500 weeks ago, I headed west aboard a Greyhound bus on the Trans Canada Highway, bringing along a poor English, a backpack, a snowboard and just a few dollars in my pockets. After spending the summer by the sea in Victoria, BC, working at a Yögen Früz to learn a second language, I migrated to the city. However, the crowdedness of the streets, the continuous autumn rain and the stressful lifestyle wasn’t for me. I travelled north of Vancouver for a day, to explore a magical town that I heard so much about. Indeed dreamy, lively and chummy, I found myself immersed in a bubble of eternal smiles where people actually…lived. I met a group of local residents, a few of them also from Quebec, and soon enough we clicked and exchanged numbers. And this is where it all started…
On October 13th, 2003, I packed my bags and headed towards Whistler. A week earlier, I have accepted an invitation to rent a room at these locals’ house. I barely knew them, had no idea where it was located, but I knew I was going to move to Whistler. I found myself sharing a room in a garage with a stranger and paying the full price of $450 a month. The basement suite was old and dated. The wooded walls were dusty, the rooms were dark and the carpet moldy… It was perfect! I was so happy to be there that nothing could stop my ecstatic joy.
At 19 years old, I have found my paradise, on my own, away from home, in the unknown. I was the happiest girl. I got a job right away cleaning luxurious homes and working on the mountain serving chilly potatoes to hungry skiers and snowboarders from all around the world. While friends at home started university, I started my own. It could not have been a better English immersion. It could not have been better life lessons. I lived in million dollar homes, I snowboarded the best terrain in the world, I met inspiring people. I became part of the movement: the young at heart, the free spirits, the gypsies of the world. I made friends that became my family, I matured up and evolved, I became fluent and I live life at the fullest.
I remember when we used to gather around the steps of Moguls warming up on each other’s mountain stories of the day. I remember feeding on Raman noodles and 0.99$ loafs of bread and 8-packers of Pilsner. I remember the 50cm powder days, waking up at 5am to be the first in the line-up and getting stuck all day. I remember the people that came and then left, but always returned. I remember the ones that stayed and became the wonderful family I have today.
Now, 10 years later, I look back at all those years that went by. I am so thankful for having found such a perfect bubble nestled in paradise. A place to call my home. Thanks to all of those that helped me through this journey, the ones that tagged along, the ones that inspired. Thanks to the community who made me feel like a human, with passions to follow, dreams to pursue. And thanks to the mountains, the ones that gave me fresh air to breathe, hills and trees to ride, magical snowflakes to fall from the sky. You made me feel alive.
I might not be on your ground at the moment, but I raise my Moroccan tea in your honor. Cheers to you Whistler, and thanks for the good ride.
Note: I apologize for any mistakes, this is written on an iPhone with a poor Moroccan Internet connection.