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The road to relaxation leads through rain, pain and yoga

Dear Uma:Did you know fly-fishing is the fastest-growing sport for women? Too bad I missed my first lesson.

Dear Uma:

Did you know fly-fishing is the fastest-growing sport for women? Too bad I missed my first lesson.

But then, it’d be hard to fly-fish here, by the swimming pool in Puerto Vallarta, and I don’t think the cast involved in the sport is the same sort as the cast I’ve got on my arm.

We did go to Campbell River and it may have been as lovely as the brochures promised, but one couldn’t really see much through the rain.

The day after we arrived, we were departing, Pete soggy and me soggy and plastered, to fly to Mexico. It all went so smoothly, almost mystically — like it was meant to be.

We’re staying in a fabulous apartment, complete with daily maid, and Pete is forgoing the beach, with all its ocean-related activities, in order to relax by the pool.

When he’s not being tenderly attentive to me, he chats with the other gringos. Of course, people ask what happened to my arm, and we’ve come up with an abbreviated version: I slipped and fell.

The whole story is a bit more complex.

At this time of year, anticipating a holiday on Vancouver Island is delightful. Down South, we were told, there will be sunshine with heat, green grass and flowers.

Our chilled landscape currently features piles of dirty snow dotted with dog poop, the only colour being beer cans, lots of them.

I’ve never actually seen someone drinking beer on the street and I’ve rarely seen a dog running loose; bizarre as it may seem, I can only conclude that late at night there are a lot of party animals — those dogs! — swilling beer and defecating by the side of the road.

Our holiday began with the four-and-a-half-hour drive to the airport in Whitehorse, an overnight stay, a flight to Vancouver, followed by a flight to Victoria.

We rented a car for the drive up to Campbell River.

On this last leg of our journey, we were tired, not at our best. Adding to a less-than-jovial mood was the aforementioned rain, of biblical proportions, obliterating a landscape already unfamiliar to us.

After hours of driving, seeing nothing more than the blurry forms of other vehicles, we stopped to eat, willing to be cheered with food. The meal was so greasy you’d have had to tie it to your teeth to chew it — too greasy even for me, with my penchant for all food that slides.

The lodge proved difficult to find, with the relentless rain making the search more complicated and leading to edgy exchanges between Pete and I. By the time we pulled into the parking lot, we were feeling unpleasant about one another.

Adding to our darkening mood, they had no record of our reservation. Before we could register our displeasure, however, the desk clerk, charming and welcoming, assured us there was a room we could have.

Calmed, we were able to notice how very peaceful the place was, not only answering our immediate needs by being warm and dry, but visually serene.

Everywhere we looked was light and comfort; the music was soft and gentle and there was a faint, delectable odour promising something good to eat.  

Our room was large and luxurious with — wonder of wonders! — a fireplace; a real fireplace, with real wood burning in it.

The dining room had closed before our arrival, but the clerk told us the kitchen could provide us with a meal, delivered to our room, complete with a bottle of wine, should we so desire.

We very much desired, and in less than an hour we were sitting at the table in our room drinking an exuberant red wine and eating the kind of dinner that lives in memory for years. The fire crackled, the lights were low, and we were in love.

The front desk called with a reminder the first workshop began at seven in the morning; please be prompt. Even the thought of having to get up at such an unholy hour didn’t slow my growing enthusiasm for this vacation.

The next morning, refreshed and eager to begin our new hobby, we dressed; khaki pants, the kind with buttoned pockets stitched to every available piece of cloth, plaid LL Bean shirts, also pocketed, and fishing hats.

Entering the room indicated by the smiling desk clerk, we were first struck by the dimness. Peering around, we became aware of the deep silence that pervaded, before seeing that everyone was sitting, legs twisted, on long mats on the floor..

No one looked up, their eyes were closed, their hands held in a prayerful pose. I didn’t see a piece of plaid, khaki, or a pocket anywhere, let alone a hat; the prerequisite garb seeming to be close-fitting T-shirts and leggings, mostly pastel. While I stood there, cursing my historic inability to properly judge appropriate attire, Pete was backing out of the room.

“Come on,” he hissed, tugging at one of my pockets, “Let’s get out of here. We’re in the wrong class.”

We weren’t, as it turned out. We were at the wrong lodge, the Silver King being several more miles away. We were at a yoga retreat centre and it was hosting a special week of yoga as therapy for couples in crisis.

The desk clerk, also owner of the lodge, was vastly amused by our mistake, phoning the Silver King to tell them we were on our way, and giving directions.

Leaving the lodge, we found the weather had not improved but was, if possible, worse. I suggested to Pete maybe we should stay, the yoga part couldn’t be mandatory, could it? I was preoccupied with the thought of eating; if our dinner last night was any indication, breakfast would be awesome.

Pete, anxious to get out of an atmosphere which he now recognized as being “woo woo” and likely to infect him with karma or something, was holding my arm and propelling me along the deck.

We’d reached the top of the stairs alongside a little sort of lean-to, like a bus-stop shelter, when suddenly, over the sound of the rain, our ears were assaulted by a sound not only loud, but eerie.

Pete, startled, let go of my arm. I went from being tugged to free-falling down the slippery steps, breaking my arm.

The source of the sound originated from a fellow who was sitting in the lean-to, doing yoga and meditating, which involves chanting. The sound itself was likely “Ohm,” we were told by the nice doctor who set my arm at the emergency room of the hospital in Campbell River.

He himself practised yoga, we learned, as did the cheery nurse who fitted my sling.  She was the one who told us the pose we’d seen was called the “lotus”— commonly adopted for meditation.

Yoga was a part of the life of the pleasant pharmacist; he also meditated every day, telling us such a practice created a state of bliss. The pills he gave me created a state of bliss without having to lotus or chant.

The owner of the yoga centre, Dave Webster, or “Narayan” as he preferred to be called, drove us to the hospital, waited for us there, drove us to the pharmacy, and back to the lodge, all with an aura of peaceful willingness, taking most of the trauma from our situation.

Pete, however, was ill at ease and combined with his worry and yes — guilt about me, made him listen to Narayan’s offer.

What an offer it was!  He would drive us to Victoria in his own car (the rental could be returned to an office in Campbell River by one his staff) and put us on a plane to Puerto Vallarta where he would arrange to have us met and taken to his own apartment.

Oh, and all this could happen this very day; we could be comfortably ensconced in Mexico by late evening. For the cherry on top, Narayan desired to bear the entire cost of this trip.

Pete made an attempt to consult with me before finalizing this plan but I was too stoned to do more than happily nod my head at everything he said. Actually I was happily nodding my head at everything everyone said, and even when no one was saying anything.

We departed Campbell River, carrying memories of deluge, fine wine and victuals, and extraordinarily helpful, kind people all of whom have been made so by embracing the discipline of yoga.

Although we didn’t learn any new skills together, we are practicing some we already have; Pete as nurse and me as patient. And I think the scintilla of guilt Pete is carrying has added a new dimension to our coupledom.

Why don’t you and Andrew follow our example and have a learning vacation? I highly recommend it.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.