Vancouver & Culture Shock
I left for the Mexico City airport at 3am, taxiing through a downpour to the airport, sitting in the front with my bag on my lap and hoping I had remembered all my stuff. It felt weird to think this would be the last time I would be in Mexico for quite some time.
I really only have exhausted summer-weight clothes with me – some I never want to see again – but luckily Vancouver is a place where casual (read: sports) clothes fit right in. Culture shock is a weird thing, and you can never be sure how it will manifest, or what will be the thing that brings it out. I was slightly scandalised by the short shorts Vancouverites were wearing on the street (female and male); I have been accustomed to a more demure style of dress with shoulders and knees covered, so I felt a little prudish back in a big city again.
I was also overwhelmed by the Granville Island food market. After a year in Oaxaca eating only Mexican food (because there are not really any other options), I have been craving Thai food, Vietnamese rolls and fish (Oaxaca is 10 hours by road from the ocean and so there was no way I would trust fish in Oaxaca). Walking off the ferry into the market I was confronted by food originating from about 10 different countries in the first aisle. Just the sheer variety of food available was overwhelming – which sounds super weird -but I gathered my resolve and made a list of foods I wanted to eat while I am in Vancouver.
Some things that have struck me about Vancouver is that it is such a clean and beautiful city! The streets are wide and cars actually give way to each other, however most people are riding bikes anyway. Which brings me to the how fit the people of Vancouver are! Just walking down the street you see buff people in short athletic gear hurrying with yoga mats, riding bikes, running in high tech gear, and speed-walking whilst talking with friends.
I went up Grouse Mountain to see the bears, which involved taking 3 different buses from the centre of Vancouver, and a 8 min gondola ride straight up the mountain. After wandering around the trails at the top for a while I became aware of people arriving through the cafe covered in sweat and wearing very short shorts. I discovered these people were actually running up the mountain. Later when I was taking the gondola down with several runners, they casually mentioned they were about to run back up the mountain when they got to the carpark. Just for fun.