Hey, remember that time I said Edinburgh was my favourite place in the world? Actually, I said city, but never mind. I’ve changed my mind, and now it’s Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Weird choice, I realize, considering it’s just a short ferry ride from Newfoundland and 90% of my friends are from Sydney. We always joke that Cape Bretoners are “Newfoundlanders who missed the boat.” We have the same laid-back attitudes, rowdy behaviour, and inclination to drink our pants off. Even when I lived in Corner Brook, most of my friends were from Cape Breton.
But my first time visiting was just two weeks ago. It was the first day of my spiritual “self-awareness hippie trip” (as dubbed by Jessica), and I thought, “Why not?” I figured the island would mostly look like Newfoundland too, and in many ways it did, but I’m about to admit something to you.
Something that will shock you.
Something that might make you never revisit my blog.
I think. I like. Cape Breton. More. Than. Newfoundland.
That was a heartbreaking admission.
Most of the drive I remained in a sleepy stupor due to my flight not getting in until 11 p.m. the night before. We drove through Ingonish to get to the Highlands National Park, dodging construction and catching glimpses of the coast. But by the time we reached the northern tip, around Dingwall, I learned a few interesting things about myself.
1. I am enthralled by beaches.
2. I had never heard the sound of crickets chirping before.
3. Green hills, oh my god I love the green hills!!!!!!!!!!
The greenness, the richness, the everything-is-wonderful-ness! Even driving 30 minutes to buy warm beer at a Co-Op wasn’t a hassle. When inquiring at a convenience store where to find some booze, the clerk checked her watch and said with concern, “Oh, geez, the store closes at 7.” On a Friday! Oh the insanity! At the Co-Op I felt at home, the lady serving me had her hair pulled back in a scrunchie, teased bangs, and she knew everyone in the store except me. I could have fainted.
Then the beaches. Markland Beach outside my cottage. Newfoundland has no beaches! There are no beaches in Newfoundland! People keep saying there are, but I haven’t seen any. The water was warm. The sand was perfect, there were remains of bonfires. And I was surrounded by green hills, green!
The next morning after breakfast at the Mountain View Motel and Restaurant in Pleasant Bay, we started the drive on the opposite side of the island, towards Cheticamp. If I thought the previous day was lovely, nothing prepared me for the mountain joyride of a lifetime. If I had any doubts about my uncharted, unplanned, irresponsible trip to Nova Scotia before then, they were gone with the green, green hills.
I still don’t know what it was, that insane happiness. But damn you, Cape Breton, for making me re-evaluate my life. I was fine in my cozy little townhouse in downtown St. John’s, building a colossal stack of empty beer cases weekend after weekend before you came along. Two weeks later and that buzz is gone straight out the door along with my cell phone and wallet. I’m stressed out, over-worked, terrified and I have no idea what I’m doing next. I don’t know what career I want, where to live, what to do. But I’m glad you came before it all, Cape Breton.