I keep wondering in the open nature of God as last week I gave you a brief about the first episode of the journey including some details since we set off from British Columbian province in the far Canadian West to the city of Tijuana northern Mexico passing by the American States of Washington, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, then through the southern borders of the US to Mexico where exit gates are left open with no employees unlike the entry gates where they incredulously and extensively ask you, in specific when they found an old visa for Iraq in my passport.
Before narrating the second episode of the journey in the US mid-west, I would like to recall my memories of a journey I made to Toronto in Canada and then to Niagara Falls followed by another journey to Washington DC and New York passing by Buffalo city then to Calgary, the city of beautiful flowers, where I took a “Tok-Tok-like” plane with a capacity of only 20 passengers to “Kelowna”. During my trip from Calgary to Kelowna, I was clinging to my chair, closing my eyes, and whispering all the prayers and supplications calling for help, for the small plane was shaking as if it was about to fall.
Afterwards, I had a pleasant journey from British Columbia to Alberta province, north-east to British Columbia. There in Alberta, I saw what makes man stops to contemplate and doesn’t want to leave. I mean the natural museum that contains skeletons for herbivore dinosaurs and carnivore ones or predators where one may find himself standing at the joint bone connecting the beast’s foot to his leg. I also saw the fossilized dinosaurs’ eggs. It’s really amazing how these ultra-giant creatures were laying eggs. Also in Alberta lies the biggest store of black sand and shale oil. A lot of Chinese immigrated to that place in significant numbers that the region is almost yellow-colored.
Canada contains fifth of the fresh water in the whole world. Lakes are jointly connected among the very green heights where woods of Pine and Oak trees grow and bears and caribous live. I used to walk shaking out of fear from the bears, in specific when I used to go deeper into any wood despite the hot pepper spray I had for self-defense.
In Kelowna, where the lake I talked about in my last article lies with the myth of the beast called “Ogopogo”, I had my first experience of hiking as I, along with my friend Gaber Hegazi, joined a group for an uphill long walking where all of the participants were over sixty, meaning they were all retired.
I followed the rules and wore sportive shorts and sneakers with a light small back bag containing some light-weight easy-to-digest food “fruits and cucumber” and a small water bottle. I was surprised to know that the one leading our group exceeded eighty-five and that he earlier had some broken ribs due to falling while ice-skiing and having the skiing stick penetrating his ribcage. I also knew that this walking journey was for beginners, meaning only 23 km up and downhill!
The first question I had when they knew I come from Egypt was: how can one coming from Flat Land climb with us? They laughed and I laughed. I remembered my beloved Egypt and how hypothetically one can stand in Aswan and see the Mediterranean unobstructed with hills or woods. I also remembered the shock I had when I saw the yellow color of the desert when I first got out of Delta heading towards the Western Desert in Egypt where my father’s friends coming from Sinai were living in their new home in Mudiriyat at-Tahrir as I was really impressed by the unlimited yellow landscape.
I decided to accept the challenge of climbing the 23-km-up-and-downhill walk. I went walking uphill when I heard someone calling to stop after less than half an hour of walking. Our group contained several amateurs who were very knowledgeable in more than one field. We stopped because someone of those interested in plants shrieked “Oh… a flower” then he went explaining in details the few-centimeters high wild flower including its scientific name, anatomy, uses and seed. A while later another one shrieked “Oh… a bird” then went giving details about the bird, its shape, voice, life, breeding, natural enemies and migration while the group was circling him. We reached the highest point in our uphill walking route then we went down when someone shrieked “Oh… a deer” as a reindeer with high branching antlers was passing by closely. Everyone stood silent and still lest they disturb the animal.
I noticed that more than one in the group, men and women, were holding sticks with pointed ends in the lower tip like those of skiing. I knew that part of the mission they had was to clean the woods of what does not belong to it like papers, Kleenex tissues, cans and any other material left by those who do not know the meaning of respecting the environment. Each one of them used to pick the paper or tin can with the tip of his pointed stick and put the collected items in a bag used for collecting these garbage and then take it down to throw it in the place kept for that purpose.
After finishing our walk, we had a common lunch in a small restaurant followed by a seminar in the house of one of the group members. I found that they have this walk, lunch and seminar every week and that every one had to talk to them about what he was interested in. the seminar I attended was in the house of a retired millionaire construction contractor. He went talking about his attempt to make wine that suits the diabetic.
At the end of the seminar, someone suggested to have the seminar of the next week about Egypt so that the guest coming from the Flat Land can talk to them about what is happening in his country. That was in 2002. When it was my turn I realized that they cared to know more about the situation of the Christians in Egypt amid rising of Islamic extremism.
I beg your pardon dear readers for indulging in my Canadian memories and not continuing the journey in the open nature in the US which I hope to talk about in another time.
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Almasry alyoum newspaper on November 29, 2017.
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