Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Free Republic Of ....

The Ferry Dock on Lasqueti

.... Lasqueti. The northern most point of our travels. Fabled throughout the Gulf Islands and beyond. The mention of the name brings a coyote-ish grin to the face of the knowing listener. Lasqueti is fiercely off grid. There is no car transport ferry to the island so any cars there appear to be mostly from the 1970’s influx of U.S. draft dodgers and back-to the-landers that bought up land back in the day. That means the cars appear to be held together with chewing gum and sea glue (rust). Hitch hiking is a way of life. Walking is too. The Lasquetians (?) say “every ride is a safe ride”. There is no police force and no building codes (at least not ones that are followed). Electricity is produced individually by ingenious DIY hydro-electric generators in the winter and solar in the summer. Lasquetians are wary of strangers (pot growing – way of life), but once you establish your non-narcness, they are extremely open and helpful. The bottom has fallen out of the pot market so it will be interesting to see the next evolution of the Laqueti local economy. I’m sure it will be innovative.

DIY hydro-electric system

On our arrival at the ferry dock, we decided to get a beer at the only local bar. We had a vague satellite map and a letter of introduction from my friend who had invited us to camp on her land. I showed it to the fireman sitting at the bar (I have a deep faith in firemen). He informed me that we would never find it with that map. Calls were made. We were given a ride to the firemen’s picnic where everyone at the bar was sure someone would know the land. There we were given over to a car driven by a neighbor of the land. S was in the car too and knew the exact footpath from the neighbors land and so we were escorted right to it.

That was our first introduction to S. He appeared many times throughout our travels on Lasqueti and we became good friends. S is 30 something and has been living on the island for 6 years. He makes a living gardening for others. He also does deep research into the problem of how to get brain cancer drugs to cross the blood/brain barrier. S has one of those intelligences that beams at you. My traveling partner Tim is a neuro-scientist. He was astounded at S’s deep grasp of the complex issues that are at the heart of cancer and cancer treatment.

The path to the property.
Tim and S at the Tea House on our friends land.

The peat bog and beaver pond that borders
our friends property.

Every day we got up early, hiked to the road and caught a ride into town for breakfast at Mary Jane’s. Then we let the day take us.

One day we visited the Community Center where the People’s History of Lasqueti is written on the side of the building. It was the best history lesson ever! Eccentric, authentic and mythic.

An excerpt from the History of Lasqueti

One day we met Joy, owner of the Crystals and Chamomile store, who has lived on Laqueti for 20 years. She told us about the successful and nearly complete community effort to build a medical clinic with senior housing so that their people would not have to leave the island as they aged.

Another day, we made our way to the Leviathan, a truly impressive hand built (one might say hand woven) dance and retreat studio. M (the architect, builder and owner) graciously took time out to give us a tour. He also showed us a small out building that he had built using plastic bags as insulation packed between the cob and wood walls.

The Leviathan

On yet another day, we caught some rides to the far south end of the island for a picnic with a group of islanders who were starting to practice permaculture. We talked the talked and snorkeled in the warm bay. As usual, I was impressed by the dedication and energy of the younger permaculture crowd.

Picnic on the beach with our new permaculture friends.

In many ways, the people reminded us very much of our own Joshua Tree community. It was hard to leave the Free Republic of Lasqueti.

Desert Take Away:

From Jill – There are many communities as fiercely independent as Joshua Tree. It’s great to feel that resonance as we travel.

From Tim - It’s one month into our travels and, to my surprise, I haven’t killed Jill yet. There’s still time.

From Jill – a coyote-ish grin.

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