Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Carpe Diem in Tofino

For almost all of my adult life I have wanted to see Tofino. It is a divine and fabled place to me. The roar of the ocean, a beach that stretches for endless kilometres and raw wildlife that surrounds a fishing and surfing Mecca.

For years I have put it off for so many reasons: I didn't have enough money, couldn't get the time off to go, couldn't afford to stay once I got there etc. I'm that person that tells people that its so easy to find excuses NOT to do things we wish for, that we have to spend energy looking for reasons to do it anyway.

That's right, be afraid and do it anyway. But for years, I couldn't take my own advice.

Until this past week on the Island. We decided to be afraid, and do it anyway. Carpe Diem.

So we Carpe'd Tofino.

It took my breath away. The first view of Long Beach left me speechless and all I could do was laugh and cry at the same time.

We spent hours upon hours on the beach, exploring the rocks, poking around in tidal pools, playing in the sand, deciphering animal tracks and basking in the sun.

On the third day we saw wales exhaling from the beach. We even saw them rolling around in the shoal of herring they were feeding on. That was an amazing sight.

The roar of the waves is hard to describe, you have to see and hear it to believe it. Watching it, you couldn't help but feel awed and reverent for the power of the ocean and the natural balance of things.

Tofino is a place in transition though. Its raw beauty and powerful natural surroundings draw people from all over the world. No longer a hidden gem for fishers and surfers, Tofino is being populated with resorts and shi shi poo poo restaurants and boutiques. A bagel and cream cheese with smoked salmon was priced at $11. In a fishing village.

So the wealthy want a piece of Tofino too and they want to sell YOU a piece of Tofino at a profit. They want to build resorts that cost $900 per night so you can see the ocean and hear it, play in it wish all the brand name gear and eat a gourmet meal every evening.

There is such a huge contrast between the wealthy tourists and the everyday surfer / camper. How will they continue to co-exist? The cost of visiting Tofino is skyrocketing. Getting a campsite reservation at the one National Park campsite - Green Point in the Pacific Rim National Park - is nearly impossible. Tofino is overrun by people from all over the world, desperate to experience Northwest Coast nature in its most raw and beautiful and the more we flock to Tofino, the more we contribute to ruining its very essence.

We did Tofino on a very small, low budget scale. We camped in the shoulder season, made all of our own meals, didn't take any whale-watching tours or surfing lessons and tried to leave as little of a footprint as possible, except when we were barefoot on the beach.

I love Tofino. I miss Tofino. I can't wait to go back again...I just hope Tofino is still Tofino when we finally get there.

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