Winnipeg rocks and my family is the coolest ever!

In Winnipeg we would stay with my family, we had never met before. I was pretty excited to meet them and hoped we would make it there early in the evening.

It was eleven am when Lori dropped us off and after an hour Wabskigaboo, also known as Ralph Taylor, picked us up. He told us a lot about the Ojibwe tribes culture. For example, how every living being has its purpose and how you should try to respect it and how hard that is if that living being is a nasty mosquito. He also told about the indigenous people not having to own a passport when crossing the US border, because the land was originally theirs and how he was doing ceremonies to become a leader of ceremonial burials and traditional name giving ceremonies. He drove us passed Kenora, where we said goodbye and where he gave us the mittens and boots made from deer leather, that were hanging in his car.

Now Winnipeg was only a three-hour ride away. We put up our thumbs and were very excited when Sukhmanth Singh pulled his huge truck over and invited us in. Jan sat on the bed in the cabin, while I sat on a very cool chair you could pull up and down with a handle. Sukh talked about driving trucks on ice roads (= frozen rivers): minus 45°C, window open, left hand on door handle, 20 km/h, if you hear a dangerous crack, you jump out.

The three hours passed by very quickly and before we noticed we were waiting for Rod, my cousin, on a Tim Hortons parking. Jane, his wife, told us we should look for a big bad ass black truck. When such a car drove up the parking, we started waving, but the people in the car looked a little scared and as they got out, it seemed, not only Rod was driving bad ass trucks. The two women walked passed us to get a coffee as we giggled because of what had just happened. The next big truck was from two elderly guys, so we kind of gave up on looking enthusiastically in the direction of every big black truck that drove by.

It appeared Rod had chosen the wrong Tim Hortons just a few minutes earlier, where he wove with a lot of anima at two backpackers, who had a similar reaction as the two women we wove at before. And thus when Rod arrived and started waving hesitantly, we did the same.

While driving home, Jane didn’t stop messaging, saying that the kids, Emily and Matias, where very excited, meaning she was too. It was a warm welcome in Niagara Street where we would be staying for ten days in the cozy basement with private bathroom.

After half an hour tia Marcela and tio Miguel arrived. We hugged for a few minutes – it had been 30 years after all – and it felt like we had known each other forever.

From this moment on it was all about getting to know each other, catching up, buying a car and food. Delicious, outstanding yummy in my tummy dishes and wine…or beer. We couldn’t have been happier.

The getting to know each other part was awesome. The Lastra’s are all great people. Emily and Mati are like, I don’t know like, these never keep their mouth shut munchkins, that are like cool too! I like!

Jane is more of a wueona, who I adore. We could laugh about anything, seagulls for example, or have serious conversations about slamming doors and other “nishe thingsh”. In Dutch I would say we are like two hands on one belly, although I’m not quite sure if that translates the same way, it sounds a bit goofy in English.

Rod on the other hand is a sweetheart, an awesome cook and a bloody good talker, and luckily for us, he talks about interesting things, because he’s a biologist, imagine otherwise! We talked about good music as well and played some guitar which was all very cozy.

His father, Miguel is more quiet, but very funny. He makes the best empanada’s and does things you wouldn’t expect him to. He is also the sweetest grandfather to Emy and Matti.

And last but not least, is tia Marcela. She sure does have a foul mouth, but she’s the tiniest, sweetest, most tough tia I have, even though she broke her toe. She is very honest, which I find easy to handle and we talked a lot about photography, our families and our lives.

The catching up part did me pretty well. I grew up without any interest of my father – who is Marcela’s brother. I remember me calling him on my eight birthday, for example, to tell him he had forgotten about it again. So of course that had quite an impact on who I am today. It seemed, he wasn’t much of a present father to his other kids, nor to his grandchildren. Although that is a sad thing, it gave me some peace – it hadn’t been my fault after all. I wonder if it would be a good thing to catch up with my half-brother and sisters, but I’m not sure if that will work out, because it doesn’t seem there is a mutual interest, which I kind of understand: it mustn’t have been easy for them that their father had another baby. And of course, my perception of him will be very different from theirs. Which is, of course, fine.

I am looking forward though, of meeting my family in Chile, although it will not be very easy communicating with them, since my Spanish isn’t any good yet. Hopefully Jan and I will get better at it while traveling southbound. One basic word – Wueon – the Lastra’s taught us already, will help us surely quite a bit.

The car part was more Jan’s area. He and Rod dug into it and tried to find out if it was even possible for foreigners to buy and insure a vehicle. Seemed the best way to find out, is to go to an insurance company in person. In Winnipeg car insurances are a government thing, so every company has the same prices. We got a temporary insurance for 30 days and we bought a nice Ford Explorer. In Europe such a car is huge and not standard, in Canada it is. We got a good deal. The car is also big enough to sleep in, so that will save us some money along the road to spend on gas.

The food, as I mentioned before, was simply amazing. Miguel’s empanada’s were my favorite, but also Rod’s barbecue skills were very much appreciated by our tummy’s. I’ll stop to make you guys jealous and will invite you to a nice welcome home dinner with lots of the Lastra’s recipes. A little bit of patience is all you need my friends, because we’ve only been gone for two months yet.

Anyway, long story short, we had a wonderful time. Winnipeg is cooler than you might think, definitely if you have awesome family living there. Lucky us!