Have you ever wondered why Canadians don’t come to Australia? I’ve asked a few, and the answer is always the same – “snakes”. Ok, so about half also mention spiders, and some talk about sharks, but without fail – it’s snakes. Conclusion – they’re just scared! This is kinda strange when you consider that Canada’s national sport involves a bunch of guys you wouldn’t want to date your daughter skating round an ice rink trying to knock each other’s heads off with big sticks.
I’ve tried, without success, to rationalise with quite a few people we’ve met here. The conversation (from my side) goes along these lines. “No, we’re not from New Zealand.” “No, we don’t live in Sydney – actually we live about half way between Melbourne and Cairns.” “No, we don’t have a pet kangaroo.” “No, we haven’t had a snake in our yard for weeks.” “Sure we have lots of spiders, but they’re generally harmless unless they bite you.”
I guess when you put it like that, it does seem way safer for Canadians to just pack up the RV and take the family camping for the summer break. You even have two choices – finding some quite spot in the forest, or camping at the beach (surrounded by forest.) In fact, we’re currently enjoying a relaxing beach holiday on Vancouver Island as I write this. Each day we take the five-minute walk to the beach from our rustic little five star forest bungalow, laden down with buckets, spades and warm jackets. In other years we’ve seen deer wandering about near the path, but apparently the coyotes have been a bit more aggressive than usual so they’re harder to spot this time round.
Our neighbour tells us not to worry too much about the coyotes – “they don’t attack people very often, and besides, the cougars make sure they don’t stay around for long.” Cougars? “Oh, you probably call them mountain lions. Don’t worry about them, just try to look big like a bear and they’ll probably back off – that is unless you see a real bear – then, well, do you have travel insurance in New Zealand?”
Then of course, there’s the summer barbeque. Great fun for all the family – until the yellow jackets arrive. When I first heard about these, I thought they were some kind of golf trophies, but I soon learned they are huge nasty critters that float like, well, wasps, and sting like bees. Wiki, source of all knowledge, says they have “lance-like stingers with small barbs and sting repeatedly.” Add to that the fact that their preferred food is meat, and, well, you can guess the rest.
So, can’t walk in the forest, can’t eat outside – think we’ll just go on that whale watching tour tomorrow. Oh, by whales you mean orcas? Ah, and they changed the name from killer whale to orca to improve their image? No worries – we’re not scared.