Jet Lag at Ambleside

A morning flight from Toronto to Vancouver is not a good idea. An evening flight gets you into the city late and it is easy to go to bed and get up with the locals.An early flight means an early rise in Toronto, early to bed in Vancouver, and then several days catching up.

The downside of jet lag is that it seems worse as we grow older. The upside is that the morning quiet can be very productive. At the moment, listening to Classical 96.3FM from Toronto and typing on the computer, I remember an earlier visit I made to Vancouver years ago when my mother-in-law still lived on the north shore.

Up at 4:00 am, I had driven to Ambleside village near the waterfront and walked the popular Seawalk which hugs the beach and the rocks from Capilano River in the east to Dundarave village in the west. It was the summer and, even at this ridiculously early hour, the outer harbour was full of activity. The images from that morning stay with me years later.

I was first intrigued to find Vietnamese crab fishers tending their traps off the wharf, directly opposite the Lions Gate Bridge to the east. When they pulled up their traps, they were full, but they were mostly smaller crabs that had to be thrown back. Larger crabs above the legal limit of six inches are harder to catch, and for the group to get their quota of four crabs each takes all morning. Then there were several speeding motor boats full of Native Canadian fishermen. They came from the reserve at the mouth of the Capilano RIver and were heading out to the salt chuck for some fishing. The fishing industry on the west coast is highly regulated with relatively few days each year of commercial fishing. These Native Canadians have special access to the fisheries for their own use and were up early to take advantage of the tides at dawn.

Then, from the same wharf, I became aware of the silent passage of three large cruise ships gliding directly in front of us, from the west towards the Lions Gate Bridge. It was the return of three liners from their cruises up the coast to the Alaska Panhandle. In the dark, their decks were aglow with light, their two thousand odd passengers in each ship undoubtedly at breakfast or preparing to disembark at the Vancouver cruise ship dock in a matter of minutes. What a contrast! These modern mammoths that loom so large.

After a coffee while reading the newspaper at one of the many local cafés in Ambleside, I wondered back to the car. The sun was long up, and any dew on the grass was dry. Then I saw a group of South Asians, from India or maybe Sri Lanka, all dressed up in their colourful saris and suits. They were scurrying around a pond in the nearby park, setting up for a wedding. Whether for photographs, a ceremony or a reception, I don’t know as I did not linger to watch. I was just amazed at their energy and purpose so early in the morning.

By this time, I had been at the waterfront for many hours, fascinated by the diversity of the people and the wealth of their activities. Who would have guessed what goes on at the outer harbour so early in the morning? The jet lag had made me a gift that has endured for years.

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  1. Tricia

    Yes, jet lag does get harder — but what good memories of your special walk. On my recent stay in London I visited the Smithfield Market to experience the activities of the meat industry hours before the sun was up. I was tired for the rest of the day but the vivid memories made it all worthwhile!

  2. Frances

    Your posts/observations are fascinating.
    I agree about the boundless energy that Sri Lankans of my generation seem to have. I could have been one of the persons you describe surrounded by family, grumbling and trying hard to keep up!


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