Canadian Lifestyles: A Different Kind of Honeymoon
by Sabine Ehgoetz
Aruba, Hawaii and Miami come to mind when thinking of Canada’s most popular newlywed destinations. Our married life was supposed to start differently: Instead of heading towards the sunny south we decided to travel north and explore more of the country that was going to become my home in the near future. What better place could there be to see what Canada has to offer than by visiting one of its national parks? Honeymoon in Algonquin Park it was going to be!
Shortly after our big day we headed off. We were equipped with canoe, tent, camping gear, food supply for five days - and almost 20 of our guests. As many friends had travelled all the way from Germany to hear me say “I do”, we figured we might as well spend some time with them. Clearly not the most romantic way to spend the week after your wedding – but, oh boy, was I ever going to be happy that we had chosen to travel with company! Particularly at the point when the man who had just sworn to stay with me for better and for worse threatened to abandon me in the middle of nowhere, because I had “again” managed to paddle our canoe onto the next shore and gotten us stuck in shallow water.
Handling a canoe seemed to be the biggest challenge for the European members of the group. They had never done anything like that before, which was quite the opposite for our fellow Canadian friends. To them, navigation of a boat seemed like the most natural thing in the world. No wonder, since apparently they had learned this while still wearing diapers! Happily we listened to their advice. After all, this adventure was not only undertaken to strengthen the bonds between two people, but also between cultures. Sure enough, by the end of the trip at least most of us camping-greenhorns managed to keep our little nutshells straight and paddle in tune with the other person in the boat.
The procedure of lifting the canoe out of the water, carrying it to the next lake and getting back into it without ending up soaking wet, turned out to be almost equally challenging. Before this trip the concept of “portaging” had been unknown to me and therefore I had completely failed to understand why I was supposed to pack “light”. Basically I had been forced to leave several of my make-up utensils behind and had to unpack half of my 10 favourite t-shirts (I do like the freedom of letting my mood decide each day what I felt like wearing). Now, as I was lifting my huge backpack out of the boat and onto my back for what felt like the hundredth time that day, I knew exactly why: Luggage like dry meals, tent bars, cooking gear and thermo-rest turned out to be much heavier than I had dared to imagine. At the end of the first day I crawled into my sleeping bag sobbing. My whole body was aching and I felt exhausted beyond belief. How could I have been convinced to choose this over a fancy spa-resort on the Seychelles?
On day two the answer dawned on me and made my eyes fill up with tears, again. This happened in the middle of one of the countless lakes we needed to cross. We were taking a break, which gave me the chance to look up from my still quite stubborn paddle, and take in the scene around me.
Two loons were taking off from the sun glittering water into the deep blue sky above the rich green trees that surrounded us. Apart from the soft ripples of water there was a quietness I had never experienced before – not just around me but also within me. Looking back I know this was the moment I ultimately fell in love with Canada. All previous burdens of this trip suddenly felt weightless and all my efforts afterwards seemed easier somehow, like I had finally melded with nature. The annoying routines like collecting firewood, hanging all eatable things (including toothpaste!) into a tree and out of bears’ reach before bed time were easier to put up with. Even the nightly visits to a certain wooden box a little further away from the campsites felt less scary.
Of course such state of serenity is hard to maintain, especially when travelling in a group of overly excited Europeans who had not realized that they stand the best chance to see a moose if only they kept quiet. Rowing in Olympic style to be the first one to spot it also doesn’t help, but we Germans just can’t stop it. We tend to feel the urge to be at the top of everything, why else would we build the fastest cars? Ironically it was the couple that lagged behind and took it easy who came within 5 feet of a mother moose and her baby, while the rest of us were competing in the race for the best tent spot on the campsite.
Yet even without coming in close contact with Canada’s most famous inhabitant, our honeymoon in the wilderness ended with plenty of new experiences. Above all I had found that I could not only handle five days without a shower and make-up, but also make it through high waters with my newly wedded husband.