Two young women lay flopped out in the first pool like Greek water nymphs,
their spectacular breasts glistening in the steamy air.
Oblivious to my presence, they murmured to each other in low tones while
scooping handfuls of clear water over their torsos.
At moments like these I believe
it's correct to act with non-chalance, as if nothing were out of the ordinary, and above all,
not to stare. I stepped around the girls, trying to focus on a
fascinating creeper, a passing cloud - oh look, there's a rock, how interesting - while at
all times, trying not to jostle against anything. They continued murmuring
behind me while splashing more water over their hot, radiant...
I thanked God I was wearing my loose bathing speedos. As it was, if they had started
giggling and flicking water
at each other I'd have had to sit down in a hurry.
I considered sitting with the girls and chewing the fat, so to speak, for a while, but feared an unexpected tenting might
give me away. Like a fool I allowed
discretion to guide me down to a lower pool, I was then forced to endure a hour of
conversation with a naked man perched on a rock in a saddlesore John Wayne position. He shifted from buttock to buttock
whenever he wanted to emphasise a point. The effect was like a salmon fry seeking for the ocean. I directed my
replies to the space over his left shoulder.
We went whale-watching on the boat trip back to Tofino, as if I hadn't seen mammals enough already. We found a gray whale,
a majestic, solitary creature surfacing to replenish his air before returning to hunt below. Our boatman advised us to make noise on the
boat, which the whales find re-assuring - a silent boat is eerie and menacing. Everyone tapped rails or banged the floor. I
hummed the theme tune to The Big Country.
Coming to America
It's time to move on. I came back to Vancouver for a couple of days, and met Kristy again.
She gave me a surprise present - a polished stone with one word, "Courage". Kristy, you are a flower among the world.
It is time, to take up my courage again and drive forward. I'm going to the U.S. tomorrow.
America. It is not the same place that I had planned on visiting last week, before the 11th.
At home, we like to poke fun at America,
at American tourists, at American politics, at their view of the world. It's true, we do. They receive more of our
attention than any other country. We laugh, lampoon, grouch, complain, we compile mental factsheets of every step the States
has taken wrong, in order to hurl it in the face of any US citizen who raises his voice in defence of his nation.
But where do we go when our hopes fail us at home? For a better job, or a better way of life?
For simple entertainment?
For the re-assurance that it will always be there, that America will stand by us, defend us, take our side if ever the worst
comes. We criticise the US so much because we need it so much, and need it to be perfect - perfectly reliable, perfectly
moral, perfectly solid. Invulnerable. And now. America has stood up for a way of life that we all share. They stood up,
not always perfect, not always moral, but always there. Now American citizens have paid a terrible price for us.
My heart goes out to them. Tomorrow I'm going to America. I hope I can find it within myself to treat them with better
respect than I might have done.