Day 65-66: It made no sense to make the cent, Winnipeg.

I know that there are plenty of people out there that are capable of learning far more and taking more in than I am, but I am noticing some small things. For example, the earth itself. I always thought mud was the colour brown. Sometimes light brown, sometimes dark brown, but brown. Going to another country which formed thousands of miles away with dirt of its own has shown me that its not just brown. It can be reddy-brown, orangey-brown, tan coloured, grey and sometimes even coal-black. I could go into the different shades of sand, but I think you get the picture.

Where we went yesterday had no real relation to mud, but it was still interesting to see. Stephen, one of our previous hosts in Winnipeg who very kindly offered to have us back, took us to see the Mint in Winnipeg. Winnipeg’s Mint makes coins for 75 countries spread across the world, and is capable of making 15 million coins a day.

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We were tossing up whether to go here or the zoo, and oddly enough found the place to have zoo-like qualities, as we spent an hour watching people make coins in a factory behind a pane of glass. We were asked not to photograph the machines or the people while they worked, because of legal issues of photographing coins being printed and also because its rude to take photos of people without their permission. It was mesmerising and very satisfying watching them make the coins and package them with perfect efficiency. They must have really stamped down on making mistakes, because faulty coins are now a collectors item as they are so rare.

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I did manage to get some photos of the different varieties of coins they were making, and one of the big developments in coin printing was injecting colour onto the surface. It was deemed as so innovative, that one of the first people to leave the mint with these coins was deemed as suspicious – as if these coins were carrying information of some kind, making the man a secret spy for Winnipeg. After seizing these coins and analysing them, it became evident that Winnipeg just likes pretty things and wanted to jazz up their currency. So, to make a segway to the mud, what used to be gold, silver and bronze, could now be red, blue, while, yellow – any colour in pretty much any shade! To celebrate this invention, they’ve made a series of limited edition coins dedicated to Disney, comic book heroes and so on.

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As the woman talked us through the process of how vending machines detect the different types of coins, one of our tour brought up a tricky subject. A man who used to work at the Mint has recently been charged with stealing a significant amount of gold over a long period of time. They started to suspect him, because the metal detectors would always pick up more on him than anyone else walking in and out of the building. After searching his belongings, they found several tubs of Vaseline. His argument was that he got away with doing it so many times that he almost felt allowed. The last fact I’ll give you is, out of all the 75 countries that Winnipeg makes coins for, only one has legally demanded that their identity is kept a secret. The country’s acronym is SGP – work it out!

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To explain the title of this blog, we’ve noticed that a lot of people have been talking about the fact that they’ve recently stopped making the one cent coin. Apparently there was no way they could make it for under 1.5 cents, and you can no longer buy anything for one cent anymore, so they stopped making them.

In the evening, we decided to chill out at Stephen and his wife Kirsten’s place. Nearly every Canadian person in their twenties seems to like this show called ‘Bones’. I haven’t watched it enough to be hooked, but it seems better than a lot of shows I’ve seen.

The next day, I went around town by myself, because I needed to buy socks and I fancied mooching around. One thing I did want to do, and I wanted to do it whilst in a place that I trusted, was to have my nose piercing changed. I didn’t like the bulky silver stud I had, so I went and got myself a ring. It’s a pretty insignificant thing to do, but it’s something I didn’t have the courage to do back home in case it looked silly. Out here, we very rarely know anyone for longer than a week, so looking stupid just doesn’t matter.

In the evening, we took Stephen and Kirsten to a tapas restaurant called Segovia. The food was beautiful, and worth the slightly higher bill than the other places we’d been to, and had all the fancy/weird decor you’d expect from a posh place.

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We’d had plenty of time to see different places in Winnipeg, but we wanted to squeeze out as much from our last night as we could, so we had four small dishes between us and went restaurant-hopping to another place. We ended up going to Kawaii, a place that specialises in crepes, just because we could, and they were again beautiful. Our last stop for the evening was a cafe/bookstore which is a little out from the centre of town. It had beautiful desserts and a massive collection of books and other things to browse. It even had a self-publishing machine, so you could print out your own book and became an author in one night.

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As I predicted, Winnipeg seemed much bigger after Churchill than it did after Toronto, but I found it just as lovely. Our next challenge is going to be trying to find a couchsurfing host who is willing to take us on over Thanksgiving weekend!

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