py to learn that their expe­ri­ences so far regard­ing med­ical care (they had got­ten cov­er­age the begin­ning of this month, just like us), was that it was just as good as what they had under the HMO back in Cal­i­for­nia, and that the wait for a doc­tor here was, if any­thing, short­er than the one they had under the pri­vate med­ical sys­tem of the US.

How ‘Wired’: Pam and I noticed that our Inter­net ser­vice here is far bet­ter than the best that we could get in Boston. Lar­ry and Cecil were blessed with a phe­nom­e­nal (and quite atyp­i­cal) fiber-optic link direct­ly to their house­hold back in the states, which is some­thing I know is way above the norm.

Cana­di­an Demeanor’: We both agreed that Cana­di­ans were far more polite and friend­ly than we found Amer­i­cans to be. I was actu­al­ly sur­prised to hear this, since I assumed that my per­cep­tion was skewed by the fact that Boston is reput­ed to be the very rud­est city in North Amer­i­ca. Nev­er­the­less, we both found our­selves sur­prised and pleased at the cour­te­ous­ness of our new neigh­bors. Lar­ry was now a Fresh­man at the Emi­ly Carr Insti­tute, and found that he was quite pop­u­lar and accept­ed by his class­mates (many, I expect, who would have been his daugh­ter’s age).

Movie the­atres: Here we both shocked each oth­er. I was impressed at how many there were and how nice they were. They felt that they could­n’t find any any­where. I think this says that movie the­atres here in BC are more clus­tered with­in the city, and the con­cept of a mul­ti­plex in a sub­ur­ban mall is less com­mon (although I’ve been to a pret­ty huge one at the Metro­town mall, but maybe that’s not far enough out to qual­i­fy as tru­ly suburban).

Those were a few of the things we talked about. The biggest dif­fer­ence between us is prob­a­bly our work sit­u­a­tion (we’re not retired yet) and where we set­tled (after a brief peri­od rent­ing not too far from us on False Creek South, they moved out to rur­al Bel­car­ra and we stayed in the city). They still dri­ve every­where and have a dog. We have no pets and no car. Do these things affect the expe­ri­ence of Cana­da vs. the US? Prob­a­bly a bit. Ceci­ly and I both not­ed that the News media in the US has become a drum­beat of vio­lence and sen­sa­tion­al­ism, which is some­thing you don’t get up here. This makes for a very dif­fer­ent pop­u­lace and a very dif­fer­ent life, in the end. It was fun to com­pare and con­trast, and I bet I’ll get the chance to do it again, per­haps with more Bush-dodg­ing Americans.

One more bit of evi­dence of how small the world is: I also met Karen and Zhongxi, who both per­form on the tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese mouth organ, the Sheng (I believe that’s the one). I also found out that by coin­ci­dence, Karen had stud­ied piano at Ober­lin Con­ser­va­to­ry with none oth­er than an old fam­i­ly friend of ours, Peter Takacs. Those coin­ci­dences just keep com­ing, don’t they?

2 Replies to “Wine and Cheese in Port Moody and Émigrés Compare Notes”

  1. We keep find­ing those dif­fer­ences every sin­gle day, eh? 

    We don’t have a car as well. There are days that we wish we did, but for the most part, we real­ly enjoy not hav­ing one. She’s used to the tran­sit sys­tem and I love being able to not rely on a car. Back in Iowa, you need­ed a car to get every­where. For now, bus­es and the train is the way for us.

    We’re cur­rent­ly plan­ning a get­away to the island soon and will rent a vehi­cle for a few days for that. That seems to work for us just dandy.

  2. Hi John -
    Good idea with the rental car. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I’ve noticed that most of the ones we’ve rent­ed here were more expen­sive than in Seat­tle. If we end up need­ing one more often, We’ll join the Car Coop ( Per­haps it might be good for you as well.
    Hope you like the Island. We went to Vic­to­ria years ago, before mov­ing here was even under con­sid­er­a­tion. We loved the place, and Butchart Gar­dens alone were worth the trip.

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