There’s an expression familiar to those who’ve lived in Africa (or those that are married to someone who has), that says so little and yet means so much. TIA, This Is Africa, is the refrain of all those who’ve come to understand the haphazard, shoddy, often innocently self interested and sometimes downright shady way things are done there. As we rolled into Saltspring, I couldn’t help but make a similar observation.
When we arrived on the Isl, we headed to what we thought was our campground. We had in our head that we wanted the Ganges campground. We rolled up the drive a mere 10 minutes off the ferry and knew something was not right. The description we remembered was a walk in campsite in an old growth forest. This was a drive up on what looked to be somebody’s front lawn. There was a building with a hand written sign that said Office and another that said please knock. When we did, there wasn’t a soal to be found. After wandering around list for a bit, another camper came over to let us know we could just pitch up anywhere and the owner would be around whenever he got in to collect payment. Needless to say, we moved on.
When we found the campsite we were actually looking for, Garden Faire, we popped in to the office to register. Again, not a soal to be found, but a map of the place was on the desk with “Faye” and “K” pencilled in on a sticky note. There was a notice to just put your payment in any form you could muster in a box on the desk. We found our site, the porta-loo in the trees, a fenced off shower protruding from a tree and eventually the host who wandered by 3 hours later with his scarlet golden retriever.
Our co-campers were a couple of locals, “between housing” and a couple of cyclists trekking the island by bike. We’re teaching the kids how to wander the woods, eat wild blackberries and hunt for the locals… While Saltspring is certainly still first world, there have certainly been moments where we’ve thought, This Is Africa…Almost.