Monday, May 18, 2015


We've spent the last six days in Ontario. We flew from Minneapolis to Detroit on Spirit Airlines, for which we have high praise. We took a shuttle van across the border to Windsor, where we rented a car for two days in order to get to Point Pelee. This is the most southern point of Canada, and a famous birding area.

Point Pelee, the southernmost point in Canada; Lake Erie in the background
It was spring migration season, with hordes of birders searching the treetops and beaches, carrying humongous scopes and cameras. With not even a pair of binoculars (can't spare the weight), and not much ability in identifying by sound, we didn't get to see any "new" species or anything, but enjoyed the variety of terrain on several trails, with ten or so different species chattering in the background. We drove many back roads in the area, a pretty farming region between Lake Erie and Lake St. Claire.

The Toronto skyline, as seen from Toronto Island
Our train ride to Toronto turned out to be eventful. After four hours, and with only 10 kilometers to go (in Canada now, need to use the metric system), our train hit and killed a pedestrian. I just felt some bumps, but Les sensed immediately what had happened. By law, the train had to stay put until a police investigation was complete. After two hours, several buses appeared, and the passengers were evacuated from the train to complete the journey by bus.

We were therefore late to MeKaRo, the Mez-Kanada Renkontiĝo: a 3-day Esperanto event held every year in either Ontario or Quebec.

We played a getting-acquainted game the first evening at MeKaRo
One of several walking tours with fellow Esperanto speakers
The thrust of MeKaRo is always tourism in the city where it's held. We checked into our dorm, and hurried to catch up with our group doing a walking tour of ethnic neighborhoods of Toronto. Other days we had a tour of Roundhouse Park (Toronto's rail history center, which Les of course loved), took a ferry to Toronto Island where a guide led us in an old lighthouse, and had a tour of the provincial parliament (Toronto is the capital of Ontario). MeKaRo is geared to the younger generation; the first day's events went until midnight, but we didn't last that long, and the next day we reluctantly passed up the late evening "haunted tour of Toronto" because we were just too tired from already walking about eight city miles. We ate all our meals together in various restaurants.

We had special permission to climb to the top of this lighthouse
The provincial parliament building is very impressive
Though visiting the sights was fun, the best part—as is always true at Esperanto events—was seeing old friends and meeting new people. A record sixty-one participants, from age 3 (yes, a good speaker already) to over 80, and from Ontario, Quebec, and several parts of the U.S. About a third were French speakers, but that was irrelevant as we all spoke Esperanto.

Tomorrow we'll take a train to Kingston, Ontario, and hopefully the ride will not be as memorable as the last one. :-(