On Monday February 12th we first went to pick up our cars at Discount; we got a Chevrolet Cavalier and a Chrysler Cirrus, not bad at all for compact cars. The first place we (Mart, Reds, Hena, Rodrigo, Gil, Xavier, Charles and I) went was the Superstore and the liquor store for the necessary grocery and liquor shopping. After lunch at the Burger King we left Winnipeg on the Trans Canada Highway 1. It was a 3 hour drive to Sioux Narrows; in my opinion it’s the best way to see Canada. Manitoba for example is almost completely flat, but there are some hills and rock formations in Ontario. The last hour from Kenora to Sioux Narrows we drove along the Lake of the Woods, giving magnificent views over the snowy lake. We arrived at our cabin in the early evening and spent the evening playing games and drinking.
On Tuesday we rented a snowmobile for the day. It’s really cool to ride over a snowy frozen lake with a 110 km per hour! It’s also pretty cold; I was glad I brought my skipants and snowboots. While snowmobiling over the lake we noticed how isolated the area is; there are mainly other vacation resorts on the lake shore and a lot of small unhabited islands. During the day Mart and Gil filled up the snowmobile at the gas station from the guy we rented it (and the cabin) from, assuming we would pay for the snowmobile and gas afterwards. When we got the snowmobile back in the evening it didn’t start anymore; the guy said it ran out of oil and the damage might be $2400. Apparently snowmobiles have to be filled up with oil every time they’re filled up with gas, something he didn’t mention when we rented it. We spent the evening watching movies, drinking and going to the sauna. It’s a really cool experience to heat up in the sauna and roll over in the snow to cool down, I think the Finnish call it ‘snowangels’.
On Wednesday we drove into town to call some people about the snowmobile damage. Legal advisors at the U of M said we shouldn’t pay, since we weren’t informed of the fact that the oil needed to be refilled with the gas. The town consists of a few houses along the road, I don’t think more than 500 people live in Sioux Narrows and it’s the only town within 50 km. I’d never seen a more isolated town, but it’s pretty normal in Canada. When we got back to the cabin the guy had a damage estimate of $540 from the snowmobile shop in Kenora. In the afternoon Hena went cross-country skiing, a few guys ice fished on the lake (no catch) and I went for a walk, hoping to spot some deer (didn’t happen). In the evening we went to the local bar. There were about twenty people, a pooltable and a DJ, pretty much the typical North-American local bar. Enough fun to stay for a while, but not too long, since we still had drinks in the cabin.
On Thursday we packed all our stuff first and went to pay for the cabin, but not the damage. When we told the guy we wouldn’t pay for the damage he called the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) accusing us of stealing gas. Since we didn’t steal it (we were going to pay for it) we waited for the OPP officer to arrive from Kenora. It was a very friendly officer who figured out pretty quick the guy didn’t have a case, but he said it would be nice to pay a part of the damage. So that’s what we did, although we noticed afterwards the guy had screwed us with the bill.
We made a stop for lunch at McDonalds in Kenora, one of the largest towns within 200 km, population 16,500. On the way back to Winnipeg it snowed a bit, but it was still pretty safe to drive on the wide roads. Since we still had the cars we went to the Tijuana Yacht Club in the evening. It’s one of the hottest clubs in Winnipeg, so we had to wait for about 45 minutes to get in. But the music and atmosphere was good. Most curious thing: they were playing Coyote Ugly and American Pie on a large screen in the club.
Friday morning Hena and I brought the cars back to Discount and I got some sleep afterwards to be able to catch up with studying all weekend.
When you have read most stories here, you must have gotten the opinion that all I do here is party (at least that’s what some people have been telling me…). This is not the reality however, I’m studying more here than I ever have in the Netherlands. Besides a lot of assignments for Communications, I had a presentation on the 19th of February for Communications. One midterm on the 20th for International Marketing, and on the 26th I had one midterm for Consumer Behaviour and one for Systems Analysis and Design, plus I had an assignment due for Seminar in Administration. Lots of work, but besides Systems Analysis I did my midterms pretty well.
But besides studying I also take time to relax. Sylvain held an apartment warming party on Friday the 23rd, which was a lot of fun. On Saturday it was Colour Night. Everybody got completely dressed up (suits, long dresses etc.) for a dinner in Pembina Hall, I almost couldn’t recognize the place, but although the food was better than usually, I had expected more of it. Afterwards most people continued drinking (the Canadians were really happy with the wine at dinner…), so most people at the social afterwards were already drunk when they arrived. Since almost everybody dressed down for the social, it was a pretty normal social, but fun nevertheless.