Monday, March 17, 2008
Travellers In Transition
I have found, to my surprise, that Motels can be lonely, boring and sad places. At one time, a few weeks in a Motel, with no responsibilities, would have been heaven.
My relationship with Hotels, Motels, Inns and the like has, up until now, only been utilized for a few days, at most. And they were mostly vacation resorts.
I have never stayed in one for a month, while I wait for the house, a short time, really, as compared to other people's stories.
People who have stayed in lodgings such as these, while they wait for their lives to resume, some with small children, deserve my admiration. Some tell me their wait was three months...
I am grateful I have only ten days left.
The people who stay in this Motel, at this time of year, consist of Highway, Hydro and Telephone Workers, Truckers, Mineral Explorers and Miners, and Forestry Workers. These people keep the Motels busy during the Winter, here in the Northern part of the Province. Some of them are here for a day...others for longer periods of time.
All are away from their families. I have yet to see any Women or Children. Only lone Men, who trudge, on the weekends, to the laundromat, with their small piles of soiled laundry.
During the week, they arrive at the end of the day in vehicles covered in mud. A shower will start in each room, shortly after their arrival. An hour may pass, before each worker reenters their truck, in order to find Dinner. Upon returning, it is usually a very short time before all lights are extinguished, and sleep is sought.
Some of the younger men, when they first arrive, try to treat Motel living as party time. It only usually takes a day or two of working, before high spirits are dampened.
The reality is difficult to see at first, for these young men. But it is cold in the far reaches of the Cariboo, with much Snow and Ice yet to battle. In some areas, where Spring Melt is underway, the Mud can be treacherous. Weather is variable; cold and clear one moment, with a brisk south easterly Wind, Blizzard conditions the next, with a few warm, Springlike days thrown in...gentle reminders and titillation of finer weather yet to arrive.
Weather passes through quickly here...we left for a trip to Kamloops one clear, sunny morning...and returned the same afternoon in a Blizzard. How very quickly a dry road changes into a long white satiny ribbon, with no defined edges! We made it safely, but not without a few very tense moments.
As I watch the transient people and wait for my own shift, I wonder how many of these travellers will or have already been bitten by the Northern Bug.
Because there is one. Oh yes.
Northern Bugs. They bite the unwary, mostly...some of whom have become inured to the beauties of Mother Earth, others who seek it. They find those who have Spirits of Adventure, some of it extreme. They find the stubborn, the fearless, the slightly odd...all with a strong connection to the land.
There is no way to fight it, once the Northern Bug has taken hold. People with the Bug, if they relocate South, will have a far-off distant look at times, a longing energy. People with the Bug feel complete in the North.
Some of these young men who stay in this Motel will be bitten, making a life here. Their mentors, grizzled older men who are in charge, have been bitten long ago. In my mother's Care Home, I met many elder Northerners, situated there to be with their families, perhaps. I would hear the stories of the old days...days of hardship, with unbelievable travails.
Yet, some of the ranches in the area have been in the same family for generations. I've been told once the Northern Bug bites, it is impossible to leave it behind.
Will the Bug bite me? I don't know. I don't know if I am made of that strong, unbreakable stuffing it takes to live in this climate, for more than a few years. I love it here; I love the Island I left behind, as well. There is beauty everywhere.
All I know is, I have rarely felt as grounded and balanced, as I have during these weeks at this Motel, with all the others who are in transition. All I know is, I can breathe here, tension is easily dealt with, and my joints and bones feel much better.
And for this, as I wait to know the land where I will make my home, I am grateful.