We planned to spend mid-May through mid- August in the Canadian Atlantic Maritime Provinces to avoid high temperatures and humidity, just in case this summer was brutally hot on the eastern seaboard for the 4th year in a row. That plan worked fine on Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands, and in Labrador and Newfoundland, but it caught up to us in Halifax: 90 degrees and 78% humidity, day after day. Staying for the month of July in an airbnb.com (dog friendly) house has been great! However, we found that houses well insulated for winter, hold the daytime 90 degree heat all night as well. Even sequestering all of our darling landlady’s fans in our bedroom didn’t shorten the long, sweaty, sleepless nights. Halifax has lovely shady parks in which to kill time on a brutally hot and humid day, but it still can’t touch a cold shower and lying naked in front of a fan. Maybe we should try lying on the floor and panting like our Mexican dog, Lety. Even the lightpoles at the waterfront are melting…
The heat has changed how we explore a new region…s-l-o-w-l-y. We have walked all over town…on the rainy or cloudy days this month. Fortunately, on Canada Day, Halifax was like a cool and misty summer day in San Francisco, so the Mounties, and Scottish dancers, and the bagpipers didn’t get overheated in the Canada Day parade.
Most businesses and homes have no air conditioning (nor piped gas either), so hiding out in a Starbucks cafe, restaurant, or movie theatre did not provide relief. We escaped into the cold produce room in the neighborhood grocery store, and practiced Tango outside at the waterfront. We did not hike up and down hilly Lunenberg, a World Heritage Site, instead opting for a driving tour and lunch (…killah’ Lobster Newburg and very tart key lime pie) at the fabulous Magnolia Grill. However, we would have enjoyed it even more with some AC thrown in! We also kept putting off a planned trip to the Annapolis Valley wine region knowing the warm weather required for grape production, would likely make it just like Napa Valley during a heat spell. We nixed the unshaded International Jazz Festival as well. Hot Weather Wimps!
Instead, we went to the rocky shoreline jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, to the first responder fishing villages to the 1998 crash of SwissAir Flight 111. The slashes in the granite boulder point to the crash site on the horizon. 229 on board, mostly American, Canadian, and French, all perished. It was the most expensive investigation ever in Canada at $56M CD. 98% of the jet was recovered from 180 feet of water, and all victims were identified by partial remains/DNA and dental records. The lessons learned from mechanical and manufacturing errors deemed responsible for the fire, made sweeping changes in aviation engineering, especially in the flammability of applied materials. The pilot errors in judgement were predictable given the lack of instrumentation, and the heat exposure, so intense that the ceiling over the cockpit melted. The jet landed almost upside down in a 20 degree dive.
We sweltered through a Tango weekend workshop, learning that close embrace Argentinian Tango is just not sexy when it is sweltering. However, the Tangueros were rewarded with a swim and potluck at a home in the tidal North Arm after the boiling hot weekend. Swimming…what a concept on a hot day! After a tango lesson with Margaret on Williams Lake, we found the best way to beat the heat…linger in a lake that is slightly cooler than your body so you can stay in the water for a long, long time. Ah-h-h-h-h, Relief! We also learned that her visiting daughter and family live only 8 houses from us in Albany, CA! She is a pastry chef in a local cafe; we are looking forward to neighborhood potlucks with our new Canadian neighbors! Fortunately, Halifax has over 15 lakes within 1/2 hour of the city. We also found that a ferry ride from Downtown to the suburb across the water, helped beat the heat, as did icy cold beer and cider at the waterfront bar when you arrive. Fortunately, our next tango class with Loren was 10 days later, and much, much cooler. Yummm, love that close embrace style again!
Unfortunately, we will depart Nova Scotia today, just before the Pride Parade in Halifax, the 4th largest gay pride festival in Canada. We really wanted to compare it to our home-grown version in San Francisco. If the celebrations are anywhere near as good as all the events we attended celebrating Canada Day, it will be the pips! We tried to persuade the chef of our favorite restaurant in Halifax, The Wild Leek, a vegan restaurant that opened only 4 weeks ago, to move to S.F. Lucky for you Haligonians that you get to keep her on site!