The Acadian Experience

An unfinished, unedited post… but this happened over a month ago so it’s getting posted…

After a great week and a half in Quebec, Cape Breton, and PEI, I met a friend (from Kuwait) near her East coast home in Tracadie, New Brunswick. We went straight to the finale of a local music competition. This is the competition my friend won a few times. It’s a pretty big deal on the Acadian peninsula and the show was sold out so I was getting quite an authentic experience. The host was absolutely hilarious. I didn’t understand what he was saying, but there was so much laughter in the audience that I couldn’t help laughing too.

Some beer and chatter after the concert brought The Up ‘n Down into the conversation.

“Have you shown her the Up ‘n Down yet?” Nancy’s friend asked.

“No, I just picked her up and we came straight here.”

“You haven’t shown her the Up ‘n Down?!?! You HAVE to take her on the Up ‘n Down!”

The conversation actually lasted much longer than it should have, about the Up ‘n Down. I was so intrigued and really unsure about what exactly this was. Fast forward a couple days, and I would end up driving up and down the main street of Tracadie, while my friend was half-in-the-bag – no, completely, 100% in-the-bag – after an amazing concert by local artists. The Up ‘n Down is what these small town Acadians do for fun. They literally drive up and down the main street. Cars park on the side of the street (parking lots and what-not) and you pull up your car and chat, watching other cars drive up… or down. Occasionally, during my time in Tracadie, someone would say “oh, that car’s probably doing the Up ‘n Down”.  LOL These kids are crazy!

At some point during my time there, I drank some local beer that was just as good as the local beer I had in Belgium. Anyone who knows me knows that I came back from Belgium a beer snob (okay, you might only know because I’ve said it a billion times). Not a snob in that I know a whole lot more or have any knowledge really. Just that I am now picky. I guess I’m just a picky beer drinker now. Well, this local beer, the Caraquet Flyer, was spectabulous! I drank it at an awesome little outdoor/indoor pub/patio-on-the-water kind of place. Great atmosphere, great drinks (they’ve actually won awards for their gin and… I don’t remember what else).

Another true Acadian experience included having a conversation with the Acadian legend Donat Lacroix. Just another guy to me. But a legend to everyone else. He sang the Acadian anthem at a festival we went to the day before I left. I feel special.

What festival, you ask? Well, August 15th, I learned, is the Acadian birthday. While these people are happy and proud to be Canadian (unlike their French-Canadian counterparts to the West), they are even more proud to be Acadian. Anything that can be painted to resemble the Acadian flag (the French flag with a star), has been painted as such. Electrical poles, lawn decorations, boats, garages, even a house (see below)! So, unlike Canada Day festivities, which are generally fairly short-lived and not overly exciting, the Acadians go all out with a full 15 day festival in the major cities. Live music, street stalls, a boat decorating competition, crowds of happy, proud people. It was a good time to visit.

But, we didn’t spend all our time in the Tracadie area. Moncton was a pretty wicked experience. Moncton, a bilingual city in a bilingual province. I can’t believe that, before I met Nancy, I knew nothing of this bilingualism!

Our first day in Moncton, we went to magnetic hill. Nancy told me nothing and requested I don’t look it up. I was incredibly curious but obliged by her demand. So when the lady told me (Nancy let me drive) to drive to the bottom of the hill, put the car in neutral, and wait to go back up, I was shocked. Amazed. Flabberghasted. Wait for WHAT?! That’s not how gravity works!!!

Sure enough, once I got to the bottom of the hill, the car started reversing back up, gaining speed as we went. Lots of drivers actually hit the break because they get scared (not me, of course).

I could not get enough of this. After reading a little about the theory (fact?) that this hill is an optical illusion – the angles of the trees make this downhill slope look like it’s uphill. Being the curious gal I am, I just had to go back and see this again. So we drove back with Nancy’s friend (who was hosting us) and her husband. We drove up and down (down and up?), stopped and stared, and finally, I got out and walked. I mean, surely our bodies would tell us if we were going up or down. I think I was actually getting a little motion sickness because my legs told me uphill but my brain said downhill. How confusing! We poured water onto the pavement, placed the bottles down to roll, and observed the unimaginable – they rolled uphill (what was actually downhill). The entire thing was mind-boggling. Oh boy.

I played my first Cards Against Humanity game. Definitely a good time.

Peggy’s Cove – Whaaaaat?!?!?!  I did not know this existed!!! As we drove nearer the lighthouse, the air became increasingly foggy. We were unsure whether this was because we were driving into it or if the weather was changing for the worse. After backtracking for Nancy’s phone, which she left on a gas station counter, we realized it was a bright sunny day all around, except for near Peggy’s Cove. The “fog” is really mist from the rough waters. I couldn’t imagine living here! Everyone sees pictures of the lighthouse – it’s iconic of Eastern Canada. Everyone has it on their list of things to see. Not having done any research, and knowing only this about Peggy’s Cove, I thought we’d stop by, see the lighthouse, and take off somewhere else. Imagine my surprise when we walked onto huge rocks, above crashing waves, just waiting to be explored. We jumped across rocks, wandered as close as we could safely go to the ocean, sat and pondered life, while watching the waves crash against the rocks below. One of the best moments of this trip was sitting atop a huge rock, away from the crowded space (i.e. The lighthouse), watching the ocean waters crash against the monstrous rocks. If I could have pitched a tent and slept here, I would have.

And lastly, the Bay of Fundy was super cool. We walked along the ocean floor, climbed up and across some rocks to where no other tourists had gone (at that time, at least), and enjoyed the flowerpot rocks.


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