Last weekend I took a trip to see friends Sami and Hind in Montreal. They just recently returned to Canada after months of waiting in Casablanca and Istanbul for documents allowing Sami to return to Montreal. I drove into the city on Saturday night and on Sunday we drove up to Mount Tremblant [map].
I never really thought about what was north of Montreal, I suppose I imagined cornfields, French farmers and a little bit further north - polar bears. I was wrong. The Laurentides is the name of the region north of the city - full of mountains, small lakes, cottages, boulangeries and [uniquely Quebecois] depaneurs.
We spent most of the time driving through the mountains looking at all the little plots people have staked out over the last couple of hundreds years. Mont-Tremblant seemed to be more of a winter resort destination than a summer one. Seeing all of the small cottages with their own large ponds and gardens was very inspiring. The afternoon was spent talking about how amazing it would be to buy land up in one of these mountains and run a hostel, more or less, with a restaurant and bakery, an artist residency program and a garden with a fish pond that would provide food for ourselves our visitors. Sami also plans to make money renting out paddle boats.
After heading back to Montreal, we said our goodbyes and I started my back to Massachusetts via Route 7 through Vermont [map]. I crossed the bridge over the Saint Lawrence, realizing for the first time that Montreal is actually an island. Continuing down the highway I started to notice tons of hot air balloons in the sky, and as I exited onto Route 133 taking me south through rural Quebec I noticed that I was driving closer to where the balloons were landing. One by one [there were about 30 balloons] I would see the balloons disappear in the horizon, and then reappear as giant flowing structures peaking above the cornstalks or along side the road.
As I approached the area where it seemed the most balloons were landing, I noticed that people had pulled off to the side of the road and were out of their cars walking around. Immediately, I thought they had stopped to watch the balloons and I slowed down to pull over and do the same. About twenty feet away I noticed there had been an accident and people were rushing to the cars to make sure everyone was alright. I was going about 10 miles per hour and rubber necking, when all of a sudden a woman jumped out in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and felt the adrenaline rush to my head when I noticed that the woman had a spider monkey on her shoulder. The monkey was wearing a leash around its neck and a diaper on its ass. I had to take a double-take, still with my foot on the brake completed stopped in the middle of the highway. It was then I realized what a surreal scene I was living in that very moment. Stopped in the middle of a highway, people yelling in French, cars thrown off the road from an accident on either side of me, a woman with a spider monkey wearing a diaper and technicolor hot air balloons landing in the cornfields during sunset. David Lynch could not have dreamt a more impressive scene.
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