After a 21 hour train ride, we arrived at Halifax and had to make a very similar journey to the one we embarked upon from New York to Staten Island. Our next host lived in a place called Dartmouth, which was most accessible by taking a ferry. The whole place was covered in a light mist, and the sun was setting. There wasn’t a statue of liberty, but there was an abundance of space and a much more peaceful atmosphere and it was the most home-like place that we’d come across since leaving Wales, with the sound of seagulls and the sea breeze. We we picked up by our next host and taken to her house, which was pretty near the centre of Darmouth. As soon as we stepped into the door, we felt comforted to be there, as it was a real home and between her and her housemates, they had three cats and a dog. Even though I haven’t lived with them for a long time, I still miss me cats, so it felt really good to be around animals again – even the dog, which helped me to wake Dan up the next morning. Our host was in her thirties and had spent time in Toronto before coming back to live in the Halifax area. It became a common thread between everyone we spoke to in Nova Scotia that they loved living there, but it was expensive and jobs were few. Nova Scotia is currently dealing with an ageing population because after university, they don’t have a lot to offer young people in terms of career so young people feel that they have to leave in order to pursue anything. It was as if they were describing Pembrokeshire!
The next day, we headed over to our next hosts house as quickly as we could with our backpacks. It was an hours walk, so we decided to take a break in a restaurant called Battery Park. I would recommend it to anyone heading over to Dartmouth, as it had a really good selection of local beers and ciders, and the owner is awesome. I think Dan met his soulmate in his guy, as they talked for ages about Trailer Park Boys and Indie Games. Far too prematurely for Dan, we had to continue our journey as the time difference suddenly meant we were an hour late and if you’re staying at someone’s house for free, the least you could do is be punctual. When we arrived, our host was lovely about it and quickly welcomed us into his home, where we met a beautiful ginger cat and a smiling baby. His wife would be coming back soon, so we sat in the living room and got used to our surroundings. Dan has always claimed that he isn’t good with small children and that he believes he acts awkwardly around them. This baby obviously didn’t think so, because they became best friends over the next couple of days and I think Dan wouldn’t be too proud to admit that he misses him.
When our hosts wife arrived, the four of us sat in the living room and began getting to know each other. With all of our hosts so far, it completely astounds me the generosity that we’ve been met with where we’ve been offered meals, lifts and a place to stay in return for just some of our time. Kindness emanated from this couple as they welcomed us and talked over the next few days. They were so keen to give us a good experience in their home, and being able to meet their child at such an early age made our stay feel really intimate. I hope they wont mind me saying this, but for the first time since staying with couchsurfing hosts, I felt a little nervousness coming from them, which was actually a big relief to know it wasn’t just us who felt that way sometimes. It turns out that we were their first guests, and they had decided fairly carefully before accepting our request because of their son.
The next evening, we were joined by two other couchsurfers and our hosts decided that it would be a great idea to take our dessert into the garden and eat it next to an open fire. I’ve clearly stated before that I feel my clubbing days are behind me and I now can’t think of many worse ways to spend my time than to have my toes stepped on by girls in stilettos and have sticky hair from guys spilling their pints on me. THIS is now my kind of night!
About an hour in, we heard one of the neighbours calling out to our hosts. I instantly assumed she was asking them to keep the noise down, but turns out she had seen this picture on Facebook and had brought out marshmallows and hot dogs for it. I think these neighbours were particularly friendly, but its definitely not uncommon for neighbours to be good friends here (I’m aware that I’m quoting that Australian show from the 80’s). It was one of those nights where it was so easy to talk to everyone, that before we knew it, someone announced that it was 3am and we should probably go to sleep.
It feels like we struck really lucky with the people we stayed with in Halifax, and I hope we showed how fortunate we felt. I haven’t felt big pangs of homesickness since Iceland, but I have definitely missed the comfort being in a home can bring. Both of our hosts gave that to us and I’ll always be grateful for that.