Monday, July 20, 2009


Summer has always been the silly season. Even if I am still working, my normally planned and scheduled life just seems to get out of whack. This year seems even more distanced than ever. The boys always spend July with their father and August with me. Usually I wait out July on my own in the apartment, which I like because I enjoy having the time to myself. I read, I go out to the gym, I go out with friends, I spend time writing letters or updating my blog. I don't get lonely on my own.

This year I decided to do something different: rather than staying in the apartment, I decided to come up to Canada earlier. I do all of my work by Internet, the boys would be with Jose Miguel, and Rupert (the hamster) had met an untimely demise at the end of June, so there was no pressing need to remain in Bogota. I'd been in touch with friends in Canada, and Stevie Wonder was to perform at a free concert to kick off the Montreal Jazz festival on 30 June, so I booked my tickets to fly on 28 June.

Getting out of the Bogota airport was hell. Fortunately Lori had warned me that the airport had melted down into complete chaos, so I knew to be there a full three hours before the flight. Nothing was working right, from the lines at check-in, to the lines at immigration, to the lines for security. It was an absolute madhouse, with people panicking because they were missing their flights. With Lori's help, I had packed one of Jenny's mammoth bags with stuff of hers from the attic. The bag was over 50 lbs, so I had to shift some stuff from one bag to the other. The fee to check a second bag is supposed to be $25, but when I went to pay it, the bored guy at the Continental desk said, "That will be $100 dollars please." He claimed that $25 was the extra bag fee but only for flights to the U.S. and because I was bound for Canada it would be more expensive. I hesitated. Do I pay it? Do I fight with the pimply, bored clerk? I couldn't, in good conscience, just abandon Jenny's bag of old family photos, and other assorted stuff. I decided to fight it out option. I had checked the information online, I had checked with the travel agent, and with the airline representative before booking: the fee for a second bag is $25, and $100 is just ridiculous. I fussed. I fussed a lot. Finally the guy said that he'd issue a receipt for transport to NY, which was the first leg of the flight. If there were any problems with the amount that was paid, I'd have to make up the difference there. That works for me. As it turned out, there was no problem. The bags and I both arrived in Montreal without incident. To top it off, the airplane was stinky. I'd never been on a stinky plane before. Incontinental.
Montreal Jazz Fest

30 June: Arrived downtown in the afternoon in time to see Stevie Wonder's sound check, which was so much more than a sound check; it was a mini concert of its own. When we arrived, Stevie's stunt double was performing SW songs, with the accompaniment of the full band. The guy was actually quite good. Then Stevie Wonder himself turned up, greeted the crowd, sat down at his keyboard and played. He sang 4-5 songs. It was great! We were about 20 m from the stage (I think he saw me!). It was a good thing that we made the afternoon appearance, because when we came back in the evening, it was crazy. There were too many people. The jazz fest changed the layout of its open-air stages this year, and they hadn't yet worked out the crowd flow and control issues yet. We couldn't even get near one of the big screens where the show was being broadcast, to say nothing of the main stage itself. It was ugly. Finally, after being jostled by the crowds for a while, we decided to leave.

On Saturday, 4 July, I saw jazz vocalist Susie Arioli at the Teatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts. She's just lovely!

Blues Festival in Tremblant
A ski resort town has sprung up at the base of Mount Tremblant in the Laurentians. I wouldn't say that the town has been Disneyfied, because the town previously did not exist. The ski resort is a condo village. It looks vaguely like Quebec City, colourful and filled with chic boutiques and restos. There is no local population. The real town of Tremblant is 14 km away. It might not be a "real" town, but we still had fun. We saw some great concerts.

Here are some pics that my friend Ken took:

Shawn Kellerman's wild blues guitar! This footage is from another concert, but he had the crowd howling for more at Tremblant.
With Penny and Barry


I meant to go downtown to see the Los Van Van concert with Jorge and Rosemary for the closing concert of the Montreal jazz festival, but I was finishing a major translation and didn't make it. A lot of the time that I have been here I have felt simply too exhausted to do anything. I've been working, and have had a couple of independent translation jobs, plus an extra assignment from the press agency, but not really more than I would be doing in Bogota. I've joined the YMCA, which I like. It is interesting for me to try a new style of classes for a while. I observe two things: The weight training classes are excellent here; much better and more demanding in Canada than in Bogota. In contrast, the aerobic classes have less complex choreographies and the instructors use the same choreographies week after week. I'd be bored silly after a while. This is fine for the summer though. I haven't got much reading done. Sharon brought me a big pile of books. I have started one of them called My Wedding Dress, which is a collection of short essays by women recalling the circumstances of their weddings. It is very varied, and quite good. I have also been watching the series Mad Men on DVD with Mum. I'd like to spend a bit more time on reading and organizing the little bits of writing that are accumulating all over the place (a couple of book reviews, more blog entries, etc.). But my energy is still a bit low, although getting some exercise every day helps enormously. Yesterday I vacuumed the house from top to bottom. It needed it. Later in the week I'll have a chance to do some more cleaning. Mum keeps her house very organized but her eyesight isn't that good anymore and she doesn't see how dirty it actually gets. Although I am working and in touch with family and friends, I have a feeling of unreality; that this isn't really my life.

This morning I woke up at around 5:30, which was just after sunrise. As I lay in bed I noticed that I hardly heard any birds… and still don't hear any for that matter. In Bogota the birds are riotous between 5:00 and 6:00, just before sunrise. Maybe I woke up too late to hear them here; maybe they are quieter breeds in Canada; maybe there aren't as many birds in Pointe Claire. Matt and William are off to the Amazon today with their father. They'll be there until Friday. Maybe that is also part of why I feel my life is so unreal lately. They will arrive here on the 31st, in 11 days.

No comments: