Vancouver: more eat, less ride

Today is my 10th day in Vancouver and I feel like I have done so much, yet at the same time feel that I have done so little. This is from an email I sent to someone earlier in the week–> ‘I have fallen into such a routine. wake up around 11-12, eat some food, head to the library, check email, hang out at sweet cheribum (cafe, veg restaurant, Indian grocer all in one), and drink coffee and eat vegan sweets then mill around Commerical Ave (the Haight of Vancouver) till I run into someone I know. Then go to the Sikh temple for free dinner, hang out at the house afterwards doing various random things, read, discuss, etc, then go dumpster diving. In bed around 3am or so.’

It’s definitely fun, but I am always thinking I should be doing something better. I guess thats the story of my life. Over the weekend we snuck into a movie and took a midnight bike ride through this huge park. Pulled an all-nighter at Kinko’s helping with a zine. Oh, and on Friday there was a ‘squeegee kid’ protest. In Canada it is common for the poor and street kids to squeegee cars at intersections for change. In a time of increased unemployment and decreased social programs in Canada it is a way of survival. Anyway, police have been harassing the squeegee kids sometimes resorting to physical intimidation. Friday was a protest to draw attention to the situation. A bunch of us from the house cooked enough food for 75+ people and distributed to everyone in the area. It was so much fun. None of the participants in the protest would speak with the media due to the decision from the IWW squeegee council (yes, it exists) so I talked to them as a supporter. It was fun! I did 3 camera interviews and talked about the situation. I wonder if they knew I was not Canadian!?

Despite not mountain biking much, the main reason I came here, I have had a wonderful experience. Everyone at the house is so busy. There are always groups of people going off to do various things. Someone is always cooking (free) food. The dishes always get done. People are always playing music or reading. This is a house of 15 or so people, almost all of them under 21 and with very little money. It has motivated me considerably. Sure, there have been a couple shows at the house where destroyer punks came and were all drunk and obnoxious, but no one at the house is like that. I have spent individual time with almost everyone there and have learned from each of them. My stories pale in comparison to kids who have spent the last couple years of their lives traveling by train hopping, eating by dumpstering and living by squatting.

Tomorrow I am leaving for the 200-mile trip to Seattle. The route I am taking links together islands in the bay instead of just riding along the coast. I am looking forward to being on my bike again, but hopefully the weather improves. I have a lot to think about from this trip so far; the contrast between the doctor I stayed with in Alaska and the punks I am staying with in Vancouver pulls me in two opposite directions. But are they that different? At both places food was shared freely and bikes were a theme. In both places people are doing what they think is best to help the most people. I am lucky to sit in between the extreme of the two ways and have my life influenced by both.

Now I am going to go get some sweets. yum.

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