03 February 2008

The tour guide and the (winter) city

For the third time in the last 12 months I had the opportunity of being a tour guide of Toronto. It is really a pleasure to show the city you live in to someone who is seeing it for the first time. Last June I started this honourary job with my Dad, then in the Fall I wandered around downtown with my dear Italian friend RBT a couple of times. Yesterday it was with a new friend, a young guy from Colombia who is trying to adapt to living in Canada after life threw a slider at him and his family. Mr. Ch. is being integrated into my lab at YorkU as an undergraduate research assistant, while trying to have his university back in Colombia to take this experience as the last credits he need to finish his degree in Psychology.

We met to talk and I was able (hopefully) to give him a glance into life in Canada and in Toronto. The backdrop of a slushy Spadina Avenue after a "snow storm" that surprisingly brought the city to its knees seemed to be effective to describe the contrasts this city has to offer. Here are some photos I took from one of my favourite intersections College and Spadina:





What I like about this intersection is that is the North limit of China Town and to the South-West of the intersection you can find Kengsinton Market. Kengsinton Market is one of the most hip places (obviously this is my personal opinion) in Toronto. You can find vintage clothing stores, international food products, fresh produce, knick-knack stores, and even an authentic Taco joint (El Trompo) and a Chilean Empanada place (Jumbo Empanadas, where we had lunch). There are several Latin American grocery stores, so if I ever feel home sick and long for those Ducal refried beans, or if I run out of chocolate (the beverage) or suddenly decided the heck with sodium content let's make some Pepián out of a box (Mahler brand) I am sure I will find these and other products there if I don't find them in the little stores on mi barrio. Thus I try to show this neighborhood to visitors from abroad. In this case is to a future Canadian resident, but I guess it is a good introduction to the multi-culturality of Toronto (did I mentioned the Middle Eastern, Portuguese, Jamaican, and many many other stores in the area? and the fact that is just besides China Town?) and at the same time give him a potential life line if there is something from Colombia he might end up craving once he realizes is not easily found in wherever he ends up living in this wide, although relatively uninhabited city. Here is a shot of Augusta Ave., on of the main roads of Kengsinton Market.




It looks like any other street covered with snow. So I might make a future posting on this interesting piece of Toronto's mosaic when Spring finally arrives. Which according to the Canadian Groundhogs will be after six more weeks of these (dreary) weather. In the meantime I made Mr. Ch. walk down University Avenue (where I give my speech about the Canada Life beacon, does anyone know what is so special about it?) all the way to the Harbourfront Centre (which I had previously showcased), passing by Union Station, and the foot of the CN tower and the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the Skydome). Then we walked North via Bay Street, the home of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and then East on Queen St. East, where he is staying on a place beyond Sherbourne. Mr. Ch. apparently is "wintercity-ed out" so I didn't ask him to join me while I went to Nathan Phillps Square to experience an interpretation of Alice in Wonderland by a theatre group from the Netherlands called Gajes. I took some pictures, but lighting (and having a hot-dog and fries on one hand) doesn't help my poor camera phone, which otherwise takes excellent outdoor shots. Here are some of the most decent ones of the performance:




After the presentation I hang around to see the lightning of some fire sculptures created by a French artist or artists. It is fascinating how a cold Winter evening can make our primeval attraction towards fire more evident. Here are some pictures of a couple of these "sculptures", don't get too close:





So, this chapín tour guide from Toronto shared a talk with a Colombian friend over some Chilean empanadas, gave him a tour of downtown, and then he toured on his own to a festival where artists from the Netherlands and France presented their crafts. Just another weekend in Toronto. And, an appropriate way to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of an event in Guatemala, which produced an overwhelming response from the international community towards my motherland. Growing up we used to call February 4th the Day of International Friendship, but I don't know if it caught up. Does anyone know what happened in Guatemala on 4 February 1976?

5 comments:

The Black Wizard said...

que tour vos, buenas pictures, un anbrazo para vos

AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com said...

¿el suelo se movió? no sé... yo estaba durmiendo.

Por cierto, bonito tour... confirma mis sospechas de que si iré a visitarte, tiene que ser en el verano o el otoño. ;-)

Manolo said...

black wizard gracias por el comentario, es increible lo que mi telefonito puede hacer.
rudy al fin alguien que se acordó del 4 de febrero, ya estaba pensando que me lo imaginé... y eso que yo era un bebito.
Sin cuentos mano... "tu casa..." no... "mi casa, es tu casa"

CancunCanuck said...

Awww, some of my favourite places for sure! The pic of Augusta in winter actually made me miss Toronto. I LOVE Kensington Market, "Courage My Love" is such a sweet smelling store and I love the cheese market where you can buy the most delicious Mennonite Salami. Mmmmmm, salami......and Mennonites.....

Manolo said...

Canucka I'll have to try the cheese market and check the store you mention (is that the one that sells chocolates and candy perpendicular to Spadina across the street from the vintage clothing store?) I also have a soft spot for Mennonites...