Friends are everywhere we go.

This year my nuclear family gathered together in Canada for a summer holiday.  This marked the first time I spent more than one day in the land of our northern neighbor.  Quebec City and Montreal were bookends of the complete adventure, but we spent time in a small and charming city called La Malbaie located on the Saint Charles River, population 8,271.

Our lodging was at a first class hostelry selected by daughter-in-law, Yuri Kim.  It had great rooms, pools, hot tubs and a three star restaurant.  Yuri should book vacations for a living.

What is there to do in this vacation haven?  I did something I like to do.  Travel to the heart of the business area and walk around.  I avoid other mainstay locations such as industrial, residential and shopping centers.  Give me rows of small locally owned businesses, and I can extract a good day.

Fearing the hilly terrain, I took a taxi to the epicenter of the town.  It was a nicely appointed church with a tall enough steeple visible from distances.

The library is my usual first stop on these mini-adventures.  This one had multiple displays about the region and more like a museum.  La Malbaie was a fishing village and a water harbor.  Too bad La Malbaie is French for the bad bay.  Ships routinely came in but often didn’t get back out.  Something about sand bars causing them to dry dock.

I hit the street armed with small goals (find a restaurant for tonight’s dinner and wander around).  I first walked around for about 45 minutes to get a feel for the area.  Then I hit the shops.  I’d spend five minutes just talking with the clerks and owners.  Then I’d make token purchases and move along.

After I toured the stores of interest in the greater La Malbaie area, I realized I had more than two hours before my planned return to the hotel.  I hatched a plot to stay in the village and have my family pick me up for dinner.  But what to do for this extra stay?

This is when I took a tangent from the main drag toward a side street.

I saw a welcomed sight.  A Grand Opening sign for “Bistro-Thé L’Échange.  A nifty looking tea oasis just when I want it to be there.  I first walked around inside this small shop mostly devoted to tea.  I decided to have that first really good tea of the day (genmacha).

Not content to just serve tea, this bistro-the has coffee, pastries, candies, beer and sandwiches.  I joked I didn’t need to leave this place.  Note: the pastries are made in-house.

I later ordered a sandwich and beer for my snack.  I settled in to talk with the young barista.  She was a pleasant and charming lady who took me early for an American.  Her English was better than good.  She told me many younger people are bilingual.  Older folks? Not so much.

We chatted about our lives and what we were both doing of interest.  I learned about her without ever learning her name.  She lived with her parents and a son named Bastian.  He played soccer and was doing well in school.  As I listened to her story, I realized how happy her life made her.  It radiated from her and lifted our spirits.

Time went by, and my ride arrived.  Bastian’s Mom told me were to go for dinner thus finishing my to-do list.  I left the tea shop with another fun day stored in my memory banks for future recaps.

This short story shows why I enjoy what my son, Adam and I call “following our noses.”  No plan on what to do or expect.  Just go out and let the karma flow.  Does it always work?  No, but it does often deliver life memories like my time with Bastian’s Mom at Bistro-Thé L’Échange in La Malbaie, Canada.



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One Response to “Friends are everywhere we go.”

  1. John J Morris Says:

    Sadly, the owners of the bistro-the announced they are closing the store. They had good products and staff. Apparently, the grand opening sign was for the neighboring store.

    Best of luck to them and their employees.

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