Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mill Girl finally hits the big city

In all the time I've been coming to Nova Scotia, I've never truly touched down in Halifax. After several days in small, wide-open spaces, Halifax just feels really tight and confining each time I drive in. If the wiki page is correct, urban Halifax has a population of just under 300,000, less than half of Boston's population. But after walking beaches and driving country roads, I feel extra sensitive to all the noise and people in Halifax. However, this time I was determined to make it happen.

I parked in a frighteningly please-don't-hurt-me dark parking garage and felt my way out to sunshine, only to find several empty parking lots right on the water a block away. Lesson learned. Plenty of parking.

The walk along the waterfront is swankier than I expected. Several expensive condos above nice restaurants--I got my share of watching ladies sunning out on their decks with their lap dogs fidgeting over all the pedestrian traffic below.

I love that one of the most prominent pieces of art in Halifax is dedicated to drinking.

"looks on with concern"--we've all been there.

The Emigrant
The Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market is allegedly the oldest in the country. Several books and blogs direct readers there. It was huge! People everywhere--all colors, ages, languages. Overwhelming for me, but very awesome at a safe distance.

The chocolate samples...

I don't think there was a need that wasn't met.

The smells were awesome--so many foods: Polish, African, Jamaican, Indian. Something about the smell of cooking pierogi when you missed breakfast at the inn...

After that, it was time to hit the streets.

What a cute tugboat.

"Who, me?"

Yikes. When the tugboat got creepy, I headed away from the waterfront. I have been wanting to go here for a long time.

They had their first burial the day after they arrived.

And the award for prettiest sad tombstone goes to . . .

Kind of hard to read, but can we just pause here for a second and zoom in?

They lost SIX babies.

A young woman was sitting by a monument by the entrance to the cemetery. She had approached me earlier to let me know she could answer questions or give a tour if I was interested. "Just browsing!" I said cheerfully at first. Now I went back to her--"They're all babies. This is so sad. Why? Living conditions?"

"It's mostly mothers and babies, yeah," she said. "A lot of women died in childbirth." She explained that, as a port city, Halifax got every imaginable disease. Aside from that, the sewage situation was deplorable and even though there were 20 (twenty!) doctors in this first colony, they just weren't able to help. The first hospital was built across the street from this cemetery, which was probably more for convenience than anything else. I asked her about doctor training, and she said they were all trained in Scotland at that time but it was a rather dark time for medicine. And there were several apothecaries, but training for that profession...?

This young woman was a wealth of knowledge. I would have stayed longer just to listen to her talk, but I would have seemed weird after a while. So, you know, if you're in the area, stop at the sad cemetery for some good chit-chat.

I would just like to point out that this 18th c. church has an open mind. So what the hell is wrong with half of 20th c. America?


Seriously, this is a cafĂ©. No, I didn't enter.

I walked by a woman who randomly started talking to me. I didn't have anywhere to be, so I stopped and listened to her. She was just a simple-looking woman in shorts and a tshirt. "You know if the 9 bus is going to stop here? With all the construction, I don't know if it's gonna come by here, and I have to get to the picnic." I love this--people who talk about things as if you know what they're talking about. Zero context. It cracks me up. We talked for a while. Turns out she was late for a church picnic at Point Pleasant Park and she was afraid the children were all getting hungry waiting for her to say the opening prayer before they could eat. I offered my phone in case she might call someone at the picnic, but she didn't want me to put it on roaming just for her. Then a guy showed up, they did an elaborate handshake, hugged, and both started talking to me. Good stuff.

I'll have you know, incidentally, that I was mistaken for a native three times. Though I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad sign, frankly.

Like I mentioned yesterday, It's Pride Week(s) in Halifax. Ten days. There was a lot of supportive signage (my favorite being the tea shop that stated, "We brew both ways"), flags, couples, etc. And while I think it should be Pride Week every week, it made me happy to see a city open its arms. This sign outside the library stopped me for a sec. I would love to attend the James Baldwin dialogue. Guessing that won't work out, but it's in the back of my mind.

Halifax Public Gardens...



Is that an almost-duck-size Titanic? I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Despite my sister in law's skepticism regarding the possibility of warmth anywhere north of Virginia, it was damn hot in Halifax. And all the walking around in the sun had me spent after five hours. So I headed back to the inn and sat out on my deck for a few hours of blissful silence. Just birds singing, stupid guinea hens, views of the bay, and sunshine.

Today I pack up and start to head west. Tonight is a "free" night--no destination. We'll see where I land. My next legit reservation starts tomorrow. Cheers!

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