Our next day off started extra early. If we wanted to ride we had to have Dunner tacked up and ready (accompanied by a brushed and groomed Tinkerbell!) by 8am. We then needed to be finished showered and ready to leave at 9.30 for our 10.38 bus if we wanted a 10 minute lift to the bus station (instead of a $30 taxi to the same). The ride went really well and we do seem to be making progress. Dunner was off the lunge and initially I was getting him to walk around the arena with some success in direction without using the reins. We then moved into the round pen to trot and canter or jog and lope as its called here. I expected this to be quite painful, particularly sitting trot (no rising trot) after the previous day’s exertions but fortunately it wasn’t too bad. We switched after about half an hour and Roger enjoyed a very satisfying session as well. Isa is a good teacher, having converted from English to western riding herself but at a much more accomplished level. She leaves at the end of the month as her tourist 6 month visa will be up but is hoping to get residency with Gaylene as sponsor. We’re not clear what would happen to our ‘lessons’ then or whether we’ll be trusted alone by that time.
We were early for our bus so managed to get on the previous one, not realising that this was the slow route and we could have waited for the express and arrived at our destination sooner. As it transpired there was no need as the gates for the festival were only opening as we arrived. A fellow passenger had heard us enquiring about the park location from the bus driver and gave us some directions herself and advice about where to catch the return bus as there was construction going on around the bus station (which is why we had been dropped off at the road side rather than the depot but not at the same place as the return journey). ‘Construction’ seems to be the generic term for road and building works, of which there seems to be a lot wherever we go.
I had found on the internet that there was a festival this weekend in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver on our side of the city and directly up the Fraser Highway. It was titled ‘Fusion’ and prided itself in being a multi-cultural celebration of music, food and culture from 50 different countries and it was free! We wandered in past Mexico, Ukraine, Jamaica and Scotland! Each country represented had 2 adjacent tents, one displaying, selling or both, something relating to their culture. Amazingly the Palestinians were selling, amongst other artefacts, Christian items! Perhaps they have found the route to peaceful co-existence. The other tent provided traditional food. Scotland, weirdly, seemed to focus on Celtic and Rangers football teams but also had some tourist brochures and dancing displays. No whisky tasting much to Roger’s disappointment but they were selling meat butties but no haggis. England’s tent was very football orientated as well but managed to include a full size picture of the Queen Mum, Wills and Kate mugs and a table displaying a china tea set and silver tea pot for afternoon tea. The food was fish and chips or chip butty (presumably the different spelling is significant?!) It is strange to consider what peoples’ impressions of the countries would be after this and even stranger to think about those of the individuals who developed the stands!
Some of the stalls were still setting up their food tents whilst others were ready and waiting for their ticketed customers. No cash changed hands for food, tickets were purchased for $1 each separately and non-refundable and then exchanged for meals and non-alcoholic drinks. There was a beer and wines from around the world garden which was closely guarded by security, and age limit of over 19s and 2 pieces of ID required. It was a bit early when we first strolled past it but the heat was already building and a beer could have been tempting but we didn’t want to be the first in, looking like hardened drinkers and perhaps reinforcing a less flattering stereotype of British culture. We returned a few hours later, by which time which time we were pretty parched, despite availing ourselves of the free cups of water at a bank stand. We had also found that Nepal was selling cans of pop and water for 1 ticket each whereas all the other stalls were charging 2, later they even slashed it to BOGOF! But the beer garden beckoned (Roger) I still don’t like the stuff despite my best efforts to do so. The security guard wanted to see our ID, really? Did he genuinely think we could be under-age? Everyone had to show ID and in rushing, I had come without my bag but didn’t think that there was anything essential in it. So this area was off limits to me for the day and Roger declined to go in without me, ahh.
There were 4 stages as well as the food tents, portraying various ethnic talents. We watched some exhausting Polish dancing for a while, totally impressed with their exertions in the heat whilst they whirled and dervished all over the stage. By the end of standing still we were in dire need of shade and noticed that the first 3 rows of seating could afford this. Without knowing what the next act would be we sat down in the slightly lower temperatures. We weren’t disappointed. It was a combination from Korea showing drumming, music and dance, the former being fabulously dynamic and the latter, exquisitely graceful. Most impressively some of the performers doubled up.
It must have been around early afternoon and the sun was at its highest so we decided to stay put. After all our first random act was excellent. Unbelievably, the next performance was Scottish country dancing!! Demonstrated by some young, over made-up girls and an unfortunate boy in some kind of tam-o-shanter. By this time we were almost blocked in but still appreciating the shade so we endured it and were then entertained by some pipes and drums! At least the next act would be more cosmopolitan, surely, so we kept to our relative comfort and had to withstand the local dignitaries and their speeches! I think the heat would have been preferable but Roger had managed to extracate himself and obtain a couple of extremely welcome mango ice-creams.
We had decided to try as many different cuisines as possible and bought single dishes to share periodically throughout the day. We tried some spicey chicken thighs with pineapple and coconut rice (apparently) from Tonga and were entertained by their Hawaiian type dancers whilst enjoying the dish. The compare was the dance teacher who held classes all over the area, which would explain why, in addition to the beautiful young Polynesian girls, there were an older but very game lady and an unfortunately tubby young girl (not quite as big as her Mum though) and a very Caucasian looking lad whom I’m sure I’d seen previously in a kilt!
We also devoured food from Ghana, jerky-honey chicken with rice and salad; dolmades and kebab from Iran and a potato spiral whose origins escape me but could have been from Colombia. The latter seemed to be popular on several stalls and comprised a finely sliced swirl of potato on a stick, tossed in a coating of your choice, ours was sour cream and onion, and then fried, delicious. Actually we enjoyed everything we ate but particularly the Iranian dish.
We had devoured some food in the covered area whilst a fairly non-descript band played the main stage. Once they had finished we noticed a considerable amount of joyous noise coming from a nearby stage and wandered over to have a look. Luv Randhala, a bhangra type band, were whipping up a storm with their fusion of Indian and popular rhythms. Only when the singer stopped between numbers to talk did we catch a bit of, what may have been, a Bradford twang! With four male backing dancers in very pretty dresses and a beautiful and exuberant female dancer, they all working to encourage the crowd to participate. There was something strange going on as the only contributors appeared to come from the relevant sub-continent even tho’ the dancing wasn’t particularly complex.
When they had finished we hopped back next door to the main stage where Haya, a band from Mongolia were starting, after a few technical sound issues. The lead singer was a petite girl in a diaphanous red dress which she used to enhance her performance, not that she needed to. Despite her diminutive stature she had a strong but ethereal voice, belting out traditional folk-songs to an enraptured audience. Her vocal accompanist occasionally slipped into the strange Mongolian throat singing which I’d heard once before by a group in Amsterdam. I’m not sure how they do it but it does create a most unusual yet enchanting sound. For their last number they were joined by the pan pipe player we’d seen performing outside his Ecuadorian tent earlier in the day.
We waited for the final act, Jose Feliciano was due on stage at 8.45pm and our bus left at 10pm so we should have been able to see most of his set. However, with starting half an hour late we realised that we couldn’t see it all or risked missing the bus, being unsure of the time of the last one. He was excellent and we would have liked to have seen more but not quite that good and it had been a long time since we rose early to ride Dunner.
We followed the directions given to us by the lady in the morning and seemed to walk 3 sides of a square before coming across the semi-deserted bus station. Half an hour later we jumped on a vehicle heading for Langley Central and experienced an hour’s tour of further Vancouver suburbs before being the last ones to alight, not actually realising we’d arrived at our destination, in a deserted Langley street. The driver got off as well, locked his bus and walked away. There were few signs of life and we seemed to be an empty retail park. Across the road was a car with writing on the side which could well have been a cab advert. It wasn’t, he was the security guard and drive as we approached. Fortunately it was a balmy evening and wandering around in the middle of the night, not alone was not too traumatic. We decided just to keep going until we found some signs of activity and before too long came across a casino (not that much was going on there either) with a taxi rank. We jumped in, gave him the address, he asked for directions, haha! Using satnav he took us directly back without a single word of conversation, we were too tired as well. We were greeted by a lonely Lacota who turned his back on us, as usual, and then we clambered onto the bed and into a fitful sleep in the heat.