Stuck in Petite Laméque, New Brunswick (by choice)
12 Jul 2008
|Our next destination was discovered in the same way in which we found out about Cozumel; through a kitesurfing magazine!
Getting to Shippagan required a bit of a detour from the general direction in which we were heading, but in the end, it was well worth it. Shippagan is situated on the north-eastern point of New Brunswick on the Acadian Peninsula and is home to the largest fishing fleet in New Brunswick (some more Lonely Planet trivia!) The one thing about this area that amazed me was that the primary language was French. I was under the impression that Quebec City was the only French speaking area in Canada. Shows how much I know!
We looked at one campground that looked great but decided to take a bit of a drive around first before checking in and putting the tent up. We crossed a causeway which took us onto a little island called Île Lamèque and ended up driving down a dirt road after seeing a sign pointing to “Kite Park”. There we met a guy called Bruno who I showed the article in the kite magazine to. He said he knew the guy who was in the article and could show us where the place was. We followed him to a little town called Petite Lamèque where we eventually arrived at a big, two story house right on the water that had been set up as accommodation, café/bar and kitesurfing store. The place was owned by pro windsurfer, Eric Girard and his partner Claudine and was due to start its first official day of business the next morning. We had a couple of beers and a chat with them and decided (a very hard decision at that) to stay at the campground right next door. We ended up pitching out tent on a site which was about 30 meters from the water and about 50 meters from the front door of the bar! As it was only early and seeing that our sleeping arrangements had been sorted, we decided to mosey across to the bar again and enjoy a couple more drinks before dinner. There we met up with a guy called Benoit (Ben-wah) from Montreal who was visiting for the week to do kitesurfing lessons. He ended up coming over to “our place” for dinner that night and sitting around the campfire chatting into the night over a few wines and “ginger and ryes” (bourbon and dry).
The wind did not grace us with its presence the next day but seeing as we were in such a nice spot and we felt like a day of relaxation (like we needed it really!) we decided to stay one more night and see if it started to blow the next morning. We did manage to drag our selves away from the campground to do a bit of food shopping though and also take a little excursion to the Cape Miscou lighthouse, but other than that, not a hell of a lot achieved!
During the day we met our neighbours for the first time. Their names were Jean-Francois and Anne and they had been coming to the same spot for the last 5 years from their home in Quebec. Although there was a small language barrier at the start, we all got along straight away and ended up enjoying their company for the remainder of our stay. We ended our very stressful day with a few drinks with our new neighbours at Ben’s campsite where we were also joined by a couple of local kitesurfing instructors.
Our decision to stay yet another night in Petite Lameque was confirmed the next morning when we awoke to a nice breeze from the North West that slowly picked up through out the day. I managed to get three kites in that day so was a very happy chum indeed and Georgie was more than happy to relax with a book and chat with Anne.
The fact that our one night stop over in Petite Lameque blew out to one whole week should give you the impression that we kind of liked the place and its people. The rest of our week pretty much consisted of me kiting with JF (well he was windsurfing), Georgie going kayaking with Anne, frequenting Eric and Claudine’s little café for a beverage or two, learning little bit of French around the campfire with a brew in hand and generally just lazing around and having a good time. I’m not sure why we didn’t stay another week actually.
On our last day there, after a good day on the water, we were invited to Anne and JF’s oversized tent for dinner. JF cooked up a big feed of pasta while Georgie and I took notes over a glass of red, about places we were told we should visit on our way through Quebec over the next couple of days. After dinner we retired to the fire where we chatted away until about 1 in the morning as a heavy fog rolled in and slowly blotted out the yellow full moon that had perched itself above the water just out from our camp. Ahh…. To be unemployed!
The next morning, as we groggily got out of bed to greet the bright and sunny day, we were greeted by an even brighter JF who somehow has an endless supply of energy, even with a night of wine and cigars behind him (example : One day when there was no wind, he ended up going for a 120km bike ride for something to do!) – not bad for someone who is “old enough to be your fah-zer”. After getting everything packed away, we said our goodbyes to JF and Anne and made a promise to catch up with them again some time down the track and maybe get some snow-kiting in. We then paid one last visit to the café to get a take-away coffee for the road and to say good-bye to Eric and Claudine and wish them well in their new business venture.