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Trip Report icebergs r us/ canada's far east: st john's NL

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i was fortunate to receive a scholarship to the Canadian Association of HIV Research (CAHR) annual conference in St John's NL . while the conference itself was the 1-4 may, i was able to add almost 3 days at the end to see a bit of st johns's and environs.

the conference was @ the Delta St John's/ i spoke a few days before to Marie, one of the reservation managers and she not only produced a room on a high floor facing the harbour but started sending me photographs of icebergs!

my scholarship was certainly no free lunch as i was a rapporteur, taking notes for the social science track. very intense. the main keynote ( mark wainberg lecture) was given by my talented colleague, richard elliott who is the ED for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ( which has intervened in many of the charter challenges around HIV/AIDS, rights of sexual minorities, the Safe Consumption Site ( Portland Hotel) challenge and the recent Bedford case @ the supreme court regarding protections for sex workers.

while the work was challenging during the conference , i hiked up Signal Hill to see my first (albeit distant) icebergs. isles flotants comes to mind lol; get screeched and kissed by the cod. local inhabitants are extremely friendly and helpful towards CFA's ( come from away)

after the conference broke up , i was able to walk around most of the downtown area and up to Memorial University. most of the way transversing streets lined with the primary colour houses that undoubtedly brighten the winter. i also stopped into The Rooms, which houses both museum and art gallery. saw a few of david blackwell's evocative pieces there as well as other NL artists. The Art Gallery of Victoria had a large show of Blackwell's work recently and one feels cold and exposed to the strength of the sea while indoors looking at the work !

the day before i left i teamed up w/ a couple and we headed out to Cape Spear , the easternmost point in North America. this is an experience not unlike taking the evocatively named "mitad del mundo" bus out from quito to see the equator ( aka a line on the road which has actually been adjusted since i viewed it in the early 80's!). howebver this was prime iceberg territory and they are truely stunning, majestic and dangerous.

while i thought this would be a once in a lifetime visit to NL.\, i was inspired and hope to go back during a window of warmer weather and before the arrival of whatever the local flying nuisance is. i t would be lovely to rent a car and get out to places like NP Gros Morne, etc. btw the temperature in early May seemed to vary between approx -5C and +9C w/ mainly sun, a little early am snow and a bit of rain. crocus were coming up

although about 7.5 hours in the air from Victoria BC w/ a layover in Toronto. it was definetly worth the effort. unlike Victoria another small coastal capitol, St John's is (quite) a bit more isolated from other major settlement and certainly feels like "away"


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