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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
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Reports

Tuesday, 11 June 2002
Edge Hill --> Brinsmeat, Cairns, Australia

After staying for three nights in the house of Anne Falconer and her daughter Brianne, it had to move on to my second-last place-to-stay in Cairns.

I ended up staying with the Canadian Tom and Karin Spence. Karin is on a teaching exchange and they are living in the house of an Australian family that is doing the exchange in Canada and those people are staying at their house there. What a way to swap a job! Maybe I should start letmehaveyourjobforayear.com.

I had a very enjoyable weekend with a Sunday morning champagne brunch in the botanical gardens of Cairns and a free day on Monday (it was a national holiday in Australia, to celebrate the birthday of some British Queen).

This Tuesday morning Anne woke me up at 7am. She had to be a teacher again at the local school and drop Brianne at the Cairns State High School in town. I was dropped off on Mulgrave Road, one of the main roads in Cairns, at 8am. At 8.30 the computer repair service opened up here and I was ready to present them the problem I was having with my new laptop.

I thanked Anne for all the days I could stay at her place. I think she is a very intelligent mother. Very understanding too. It was nice to be a guest for the weekend.

I dropped off my laptop at the computer shop at 8.30 and the receptionist told me to come back around one in the afternoon. With my backpack left at Anne's house, I walked to the centre of Cairns again, walked around the Esplanade and through the many malls (can't stand any didgeridoo anymore!).

I got back at the computer shop just after noon. What a surprise I got: the repairmen there had repaired my laptop (they just had to install the right drivers on my hard disk) for free! Even the receipt said $0.00.

With a big smile on my face of happiness I left the building. Finally, since May 2, I am back on the track again with my laptop. It's still unbelievable that people who follow my tracks, visit this website and read my report, actually sent in their donations. In the first days of May, after my previous laptop got flooded, people I had never heard of, sent in their 5, 10 or 50 dollars through the Internet. Within 4 days I had received over 2700 Australian dollar: sufficient for a new computer!

It took a while to get the payment to the computer company and to get the thing delivered to me in Townsville, but I got it! I swapped the hard drive of the flooded laptop (hard drive was the only thing that could be saved) and stuck it in the new laptop.

Now everything works again – just like nothing has ever happened. I am sooo thankful to many people!

I contacted my host for today and as he had nothing to do, he told me he could pick me up any time from now. Fifteen minutes later his blue Toyota pulled over and I shook the hand of Tom Spence.

We first drove to Edge Hill to pick up my backpack, loaded that onto the backseat and went shopping at a local shopping mall.

Tom is Canadian! He and his wife Karin are my first Canadian hosts during my trip!

Karin is on a one-year exchange as she is an elementary teacher specialised in reading recovery for first and second grade school kids. They had been planning a year out of Canada for over three years and only last year they found some luck. Karin had been contacting so many schools in Australia, through the Internet, and found a teacher who was happy to go to Canada for a year.

Luckily for him, Tom is a retired supervisor for parks and trees in Ottowa. He is as free as a bird and loves it! "Those parks and trees never had any problems, it mostly were the residents we disputed about them."

They arrived here early this year and were amazed by the heat that an Australian summer brings along. Especially when you come from the cold snowy town Perth in Canada!

It was fun to talk with Tom about all those differences between other countries and Australia – as we are both foreigners.

They are living in the house of the family that is doing the exchange in Canada and those people are staying at their house there. What a way to swap a job! Maybe I should start letmehaveyourjobforayear.com.

I had just dropped my backpack and stuff in the guestroom of their home in the suburb Brinsmeat, when I got a call from a lady from The Cairns Post. The newspaper would love to post a feature about me. Could the lady come over for a chat? "Let her come over, that's fine," Tom said and I invited her over.

It was Margot who came over with a recorder and her notepad. A photographer made some quick shots of us all and took off again. I can't remember the last time I had talked that much as this afternoon. Someway, somehow I just felt I had to tell her a lot about my travels. We were sitting outside on the patio and Tom was just made silent by all my stories.

I told her about my travels through Europe, about how I experienced South Africa and of course she was utmost interested in what I have to say about Australia.

The story will be published on Saturday next week, when I will already be far away from Cairns. Maybe I'll already be on the other side of Australia by then! (You'll find it on the Media About..-page when it's been published)

During the interview Karin had come home from her school job and she had started preparing tonight's dinner.

They had an interesting story on how they got in contact with me. It was Tom's sister in Canada who read about my project in a local Canadian newspaper (!) and also read that I was currently in Australia. This sister emailed Tom and that was for him a reason to check out my website and send me an invite! Isn't that great!

For dinner Karin had cooked chilli, but for the first time prepared in Australia, in the Canadian way. It actually worked out pretty tasty. I never knew Canadians love food that spicy!

Together with Tom I watched the world cup soccer games on television, while Karin did her homework for tomorrow's school kids. "I am trying to understand this game," Tom said (as any other Northern American soccer isn't the number one sport on that continent), "but I still can't get it. All that running after a ball, kicking around… And look at that field, it's way too big!"

Haha, no wonder the Canadians didn't make through the pre-games ;-)

Good night Brinsmeat!

Ramon.