A woman from Vancouver, two guys from Ottawa, a couple from Red Deer, a guy from Toronto and an Irishman walk into a bar. No, this is not the beginning of a bad joke. It was actually the beginning of one of the most marvellous and unusual Thanksgivings I have ever had.
With a few extra days until the others arrive for the Pilgrimage for Progress on Prostate Cancer, I decided to walk a couple of the stages of the Camino from Santiago to Finisterre. On Monday, I walked from Santiago to Negreira and stopped at a wonderful restaurant/bar by the falls of the bridge town of Maceira. It's an absolutely gorgeous place, but it was raining and I was hungry, so in I went.
The couple from Red Deer were already sitting down with an Irishman. No sooner did I sit down with them than we were joined by the woman from Vancouver and the two guys from Ottawa. I was half expecting the guy from Salmon Arm, B.C., who I had coffee with that morning back in Santiago, to show, but I was pretty sure he was heading to the airport to return home. Who knew I'd meet so many Canadians here – and all on Canadian Thanksgiving Day?
We let the owner know that it was Thanksgiving in Canada and he went about preparing meals for us for which we would be most definitely thankful. No turkey with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes for us! It is mushroom season here, and we started with three types of locally picked mushrooms served three ways. I followed that with the pan-fried trout with stuffed peppers, while others had steak or lamb or even eel dishes. All of us finished with apple-stuffed empanadas and roasted chestnuts. (Both the apples and chestnuts were local and in season, judging from all the heavily laden apple and chestnut trees we had seen along the way!)
Add in both red and white wine and cafés con leche all around and you had a lot of thankful Canadians (and a happy Irishman), particularly given that we all spent less than $20 each for the feast. Ronan, the Irishman, noted that over 500 years ago, Europeans travelled west to seek fame and fortune in the new world and now it is the "New Worlders," among others, who travel east and west and north and south seeking adventure and experience. The Conquistadors from Spain, some from this very place, sought to enrich their treasuries, but the modern adventurers seek to enrich their spirits.
There is much talk of the globalization of the economy, but there is also a globalization of tourism and adventure on a scale never before possible. True, it is not available to all, but more people, more readily than ever before, are able to travel large distances and visit multiple countries and cultures in a lifetime. We may not have McLuhan's global village, but there is not much on Earth that is truly out of our reach any more.
For that, and so much more, we Canadians (and Ronan the Irishman) were very thankful indeed, here in our lovely Spanish restaurant.
Rocco Rossi is the CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada. He will be blogging as the Pilgrimage for Progress on Prostate Cancer proceeds and you can follow that blog at tgam.ca/giving.