We spent a lovely evening with Mary and Craig in Lake Country, BC, the couple we hosted through Airbnb. We first visited Kangaroo Creek Farm, per their recommendation. We saw and pet some amazing creatures. Most interesting was the Patagonian Cavy, which is the third largest rodent in the world. I also enjoyed the capybara, which are vegetarians and were enjoying a special orange slice treat. We learned the kangaroo gestational period is only 28 days, although the Joey will then hang out in the pouch for a few months. One albino wallaby at the farm was currently carrying a 5 month old Joey. All we could see where a few big feet sticking out! David had to practically drag me from this place as I could have spent way longer scratching kangaroo heads.
In addition to exotic farm animals, the area is also known for cherries and wine. On the drive in we saw a couple helicopters flying low over some cherry orchards off the highway. While we had a few theories on what they could be doing (watering? inspecting the crop? wine tasting tour by helicopter? manhunt?) we learned that they were actually helping to dry the cherries. Water that pools on the top of a cherry may cause it to split. It took me four days to eat the three pounds of cherries I bought – David was no help.
The wine industry is growing rapidly in this area and has contributed to a boom in population growth in Kelowna. Mary told us that one of the other reasons many move to Kelowna is for the milder winters and four seasons. The area is more expensive as a result, termed the “sunshine tax.” We visited two wineries recommended by Mary – Intrigue Wines and Gray Monk.
After wine tasting, we returned to Mary and Craig’s house and were greeted by clean laundry (so kind of them!) and their two amazing cats. They invited us to stay for dinner and we passed the evening discussing their recent travels, our upcoming route, our careers, van modifications, etc. We talked about doing Airbnb and they told us about Home Exchange, which they’ve used to take some really neat trips. This prompted a discussion about trust and the amount of trust it takes just in a typical day and even more so when you are traveling or renting your home. Like us, Mary and Craig are willing to trust others far more than the average person. They welcomed us for dinner and gave us access to their home, laundry, and bathroom after briefly meeting us through Airbnb. Kindness like this feels so good because it is a choice and unexpected. When we chatted with them a year ago during their stay in Portland, they could have easily just given us a couple recommendations in the area and left it at that. Instead they chose to make a connection with us and help us feel at home so far from home. Already on this trip we’ve been shown generosity by a number of strangers, acquaintances, and friends. For me, this is a big part of what traveling is about. I definitely enjoy some solitude and the ease of not interacting with others (self-checkout line at the grocery store, mobile banking, online shopping), but the rewards of making the effort to engage with others can’t be matched.
I’ve always been a very trusting person, putting an incredible amount of trust in near strangers quite often without a lot of worry. I’ve found some of my best friends as roommates on Craigslist. I once had someone I’d run with a few times through a club stay at my house to watch my cat while I was traveling and came home to a happy cat and spotless place. I went to visit David in Boston for a long weekend after spending a few hours together over the course of two weekend trips of his to Portland to visit a mutual friend. David has had significantly more bad luck than me, from car break ins to bicycle crashes. He takes care of his things with the utmost attention. I was surprised when he agreed to do Airbnb after we bought our house in Portland and showed little concern about the trust required. He quickly became the more engaged Airbnb host between the two of us, spending hours chatting with guests, giving restaurant recommendations, and gushing about Portland. We both loved meeting people from all over and have so many stories of amazing guests who treated our home better than we do. When I talked about our van trip to my coworkers, I told them that I’m excited to meet people and trust people to be good. We aren’t completely naive and know the world isn’t all sunshine. I’m sure we will be wronged by others on this trip and be let down by the rottenness that can exist in people. But for now we are still basking in the kindness of others.