Drving back from Montreal's fantastic Cheap Thrills record and book shop, we listen to "the Women of Rembetica CD", which our city guide, Jeff M bought. The singers include Roza Eskenazi and Marika Papagike, the songs are beautiful, supposedly a bit risque, but a gorgeous blend of arabic scales and impassioned, soulful singing. Apparently this music was banned in Greece in the early 20th century. I got all three volumes of The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, for 13$ Canadian. It's very dark and raining solidly, the winter cold really coming in. Jeff and Astra have a lightbox in their appartment to stave off s.a.d., and I don't blame them. The night before, post-show, we laboured through the cold to eat some poutine with Annie Hayden and her band, and Ted from Destroyer, who is visiting Montreal for a while. It was here that the first signs of tour debauchery took place with certain un-named people falling into drunken comas at the table, giggling teenage girls burning their earlobes with bic lighters.
Out of Montreal in the dark, streams of headlights and a sinking feeling, a sense of dread is coming back to me, asleep since Porto. I'm not cut out for this lifestyle.
The rain turns to sleet as we approach the border, and once we're over a snowstorm is howling around us. The freeway is reduced to a few tyre tracks in a blank, black wilderness. No towns or civilisation for miles. Eventually, we stop in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, at a place called the Fireside Inn, complete with gazebo and water feature with terrapins. It's eerie, with the wind howling around the windows, Sleepy Hollow style, this is deeper culture shock for me than desert villages in southern Spain or the Christiana commune in Copenhagen.