JAFA

 

            G`Day and welcome to the debut edition of Whistler`s Aussie Army, an informal and quite possibly inconsequential look at mountain life for the thousands of Aussies, and the Kiwi`s if they so desire, escaping the harsh sun of a southern hemisphere summer for the picturesque winter of Whistler.

 

            It's a scenario that is familiar in chateaus, hostels, hotels and condos across the region. Whether bunking up with a buddy, sprawled out on a sofa or struggling to gain comfort on a lounge or floor somewhere, all have taken off for a season on top of the world in one of the prettiest places on the planet. For us the season ahead promises so much in terms of living, playing, working and enjoying snow the way it should be. For this season getting on the piste won't involve a VB and a BBQ. For us, the adventure, the fun, the romances, the parties, the hard work and of course the skiing and boarding starts now.

 

            However, it appears whilst Aussies dream of this place and flourish in it's warm hospitality and not so warm climate, the love and affection is not strictly mutual. On a late night adventure recently and, after consuming several locally produced beverages, I was singled out, and labelled a JAFA. Now to those of us from the sunburnt country a JAFA is a small orange chocolate that perfectly compliment a classic party mix or makes a great missile to launch into the darkness at cinemas. However to locals (and not just those lucky enough to score, beg or steal themselves a sticker) a JAFA is Just Another F*%!ing Aussie.

 

            Imagine it! That name for us! For me! Surely the Australian invasion hasn't reached the proportions where we constitute a collective colloquialism. However after departing the line and reaching the club, and subsequent watering holes, it became clear that maybe the term of-not-so-affection was not only warranted but deserved and even embraced by the visitors from South of the equator.

 

            In fact so familiar is the friendly "mate" or  use of the phrase "stocks" instead of "poles" and "notes" instead of "bills" that one could wonder where Canadians go during the holiday period whilst the influx of JAFA`s continues. Just the other day whilst travelling on one of the exceptional buses provided by the village (get a wave pass if you haven't already) I overheard a conversation by a person who lived only 20 miles (yes I used miles) from my hometown. "Wow" I exclaimed and quickly informed this lady where I was from. But instead of the expected smile of familiarity and game of do you know so and so, I got the contrary, a shrug and awkward smile.

 

            Now hang on. W are almost as far away from home as possible and here is this woman and I are on the same bus, in adjacent seats, and all I get is a shrug. Surely the JAFA flood hasn't reached the biblical proportions where this kind of coincidence is par for the proverbial course. But why here? Why not Aspen, or Val D`Isere or Torino? The answers lie in the beauty of the place and the true beauty of the locals who inhabit it.

 

            In Whistler JAFAs are in another world. Despite the hundreds of resumes and job applications that must be handed into every store almost daily, a smile still greets with the promise to call back when something opens up. Despite the fact everyone speaks of this season as a snow less squander, I still wake with snow on the trees outside my window. It's a wonderland. The world is in the grips of what is being described as the biggest economic downturn since the depression but people still smile in Whistler. The Canadian government (from what I can gather) appears as stable as the Excalibur gondola, but Whistler feels and appears removed from the forged frivolity of politics. It's to nice to worry about such serious matters as running a nations. Whistler almost has independence.

 

            So whilst locals smile, possibly even shake their heads as thousands of JAFAs whinge about taxes not being included in prices or can't comprehend the take a penny leave a penny system, know that this is our way of showing how good this place, this paradise, really is. For JAFAs have given up a summer of beaches, prawns (or shrimp if you will) for Christmas lunch and the familiar sight of Brett Lee storming in with the Fremantle Doctor at his back and have done it all happily knowing that whilst a summer at home is close to all our hearts, this place is perfection.

 

                                                  See you on the piste  

                                                                      Charlie

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