Salut tout le monde! Coastal Sound Children’s Choir is on tour again this year, thanks to Experiences Canada and the youth exchange programs that they fund and facilitate. We are exchanging with Jeunes Chanteurs d’Acadie, from Dieppe and Moncton, New Brunswick. In May, JCA came to visit us, and now we are here to stay with them and tour the sights.
Yesterday, after getting on the bus to the airport at 3:30AM… we travelled across Canada by plane to Halifax, then coach bus to Dieppe. Singers were asleep on the plane and bus, napping on and off for most of the way here.
Many kilometres of green grasslands and gentle hills, and charming homes later, we were greeted- waved down actually- by our friends and their families. A quick visit and then they all went home with their families.
This morning, when the alarm went off at 6:30AM it was pretty brutal- New Brunswick is 4 hours ahead of BC. We met the singers, and off we went on two buses to Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy. Ya sure. You’ve seen postcard photos, but the actual grandeur of the experience can’t be described in a photo or words. Our guide Pierre was delightful. At the beginning of the tour, he was quite eager to get us all down to the sea floor, and hurried us along to the far end of the beach. I didn’t understand why until I realized that we were on a real race against mother nature’s tide! There are park staff nicknamed “sheep dogs” that sweep along herding the visitors back along the beach to safe areas because the tide rises so fast here it is crazy: within a couple minutes, our trail and part of the beach we’d just been on, was gone. Seriously. In fact if you stood on the waters’ edge, in 25 minutes you’d be up to your neck in water!
Pierre said it was his dream to have a choir sing in the rocks, so we sang Sail Away and Bravo Monsieur le Monde after he taught us the yoga moves to salute the tide. Time for photos- there are some beauties posted in our Facebook exchange group- then climbed back up top to do a pleasant trail walk to some view points.
Fundy facts: the water is so muddy here that shellfish can’t live- their filtration system would clog up. So there is oddly no shells on the beach, and zero smell of “ocean”. The tide comes up the Chocolate River- which really does look like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river- as a wave the rolls in. So like in Wolfville and Annapolis Valley, there are mud rivers that are dryish until the tide comes up, then they turn into rivers. Very cool.
We were able to relax in the sun at Hopewell Rocks park lookouts. Felt great to just be there, and the kids had this time to chill and explore and hang out together.
The afternoon and evening were a real taste of Acadian culture and history. We began at Monument Lefebvre, learning about the deportation of the Acadians in 1755, and the present-day Acadian renaissance.
We weren’t quite sure why suddenly things got more excited on the bus ride… but temporary tattoos of Acadian colours and flags were passed around and Lise and Isabelle, JCA chaperones, helped us apply them to our faces and arms! They kept saying were were going to have a Tintamarre and we had to get ready.
We were greeted by our friends and families waving big Acadian flags at a lovely Rotary Park where the exterior of the community hall is in the style of an Acadian home. Inside, our hosts had planned these hilarious team games that got everyone mixing up, laughing and re-energized. Then we had the Tintamarre. Imagine a room full of people wearing the Acadian flag colours of red, white, blue and yellow, making as much noise as possible on hooting party horns and ratchets, pots, pans, tambourines, foil pie plates.. anything loud and bang-y! Yes. VERY LOUD. And we all paraded around for a lap outside, banging and tooting and hooting and clapping away. “We are here! We are strong and resilient! Hear us loud and proud!” is the basic idea behind the Tintamarre. It’s a thing that is done usually on every August 15th at 6pm, and for special ceremonial occasions. We were lucky to get to experience this!
The level of awesome doesn’t stop there. We got to eat traditional Acadian dinner: rappie pie (potato dumpling dish) and fricôt (chicken soup-stew) for dinner and pets de soeur (crazy good sticky buns) for dessert. There were lots of other choices too, but the Acadian foods were the highlight since our friends had tried to explain it all to us when they had visited us. If you are foodie, you will want to check out these Acadian recipes. It was just a fabulous night of fun and connection. Our host families have worked so hard to make us feel welcome, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Morning will come all too soon, so I’ll sign off. Vive l’Acadie!!!