Monday, June 15, 2015

Newfoundland - The Best Part of the Worst Part

I have a bucket list, albeit a small one. One of my goals before I die is to visit every province in Canada. Much of my travelling success so far has been due to invitations to present at various conferences. I live in Ontario, so that part was easy; annual OLA (Ontario Library Association)  and ECOO (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) conferences encourage me to explore my own province more thoroughly. In 2008 I went to British Columbia for CLA (Canadian Library Association). Although I had been before, Quebec was my conference destination in 2009 due to CLA. In 2010, I visited New Brunswick as part of APLA (Atlantic Provincial Library Association) and Alberta for TMC (Treasure Mountain Canada). Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were possible thanks to CLA in 2011. Manitoba, courtesy of MLA (Manitoba Library Association), was checked off my list in 2012. If you are keeping track, that leaves just two more provinces, and last week I was able to fulfill another dream. My dear friend and colleague Denise Colby and I went to St. John's Newfoundland for this year's APLA conference. 

You can read more about the learning from the actual conference on another blog/website I contribute to: The piece I want to reflect on here relates to my habit of participating in my host city's local attractions. I have a teacher I work with at school who is from Newfoundland and she encouraged me to get "screeched in", visit Signal Hill, and go whale watching. We did all of this, and more. We walked to the fishing village of Quidi Vidi, visited The Rooms, The Commissariat, and The Vaults, and still made time to present on Minecraft to a supportive crowd at the conference and network with attendees afterwards. 

I had a fantastic time with all of these activities, save for one. Denise and I went whale watching on a tiny boat with five other people in the early evening of Friday, June 12. I've never been on a real boat before, unless you count the ferry that shuttles Torontonians from the mainland to Centre Island. The North Atlantic Ocean was rough, and the air was cold. I sat glued to my seat with a hand constantly on the rail. About thirty minutes or so after we first set out, I went inside briefly to try and warm up and suddenly got violently sea sick. Thank heavens the boat had two washrooms. I have never vomited so hard or frequently in my life. I only had some apple cider in my gullet, which exited much more quickly than it entered. Stomach acid and bile followed, and still my insides churned. I puked until there was nothing left to puke, and then I puked some more. I was stuck on the tiny bathroom floor, dry heaving, hugging the tiny toilet and waiting for the internal and external upheaval to calm down. I spent more than half of the two-and-a-half hour trip huddled in the lavatory. Denise and I had planned on attending a "kitchen party" at Quidi Vidi after the whale watching, but I was so physically decimated after having my insides try to escape via my throat that we took a cab back to our dorm rooms at Memorial University and called it an early night.

Surprisingly, I don't regret the adventure that led to the barfing to end all barfs. What good could possibly come out of getting so sick? Well, for one, we actually got to see some whales. Not only did we spot a mother and her calf, we got photographic proof! Trevor and Jason, our captain and crew, said that they cannot guarantee that visitors will see any whales, as sightings are beyond their control. We were fortunate to see them, especially so early into our voyage. I saw them before I spent the rest of the trip in the loo. Secondly, I recovered from my gastronomical distress and it became an entertaining story to share. Third, I think I appreciated feeling well after feeling so miserable. All in all, I wouldn't change anything about the trip. Thank you APLA for giving me a reason to explore my country and pursue professional development simultaneously. Thank you Denise, for being an amazing travel companion, articulate presenter, efficient nurse, map-reader, and friend. Thank you Beckie Macdonald (from OLA) for getting us screeched in. And most of all, thank you Newfoundland for making my experience so memorable. 

Can you see the two spouts?

Trust me, that thing in the water is a fin.
This is Denise, who didn't upchuck

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