Laetitia and her group headed north along Route 17, the Trans-Canada Highway. They made an excursion into Pukaskwa National Park, where they went hiking along the rocky Lake Superior shore, viewing birds and other wildlife and taking advantage of the area’s abundant photo opportunities. Laetitia had originally planned to spend the night at Marathon until she learned that it is a pulp-mill town. On a trip with her grandmother, they once spent a night in a motel downwind of such a mill, and it was not an experience she wished to repeat. So the group moved on to Nipigon, Ontario.
Situated just north of where the Nipigon River enters Lake Superior, Nipigon has a population of about 1,600. Its economy is based on commercial and sport fishing, tourism, and wood products. After a walk along the river, Laetitia dispatched her group to their night’s lodging and headed off for a pre-dinner drink and some limerick inspiration.
As she sat on a stool at the bar she chose for happy hour, a man with dark complexion and a thin moustache perched on the stool next to her and introduced himself as Juan de Fuca. He immediately began talking about his favorite subject, himself. According to him, he was a scion and heir to the fortune of the Royal House of Aragon, that medieval kingdom in the Spanish Pyrenees. He was looking for a woman worthy of a man of his lofty standing with whom he could share his fortune. As he babbled on, Laetitia’s thoughts wandered: “Are the dark complexion and moustache stage makeup? They look like it. Did he pick his name from a map of western Canada?” When she had reached her bullshit limit, she looked him in the eye and said, “Fuera!”
Juan abruptly left to join a table of ladies on the other side of the room. Laetitia listened as he started his spiel again and was rebuffed again a short time later. Then she wrote the limerick of the day on her bar napkin.
Though Juan claimed to be Nipigon’s paragon
And an heir to the Royal House of Aragon
Girls thought his spiel lacked
A basis in fact
Like Cloud Cuckoo Land