I know I said I wouldn’t be blogging till I got back, but it’s kind of surprising how much time you have when you don’t have to do any housework! So I’ve actually been thinking of sharing my thoughts while I’m away.

The last few weeks, I’ve been honestly too busy at home to think of blogging!

Espanola is a quaint little town nestled in a kind of valley. The town is dominated by the pulp and paper mill–Domtar. The first night I spent here, I woke up at 3 am and thought there were some kind of poisonous fumes infiltrating the motel!

I called reception, but in these small towns nobody mans the desk at 3 in the morning, people actually go to sleep! So I was on my own.

I opened the door to the back parking lot and realized the smell was coming from outside and somehow that made me feel easier and I went back to bed. In the morning, when I inquired, the locals just dismissed my concern saying, “Oh yeah, the mill must have been making ‘fine’ paper.

What a stinky process! And yet it’s ironic because aren’t my books made of fine paper???

The locas seem to have gotten used to the smell so I guess I could bear it for a few days.

It’s been a very hectic trip!

Monday evening I arrived, stayed one night in Espanola, in the morning I had to check out and in the afternoon I headed for Mindemoya on Manitoulin island. Stayed one night there and came back to Espanola. It’s really hard having to pack up like that for two nights in a row.

Apparently fairly recently there was a poll going on about the seven natural wonders of the world and Manitoulin island was on the list of nominees.

Funny thing is none of the islanders voted for it because they didn’t want the world to know how darn beautiful this place really is!

Even in the pouring rain (and boy did it pour!) I couldn’t help remark on the beauty of the place.

God willing I’m bringing hubby and son back here during the summer!

And even more than the beauty of the place and the unfortunate occasional smell, the people have been fantastic!

In particular a librarian who serves three of the schools I went to.

What a sweet lady! And she surprised me yesterday by presenting me with a mason jar of home made maple syrup.

It’s a family tradition for her. They’re native. Part of the M’cheeging reservation. (the ‘M’ is silent, so it’s like cheeging–the sound a cash register makes–that’s what she told me).

Every two years they go into the bush, tap the maple trees (by hand) and empty the buckets (by hand) into the big vat. She said something about boiling down 197 litres of sap! The syrup it produces lasts them about two years. And she gave me some!

And on top of all of that she was so determined that the library in the Mindemoya school should have my books she went ahead and ordered them, paying for them herself, not sure that she’d get recompensed by the school.

Now that’s dedication!

And then there’s the lovely lunch that they had ready for me at the Mindemoya school! So thoughtful! The lady had obviously read my article on hosting Muslims. She even asked if I needed a place to pray, but luckily the days are long enough I could wait till I got to my hotel room in Espanola.

I’m so fortunate that I get to meet such gems in my travels!

I have one more school to visit tomorrow in Massey, Ontario, then I can go home for some much needed r&r.

As for losing those four pounds I’d hoped for on this trip–at this point I just hope I didn’t gain more.

I should have known. It’s SO hard to lose any weight while traveling!