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Archive for July, 2014
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Her name is Reagan (like Ronald, I suppose; but smarter and a heck of a lot better looking) and she’s been in Toronto working for the better part of a year. She originally stayed here with us at the hostel but moved out several months ago.
Reagan was born in Australia but has dual citizenship since her mother was born in Canada. She took a leave of absence from her job in Oz where she was an Immingration Officer.
Reagan stayed with us for a few months before finding long-term lodging right across the street. As a result Regan is a frequent visitor to the Canadiana, her first Toronto home.
There’s a lot about Canada that Regan likes (health care, for one) but I doubt the cold weather is included in that list. Still, it’s been a pretty good year for the attractive young Asssie. She has received two job offers – both from the Australian Government.
Two jobs in paradise, as a matter of fact.
She must choose between job offers in Sauva, Fiji and Honolulu, Hawaii. Tough choice! I think she’s leaning towards Hawaii because it is a two-year appointment with the Australian Consul General and the job description is pretty exciting.
The work in Fiji would be very similar to what she was doing before with the Immigration Department back home. However the position in Hawaii would involve new challenges working in diplomatic circles.
She hasn’t decided which she will take as of yet. But I strongly suspect that Hawaii will win out. That job would mean stepping out of her comfort zone and face new challenges. Those of us who know Reagan would expect nothing less from her.
Congratulations and best of luck Reagan – whatever you choose!
The Venezuelan invasion happened suddenly. The leader, Luisa, her right hand man her son Rafael and her biggest supporter her daughter Alejandra.
The great family that they were, they were loved by all in the short three months that they were here studying english.
When it started to get closer to the time that they would leave you could feel the sadness in the air.
So Pearcey decided to throw them a going away party, Venezuelan style.
Alejandra and Rafael helped to prepare the traditional food. One of the most significant foods from Venezuela, Arepas which is a kind of bread and Papelon a drink made with raw hardened sugar cane pulp and usually lemon or lime.
Venezuelan flags were hung and what a surprise it was for Luisa who had been kept inside until everything was ready.
Lots of different nationalities joined in the Venezuelen atmosphere and what a great experience it was for everyone.
Once the food was eaten the traditional Venezuelan music was turned up and a dance floor created so that everyone at the party could dance into the night led by Rafael.
We miss you all…. when will you come back to visit?
Want to visit Toronto? Afraid of the cold weather? The seasons changed (officially) on Sunday the 23d of September. It signaled the end of our hot and sticky summer and the arrival of the cooler weather of autumn.
But this year, the summer was anything but hot and sticky and today (the second day of autumn) saw temperatures in the high 20′sC and the humidity making it feel as if it were 33C! The forecast for, at least, the next week is for more of the same!
The long range prediction is that our autumn/fall season will experience above average temperatures and below average precipitation. All in all, rather pleasant weather for visitors to our city.
The weather patterns of Canada, in general, and Toronto, in particular, have changed radically in recent years. We still have the bright, blazing colors of the forests as the deciduous trees loose their leaves and drop. (A show which is going on even as I write this blog.)
But winters in Canada have also been moderated by the effects of Global Warming. Ontario ski resorts were closed for a month last year during what should have been their peak season. And the time was (and not so long ago) that our city would be snow covered by mid-November.
Last year we had a green Christmas and had virtually no snow until mid-January. Although what followed was the coldest February in three decades, it is safe to say that Toronto’s winters are much milder that they were only a few years ago. I have not needed to wear my snow boots for the past two years!
The leaves of our forests just north of Toronto have begun to turn bright colors – a sure sign that winter is just around the corner – but from the warm weather we are experiencing right now, you’d never know it!
Of course it’s politically incorrect to say so, but I kind of hope that this winter is a repeat of the last two; minus the freezing month of February of last year.
Hardy is from New Zealand (sort of). He was actually born in Germany but has lived downunder for well over two decades. He arrived in NZ shortly before his 20th birthday, so it’s safe to say that English is his second language.
Hardy stayed here at the hostel about two years ago while he attended the University of Toronto for an intensive course in creative writing. It must have been a pretty good one too.
You mustn’t lose sight of the fact that he is not a native English speaker; his mother tounge is, of course, German. But his spoken English is virtually flawless; if you are generous enough to consider a Kiwi accent, flawless. (See previous entry: “Kiwi or Airport Chicken”).
To make a long story short, Hardy wrote a rather remarkable short story that garnered second place in a New Zealand nation-wide literary contest. Shortly after that win Hardy told me: “After this, I guess the Booker Prize will be an anti-climax.”
Hardy’s here for another course at the U 0f T. He must be serious about winning the Booker! We’ll try to keep you posted on his next literary triumph!
Meanwhile, move over Joseph Conrad! The latest generation of European literary greats has arrived – and his name is Hardy Knuff!
Welcome back Hardy! It really is good to see you again.
Last April, we wrote about Mike Campbell who was beginning a 12,000 mile bike trip to raise money for cancer research. (See: April 27, entry “Endurance 2007″)
In may he left (by air) for Vancouver to pick up his bicycle. He started out in late July and 4,700 kms later (and more than 20 lbs lighter) has arrived back at the Canadiana Hostel for a well-earned rest.
His pace across North America (the first leg of his epic trek) has been somewhat slowed due to an old knee injury acting up. Mike was struck by a drunk driver in the UK some years ago and the leg? still gives him problems at times.
He’ll spend some time here with us to give his injured leg time to strengthen then he’s off for Boston where he will have knocked off his first continent from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic shores.
Mike will also spend some time raising more sponsorships for his worthy cause before heading for New Zealand where he intends to cycle the length of those lovely islands. Also on his list is cycling the length of Japan; the width of Australia; the length of Britain before heading home to ride the roads of the Emerald Isles from County Cork to his home in Belfast.
So far Mike has endured the gruelling climb of the Canadian Rockies; the oppressive heat of the Prairies – land so flat you can see the night rising? on the horizon? behind you. He has battled headwinds in the hills and forests of Northern Ontario. But most amazing of all is the fact that he has covered the first 4,700 kms without a single puncture!
All we have to say is, thus far, nicely done Mike! And touch wood Mike! Touch wood.?
When our Latino and Latina guests hold a party in the hostel, there is always plenty of food and a lot of dancing. They really seem to know how to enjoy themselves.
A recent birthday party for young Raphael from Venezuela (see earlier post: “Raphael”) was no exception. He turned fifteen while studying here in Toronto – a pretty important occasion for a young Venezuelan man.
Anyhow, nore photos of the party just arrived and it shows Raphael and his friends dancing up a storm at the hostel.
Raphael showing our Manager, Sandra, how to “Salsa”!
Below: Young Raphael dancibg with his pretty female guests.
Visitors from the UK tend to arrive here in batches. It seems to depend on the price of airfares. For instance, when cheaper flights are offered from Cardiff in Wales, there are a lot more Welsh people in the hostel.
Recently, there have been lower cost tickets available from Dublin to Toronto and as a result, there are a lot of Irish visitors at the Canadiana right now.
It has been said (by non-Irish) .that the Irish don’t pay much attention to things they “can’t drink or punch”. Alright, that’s funny, I suppose; but, we all know it’s not true.
But it’s a lot of fun to watch how Irish people from different parts of the Emerald Isles interact with each other. There is a lot of playful badinage happening when our Irish visitors get together.
According to Steve (a.k.a. “Doughy”) a long time guest here at the hostel there is an invasion of “Westies” (from the west coast of Ireland) whom he also refers to a “Cultchies” (something to do with lack of culture, I think). Anyhow, to Steve those terms refer to anyone coming from west of Dublin.
They, in turn, call Steve a “Dub” (Dubliner) or a “Jackeen” (who knows why). And as far as lack of culture goes, Steve or Doughy as he is known shouldn’t talk! He’s a professional chef in a high-end, fine-dining establishment in Toronto’s Entertainment District. But his own diet leans heavily on super-sized MacDonald’s burgers and fries!
I’m pretty sure that there will be quite a lot more Irish visitors in the weeks to come as fares from Dublin and Shannon are still quite low. Be they “Westies”, “Cultchies”, Jackeens” or “Dubs” (terms that are not exactly pejoratives but also not exactly complimentary) they are a hell of a lot of fun!
l. to r. Mike from Belfast (the odd man out) with the “Westies” Liz, Eimear, Brigid and Kieran.
Nilesh is back! He’s been a fixture at the Canadiana for almost four years. He’s also a brand new Canadian citizen! He has just returned from an extended visit with his family in Pune, India located near Bombay.
To say that Nilesh is “bright” would be a huge understatement. While visiting his parents he studied and passed several levels of computer networking certifications while doing free-lance computer consultancy work at the same time. The certifications can take as long as a year to a year-and-a-half of intense study to attain.
Nilesh did it in a little over three months – while working!
Quite remarkable, well done Nilesh!
Nilesh with Teresa our head of housekeeping.
..Finally rain….followed by a thunderstorm outside the Canadiana.
..Keeping the hostel spick and span is a full time job.
I’m not sure of this gentlemans name but he was a great guest. Always smiling, cheerful, and pleasant. In this picure he is leaving the hostel to try and hitch hike to Algonguin Park…….Hope everything went okay……..
A rare quiet moment at the front desk.
Our events coordinator (Pearcey, on the left) and Sandra (our Manager on the right) saying goodbye to Amy. A particularly cute girl, Amy is leaving us to go to Banff but is back in two months…We hope so.
Casino Night with Pearcey looking like James Bond in Casino Royale..
What do you do if you are a fourteen-year old foreign student from Venezuela and you are turning fifteen here in Toronto so far from home?
Well, if you are here at the Canadiana, you celebrate with family and friends!
Raphael is a English language student and he has been with us with since early summer. His sister Alejandra and their mother Luisa are all students in the same school. This close-knit family has been the subject of an earlier blog and have been featured prominently in a few others.
They have become a part of the Canadiana family as so many of our guest do. Raphael turned fifteen here at the hostel in the company of many fellow students and hostel guest. Is the Canadiana a “home-away-from-home”? Just ask the Vargas clan!
Luisa, Alejandra and Raphael
“Mesdames et Messieurs, faites vos jeux!” Pearcey, our events co-ordinator, didn’t actually say that. But it would have been funny to hear him say that in his (almost) Cockney accent! He’d likely say, Alright folks, ‘urry up and place your bloody bets!” In fact, I think he did.
Pearcey organized a “Casino Night” here at the hostel (no actual gambling – that would be illegal!) and it was quite a success! Almost 40 people signed up for the event at $20 each!
Twenty bucks at a backpackers hostel!? Not only that, he had a dress code in effect! A dress code at a Backpackers Inn?! It may sound a little expensive and a little crazy; but, you get what you pay for!
Pearcey managed to get Steve (a.k.a. “Doughy”) and Jono – two other members of the Canadiana’s “Lager Louts” – to cook up an amazing spread that included Chicken Wings and Meatballs! Both Doughy and Jono are professional chefs!
It was an “all you can eat” affair- a pretty good deal! The food was so tasty it was soon finished. The guests descended on the food table like well-dressed vultures! But when that was gone they ordered in a mess of Pizza’s; there was plenty to eat for all!
Guests we all given an equal number of “chips” (no par value) to use at the two blackjack tables and single Roulette table**. At the end of the night, the person with the most chips won a prize. There was plenty to eat and there was plenty of fun as well!
** (the winners were; Matt and Melanie – a large bottle Jack Daniel’s (40oz.) – CONGRATULATIONS)