Saturday, June 03, 2006

Newfoundland: On the House

The vacation photographer and I pass through the airport doors, following the herd of other potential “double agents” to be questioned by uniformed government officials. In line, I listen—I can’t see the television—as CNN announces a settlement between a suspected spy and the US government.

It’s our turn for questioning. We submit our passports and face the music…

Reason for trip? Vacation.

Did you bring any food back with you? Tetley tea.

What do you do for work? Market research.

Where’s your place. Place? What does he mean by place? I pause but don’t show my discomfort. I tell him where I live (I can’t tell you because you’re not on a need-to-know basis).

Now that I’m home and safe and sound, I’ll give you a more detailed (but still only about a page) account of what I learned this past week, which stems from six previous successful missions in Newfoundland.

My primary source, whom I cannot completely reveal and will only refer to as LG, reflects the key components of Newfoundland’s vibrant and distinct culture: music, language, and versatility.

LG (lead guitarist) plays in a blues band and is contemplating starting yet another band with his brother, who operates the pizza place the brothers purchased two years ago. In addition, LG does Web programming—his full-time gig—for a newspaper he co-founded. His brother, who runs day-to-day operations at Stoggers, also teaches music.

On Thursday night, before the Carolina Hurricanes would dispose of the Buffalo Sabres, LG (accompanied by his witty and wonderful wife) regaled us with tales about Great Big Sea before they were Canadian music icons. LG also solidified my understanding of a few terms I had learned during previous interactions with natives—and in a Newfoundland dictionary I perused earlier this week.

I can’t disclose the details of our clandestine dinner (the mountain of pork with a river of cranberry salsa was excellent, though) and hastened tour of the city that LG and his wife have called home for all their lives, but let’s just say I learned more about St. John’s and Newfoundland’s unique twist on language than I had expected. Next time you want to impress someone with your superior intelligence, throw this beauty into the conversation, “I hear there’s a chance of showers. My boots are getting old, so I better buy meself some god-walkers.”

On Friday afternoon, LG’s brother provided pizza—on the house—and complimentary language lessons. Try this icebreaker at the next party:

“Whadd’ya at me son?” Translation: How’s it going, lad?

It’s going just fine. I’m safe and sound, yes, but I already miss Newfoundland’s musical atmosphere, old world-meets-new world verve, lolling and lyrical language—and more than anything else, Newfoundland's centerpiece: hospitality.
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