In a summer of relentless travel, we took an additional mini trip up to Montreal for the weekend to visit friends before one of them left the continent.

One of my favorite things about Montreal is its coffee. All coffee in Montreal tastes like European coffee- really smooth and not bitter like U.S. coffee. Whether you’re at a fancy coffee shop or a diner or a gas station, it’s good.

Even though Quebec is only a few hours away from the U.S., there seems to be a cultural difference of what “rudeness” is. This is probably mostly due to the fact that we couldn’t speak French when we visited, and barely mustered very weak “merci’s”. But my friend who lived there said that there is a cultural difference between English speakers and French speakers in general. In particular she has heard Quebecois say “The Anglos are always saying sorry because they stole our land.” Quebecois do not say sorry on the regular like Americans do, and it is a bit shocking to get used to.

Another difference is the tight spaces.

And the compost bins in front of every apartment.

Also, there is complete lack of gloves in food preparation. All the food places I ate at I saw people handling food without gloves. Regardless, I still got a great falafel pita (nicely massaged by some man’s bare hands), a delicious crepe breakfast burrito and poutine to take home to eat with the cat late at night.

At a certain part during the weekend, I had to say “peace” and go explore by myself. I had a great day in a park, and learning about the city and my own thoughts.

One of the weirdest parts of the trip was when I was stopped in the street by a man my age, asking if I speak English and where I was from. I told him I was from Kansas City, and I had to go.

“Oh, Kanasas City? DON’T SHOOT!!! Sorry, bad joke. Bad joke.”

“Sad joke,” I agreed. Apparently Canadians, though they had their own issues of mass shootings, look to the U.S. as the origin of these problems. Also, the man I was talking to was a Black man, and the U.S. is known for its racial discrimination and police brutality toward people of color.

“I have to meet my friends,” I said.

“Wait. What’s your instagram? Can I take you for a coffee?”

“I have to meet my friends.”

Extremely pushy men exist all over the world. There is no way to avoid it. Just expect it and move on.

We ended the trip to Montreal with a rally in solidarity with the Sudanese revolution with our friends.

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© Copyright 2019 Annie Windholz

midwestern librarian, writer, activist. subscribe —