Newfoundland is a large rock island with roughly 500,000 inhabitants, 51% of which live on the Avalon Peninsula located at the southeastern tip of the Rock. This peninsula stretches east farther than any land in North America, and the easternmost point lies at Cape Spear. I am 3 1/2 hours or 2,408 miles from home (time zone wise) and 3 1/2 hours or 2,330 miles from London. So I’m closer to London at this moment than to home.
The Avalon Peninsula is almost entirely made of rock and there is no shoreline or beach to speak of, except in tiny pockets here and there. There are small inlets and coves, cracks in the Rock, that provide protection from the sea and access to the land on the cliffs above. Until halfway through this century the island didn’t have any roads and everyone traveled to and from work, to other villages and to the biggest city, St. John’s all by boat.
Life was pulled, literally, from the sea with men spending long days fishing to harvest enough cod to sell for income and support their families. Cod was salted to preserve it. The growing season is too short to allow for much variety in the foods you could grow. Potatoes, cabbage, and turnips were mainstays. Each little cove was settled and a village built and a small harbor built to accommodate all the villagers dories.
The Irish Loop (#10) rings the coast of the peninsula and offers access to a number of these villages including, Petty Harbor, Ferryland, Fermeuse, St. Michaels, and more. Each has its own character which was formed by many things – the nationality of the settler, their religion, the size of the fjord which meant more space for more people and many other things. Ferryland was one of the original settlements and was a major fishing harbor in the late 1500s. The town is now listed on the National Historic Register.
New friends Murph and Danielle gave me the royal treatment and took a day showing me the eastern side of the peninsula. The land and coast are incredibly beautiful, rugged and wild. I’m immersed in incredible lessons this day – lessons of language and culture, history and politics, people and food. I’m a sponge and loving every minute and detail and most of all loving the good people who are my tour guides today. I’m so engrossed in the stories that I don’t pay attention to how tired I am and don’t realize it until I’m back in for the night. What a beautiful day! Thanks so much Danielle and Murph!