Our final week in Toronto was busy, as you can imagine. On Saturday night, we had a party at the Cossarini house to say goodbye to all the wonderful people we have met during the past 12 months. From neighbours to workmates (volunteering workmates as well), we have been touched by the generosity and welcoming spirit of Canadians. When we first decided to do this exchange, we of course expected to see a lot of Canada, meet a few people and then go home with a lot of photos and souvenirs. What we didn't expect was to form relationships with people who we will likely keep in touch with for the rest of our lives. Canadians are very generous and giving people...oh and they don't mind a drink. So, with that said, our party on Saturday night was a blast! Most of over indulged and paid dearly the next day.
On Monday night we said goodbye to all our 'surrogate-neighbours' in Eleventh Street. Bob and Candace have introduced us to their neighbours during the year and we have really enjoyed getting to know them. They are a great bunch of people! Candace cooked a beautiful meal (of course) and we all enjoyed a few drinks and laughs. Unfortunately, my liver was still recovering from Saturday night so I was the designated driver.
Tuesday night saw us at Pat and Melissa's townhouse where we enjoyed a feast fit for royalty (good to see Pat has finally realised I am worthy) on their rooftop balcony. We got to meet Pat's Captain, Max and his wife Lori. They had visited Australia in March so it was great to hear their stories and experiences. We also met OJ who is also an Aussie. When Pat did his exchange in South Australia in 2009/2010, his Captain introduced him to his brother, OJ. Anyway, turns out OJ was visiting so that was nice to speak to him and hear an Aussie accent!! Great night, as always with Pat and Melissa - we'll certainly miss them.
Wednesday was Troy's final shift at the 421 Fire Hall. The guys invited Jack and I to come to the hall for dinner. A true Canadian feast of steaks, mashed potato (the best mash I think I've ever had), corn on the cob and maple drizzled carrots. Mmmmmm. I tell you, I have eaten like a queen all week long. The boys at 421 gave Troy a Canadian Hockey jersey (but apparently I have to call it a sweater) which has his name and number on the back. They also some fire badges put on it and embroidered "421" on it. It looks spectacular and Troy was really taken aback when they presented it to him. I don't think he's wiped the grin off his face yet. Troy has really enjoyed working at 421 - he really hit the jackpot when he was assigned that hall (thanks Big Jack). They are the funniest and friendliest bunch of guys you'll ever meet.
Thursday was a frantic day of last minute packing and cleaning. That evening we had a relatively quiet dinner at Candace's house (we were staying there overnight) and Bob joined us. Jen and Eddie dropped by to say goodbye (I was impressed there was no ugly-crying) and after dinner we walked down to the lake to view the Toronto skyline across the water for the final time. It was a beautiful night with a full moon.
Friday morning we were all up early and off to the airport to catch our flight. We have 4 suitcases, one HUGE hockey bag (don't get me started) and two hockey sticks (seriously, don't get me started!!). Bob and Candace dropped us off in their cars and like a band aid, our goodbyes were quick and brisk - just the way I like them. I have been in a bit of a sense of denial about leaving and my family and friends back home will know that I hate goodbyes. I'm sure that if I am ever evaluated psychologically in the future, everything will tie back to my inadequate, detached and complete avoidance of any farewell/goodbye. I just can't do them. I hate them....AND I ugly cry. So, Barbie's daughter has a good way to cope with this by just pretending it's not really a goodbye. She just says, "see you tomorrow". So that's what I have done.
Anyway, we arrive at Toronto International Airport with plenty of time to spare. Get our boarding passes and then proceed to line up in the line with 45,256,855,698,555 people in it for the US Customs and Border Protection section. To make matters worse, they were experiencing "technical difficulties"... grrr....I was getting a pain behind my eye when our departure time was getting closer and closer and we were still in line. To make matters worse, they only had nine agents working but they have something like 44 booths there. We finally get through security, drop off our bags, go through x-ray etc and then RUN to our boarding gate. The entire plane was waiting for us about about 5 other passengers. You should have seen the glares from all the passengers who had been waiting on the plain. Thank you US Customs.
We arrived at LAX where we had to recheck our baggage with Air New Zealand. Whilst in line, we learnt that a bloke behind us was going to London and had just found out that his flight was delayed 12hrs. We were very empathetic but were secretly breathing a sigh of relief that this was not us! However, our perceived good luck quickly ran out when we weren't able to go into the Air New Zealand Lounge as they had to save it for basically the entire London plane! Troy nearly threw a tantrum fit for a two year old. Anyhow, we ended up getting into the Air France Lounge instead (go figure). LAX is a dirty, dingy, small and overall bloody horrible airport, so we are glad to be enjoying the lounge.
We board our flight to Auckland in about 2hrs. Talk to you all soon xxx