Ucluelet – will nature consume me?

The edge of the world

Ucluelet is on the tip of the world. The phone book is the size of an info pamphlet. It looks like it was compiled by a socially active stay-at-home mom. Containing approximately 3000 people, it is the phone book for the local 3 small “communities”, as the residents call these “small towns” (re-categorized by yours truly, the know-it-all tourist).

Ucluelet is on the edge of my self-centred world. How so? Well, Israel is my centre. Travel 12 hours West by plane and arrive in Toronto, the place I was born. Travel another 5 hours West by air and you’re in Vancouver, the West Coast of Canada, the place of my current residence. Take an hour and a half ferry ride West and you’re on the East coast of Vancouver Island. Drive 4 hours West and you’re on the edge of the world – Ucluelet which is West Coast Vancouver Island. Here you shall be able to honestly say the blessing, “He who made the big sea”. Past the rocks and trees you see the big ocean, open to the horizon.

Ucluelet signs often include warnings of death. “Do or die” they say (paraphrased). Obviously dramatic, you-don’t-wanna-go-this-way deaths.

Wild animals like cougars and black bears are peaking out from behind the trees as you walk in the forests. Tsunamis are just revving up, waiting for the perfect moment to make their move.

Rules given to you when heading to the ocean: “Never walk on the rocks.” “Never play on the logs.” “Never turn your back to the ocean.” One imagines the ocean creeping up and grabbing you for its own.

And who knows, maybe those eagles, as adorable and pretty as their call sounds, will swoop down and carry you off to their large nests to feed you to their babies.

Or, maybe it’s not that dramatic at all. The locals do not fear these animals for a moment. And it is not 3-4 locals who are washed away annually while standing on the rocks by the ocean. It is, of course, the know-it-all tourists.

The locals scoff at the idea that one needs fear the bears. “They are scared of you!”

Well, whatever they say, a tiny part of my heart is in worry-mode as I walk in the beautiful forests surrounding the area. And, of course, I will not be climbing on the rocks next to the ocean.

But the real question is, if I am faced with a bear (which I pray I will not be), will I be able to stand facing it, slowly walk backwards and talk to it? Or will I do the instinctual act of turning and running with all the energy the adrenaline rush can support? I hope to never know.

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2 thoughts on “Ucluelet – will nature consume me?

  1. “Will development consume nature and community?” is more the question in Ukee these days. But those of us who have liver there a while are less dazzled by the surroundings and more concerned with making a life, which is not easy.
    It’s true, the ocean can “creep up and grab you,” and does so (mostly with unsuspecting tourists) a few times a year. But we locals walk on the rocks all the time — we just pay attention.
    Here in the city I’m visiting, traffic creeps up and grabs people on a regular basis — probably unsuspecting locals from small towns — and nobody bats an eye.
    Like your site, Deena. Honest writing, solid observation. Made me miss my home town.
    When the folks from “Ukee”

  2. Deena

    Hey Greg. You posted a comment on my blog a few months ago and I never wrote back! Anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to write here. It’s great to hear from a real Ukee-ian. :) It’s probably true that the ocean creeps up on city folk the way traffic creeps up on small town people. Good comparison.

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