Friday, May 12, 2006

Train 2: third and final night

I sink back into my book, and watch the sun go down on northern Ontario. I’ve been warned before that while beautiful, this stretch will seem like the longest part of my trip. I am already glazing over as we pass forest after lake after forest after lake after forest etc. This thinly populated region is in the heart of the Canadian Shield, and it marks a period of the trip with few guaranteed stops.

I make myself another bagel (“ooo… salami and cheese, no there’s a combination I’ve not had before”) and head back to the lounge car to read some of the newspapers that have accumulated there. I start talking with the man who nearly missed the train because of a choice between Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. He works in construction, and lives near Guelph, Ontario. We’re both very familiar with the business of building houses, only he reminds me how little I know about the most reliable way of pouring concrete. We compare how our professions differ, and talk about life in Canada. Wherever I go in the world, I like to ask myself “How would it be to live here.” I’ve been doing this even more in Canada than I have elsewhere, and while it may add up on paper I’ve yet to be absolutely convinced. As he points out, the high tax economy is not the best for someone who works hard and puts in a lot of overtime. I later think to myself that it would be fairly easy to ease off on hard work and overtime, though, if pressed…

During our conversation I spy a beautiful sunset out of the opposite window. I run back to get my camera, and for once on this trip I don’t miss it. The obligatory appropriation of every beautiful sky or landscape continues.

I finish the day with a hot chocolate from the take out counter beneath the Skyline observation dome, and talk for a little while with two French girls, one from Montréal, the other from Lille in France. They’re desperate to speak English while on holiday, and I’m desperate to speak French before I forget everything I’ve learnt in the last six months. We come to a mutual compromise, and speak Franglais for the rest of the conversation. My eyes are getting heavy by 23.30, and I decide to go to bed.

Or rather, go back to my seat. I suspect that re-adapting to sleeping coach class will take some time.

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