“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” Rudyard Kipling
Maybe it`s just me but the air tastes different as I arrive in the majestic Natural Biosphere of Tofino, British Columbia. Surfboards, Hippies, Whales and Rain Forest rouse my anticipation and a grand sense of karmic frontier welcomes my band of travellers to the Pacific Rim. The weather is unsettled, actually a mix of damp and mist , but I`m about to discover that it doesn`t matter in Tofino. It only adds another layer to this story.
The first layer is the drive. Grand mountains, ancient forest and winding highway lead to the gateway of a town of less than 2,000 people. The last 30 kilometers of the drive offers a photo op around every corner, with the mist hanging cover of hills and trees in a land that looks likes it is probably populated by hobbits and elves. Whatever lives in this hillside I can`t find a safe place to stop and capture a moment that would highlight my travel photos forever. I`ve got to try hiking in on the next trip. And there has to be more Tofino trips!
So how does a town at the heart of Canada`s Pacific Rim Ecology and a world class surfing beach get named after a Spaniard named Tofino? Apparently Vincente Tofino was a Spanish hydrographer and Tofino was the result of Spanish exploration back in the day. They were first non-natives to touch ground zero in our Pacific Wonderland. And so goes my Tofino history lesson but I`m here for the surf, the beach and the epic landscape. My camera is crying for a tripod but we need to go into town for a morning coffee before exploring this kingdom. As usual paradise can wait for a good cup of coffee!
Coffee in hand we circle this town noting Eco, Whale and Bear watching tour signs everywhere. That is next to those surf shops on every corner. Down the street lies the wharf, fishing boats, seaplanes and the lifeblood of a port of Eco-tourism. Tofino is a magnet for soul searching naturalists.
And after paying too much for groceries we head to the beach. This layer of Tofino is best represented by the 16 kilometer long icon of the Canadian coastline called Long Beach. Endless sand and scattered driftwood in the foreground of a surfing mecca. Maybe surfing is "the source" and I`ll find it in these waves? That`s if I can lay the camera down and take a lesson.
I`m ripping that tripod and Nikon around every rock, dead tree and corner looking for another moment. It`s grey, overcast, misty and fracking gorgeous. The sun breaks out for an hour and looks great but as the next cloudfront rolls in the picture just takes on another layer of excellence. We meet a surfer with her crazy board on the beach and wonder about the conditions for her. It`s damp, a little cool and "it`s always good man. The weather doesn`t matter in Tofino". That`s why the surfers love Tofino. It`s not perfect, just magical.
Really this not fair to try and decribe the best of Tofino on a three day trip but I`ll be back and I will move beyond the tip of this spiritual possibility to explore the potential of the "Pacific Rim National Park". I`ll take the time through it`s hikes, Orcas, Bears, Surf, landscape and cool people to find more layers of this magical quest. It seems a little unreal but the best of this planet often is. Maybe it`s just this untainted air affecting my senses but I have to come back and bottle some of it. Till then I`m meditating on Tofino time!