I met Byron, a 25-year-old guy, at Moncton market. He was kind enough to accept my request about staying on their organic farm on Prince Edward Island for a day. When we arrived at the farm, he told me that he built his hut himself. I went inside. There was dust everywhere. I was looking for a bathroom when Byron saw my puzzled face. “Where’s the bathroom?” I asked. He said, “ummm, we don’t have bathroom here.” As if I was hit by thunderbolt, my eyes widened. I was about to repeat my question but hesitated and thought maybe I didn’t understand what he said. So I faltered, “ wwwhat, well, hhow… wwwhere do you… wwwhat do you do when you wanna pee?” He looked at me and said with a smile, “well, we pee outside.” Trying to digest what he said, I asked, “but where do you poo?” He said that they do it when they’re in town, they, meaning he and his girlfriend. “We go to town everyday and so we do it there.” Astonished and speechless, I didn’t ask where they take shower. Maybe they went swimming in the sea. I couldn’t contain myself and said, “but you’ve been living here for more than a year, right? You didn’t have a plan to have a toilet when you were building the house?” I felt my questions were becoming irritating and I really didn’t want that. He said that they didn’t think it was necessary and they could forgo the bathroom. “It’s been only a few weeks since I set up the solar panels. Before that we did with candles.” I was beginning to think that either I’m too bourgeois or they were really primitive. I tried to remember the old houses of a few hundred years old in Iran; yes, they had toilets. Even the humble huts in small villages I had seen, they all had toilets. Trying to get to know him more, I asked, “what made you come here and start your own farm?” He said, “We always wanted to have our own place and be independent. I don’t like paying bills. Here we grow organic vegetables and sell them at the market. My girlfriend works at a bar and life goes on.” While I was thinking of the meaning of comfort and how it has developed through history, I realized that for some people it has not developed and they adhere to the age-old meaning of comfort. Perhaps, that development wasn’t necessary for them.
Byron pointed at the dusty floor and a rag and told me I could sleep there. I looked at a chair and a table and thought I’d sleep on the chair. When he said that he’s leaving to pick his girlfriend up, I got excited and brought my backpack with me. On the way, I said, “is it possible that you drop me at a bed & breakfast or a hostel when we get in town? I’m sorry, I know you’ve been hospitable to accept me as your guest; it’s just that I can’t stay here tonight. I need a bathroom and a clean place to sleep.” He said, “I’m sorry I should’ve told you about the condition.” I stopped him before he finished, “no worries, you don’t have to feel sorry, I just took certain things that I find basic for granted.” He said, “it’s more than a year since we left city life and got used to this life of our own that I didn’t think it’s not conventional. Let me ask Reggie and see if you could stay the night there.”
Reggie and Stella were the owners of the big farm, which Byron and his girlfriend rented a part of. They were a middle-aged couple. We had soup at their place before getting to Byron’s house. The first thing I saw in Stella was her penetrating blue eyes and long white hair. She was half native and had a special charm.
I stayed the night at Reggie and Stella’s in a comfortable guest room they offered me. I woke up in the morning with a smell of incense that Stella burnt. She said that she did it everyday. I told them many things about Iran they didn’t know. It was their first encounter and they didn’t really expect to see a backpacker from Iran in an organic farm in PEI. Stella told me a lot about the native Indian traditions, the powwow, sweat lodge and more. I was amazed at the richness of their culture and traditions. It was a pity that I couldn’t stay there more and had to leave to Charlottetown. Byron was kind enough to take me there, where I met my new couchsurfing hosts, a couple from Italy and Japan.
We rode on bike around Charlottetown for a couple of hours and came back home for a delicious Japanese food. The next day, Giancarlo, my host, woke up with me and took me to the bus station on bike.
On the way back to Moncton, I was summarizing my 3-week trip that was almost unplanned. I was thinking how everything happened on the spot and how accidental things were, the encounters, the places that I didn’t originally plan to visit, the sleeping in the wild, hitchhiking, camping by the beach around Cape Breton, jumping from the waterfall, skinny-dipping in the crystal clear water of the ocean surrounded by cliffs and lying on a rock in the middle of water under the sun, and last but not least, the people. The diverse people I met, the talks we had and the drinks we toasted. It was a unique trip, in the real Canada!
The end of the journal.