Monday, August 09, 2004

Toledo, Ohio—Chicago, Illinois—Toronto, Ontario—Day 191

Today I flew from Toledo to Chicago and then on to Toronto, Canada. I had spent the day after the wedding saying goodbye to my friends from Macalester and spent time with Kathryn’s family as well as with Marnie and Andrea, a few other friend’s of Kathryn’s who weren’t leaving until Monday like me.

Kathryn’s parents dropped me and Marnie off at the airport and we checked in and were on our way, on the same flight, to Chicago. We ran into Kathryn’s aunt and cousin from Albuquerque who were also on the same flight and since it was such a small flight it seemed like Kathryn’s wedding guests were taking up a lot of the plane!

Marnie and I parted ways in Chicago and I waited for my flight to Toronto. I made it to Toronto and then had problems getting through Canadian customs (again!)

Basically I had put down that I was in Toronto (well, Canada for that matter) on both business AND personal. Business being the hippos and personal being the fact that I will be seeing Andrea (Kathryn’s friend) when I am in Montreal. Sooo, that didn’t fly with the lady that checked my passport. Both business and personal? Well, what’s your business?

If only I could have sad that it was none of HER business! J So I went into my story, talking as fast as I could before she interrupted me, drew a big line across my customs form and let me go. I thought I was in the clear but instead I was re-routed to the interrogation area where I then had to plead my case to another stern looking woman.

So I started talking (it only takes me a few sentences before they raise their eyebrows in suspicion and go ummmm, hummmmm. Yeaaaaah riiiiiight.

So I decided to be smooth and got out my newspaper article about me which seemed to have the desired effect. She read it, all the while typing things on her computer, and asked me how long I was going to be in Canada (7 days, I fired back) and blah blah blah questions about the photos. Is he selling the photos? Nope. He’s just making the porcelain to sell then. Nope. So, he’s just making it for himself?


After she typed in god knows what onto her computer she finally let me go. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door in search of a taxi, which I found and whizzed me away to my hotel which was disappointingly far from the downtown area of Toronto but nicely situated near the zoo. I dropped off my stuff after checking in and headed to the zoo via taxi.

I got to the zoo around 3pm and found the hippos soon thereafter. To my sheer luck, not only was the name of the hippo out (Sam!) but there was to be a hippo talk at 4:30! Perfect timing! I went up to the rail to look over at the hippo but to my surprise found two of them!! Sooo, what’s the other one’s name and which one is not Sam??

I took some photos and the two hippos eventually got themselves out of the water to eat a bit and I could tell the difference between them right away based on their coloring. Now I just needed the keeper to tell me their names. The keeper came and I learned that neither of them were Sam, but Perky and Petals. Sam is their brother (Samson really) and the three hippos alternate days. The two females are out one day, the male the next. Why? Well, they are brother and sisters and well, they don’t want them mating to be exact!

Well this just meant that I would have to come back tomorrow to get pictures of Samson. So I talked to the keeper a bit (asking him the exact spelling of the hippos’ names which I think he thought was weird) and set out on my way.

I decided to take the bus back into town since there were no taxis in sight and hey, public transportation is great. So I got in line, got a ticket (after asking someone what to do first!) and stood until a seat was empty. I asked the girl I was sitting next to which stop I needed to get off on and we started talking. Her name is Lisa and she actually works at the zoo and must be just a tad younger than me. She was really awesome and for the rest of the time we chatted away about being Canadians and Americans and then she showed me how to get on the subway and where it would take me. I decided that I wanted to go into the downtown area so she showed me on my map what’s cool in the Toronto area and which stops to get off on. Then it was my turn to get off so I said good bye to her. Lisa gave me her phone number to call her in the morning when I got back to the zoo and she would come say hi to me.

Well that just made my day. I got off and walked around the downtown Toronto area for a bit, stopping to get dinner and a watch since mine recently broke. I then headed back on the subway back to my hotel, feeling pretty darn good about navigating Toronto on my own. To get to my hotel you had to get off of the subway then take a Light Rail system over to a Shopping Center that is about 3 km from my hotel. So you have to taxi it back to the hotel from the Shopping Center which is exactly what I did!

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.