Day 6 – Mile 1523 – Sydney, NS

Almost one week straight of perfect weather. The scenery only gets better every day. We had heard that this part of Nova Scotia – southern coast, heading east towards Sydney – was one of the most beautiful places we’d visit. This and the Cabot Trail, which will be tomorrow.

We get to Sydney at 8PM and call Nick – a couchsurfer who had replied in record time offering his home to us. Nick was a special find. He studies history and works at the library in Sydney. We go out to dinner and learn about Nova Scotian pride, politics, history, industry, and indie celtic rock and hip hop, and more.

According to Nick Cape Breton (this part of NS) and much of NS has been in a recession for the past 30 years so the current downturn is nothing new. The area first thrived from boat manufacturing. You still see the remains of this by rural roads when you pass small homes with boat frames that are larger than the house of the boat makers. But the main boat companies were bought by the US and jobs moved south. Then the economic engine became coal mining and steel production. But steel moved to China and the coal became cheaper to import from… Colombia! Every day Sydney receives boat loads coming from the Cerrejon – the largest, above ground coal mine in the world in the northern tip of Colombia. (Note: Los Viajeros – Gonza, Mauro, Arturo, and myself did a trip to the cerrejon in 2002!)

Bottom line, jobs are scarce. People are old. The young move to Halifax and the towns are a bit depressed. A strange contrast given the pictoresque landscapes. It feels like every resident should become a world famous novelist or artist.

Nick leaves to work at 8. We stay packing till 9. Buy dad some under armor for the cold ahead and we take off for the Cabot Trail.

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