Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Borders (Penticton, B.C.)

"Can you remove your sunglasses, sir?" the border guard began his interrogation.

Tuesday morning, we were at the Canadian border, about to drive a few miles north to have lunch with an elderly couple we had gotten to know in La Manzanilla, Mexico. They had invited us to their house in Penticton many times, so we thought we would at least drive up and have lunch with them.

The border was only a few miles away from Oroville and it was early enough in the morning to not have a queue, but the Canadian border guard scrutinized us far longer than we thought necessary. Don't they want us here, dropping our dollars?

"Where do you live?"
Big Dog thinks we live nowhere, so there was a moment's hesitation before he said, "California."
"And you live there, too?" he asked, eyeballing me now.
"Why are you visiting Canada?"
"We have some friends in Penticton and we're having lunch with them."
"You drove all the way from California to have lunch in Penticton?"
Yep, and so what if we did! We wanted to say, but just answered "We're on a road trip. This is just a part of it." People with badges rarely have a sense of humor anyway.
"Do you have any firearms with you?"
"No. I don't even own any. Wait, that's not true. I think if I look, I have an antique shotgun somewhere..." BD mumbled.
Why do they always eye us so suspiciously? Is it because BD escaped into Canada for a time during the Draft Days? Maybe they smell fugitive status. He claims they only hassle him when I'm with him.

We passed the test, at any rate, and were soon driving through the valley filled with fruit orchards, passing dozens of fruit stands (Let's not buy any peaches, okay?), the town of Oliver that had orchards with exotic East Indian names and turbaned Sikhs driving tractors, up to Penticton.

So many of the new friends we made in Mexico during the months we lived there come from this region of Canada but somehow we got along best with L. & M. I think it was their international-ness. M. is part Turkish and French and L. is French Canadian, but they lived in California and other parts of the world and had been to Japan many times.

The elderly couple live in a lovely little house on a hill. The interior is tastefully decorated in a minimalist style, with a few well-placed pieces of aboriginal and ethnic art and outside is a small but lovely garden with flowers and fruit trees. We happened to have barged in on them when their son and daughter were also visiting with their respective families, so instead of us taking them to lunch, they graciously invited us to join them for lunch on their canopied porch.

Lunch with M. & L.:
Kokanee beer
Sliced salami
Chickpea vinaigrette
Garden salad (made with greens picked from L.'s garden)
4 kinds of cheeses
Oven-fresh herb bread
Spaghetti with butter and grated parmesan

And let me tell you, that after all our terrible, or simply forgettable, meals on the road, this truly was a little slice of heaven before the long road back to the ranch.


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