Many, many years ago, when I was still a little girl, my father took the whole family on an adventure across the world to Canada. I was probably just seven or eight years old at that time. It was not my first time to ride an airplane, but it was certainly my first time to go somewhere really, really far and really, really cold.
I remember when we got off the airplane, it was midnight or very early morning, I think. The sky was dark, and there was smoke coming out of my mouth. It was quite exciting as a little girl. Mama bundled us all up in thick jackets especially bought for the trip. I recall the whole family going to a warehouse sale weeks before so that we could get good quality jackets at great prices.
We stayed at a family friend’s house in Toronto. The streets were wide—totally unlike the mad and crowded streets in Manila. But this was in the early ‘90s. How Manila has changed now! I wonder how Toronto did too?
It was so cold that our host did not find it unusual to not take a bath in the mornings. I know this because I always saw dandruff on her thick wooly jackets whenever her hair was down. Breakfast was nothing out of the ordinary—maybe because the culture inside the house was the same as what we experienced at home.
What I found funny was that Papa and Mama would tell us to “hide” whenever the police or someone with authority would knock on the door. Was homeschooling illegal in Canada before? I am not exactly sure about this. We were not homeschooled, but we were definitely young children at home during school hours. This happened a few times in the afternoons whenever the Power Rangers was on the television.
I first rode the bus in Canada. We were used to Papa driving the family car back home. Public transport was really something new to me. We would get transfer tickets so we could transfer from station to station. I really do not know how that works, but I enjoyed collecting transfer tickets every time. Scarborough Centre was a familiar name and place.
Another Canadian first for me was eating tacos and fish and chips. I do not know the place where we had the fish and chips. It was some sort of food court in a mall. The food was wrapped in the directory's yellow pages, and I recall thinking, “Oh, so this is fish and chips!” It was actually fish fillet strips in tartar sauce with fries—fancy name for it! The tacos were amazingly memorable. They were so yummy! Crunchy tacos overflowing with cabbage and beef topped with lots of hot sauce. We had it at the top of the CN Tower, and I remember being very giddy because it was extremely windy at the top!
We also went to a science museum. (It was probably the Ontario Science Centre, but I could not be bothered then to know the name.) It was so awesome for a young girl like me. My sister and I (My brother was still a baby.) played with the exhibits, and then Papa treated us to a Wendy’s kids meal. It was in a paper bag, and inside were 3D glasses and a comic book. The material things are lost now, but the memory is still here.
They say food evokes one of the best memories. Whoever said that is absolutely right! I remember having soft, warm cinnamon rolls and the many flavours of Baskin-Robbins. Somewhere along the way, we also visited the majestic Niagara Falls. The splashes of water on my face as we stood on the observation deck just behind the falls are still fresh on my mind.
Towards the end of our trip, we visited a bookstore. Papa said we could each have a book. I chose a Disney Aladdin mini library. Basically, it is just a chopped up version of the movie and compiled into little storybooks. I did not care. I absolutely loved it! The books are still with me, and my child has enjoyed and played with them many times over. It was the best physical souvenir of our Canadian trip.
Maybe when the COVID pandemic dies down, I can visit Canada again now with my husband and son. I am eager for them to have the same experiences as I have had. But right now, I am truly grateful for that wonderful family adventure that will be forever etched in my heart.
Aside from God, her family, homeschooling (and books!), Katherine's love lies in stationeries. She and her husband manage growing stationery brands ForestmillⓇ, PrevailedⓇ and Boss StationeryTM in the Philippines. She is also the community moderator of a Facebook group for Office and School Supplies Wholesalers. Feel free to reach out to her via their Facebook page or email email@example.com.