Yet again does a hurricane far off-shore affect our trip. The remnants of Hurricane Matthew have given us an extremely “interesting” Thanksgiving. Sunday was very nice. We spent the day in the touristy village of Baddeck. It was very different from Newfoundland, there were people all around and there were cafes and food. It actually felt a little strange to Mike and I. We must have been away too long because Baddeck is actually a perfect example of a lovely little tourist village. We went to hear some music at an open mic event at the local yacht club. We planned to spend the night next to the yacht club and then do a walk Monday morning up to a waterfall before leaving for the village of Iona where we had tickets for a show Monday night. How plans change.
About midnight the remnants of Hurricane Matthew made it to Cape Breton. The rain started coming down in sheets and it has never stopped. Every time I woke up during the night it was still pouring rain. Obviously our walk was out so we decided to try and get tickets for an afternoon show in the cultural centre in Eskasoni which was about 20 minutes from our evening show. You might as well be inside in this torrential rain. The show was delayed about 20 minutes to give people a chance to get there in the rain and flooding. There were about 250 people in attendance. About 30 minutes into the show the organizers came onstage and said that the road we needed to take that evening was flooded. A little while later they announced that the only other road out of town was also flooded. The show continued and it was very enjoyable even with the flooding concerns in the back of the mind the whole time.
Eskasoni is the largest reserve in Nova Scotia. There was some discussion about the similarities between the pressures on the Mi’kmaq language and the Gaelic language. One story told was how, when they were children in school, they were punished for speaking Gaelic and yet the teacher would come to their home in the evening and sing Gaelic songs with their parents. I hadn’t realized how very Gaelic Cape Breton is, including street signs and town names. I personally have always loved the Gaelic language when it is sung by women. It is not the same when it is spoken by a man.
At one point it looked like there was an open road to our evening show but it required driving over an ungraded back mountain gravel road in pouring rain. Mike didn’t think that was a very good idea. Eventually we were told that there was definitely a chance that we would all be staying in the cultural centre overnight. The locals went home and brought back some of their Thanksgiving dinners to help feed everyone. Because it was Thanksgiving the grocery stores were all closed. I actually felt guilty having our “home” in the parking lot. I didn’t really want to miss the concert we had bought tickets for but we certainly weren’t inconvenienced like everyone else was. The local musicians started taking turns entertaining us on stage which was nice to see. The organizers were trying to arrange for a live streaming feed from one of the other evening concerts. Everyone was great. There were two buses of Americans, one from Maine and the other from Vermont. I will admit that my biggest shock didn’t come from anything to do with the storm but from one of the ladies from Maine. She said to me “You are from Ontario aren’t you? Are you a hooker?”. Well if you could have seen my face. I know that Americans have some very strange ideas about Canadians but I thought this one about Ontario women might take the cake. In actual fact she belonged to an international rug hooking group with quite a few members from Ontario. It was certainly worth a good laugh.
At about 7 pm we found out that the road north to Sydney was now passable and that we could go the long way around to get to our concert in Iona. Although it was only 20 minutes away driving south it was a good hour and a half going north. This meant that we would miss the beginning of the concert but we decided to try for it. The road was a mess. The gravel from all sorts of gravel roads and driveways was washed across the main road. A kids playground looked liked the slides were in the middle of a lake. We were stopped by the police and told that we had to detour and take a really rough gravel road for a short distance and bypass the main road. The transformer at a sewage plant had exploded and the water all across the road had electricity running through it. We drove past a church that had a river of water flowing down a street opposite it right up to the churches front door. What a mess that will be tomorrow. Next we got behind a really slow car with a driver obviously uncomfortable in the violent weather. When we finally got north to the Sydney area we turned south to our concert. At that time we realized that we were still not half way to Iona and that if we got there the concert would be almost over. In addition we were actually in the town we needed to be in Tuesday night for our second booked event. We turned around and found a street with some commercial parking lots where we thought that we would spend the night. At this time, not only was there still rain but the wind was now howling. We unexpectedly saw a Walmart and quickly turned in. We have moved three times in the parking lot trying to get out of the wind without getting in the way of Walmart’s delivery trucks. We are now parked around the back where we hoped the wind would be quieter. That still hasn’t worked out really well, you just can’t get away from the wind. We ran across the street to McDonald’s in the rain and they had a sign on the door that they were closed due to water problems. The good news is that we are safely parked for the night and I have access to Walmart’s internet so that I can upload this update for everyone.
On a side note, we were supposed to pick up our tickets for all the events in Iona at our first concert. This could be an interesting problem at our concert tomorrow night with no tickets. We will see what happens. No more hurricanes please!