Well, It's official. Not content with being Australian, American and British, I'm now also an honorary Newfoundlander.
In addition to being some of the friendliest and most fun people I've ever met, Newfoundlanders have a ritual that allows us mere CFA's (Come-From-Aways) to join their ranks as honorary Newfies. The process is called 'The Screech-In' and as far as I can tell, it usually takes place in a bar. George Street, in St John's is the proud holder of the Guinness world record for the highest ratio of bars to street - there are around 45 bars in about 500 feet of road.
The aim of the Screech-In is to prove you can eat, talk and drink like a Newfie. This involves scoffing something horrible ( I had to eat a chunk of Bologna), drinking a shot of 'Screech' - which is a pretty rough Jamaican rum (in earlier times, Newfoundlanders would trade saltfish with the Jamaicans for it) and when asked the tradtiional question: "IsyouaNewfunLanderCock?" You must reply with a brash "IndeedIismefineoldson, and longmayerbigjibdraw!" Then, you need to either kiss a fish, or, if available, kiss a puffin's arse. In my case, it was a slimy cod. Strangely, I already knew for a fact that cods have tongues, because we had just eaten a plate of them...
Mildly embarrassed, (but secretly overjoyed to be a Newfie) I slunk my way back to our table, all the way being congratulated and "Welcomed Home!" by the locals and staff at the bar, and by my colleagues from TOWER Software here in Newfoundland.
Truly, at the end of my short stay in Newfoundland, something about the people dawned on me - these people are happy to be where they are. They don't brag about their place being "the greatest country in the world", or try to convince you to stay there - because it's not often great - sometimes it's downright horrible. And yet, they're not leaving. They're part of the the place. Being the summertime, I met lots of Newfoundlanders who were on vacation - at home. And that there, is a sort of a greatness all it's own.
Its such a stark contrast to the US, where everyone seems mobile in some way - always working on going somewhere else, be it for business, or vacation, or on a perpetual metaphorical journey to improve their current social status. Or maybe it's just that the megalopolis on the east coast is so heavily developed, that people aren't quite sure exactly where their place is. Whatever it is, I was definitely a little melancholy to fly out of St Johns tonight.
If you ever get the chance, make sure you come to Newfoundland in the summertime.
But uh, Just make sure there aren't any puffins aboot when you come for that bar, eh?...