Sunday, October 6, 2013

Making Lemonade out of Lemons… or more appropriately, Wine out of Grapes.

Moonrise over Niagara Falls
 I’m not going to lie… in the 12 hours after we found out that we were “stuck” here in Canada, we had ourselves a rager of a pity party. But, like any good traveler, we soon came to our senses and reminded ourselves: “if you get stuck somewhere, you are meant to be there.”

We’ve both experienced this phenomenon already in our travels:

One of the times when Roel’s bike broke down in what was supposed to be the most dangerous city in Turkey, he wound up meeting the most kind, generous and helpful people he’d met to date in his travels.

I only had a day to do a self-driven safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa and by the end of the afternoon was devastated that I had seen everything BUT elephants. (Spoiled, much? Perhaps, but I was obsessed with elephants.) I was slightly lost as dusk was falling and knew I needed to find an exit to the park, but could not for the life of me figure it out. I went this way, and that, and at a fork in the road, for some inexplicable reason went to the right when everything in me was telling me the exit was to the left… moments later, a herd of elephants crossed the road in front of me. And as the sun set, I sat watching these graceful giants, grateful for getting “lost.” (And sure enough, when I turned around and took that road to the left, it led me right out of the park.

And you always hear the stories of people who just missed being involved in some catastrophic event because they tripped on their way out the door and missed their bus. You get the idea.

So, with this notion, we went forward and our “stuckness” turned into a dozen different blessings, one unfolding right after another…

Hans, Carol & Roel
The first being that we had a lot more time to get to know Carol and Hans, who we had met at the Horizons Unlimited Meeting. They’re an inspirational BMW couple – both excellent riders and world travelers. Carol was a riding instructor for over 30 years and once hit a moose and didn’t even drop her bike! If she’s not a legend, they may have to re-write the definition. They helped us trouble shoot our visa issues, introduced us to some other really special BMW riders and gave us information about traveling in South America that will be priceless.

Next, we planned to visit our friend Kim in Niagara Falls, who we met diving in Indonesia last year, but made a quick stop to visit Chris, another new friend we’d made at the HU Meeting. Chris is probably one of the more humble guys I’ve ever met… his “workshop” turned out to be a state of the art Electrical Discharge Machining shop. He asked us how the bikes were going and when we mentioned the high oil consumption/bizarre noises my bike had been making, he offered to help us do a compression test, leak down test, and if necessary, help us do a fix on my bike that would cost hundreds of dollars if we brought my bike to a mechanic to have it done.

So already, here we are with an unexpected amount of “free” time on our hands and we happen to meet a guy who has the know-how, equipment and passion to help us get a job done on my bike that who knows when we would have gotten to, otherwise…? When one thing led to another and we were broken down on the side of the road, perhaps?

We agreed to order a few potentially necessary parts and return to Chris’s shop the following week to have a look at my bike.
Rainbow between American Falls and Canadian Falls
Catching up with Kim and getting to know her boyfriend, Paul, was a treat. They are extremely well traveled and were excited to show us around the Niagara area and really expose us to the best of Canadian culture… Of course we visited the amazing Falls and ate Poutine. (For those of you unfamiliar with this Canadian delicacy, there are MANY variations, but the basic “recipe” consists of French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds… yummm.)
Roel (in orange) going for the puck!
Paul even arranged for Roel to come out and play ice hockey with his Sunday pickup league. I can’t remember when I last laughed so hard and I don’t think Roel could remember when he was last so sore!

Kim, Roel & me @ Chateau des Charmes
 Kim and Paul know how much we love wine and enjoy “wine tourism” so we also spent a good amount of time tasting through the local wineries together. We knew that this region of Canada was famous for its ice wines, but we were pleasantly surprised over and
Mmmmm... ice wine :)
over by how excellent some of the table wines were… particularly the Cab Francs and Baco Noirs. Since we had some time on our hands, Roel and I offered to volunteer at one of the wineries whose vintage had just begin, so that we could get some experience on the sorting table. Sorting grapes is not common in Australia, so we’ve never had the opportunity to do this. Of course, we were
Volunteering on the sorting table
looking for nasty things we’d had experience with in the past: botrytis infected grapes and sour rot. But every few bins, we’d have to empty the juice trays beneath the sorting table and check for ladybugs. Yes, apparently these lovely little red and black bugs like grapes as much as we do, but just one of them can taint a thousand liters of wine, imparting to it a peanut-butter like aroma. Yuck. (And no, Dad, I'm not rolling in the dough now - we don't have working visas for Canada so we were only able to volunteer, but they did feed us well. : )

So anyway, while we’re “stuck” here in Canada, we’re finding different ways to make lemonade out of these lemons from US Immigration, or more appropriately, make wine out of grapes. It is still slightly distressing every time we see a weather report of chilly temperatures somewhere we’d like to visit in the States, or see friends excitedly post on Facebook about snowfall in Colorado. But for some reason, we aren’t meant to get into the States, just yet, and even if all of the reasons I just mentioned aren’t THE reason, we’re enjoying the delay and the immigration imposed rest.

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