I woke up to an orchestra of crickets serenading the break of dawn. The sun was coming up and the sky was clearing, leaving behind a bright blue sky. Our Air BnB room was fairly basic, although comfortable and only a five minute walk from Cowichan Bay highstreet. Besides that, it had a view to die for; it was stunning, nestled within the trees on the hillside and overlooking the expansive Bay. The night before we stood outside star-gazing at the uninterrupted night’s sky, filled with trillions of twinkling stars. I can safely say, I have never slept so well as I did in Canada, in particular Cowichan Bay. As a constant sufferer of insomnia – probably due to an overactive mind always planning my next adventure – the fact I was was able to hit the pillow dreaming was a novelty. My days filled with hours exploring, fresh air and the many news sights, smells and emotions had clearly satisfied my mind, ensuring a full contented night’s sleep every evening on my travels.
We headed down to the Bay for an early morning coffee (and tea), although still full from our seafood feast the night before. We sat on the deck sipping our hot beverages and watching the Bay slowly come to life. It was so peaceful, with only the soft rustle of the occasional newspaper page turning as houseboat owners sat on their decks reading the morning news, or the gentle patter of feet crossing the wooden decking as shop owners watered the flower baskets. There was evidently no rush – everything was done in ‘Cowichan time’. This relaxed routine was clearly contagious – rather that my typical morning rush back home, I sat admiring the morning, slowly sipping my coffee, contented, unflustered and daydreaming, eagerly awaiting the long overdue family get-together.
We had come to Cowichan Bay primarily visit our Uncle and, as it turned out, my cousin was also visiting from Vancouver, alongside various other family friends – the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect if we tried. After ten long years apart and with family (aside from my two cats), being the single most important thing to me, I was so excited to spend the day reconnecting.
Our Uncle had moved to Canada with my Aunty nearly forty years ago, and although no longer together, he was still very much an uncle in my eyes. He had retired to the Island 15 years ago, building a beautiful house a short drive from the centre of Cowichan Bay. No words can describe the beauty of both the house and its location – it’s simply breathtaking, with a view I could spend all day staring at. Whales make frequent visitors, alongside bald eagles, bears and deer. We were welcomed with open arms, warmth and beaming smiles. The excitement to see each other seemed mutual and the room was electric, full of lively chatter alongside the impressive supply of cake, coffee and fresh fruits from the garden.
Despite our distance and years apart, the unfaltering, deep-rooted family connected shone through, as if not a day had gone by since we last clapped eyes on each other. We simply picked up where we left off, forgetting the fact we had all aged ten years. There was a feeling of such familiarity and ease and in that instant, I was reminded how lucky I was to be surrounded by such wonderful people, both family and friends.
After a guided tour of the house, family photos and packing up a picnic that could have fed the 5,000, we were ready and raring to head back down to the Bay, where my uncle’s boat was docked. Not knowing much about boats, I expected to see what I considered a ‘standard boat’. Instead, as we made our way past smaller vessels tethered to the dock, I was greeted by what can only be described as a yacht. My jaw dropped – I felt like a celebrity!
We slowly made our way out of the Bay, with my uncle giving us a brief tour of the coastline, providing snippets of cultural and historical information and pointing out all of the gradual developments that have taken place over the years. The Bay is lined with stunning modern-looking houses, all with huge windows to take advantage of the surrounding natural beauty. After steadily heading out the Bay, my Uncle decided to show us what the boat had to offer – we picked up the pace and went full throttle. It was a Titanic ‘Jack and Rose’ moment (although sadly no Leonardo DiCaprio), but it was definitely as exhilarating.
We made our way past Satellite Channel and down towards Saanich Inlet, where we decided to stop and have lunch in the boat, gently bobbing around a sandy bay where a small group of swimmers had trekked to the water’s edge. Within seconds of bringing the boat to a stop and unpacking the picnic, we were surprised by a huge bald eagle, that swooped down in front of the boat to effortlessly pluck an unsuspecting fish from the water. It’s seamless motion almost came out of no-where. The attack was over in a matter of seconds and the eagle, after snatching the fish, slowly made it’s way back towards the trees. It was certainly a spectacle and as a huge lover of birds of prey, it is an experience I will hold with me for life.
After our relaxing lunch filled with a veritable feast and further catch-up conversations, recapping funny family stories and recalling tales from back home, we decided to pack up and head back towards dry land. After spending best part of the day on the water, I must admit, I was slightly relieved. The lunchtime bobbing around the bay had began to have a less than desired affect on me – seasickness was starting to kick in. With my vision firmly fixed on the horizon and the fresh sea air distracting my mind from queasiness, I made it back to dry land, without admitting I’d taken a turn for the worse.
After bidding farewell to my family with long embraces and thanks, I was sad to see them drive away. I had such a magical day – I didn’t want it to end. I was given yet another view of this treasure-trove of a country. I left my family promising I’d be returning sooner rather than later and it is a promise I definitely intend to keep – watch out Cowichan Bay, I’ll be back very soon! The houseboats looked very enticing and I had already investigated how much they’d cost that very morning. Although, as a sufferer of sea legs, spending a holiday on a boat may not be the best idea. For once, I couldn’t touch dinner, but perhaps the Bellini’s weren’t the best remedy….
Until next time Cowichan Bay.