It took almost three hours to drive from Rivière-du-Loup to Quebec City by coach, a ride which we filled with naps in recuperation from the busy week, including late nights and long days. Everyone on the bus had there own set of headphones plugged in, and we leant the chairs back as far as they would go to try and get comfortable for the journey. They tried to play music over the speakers, attempting to entice us to listen to the French radio with a promise of some English hits, but instead, I think a lot of people switched playlists to drown out the slow French songs or poppy English tunes.
As everyone was given a packed lunch for the ride, I was was asked about mine before we left, to make sure I was okay with their gluten free bread and the little snacks that were added in. It was so thoughtful of the staff to pull me aside and explain what would be in my packed lunch the few days before the trip, as both an assurance and a comfort. The woman from the cafeteria used both short phrases in French and lots of gestures so I would understand, and she showed me a pack of gluten free muffins they had bought for me and then described the sandwich to be prepared. When I opened my brown bagged meal that Saturday, it was filled with gluten free snacks, and this lovely little bar which I saved to munch on later as we walked through the cobbled streets of Quebec City.
The first day in Quebec City we headed out to des Chutes Montmorency,
a massive waterfall just outside of the city. By bus, the small group of us travelled a little farther than everyone else, who had already departed their coaches to walk around the city, and we were then given freedom to walk around the falls, hike up the many stairs to the top, and traverse the bridges along the river which fell into the bustling layers of water down the side of the hill. To one side there were stairs, packed with tourists both English and French speaking, while to the left of the falls a cable ran with gondolas, stopping by a large chateau at the top equipped with an icecream window and two restaurants on either side of a small gift shop.
It was fun walking across the falls, and looking down at the tiny little people scattered around the bottom of the river, some were fishing, some walked along the beach a little farther off, and many more walked the path to the stairs, or were screaming under the sprays of the waterfall, taking photos all the while at every angle. From up on the bridge we had the best view, and could even see out to Quebec City and the tall buildings jutting out above trees and hills in the distance. The sun poured down over us, and so water bottles emptied rapidly as we climbed and crossed the falls.
By the time we reached the chateau, the top of the falls had heated up so much that most people were rolling shirt sleeves up, and I had my shoes off as we walked along the boardwalk. Ordering a round of waters to begin with, and to cool help off, we sat out on the patio under big umbrellas. I loved being in a relaxed and summery environment, amidst families enjoying the day at the falls, and among friends to laugh and take photos with, and share plates of fries and drinks.
Although plates of fries and dishes of poutine have been delicious here in Quebec, something I can now say I've enjoyed, both in Rivière-du-Loup and Quebec City, I think I've begun to feel the effects of a pesky bit of gluten. I almost forgot that fries are often cooked with wheat flour to coat, most places (I've been spoilt with health-consious cafes or little vegan restaurants we've found in and around Vancouver, I suppose) have told me that their fries are gluten free. So, with a little summer relaxation and being in a completely new place, I completely forgot about gluten's sneaky little ways of finding its way into our meals, and have begun to feel both tired, a little moody, there have also been headaches these past few days, and a lovely little skin condition, one that never really likes to leave when it's favourite pal gluten is around, has come out again.
That's lots of water for me, and luckily, I'll be eating from the cafeteria for a while now - something most people here would cringe about, but I've got lovely little dishes made fresh for me personally. Even if it does mean gluten free pasta for more than three nights a week and for lunches often as well, at least I know my energy will be back soon. My skin should clear up, the headaches should go soon too, and I'll have a better mood... For now, being careful probably isn't a bad idea.
I'd rather have all that back for the last weeks of this camp, and especially for the time that I'm in Montreal after. While activities get more and more exciting, along with more work for our classes, I'd rather be able to keep up, and be able to enjoy everything without needing to take naps or find something to treat something else. It's no fun running around cleaning up after gluten.
No more parties in this house, you!
To be able to keep up with the memories being made, and the lasting friendships. Our names engraved at the falls is just one of the reminders of how important it is to have the enthusiasm and appreciation for everything that happens, and to make the most of each situation. Even if I can't have the poutine anymore, even if its something in the gravy or the fries that leaves me uncomfortable and grouchy, I can still munch on a delicious gluten free snack or enjoy a long refreshing drink while sitting around with friends and enjoying a beautiful day.
And there were more moments during that weekend that we enjoyed drinks together. After a night out at Quebec's music festival, where we saw French singer Zaz perform at one of the street stages, we spent the next day enjoying old Quebec's shops and market stalls, and meeting both French and English speaking residents along the way. The day was hot, and by the time we were meant to depart for Rivière-du-Loup, we were all in need of a little rest, and something ice cold.
There really wasn't anything better than a refreshing drink on the second storey patio of a restaurant-bar. Tucked away on a side street and overlooking the garden of a little chapel, there weren't many people on the patio, so the four of us found a table underneath an umbrella and quickly ordered some refreshing drinks for the last minutes of our afternoon in Quebec. The waiter madeus something fruity on our request, mixing together flavours of lemon and lime, and pouring it over ice to serve with a wedge of lemon. It really was the perfect way to end the weekend.
À bientôt mes chers amis!