With all the obnoxiousness of the visa delays, there was one big plus - not only was I around for Caribana (thus, I've done the two big parades in Toronto this summer, Pride and Caribana) but being around for Caribana meant I got to spend the weekend with Peter, a very cute Haitian/Montrealer.
It was all very last minute, as I only found out there was no way I could fly out on the weekend as of Tuesday. Then there was lots of fussing about how I would get to and from the city with most of my family up north at the cottage. In the end, Peter and his friend Edwin picked Daniel and I up on his way to Toronto from Montreal. And for anyone who knows their small town Ontario geography, that means he came an hour out of his way to pick me up. And yes, you read that earlier sentence correctly - in the most basic of terms, I kinda brought my little brother along on a date.
Peter went to a concert Friday night. At midnight to 1 a.m. he was chatting with me online from Montreal. At 6 a.m. he arrived. I was a bit panicked, as I though I had until 7 to shower and pack, so all the men had to stand around and wait for me, while I gave women a bad name by taking forever to get ready. After much musing about what to wear, I put on my shortest skirt, lowest-cut tank top, and a very, very bad pair of shoes. The idea was to minimize tan lines, since I knew with hours out in the sun I was going to turn a pinkish to reddish colour. Oh the joys of fair skin. I was the only one who had to constantly reapply sunscreen all day - not the only one who had to, I guess, but the only one who did. Daniel is bright red as a result. Lobster would be a perfectly descriptive nickname for him right now.
So, hitting a Timmie's on our way, we drove to Toronto and found some dorm rooms to stay in. They had shared bathrooms, but for the price we couldn't complain. We had breakfast and then walked down Yonge Street to Lakeshore. We walked quite a bit before the guys saw fit to tell me the action was over at Exhibition Place, which is when I put us all on the streetcar.
Caribana is a slightly odd parade. I don't mean the dancers and floats and costumes and music. It's odd because they put up some major over the head barriers along the route (for a comparison, the ones at Pride were only waist high) but there are numerous spots along the way that you can get onto the route and join in the parade. That isn't just common, it's pretty much expected. We spent the first three hours or so in the staging area, which no one trying to keep us out at all. So what's up with the barriers then?
After about five hours of sun and dancing, we were all tired and hungry. Dan and I had managed 3 hours of sleep but Edwin and Peter hadn't slept at all. We had dinner and after a rather longer-than-anticipated walk, went back to nap before going out. Le5, Thomas and Jodie came down for some hanging out with Daniel and then we met up with more Montreal people to hit the clubs. Bit of walking up and down indecisively - the only place I would have been able to recommend had a crazily long line up - we managed to find a cheap place with decent music. I ended the evening with a lollipop, which is never a bad thing.
The next morning everyone slept in. When we asked the hotel receptionist where to go grab breakfast he suggested the food courts in one of the many surrounding hospitals, which is how I ended up at Timmie's in Sick Kids on the long weekend. A bit bizarre. Then we drove down to Harbourfront to hop on the ferry to Toronto Island. With some quality juice (I've never tasted this specific mixture of fruits before! What's in this juice? Just juice???) and some snacks, we hit the beach and basically lazed around in the sun. The girls from Montreal and another couple of Montreal folks joined us - aside from little bro, I was the only non-French speaker and was impressed that while I can't speak French anymore, my comprehension is fine. Though if they actually spoke Quebecois-French, I would have been screwed.
Dan and I came home exhausted. We had some corn on the cob for dinner - very Canadian - and then I ended up falling asleep with the lights and computer on. Someone must have turned them off for me, as I was in darkness the next day at noon. That's got to be one of the better things about sleeping in a basement, that and the fact that it is pretty cool down here on even the hottest days. I spent Monday puttering around doing a bit of packing (though mostly just making a huge mess) and recovering from Caribana - all that dancing and sun led to some sore feet and slightly stiff legs.
Basically, Caribana kicks ass and people from Montreal are a lot of fun. Especially the tall, dark and handsome ones.