Friday, December 29, 2006

Edmonton in the cold III

Back in the hotel, with the refreshing feeling of having been able to come back with two hands working, I realized another fundamental mistake. I was walking west, towards the forest and the river, instead of south. Days later, during the Departmental Christmas dinner, I will make people at my table laugh with this story. Not only because of my mistake but because I was not the first one to make it! The great majority of the streets in Edmonton have numbers, no names and more precisely speaking there are streets and there are avenues. Streets run south and north, increasing their number to the west. Avenues run east and west, increasing their numbers to the north. At the moment of realizing my mistake I confessed it while phoning to the guy who was waiting for my visit. It may be that my explanation of why I have had not arrived at his place was reasonable enough because he offered to me to pick me up at the hotel in his car and take me back. "Canadians are friendly" I have heard other people telling me. The gesture of that guy was really a good example of it and one of many other examples of friendliness that I will come to find in my later experiences.

But, as much as the guy was friendly and he only asked 280 CAN per month, the lack of furniture in the room gave me the illustrative experience that I was talking about before. I agree that a cold floor and an empty room is better than nothing but I wanted to try my luck before taking on them. The next day I changed my search to the more obvious strategy of looking at recently posted advertisements. Fortunately, I had a couple of places more to visit and the question was again "how to decide which option?"

At the end I discovered that there was a simple answer to that question. I have noticed that the prices of a comfortable accommodation were fluctuating between 400 and 600 CAN dollars, including or not including bills and services depending
on the case. (That of course, without having to share with more than one person the house or apartment.) The focus of my decision was more in where and with who I was going to live with. Therefore, I can summarize now my experience of finding accommodation in Edmonton in the following way: all depended in how comfortable I felt when I visited the place I am living now in.

Yes, it is a basement suit, but under a Yoga-Buddhist-Christian centre. =) More about this, later.

Edmonton in the cold II


originally uploaded by Neil Carey.
At -30 C, things outside your common experience start to happen. The steam from your breath freezes in the lens of the spectacles if you happen to use ones. Your hands hurts without gloves and once cold they don't warm up quickly in the gloves, actually you just feel that the blood is stuck there. I happen to use spectacles and the diver's trick of using saliva helped a bit. But why on earth I had to remove my gloves? Of course I didn't want to scratch the lenses when applying the saliva but oh yes, there is another reason why I removed the gloves. To better manipulate the map as I was lost. Without proper light to see the map, not a soul at 8pm walking in the street to whom ask for directions and the funny feeling in my hand increasingly calling my attention, I came to the delirium, I mean conclusion, that something have had to be mad. Either the numbering of the streets or me walking in an area that was increasingly dense in threes instead of houses. It was then when I decided to go back to the hotel. =) If the insanity of the streets numbering or of my mind was serious enough as to stop me finding quickly the way back, that was something that I would have to discover. Fortunately, my concern was distracted by the sight of a rabbit crossing in front of me as I walked. The fluffy rabbit didn't seem to mind the temperature or it was crazier than me. Perhaps more the former than the latter as I bump not longer later with a woman shoveling the snow in front of her house.
To be continued...

Edmonton in the cold

Edmonton in the cold

Edmonton in the cold
originally uploaded by Paul Jerry.
I had a week to find accommodation while staying in a hotel. Perhaps some of us have the concept that something that is cheap, convenient and nice is close to perfection. In fact I thing those are the attributes that advertisements want always to give to the products. In any case my perfect room was not something different to one of these products. I had a great tool to help me in the form of a website that lists a great range of offers. However, that was the first problem: how to choose among the many. For example, that room close to work is advertised as not furnished (as the majority are here in Edmonton!), that cheap one is only for females ("preferred" doesn't say it completely clearly, does it?) and the furnished one is too expensive. Now, the previous examples didn't represent any rule or pattern and when I finally was able to find the best combination I encounter a fundamental problem: all the ones that I carefully chose were taken already.My mistake was not to put enough attention to how recent the ad was. By the time when I have realized why the approach of my search didn't start well I already have had another illustrative experience.

Have you ever lived in a basement? There are from places to places and from basements to basements to be fare, but at the beginning of my search I have discarded basements as I regarded them as "perhaps" too cold, too depressive. (Some pictures that I saw gave me that prejudice =) However, as the options were narrowing and the days passing, I was opening my mind. "Perhaps starting without furniture is not too bad" "Basement? Well, judging by the amount of advertised basements I suppose they are not that cold" and so.

In this context, in one of those -30 C nights I got a room to visit, a room in a basement to be more precise. I had a look at the map, and started my first walk in the city, in the parts outside of my up to now known range (the hotel is besides the Uni). Well, I never got to the place.

This story will continue...

Edmonton views

Here in Edmonton we have had a warm -3 to 3 degrees in temperature these days. =) That is what everyone says and I am certainly feel it and understand it. When I arrived the temperature was -20 C (-30 C with the wind chill factor) and I saw an incautious girl in a mere jumper (probably just arrived from another city) going out of the doors of the airport to smoke a cigarette while talking on her mobile. I swear that when she came back inside you could see that her body was dying =) Her face had an strange color, her eyes were wide open and her voice had a change. Even so she continued talking on the phone perhaps without realizing what her body just have been going through. That's the magic of youth called unconsciousness :D and one piece of evidence to show that smokers are suicidal.

I was in the other extreme. Overcautious as I read that I should be I dressed with 5 layers in my upper body, two in the head and two in my lower body. That didn't make me the most agile person when carrying my luggage but I found out that it is not as bad as I was expecting and the experienced re-enforced the need of buying proper clothing . Same thing that I did with the help of my new supervisor on the next day.

With the hotel paid by my employer, I only had to have a hot bath and rest in the bed. My condition was: a rare combination of mental and physical tiredness and boredom, all together. Not surprising after all and after having a day spent in three different planes and airports, three different countries, and one use of what it seems an advantage of the NAFTA or North America (that means Canada, USA and Mexico believe it or not ;-) Free Trade Agreement.

The morning was waiting for me with what my not very experienced life found a mesmerizing view...

Y me he cambiado a Edmonton, Canada.

The Commute from the pilot's seat
The Commute from the pilot's seat
originally uploaded by Paul Jerry.

Y me he cambiado a Edmonton, Canada.

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