Billingualism?

Trip: Trois Pistoles to Amqui
Distance: 154km

Our last day in Quebec. It’s really hard to believe that in two weeks, I will be landing in Edmonton, taking up residence in my apartment I’ve never seen and starting school two days later. It’s funny how so often it seemed like there was so much time left on this trip and now there’s barely any.

I think I got almost 10 hours of sleep last night. You would think this would mean I could start the day with a bounce in my step, but no…no. I’m not exactly certain when it was I got behind on sleep, but I sure hope I catch up soon. I had the privilege of taking down my tent this morning while chipmunks threw things at me from the trees. Good times right there, let me tell you. When we started out, my legs felt horrible (which I thought was a really bad sign before a century…and three more riding days) but somehow they got better with time.

As we were climbing a hill on the way to Rimouski (the junior hockey home of Sidney Crosby), I broke yet another spoke. I went to stand on the pedals and boom, gone. Doh. To add to the day’s excitement, I nailed a huge rock about 10km later for flat #14. This is when I discovered I’ve misplaced the sandpaper from my patch kit. We also discovered that Iona’s patch kit was soaking wet, and that her sandpaper was thus about as useful as…well, it just wasn’t useful at all. Fortunately my patch job seemed to work anyways. Well, at least the second time, when I actually put the patch over the hole. Funny how that helps.

As we were climbing this afternoon, my lovely riding partner abandoned me. I stopped to get water at this little gas station and never managed to catch Iona again. Fortunately we both seem to have survived this horrendous ordeal.

I’m actually going to miss Quebec a lot, as it’s been giving me a chance to work on my French. It’s like finally, after 23 years, I’m beginning to understand why my mom thought it was so important for me to take 13 years of French. Now I see the value (and wish that my French was better). This trip has actually made me want to use it more and improve, but I’m not exactly sure how I could go about doing this in Edmonton.

The thing I’ve found really interesting about Quebec compared to the rest of the country is the expectations of Anglophones compared to Francophones. Everywhere else in the country, signs are in English. There may be bilingual road signs, but menus, etc. are all in English. More importantly, there is an expectation that English will be spoken. Then you get to Quebec. Far more frequently you’ll see bilingual signs, but what stands out is that people will go into restaurants, etc. and expect that someone will speak English. I can understand how feelings of alienation and resentment come up when the bilingualism of this country seems to very much be a one-way street.

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