A mere 48 hours after getting home – a 57-hour journey with numerous delays and re-routings – we loaded the car, mimed to Bao Yi to buckle up, and proceeded to drive 10 hours to a rustic lakeside camp an hour north of Ottawa.
With the language barrier still firmly in place, and her general lack of US geography, we couldn’t find adequate words to explain to Bao Yi where we were going – or why. Of course, Grace kept talking earnestly about Canada, but to a little girl from Shenzhen City, what did that mean?
The terrain in rural Quebec was so unlike anything Bao Yi had ever seen; she seemed busy looking out the window at cows and large rolls of hay in the fields. The tiny town of Gracefield – the last point of “urban civilization” before heading into the woods – offers such services as a taxidermy shop, an improbable travel agency boasting trips to exotic locales, and a dollar store. As we crossed the antiquated one-lane trestle bridge over the river, the level of excitement in the back seat picked up.
Family members swarmed to see the newest Belsie, and then served up a welcome dinner of stick-to-your-ribs fare. Bao Yi hovered near Laurent but was not shy about digging in to spare ribs and scalloped potatoes.
Dragon melon – the Chinese staple similar to watermelon but with fuchsia rind and Dalmation dog-inspired fruit pulp – was, quite literally, now a world away.
The transition from vacation in China to vacation in Canada was one squiggly line of continuous fun. If there was adventure to be had, Bao Yi was right in the thick of it, chattering away in Chinese without a care in the world. She was in the lake as often as possible, floating around on her beloved neon-pink ring, or learning to swim. She even took up kayaking, determined to figure things out on her own. Turning around, a necessary skill? Not really. Bao Yi just kept on going until someone hauled her back.