It was close to 1am when I finally was able to make it to Marco’s home in Montreal. He was happy to be waiting for me as, with most couch surfing hosts, he does so for his pleasure.
Even when they don’t wear clothes.
Yep, Marco is a nudist. Or naturalist as he prefers to be called. As I always say, when in rome…or when in Montreal…
After a little idle chit chat (or as idle as you can be when when you’re naked around a stranger) he gave me the key, pointed me to the bed I’d be sleeping in and said good night. Hitching is a beautifully exhausting process so I laid down my naked body…and so, to sleep.
In the morning I met my fellow surfer briefly, Nanzi, a communications student from Erie, Penn who is in love with Montreal. Our singular meeting was brief as he had a friend to meet and was quickly dressed and out the door. I did not get the impression he was anywhere near as self-conscience as I was with the house of skin.
I spent the day exploring Montreal and eating…alot. Montreal has some great food. I even tested one of their supposedly world’s best bagels. Don’t even hold a candle to New York Bagels. Sorry, Montreal. The boost doesn’t hold up.
The following day we were joined by Alexander, another naked surfer from Hamburg, Germany. A talented artist, Alexander is switching jobs and is taking time to see Canada in the opposite direction as me. And he’s not hitching. He’s flying. And rightfully skipping Regina. Good call, Alex.
The following evening we enjoyed a fine Duck Poutine then climbed to the top of the steps at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal and got a pleasant view of the city. After our outing, I took a little while planning an escape route from the city for the next day.
I awoke in the morning to see my young naked German friend cooking his special apple & Muslix pancakes he’d boosted about the evening before. As I watched him prep and fry in the buff, I wished only that I had bought a pound of bacon the night before and requested he fry it up while starkers. Bacon grease and nudity. Hilarious!
I said goodbye to my host and boarded the Metro bound for the eastern most part of the city. Once again, the escape from a city proves to be more stressful and time consuming than the actually thumbing of rides. I rode transit all the way out to Longueiul Station and transferred to the RTL. The ticketing agent understood what I was doing and told me to ride the bus out to the Ikea store and assured me that I could cross to the Trans-Canada after getting off. I don’t know if he made an honest mistake if he was deliberately screwing with me but after exiting the bus and walking toward the freeway I was confronted by an impassible ravine, forcing me to turn tail back the IKEA mall and walking to the TCH via the roadways. 1.5 hours down the tube.
I took up position on the on ramp like a good hitchhiker, willing to obey all the laws. I was swore at for the first time from a passing vehicle. Hey, buddy, my french sucks but I understood that! After a couple of hours, I pulled out my phone and could quickly see what the problem was. Only 2 kilometers up the road was a MAJOR interchange. The Trans-Canada, 2 provincial highways AND the off-ramp to the United States. Of course no one is stopping. It would be total guess work where I was going. I packed up again and started walking east on the freeway.
My theory proved correct as within a few meters of passing the interchange, Justine, a young lady who works at Staples pulled over and I was rubberized again!
It was a quick ride but I was grateful all the same. Justine said her boyfriend would be jealous because she always finds the hitchhikers and he never does. I suppose they have an informal contest going and she’s way ahead in scoring us side-riders.
Less than 10 minutes on the thumb and ride two was Daniel. I think he was a little sour that my French was even worse than his English. But 50 km is 50 km and I’ll always be gratful.
My next short hop was the opposite. An SUV towing a dirtbike pulled quickly Danny stopped for me even though he’s never picked up a hitchhiker before. He said he’d had a great day on the track and just felt that he should do something nice for someone else. He was sad that he couldn’t take me further because he said he’d enjoy practicing his English, which was impeccable, with me.
It was starting to get late and as I walked down to the next interchange I started looking toward the woods for a good place to pitch my tent. But again. luck and generosity was on my side as Dimitri and his friends, a group of four Brazilian jiu jitsu students, returning from a test to gain their blue belts pulled over. The car was less than a compact and the passenger was at least half a foot taller than me, yet still he offered me the front seat and they offered to drive me to Quebec City. Woo Hoo!
Quebec City was my goal for the day. Once there, I felt Halifax was hitchable within the day rather than the three days I had left.
Quebec City would also end up being my hardest lesson. But a simple lesson. Check the damn map.
Dimitri and his pals dropped me right in the heart of Quebec. Interesting fact about that town…you cannot safely walk out of it. I tried for an hour in the dark. Frustrated, I bit the bullet and, with the help of my cousin Allyson via facebook, took a hotel room for the night.
Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty of money for this trip but the adventure is about doing it as inexpensively as possible. I doubt I had spent $137 on the whole trip. And here I was dropping $137 on a hotel room. If I could have safely got to the highway, I would have happily slept in the woods for free.
My frustration would only escalate the next day.