This morning I woke up and left everyone I love behind to go and experience Montréal. I will be doing my masters degree in music composition at the Conservatoire for the next two years, but at the same time experiencing this entirely new culture, city, and French language. I decided to keep a blog to record things I see or find interesting during my time here, and keep my loved ones in touch during my travels.
The first thing I noticed was that when the plane from Edmonton descended into Montréal, the flight attendants stopped speaking English all the together! All the airport signs had French first, then English writing.
My taxi driver spoke very little English, and we got lost trying to find my auberge (hostel/inn). I said, “Il se place à trois trois trois trois Chemin de-la-côte Saint Catherine.” But… he only heard “trois trois trois.” So we “trois’d” back and forth for some time until he figured out I literally meant 3 thousand, three hundred and thirty (trois mille, trois cent, trente-trois) and pulled a giant U turn in the middle of the road.
The secretary at the Canadian PROMIS auberge is my new best friend. Apparently this building, here since 1953, houses females transitioning to living in Montreal for both long and short term stays. There are no men allowed above the foyer floor, and giant statues of Catholic angels and important figures line the hallways. The rooms are clean and simple.
I went for a walk down Chemin de-la Côte des neiges (the next street over) when I had settled. I noticed immediately that all the buildings are brick. This I love! I didn’t go to a restaurant for dinner, but i saw people with grocery bags and knew there had to be a Marché (supermarket) nearby, and sure enough I found one at the corner of Ave Gatineau and Ave Lacombe.
Tonight feels very strange. My brain hurts from the sedatives I took on the airplane (I detest flying!) and speaking French. As I walked down Côte de Neige, I noticed that nobody spoke English. Lots of the promenaders looked of Carribean or French-African heritage. One man sat playing his guitar and singing outside a falafel house, and sang very loudly in French about a woman he wanted to please. A few men stood around smoking and cheering him on.
The street outside my window is a constant murmur. The noise is not overwhelming, but the city feels very vivant (alive). There is a contstant heartbeat in this place. In a way, I am reminded of a Francophone San Fransisco. If such a place existed, this would be it.