adventures in the far east — of canada!

Regatta Day, 2009

In culture, friends, lingo, st. john's on August 10, 2009 at 11:58 pm

After some uncertainty about whether Regatta Day would go on Tuesday night (August 4)–in fact, that was why Jeanne and I retired home earlier from the bars on Water Street (not George Street this time–it was the last day of the George Street Festival, so entrance would’ve come with an all-inclusive $15 cover), as neither of us had a lunch ready to go if we did have to go to work, and she was going to help sell shirts at the event at 9 am. To be safe, we left downtown not long after midnight, after taking in a weekly quiz event at the Rose and Thistle, where teams of up to 4 answer 30 trivia questions; winning team gets a $50 bar tab, and the team with the best name gets 4 free rounds of shots. There is no fee to play, so why not, right?

It was only us two that we could quickly scrounge together (the plan to hang out after work was a same-day email she sent, “Want to hang out?”), but we didn’t do too bad…something like 14 or 16 out of 30. The winning team had…20 or 21 correct answers or so. If we tailored our team a little better, I’m sure we would have been much more competitive.

Questions are general knowledge, history, pop culture, entertainment, science, and so on. One question I was quite pleased with was “Which burger chain created the famous ads with the slogan, ‘Where’s the beef?’ ” Okay, I admit I struggled between two answers (Wendy’s and Burger King), but I got it right in the end by trusting my gut, which had instantly responded with Wendy’s! before the question even finished. Another good one was something about naming 1 of the 2 nuts featured in the Bible…there were some grumbles–I guess we were all pretty irreligious–but the host was good fun. During the answer, he said, “Okay, you only need 1 of the 2. You could have put down…religious.” (Religious nuts, har har). After some laughter, he amended that it was actually pistachios, and something else I don’t recall.

After that, we went next door to The Grapevine for some free live music. That place is lounge-y, classy, and the music was mellow. We had a drink each, bumped into Jeanne’s roommate Shannon and her beau, hung out some, and then called it a night. There was talk about rain Wednesday, and I hoped not, with the lunch thing and going to bed early…

Weather permitting, Regatta Day is a unique holiday for Newfoundlanders every first Wednesday of August. By “weather permitting,” I mean that if it rains, it is announced in the morning on radio and TV and such that Regatta is postponed, and everyone grumbles and goes to work. That continues until a clear day comes along, and Regatta Day goes on, and most everyone gets a day off. It’s the oldest continuing sports competition in North America, and teams of all men or women rowers train intensely for a chance to win some medals. It’s held at Quidi Vidi Lake, where I took in the Canada Day fireworks.

Well, Regatta happened! I rushed off early in the morning to get there by 9 am–a coworked of mine was on a team, and her boat of racers were long pegged along with another to be the competitors to beat. The best teams race early in the morning; in the evening, the top 5 then race for the championship, so as to give them the most time to rest as possible.

I met up with Jeanne on the way there, but sadly, I missed that first race by a few minutes. 😦 Still, I was there to speak with my coworker, run into some other Target compatriots, and hear the results; their boat finished second at 5 minutes, 4 seconds or so. She and some others told me some cool Regatta facts…that the women’s record time is 4:58, and most years, the best womens’ boats come in at 5:10 or later. So this year, they were doing very well…granted, they were beat narrowly by the other boat, but this wasn’t the finals yet. It’s always a possibility that teams hold back some for the big race…

After some chatter, I left them and Jeanne to her shirt selling, and wandered around the Regatta grounds around the lake. It was like a fair ground…vendours selling pretty much everything, some charities present, fairway games, some minor gambling, a billion food stalls, some basic thrill rides, bouncy castles for the kids…it was like a mini-Stampede. After taking in a few races and having some delicious lunch at an Indian food stall, I headed home. My coworker’s race would be at 7 pm, and Maria and I had made plans over email earlier to meet there later in the afternoon. Retreating inside the house (it was a stiflingly hot, humid day), I did some chores and was soon contacted by–surprise, surprise!–Angus, a great guy I met at the CouchSurfing bonfire last month! He and Maria were at the Regatta, and making some arrangements to meet, I headed back out.

…after first talking to my new roommie (first arrived late Tuesday night), the probationer/druggie replacement. The guy’s sane, thank goodness. That’s all I have to say about him, really, a normal guy, which is fantastic haha.

Anyway, after much confusion as to where we were, I met up with Angus, Maria, Lisa, Celine, and Philipp. Jeanne was still selling shirts until 6, but I spoke to her while I waited for Angus and Angus waited for me, both of us hidden from view from each other probably not even a hundred meters apart. We all hit it off again, hung out, etc. etc.

We soon retired to a shady patch of grass away from the crowd a bit…it was getting even more disgustingly hot, and we wanted to make plans for a farewell for Maria, Lisa, and Celine; excepting Celine who would be leaving Saturday and Philipp next week, they were going back to Germany early Friday. 😦 It was also Maria’s birthday Friday…but here’s the funny thing. On Thursday, it would be a day before her birthday here in Canada…but in Germany, it would already be Freitag, them being a day ahead. So wouldn’t it be her birthday in normal circumstances? I dunno.

While we lazed around the grass, Lisa quietly took each of us aside to sign a lovely gift they’d bought for Maria. It was a ceramic coffee cup, in the shape and form of the disposable Tim Horton’s cups, but with a resealable rubber lid as well; she told me that in Germany, they had no such cups for coffee! Weird, eh? So we all signed it, they had drawn some Canadian/Newfoundland pictures on it both as jokes and best memories, and it would be sealed later so as to become permanent.

In a random tangent, we also spotted a funny spider walking in the grass–it was noticeable because of bright red somethings on its back. It was not part of its normal colouring, but looked like giant, bright red orbs stuck to the sides and back of the spider. Looking closer, we figured it had to be mites…but man, those were big mites! I mean, proportionally, it would be like six or seven monkeys on your back…it was kinda gross/sad.

Anyway, Jeanne joined us after 6, and we chatted some more/watched races until near 7 pm, when I insisted we go closer. Sitting by the lake with our bare feet dipped into the deliciously cool water, we watched my coworker’s boat finish……………………….second. 😦 Oh well, they gave a good chase!

And what do you know, we bumped into Whitney, the CouchSurfing member whom I attribute my explosion of friends to, along with the Australian with the yummy bread at the bonfire, and a few of their friends! Together we all caught up, and watched the last championship race, the men’s (who have longer races, clocking in times of around 10 minutes).

After the last race, the bright sunny day very suddenly gave way to a mass of dark clouds blowing in…it couldn’t have been a better closer! We took our leave from the other CouchSurfers, Celine and Philipp also headed home, but the rest of us stayed for Angus’s invitation to hang out at his place.

In conclusion regarding the Regatta Day event…enjoyable, but not amazing. The races were neat to watch, but I doubt anyone watched them all, and the fair grounds were, as I said, just like a mini-Stampede with no giant rides. Great excuse for a day off, though, and it was really well attended–the radio said that it often draws in excess of 50,000 people. Think about that for a second–remember how many people St. John’s has? A little over 100,000. That’s right–nearly or over half the population at one place! Incredible.

This year, there were 18 races…but I was told last year, there were like 30 to 40. And years before that, even approaching 100! They were lamenting the decline of rowing, the rising cost of entry, and the need to interest youth again. Yeah, I can totally see how it could be a much more exciting and fast event with like 80 races in one day! With only 18 races, 2009’s Regatta Day races were usually set a lengthy 30 minutes apart.

Backtracking a bit–while we spoke on the grass, the Germans expressed a desire to eat seafood for the farewell dinner. There was a suggestion to cook it, as it would be cheaper, but no one had a big enough place to host everyone. There was also talk about going to the Thai restaurant, but I killed that by warning them against that…and asserting that if they wanted to try out some tasty Thai green curry, that I’d be happy to show them what it’s really supposed to be like! This is relevant, because I offered to go home first, and bring to Angus’s some of my cooking–a lovely rich and spicy brocolli, onion, and goat cheese soup, and the aforementioned Thai green curry. While I retrieved that, Angus would prep some rice.

The dinner was a hit! 😀 I love feeding people, and they loved the food! We chatted for ages about some brilliant and random things, Angus shared some chewy cookies and wine and I shared some of my spiced rum, and the Germans tried some real Canadian maple syrup with his crackers! We had to round out their final experiences in Newfoundland, see.

Angus also educated us all on some more Newfoundland lingo! He showed us some old “grammar worksheets” he made a while ago for fun with Newfoundland vocabulary and grammar. I shall share what I remember…I reminded him today that we’d love some scans!

World’s shortest conversation:
(A fisherman yells to another returning from the sea): “Arn?”
(He replies): “Narn.”

Isn’t that great? Back in the day, “Arn?” meant, “Did you get any fish out there?” or thereabouts, and “Narn” meant “Nope.” In the case that fish was found, it’d be a fuller reply, I imagine, as both words sound so similar.

Mealtime confusion:
in Newfoundland can mean lunch…but it can also mean the evening meal, supper.
Supper here always means supper, however…
…but both of these words are used! So if someone asks about dinner, they could either mean lunch or supper. I joked that if I were invited to dinner, I would in all likelihood arrive 6 hours late!

Newfoundland “conjugation”:
Add -s to all verbs. So you’d say, for example–“Yeah, I likes it,” “Yes, I sees it,” and so on.

Newfoundland terms of endearment:
Me love
or m’love is for men to women who are strangers
But you may call friends a trout, duck, or ducky, usually preceded by “me,” “my,” or “m’,”–m’trout, my duck, or m’ducky. Angus said you can certainly mix it up by saying something like, “Me ol’ trout.”

So in review of this lingo and previously covered lingo, I ask any readers–Where’re ya at, m’trouts? 🙂

  1. =o You have fuzzy hair now!

    That sounds like a fun day. Kind of makes me think a bit of the Dragon Boat races here in Calgary, mixed with the Stampede like you said (or maybe Calaway Park?). But anything to get out of work is a good thing in my books XD

    Speaking of, today was my last day of work for the summer! And only a few sleeps left before I’m there 😀 I am a-twitter with glee!

  2. guten tag ein beeer!!! (that’s for doug)

    hope you got to practise your rusty german!

    • Yeah, it was great…I dropped phrases here and there when I could and surprised them, and they kept telling me my pronunciation was like I was native! What separates me from fluency is of course thousands of vocabulary words, and complex grammar, haha.

      I’ll be home for Katrina’s wedding!

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