I moved to the mythical land of Canuckistan for the first time in June 2013 from the very real country of South Africa. Wide eyed, I explored my new land in the height of summer – making full use of the long days to turn the town inside out for photographic opportunities. And find them I did.
I was also welcomed into the church community I found myself in, forging deep relationships. Many of the natives, however, in the Cariboo town of Quesnel, were less welcoming of this stranger from a far off land, with his camera and very long lens. After I had been in town for a few weeks a message went out on the local Facebook page asking who the alien was and what he was doing in town photographing everything (and everyone). I was just doing what I always did, wherever in the world I was. On another occasion I was having a merry old time shooting out on a lake – marvelling at the ‘plane parked outside one of the houses, and three children swimming way out in the emerald water – when owner of aforementioned home jumped into his speed boat and raced over to me to interrogate me about my intentions. I’m told he is one of the most affable residents around said lake. Just not to me.
But I digress. I shot rodeos and dance recitals, graduations and softball games. There were bridges, mills, landscapes and people – many people. I even shot a zombie once in the 19 months I stayed in Quesnel (most of which I chronicled right here on this blog). It was an amazing, profound season in my life – difficult because I wrestled with intense loneliness and several challenging relationships, but one where I left with more constructive, enjoyable experiences and memories than negative ones.
It was the months (and year) after leaving where the depth of relationships I’d enjoyed became clear to me. Most acute was the number of children back in Canuckistan that would apparently ask after me. And how I missed them too. In all my travels, from Mongolia to Madagascar, Cape Town to Canuckistan it’s the people I leave behind that I miss the most. Sure, I’ve been to many exotic places, but I always return to my old haunts because of the people.
And that’s what has brought me back here again now. I will be #cruisingcanuckistan for the next three months – not only visiting friends, but also trying to discover quaint new spots or peculiar people. Please come along for the ride.