Yesterday I made what I think was the most beautiful drive of the trip. I left Fredericton and drove up the St. John River Valley to Edmundston, New Brunswick, where I crossed the border into Quebec. From there it was north to Riviere-du-Loup where I turned west and followed the St. Lawrence River, with the Laurentians a blue haze in the background. I crossed the St. Lawrence into the western Quebec City suburb of Ste-Foy and came almost directly to my hotel. Yet, I have not a single picture for the blog. [Click that link above or Google “New Brunswick St. John River” or “St. Lawrence River” for images. You shouldn’t be disappointed.]
First, there just didn’t seem an opportune time to stop and take pictures. I just wanted to experience the drive. I’ve got all these beautiful images in my head and heart that I’ll have for memories. Then, once I got to Quebec I was concentrating on the language aspect of things. Actually, no one (and by no one I mean Paula) told me that once I got to Edmundston (right on the Quebec border) and stopped for lunch I’d already be functioning in French.
In Nova Scotia some areas such as the Acadian coast have French road signs and there are French speakers around but they’re completely bilingual. PEI has mostly bilingual signage and New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province. Once you cross into Quebec, all bets are off though. Fortunately, roads work the same no matter where you are, right? “Sortie” is “exit” and I figured out “travaux” because it was on an orange diamond followed by a reduction in k.p.h. and lots of orange barrels. See, the roads aren’t that hard.
People, on the other hand, rattle on at you and expect you to answer! I just keep saying “Désolé. Je ne parle pas français. Parlez-vous anglais?” It’s worked so far, because of course I’m on the tourist route through the province. If I can overcome my secret fear I’ll run into some nationalist with an attitude about American tourists, then I’m sure I can get to the Ontario border by this afternoon.