As the sun rose upon day three of my time in Canada, I was still lacking any inspiration for the theme of the next installment of my exchange blog. Don’t get me wrong. A lot has happened in a pretty short time since I left Australia. I’ve been to Tahiti, spent a few days in LA and lived off bananas for nearly a week because I soon discovered I’m incredibly lazy when it comes to getting myself real food. People actually seem to have serious difficulty understanding my accent and I’ve been asked what part of Britain I’m from one too many times. But despite all this, nothing had really struck me as decent blog material. Nothing that really encapsulated the strange and interesting new experiences that exchange is supposed to entail. Little did I know that late this afternoon inspiration would strike in the form of the wrinkled backside of a man in his mid-sixties.
Perhaps I should start at the beginning for, while this story ends in some intense embarrassment on my behalf, it started out with nothing more than my innocent desire to explore my new campus. The University of British Columbia is in one of the most beautiful locations I’ve ever seen. The campus is huge and it’s out on a peninsula. It’s covered in towering trees and the combination of the mountains and the ocean is pretty spectacular. Late this afternoon I decided to go for a wander, camera in hand, and see if I could get any decent pictures.
I’d been walking for about 15 minutes when I came across a staircase spiralling down the mountain-side that looked like it went down to the shore. It looked kind of interesting so I decided to start down the track to see where it would end, taking a few photos of it as I went along. About halfway down, I could faintly hear the rhythmic sound of drums in the distance, which only made me even more interested to see what was at the bottom. As I finally emerged onto the beach I was met with one of the strangest sights I’ve seen in a long time. There were huge logs lying everywhere across it and a group of people had set up a weird sort of makeshift camp in the middle of the beach, complete with garden beds. I’d taken about two steps onto the beach when a guy about my age dressed in hippy looking clothes (complete with a belt made of bells so he tinkled whenever he moved) came up to me and randomly offered me a handful of berries he’d been picking of a bush at the side of the track.
Flattered, though slightly disturbed by the gesture, I politely refused and began to wander around the beach. It wasn’t long before I got my camera out to take advantage of the scenery, thinking to myself that despite the weird people, I’d be able to get some great photos from here to show my mum.
It was when I got the camera out that things started to get odd. I’d taken a few snaps when I began to realise the weirdoes were looking at me funny. In my experience this doesn’t tend to be a good sign, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I could be doing wrong, so I kept taking pictures. It was only when I turned to look in the other direction and got an eyeful of an extremely naked old man who had to have been in his mid-sixties that it hit me what was going on.
I was on a nudist beach with a camera. And everybody thought I was a pervert.
At this point I thought the best plan of action was to make a hasty retreat, though on my way out I couldn’t help taking one more picture of a sign on a log that I wish I’d seen on my way in.
So I haven’t even been to class in Canada yet, but I’ve already created the impression that I’m a deviant. Fast work even for me. Who knows what I’ll manage to accomplish by the end of semester.