I always find it unnerving to walk around a new place on my own initially. It’s exciting, but also hugely out of my comfort zone. The unfamiliarity gets under my skin and puts me on edge. There’s a niggling voice in the back of my head telling me I now live here; it’s not like on holiday where I just have to put up with the whole new culture-surroundings-people-issue for a week or so; this is for months, or perhaps years. This added pressure to like it, and for nothing bad to happen adds to my uneasiness.
The fallout ME-wise from the previous weeks meant I was lacking any urge – and unable to - throw myself into this new life at the deep end, and instead having to dip my little toe in it.
I ventured out to the coffee shop we had found on our first morning and made use of their internet over coffee to update family and friends on our progress (and growing household). Having survived the café scenario, I then called in at the local store to buy ingredients for a celebratory meal for T that evening. It took me an exceptionally long time to buy only a handful of items as I deciphered the unfamiliar jars and packets (even with the descriptions being in English it still takes a while to find things when you don’t have your tried and tested brands and varieties to go straight to, and it is pot luck whether what you have chosen is to your taste).
Frustratingly the meal didn’t go according to plan. Without my trusty cupboard of herbs and spices (still yet to buy) to fall back on, the cod and pak choi stir-fry was bland and somewhat overdone. :(
The remainder of this first week on my own consisted of early starts and waiting in for deliveries. It suited my tired-self down to the ground (well, the forced staying in did; the early starts part, not so much…).
The washing machine and dryer was delivered on Tuesday, and we – more importantly in our minds – also got connected to the internet and TV. We had to pay Bell another activation fee, but they came and set up the TV and phone line just five days after we signed up for it. Our experiences in Munich and Seville had left us expecting this to take much longer – it took about two weeks in Munich, and months in Sevilla whilst we waited for a cable in the neighbourhood to become free (do not ask; it was just what we needed when we had a wedding to plan - and that is a whole novel in itself).
On Wednesday the sofa was delivered. That evening, as we sat on the sofa in clean clothes watching TV and reading emails, the place felt like home.
We had to change the hire car at the airport, and seeing as T works more or less at the airport we didn’t think it would make much of an impact on our time plan. However, we had forgotten to add into the equation the little fact it was the Friday before Thanksgiving (which was on the Monday). Therefore, the hire car companies were exceptionally busy and he ended up having to queue for an hour to pick up the new car.
We ran to the metro station and got off at the station Place-des-Arts; recommended on the Medicare website as the stop nearest their offices. Not being used to such a maze of passages and various entrances for each underground station, we of course took the wrong one and found ourselves on the street the exact opposite side of the big block of buildings to where we wanted to be. Eventually finding the right street, we walked along it for about ten minutes, reaching the next metro stop on line, McGill. Hmm…this can’t be right… We looked at the number on the building: ‘900’, we wanted ‘425’. Aargh, we had had walked straight past it and, judging by the numbers, we had passed it quiet a while ago. We turned around and raced back the way we had come. It was now 4.15pm – would we make it?! Finally we reached the correct building, which was directly opposite a Place-des-Arts metro entrance. Typical.
With only five minutes to spare we walked in, collected a ticket and sat catching our breath whilst we waited for the corresponding number to be called. Half an hour later, we were seen, and thankfully we had all the documents needed in order for the application to be processed. It appears most women here keep their maiden name when they get married (as in Spain), therefore there was a bit of confusion when I insisted I wanted Jones on my card, and not the surname I was born with. Forms signed, we had to go and have our photo taken, and then the job was done and we should receive our Medicare cards - and therefore our cover - in three months time. We have had to take out private health insurance to cover us in the meantime.
Medicare: done. T’s first week at work: over. Two weeks in Montreal: survived.
The Third Member of the Family
As amusing as we found this, the thought of having to tell the vet or put it on his passport that his name was GoPeePee made us think we should name him something a bit more…normal.
This was easier said than done, as we struggled to reach a compromise; I liked Pythagoras or Archimedes, whereas T on the other hand, wanted Brian or Stewie (anyone would think we watch a lot of Family Guy).
Finally, we hit a name we both agreed on: He looked like a chipmunk when he was sleeping, but weren’t keen on the name Alvin. After a bit of jiggling we came in a round-a-bout way to Albie. Albie Jones.
Having a name didn’t shut him up, nor did it stop him from using our legs as climbing walls, but at least now we can look the vet in the eye when we take the boy to have his little operation in a few weeks time…