Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's a Freak Show, Baby

We took the Saturday afternoon train from Quebec City to Montreal and arrived at our new hotel at suppertime. The carpets were stained, garbage lined the narrow halls, the walls were filthy and ... Drew loved it. He said it felt like home.

This was the boys' room: And this was mine: I could snore to my heart's content
We walked for 5 hours along a sketchy stretch of road where Clint could absorb "the culture" of the city. I was starting to feel sick (from the cold, not the environment), so I really dragged my tail as we walked uphill.
At one point, he pulled the flyer he had in his pocket to confirm the address for the late night techno show he was planning on attending at midnight.
I kid you not - never have I seen a more uninviting entrance to a building. A single, barred up door with no signage. I was sure he was going to be drugged and sold as a sex slave.
We had supper at a little neighbourhood (as opposed to touristy) hamburger joint. I hate hamburgers. But OH. MY. GOODNESS. It was awesome. And the poutine? Magnificent.
Anyway, we walked back to our hotel (Holiday Inn Express) and I prayed that Clint would fall asleep and forget about his techno show.
He didn't.
And I got caught up in that book about the Secret of Bees, so I guess things worked out for both of us in the end.
Sunday, our last day in Montreal, was spent at the Mont Royal Park to witness the weekly hippy love fest known as Tam Tams.
I don't know if I have the words to describe it.
Here. Look at these images:

Every/any one with a bongo drum would play together in one big jam session. I'd say there were about 50 drums.
And then those who were moved by the tribal, rythmic banging, would dance:

I wasn't sure which beat this fellow was dancing to... he was stiff and clumsy but enthusiastic:
And of course, cow bell:

This old guy blew his rape whistle like it was an instrument:

And then we moved to another corner of the park where tight ropes had been set up.
Clint gave it a try. And said that if he lived in Montreal, he would do this every Sunday until he perfected it.

And, then?
Near the top of the park?
In a dusty field?
Guys went to war with each other, using handmade weapons fashioned with foam and duct tape:

They would divide themselves into two groups, each going to opposite ends of the field. Someone would say charge, and they'd run towards the centre ... swinging their weapons at anyone who moved.
If, say a person got hit in the arm, they'd move that arm behind their back (as if it had been chopped off) and keep fighting.
If a person received a blow, to say, their neck, they would sit in the dirt, as if they were dead.

Then, after the dust settled, they'd access which team had more men standing ... and then start over again.
Authentic costumes, except for the Ipod ear buds ...

In the grassy field, beside the dirt field, little guys would play with their plastic swords.

This little fellow reminded me of the boy in the Mad Max movie:

Clint said if he lived in Montreal, he'd play with swords in the dirt too.
Thank you, God, that we live in Langley.
After a couple hours of that, we walked over to an ancient theatre to take a look at the World Press Photo Exhibition.
Award winning news photos on display (each photo enlarged to 2' x 3' in size).
(Most of the photos are in a slide show on the link above.)
We ended our evening by walking back over to the Film Festival area and had dinner in a great restaurant next to the big screen.
As exhausted as I was, I could not fall asleep. And neither could Clint or Drew. So when our wake up call came at 4:30 am, we were already packed and ready to go.
It was a fabulous trip. So many good surprises. So many unexpected things to do. So beautiful. So sad that Max wasn't along to share in the good times.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. I live in an awesome country. Very proud to be Canadian.
2. Drew is turning out to be a good traveler.
3. My camera.

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