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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Monday, 17 February 2003
--> Vancouver, Canada (day 1)

Monday night at 3.30 in the morning my friend Jorden drives me to the airport. I had spent the night awake, partly at home and partly in the local pubs.

I am going to Canada today!!!

At 5.30 the Dutch radio station 3FM gives me a goodbye call, anxious for updates on my new adventures.

At 7.15 the British Midland plane departs from Amsterdam airport Schiphol, taking off for a one-hour flight to London Heathrow. On board I got a chicken bacon and sweet corn roll of bread (very British I guess) and I was facing serious troubles in staying awake....

At 8.35 (7.35 London time) I arrived and got from one terminal to another with a coach (bus) and waited in line with over 600 people before going through tight luggage security again.

I don't get the UK-way of running an airport yet. The terminal I have to wait some four hours to catch my connecting flight to Vancouver is just one big mall, created to get travelers to spend a lot of money only. I had to wait with several hundreds of other people, walking around, sitting, sleeping, for the final boarding time. Can anybody send in some entertainment to London Heathrow?

Before noon I was already in a coma for a while and at 1pm I boarded the B747-300 from Air Canada (north America’s best airline of 2002). Located halfway in the back of the fully booked plane, I met my first bits of Canadian friendliness in real life. An 80+ year-old lady sat next to me and told me about her visit to her brother in England who celebrated his 90th birthday this weekend.

On board I set my watch to Vancouver time, which made it 6.15am again. Good morning, again! As soon as the plane departed and we flew on a height of 35,000 feet above Scotland, the onboard entertainment started with the movie "Banger Sisters". Up next, below the plane, was a tip of Iceland, Greenland and the big north of Canada.

And with "Honeymoon in Purdah" by the Canadian journalist Alison Wearing and jazz music through my headphones this flight just could not become a problem at all!


What did I do in the past four months?

Well, first I met up with family and friends again. My family dragged me through necessary therapy for my back. I will never travel with a backpack again!

Back home I have to live on my own budget, so I started of with simple jobs behind bars (in pubs I mean) and even got booked for a weekly gig as a deejay in the north of the country. This would get me going for a while and over-think letmestayforaday.com.

I could not concentrate good enough at home on a forthcoming book about my lifestyle of a traveler with a website, but however I got very inspired in writing short fiction stories to empty my head.

My closest really best friends have also come by to kick my butt in pretending that I was doing all fine. I pretended happy and relaxed, but I totally wasn’t. My mind was a mess and my life AT HOME is (like nothing had changed) all about nothing. And the worst thing was: I wasn’t honest about this to my friends, not even my best friends. And “Hello! Knock-knock!” Friends and family are very important around us humans, so cherish them as you as they are there.

I realized this just in time, because my friends were ready to turn their back on my as I could easily lock myself from the outside. (You wouldn’t have guessed I’d go this deep, would you?). However I can be far away, to my friends and family I am always just around the corner!


So how does it feel to be traveling again?

It’s strange and I have mixed feelings about it. One way I really enjoyed the personal freedom I experienced in the past four months, on the other hand I knew I would continue this project and give in to that freedom again.

But I don’t feel a big change yet, as things go terribly fast again. One day I am with friends, or taking my parents out for dinner and the next day I am on a plane with clothing, a laptop, a camera and a phone, only!

One thing I have set for myself is that I personally want to enjoy this project more than. It’s about staying-for-a-day, but if people can help me out for just one tiny bit longer, my mind gets another bit of ease too. Looking back it is just weird how I have rushed through Australia last year, lived by people and for the website.

From now on I would like to experience my travels, adventures and people I met more personal, so I won’t be wreck when I take a break at home. I take moments for myself, without thinking about readers, emails, photos and chronicles I need to write. Hey, I even brought my sporting shoes with me this time! Maybe this all can reflect a bit in the following reports, but I hope you still enjoy them.


Vancouver!
I arrived at Vancouver International Airport after a ten hour flight. My granny next to me at the window side pointed out the white snowy mountains outside, just north of Vancouver. How beautiful!

After standing in line for half an hour (– What are you going to do in Canada? – Traveling around! – Do you have places to stay in Canada? – Yep, over 150!; and bang! I got the stamp in my passport!) I picked up my luggage pack and was officially welcomed in Canada by Jeff Radke.

I have met Jeff before, during my travels through South Africa. I was invited in a hostel in Keurboomstrand and joined a great group of people who also arrived there that day. Two of the folks that kept the good vibe going were the Canadians Erin Collins and Jeff Radke (just read the reports about my stay in Keurboomstrand and Coffee Bay).

After traveling through South Africa all the way up to Turkey (!) together with Erin and whoever joined in on the group, Jeff returned back home. First in the east on Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown) but a few months ago Jeff hitchhiked his way from the east coast to the west coast to live with his cousin Peggy and her two daughters Fletch (8) and Trudy (6).

“I am now a freelance photographer,” Jeff told me in the bus towards my first place to stay in Canada. “And I am broke now.”

And it is not true, dear Americans, that Canadians live in an igloo (hehe), but how do I explain this. Jeff: “I actually live in the closet under the stairs at my cousins house.” Really?

The bus dropped us off in far East Vancouver on Southeast Marine Drive. In the bus he had told about his trip through Mozambique and how he survived his whole Africa experiences. During their trip Erin and Jeff kept records on their own website www.independentlyhomeless.com.

I might be visiting Erin in Canada too, and I can say that Erin is going to marry the Danish girl Nynne he met at that hostel in Keurboomstrand! I even gave my room away in that South African hostel so Erin and Nynne could share it together. I slept on the couch! They get married near Calgary in the first week of August!

After arrival I met up with Peggy and her two very excited kids. “Hey Trudy, here is Ramon,” Fletch screamed. “Let’s jump on him!” Well, what can I say… kids…

I quickly dropped my stuff in the living room where I could sleep on the couch for the coming two nights and had a quick shower to freshen up a bit. Peggy was already preparing dinner.
After a meal of Indonesian style green beans with rice, Jeff had to go to a night course of the sport store he works at part time (“They are teaching me how to sell, haha”). Trudy went playing next door and Peggy, Fletch (“Ramon, may I sit on your neck?”) stayed home watching television and we talked about my flight and previous trips.

Later this night we browsed through shoeboxes of photographs which Jeff had made on this trip through Africa and I was amazed. This guy should work for National Geographic!

It was already before midnight when Peggy prepared the couch into a bed for me and I was very soon gone, off this planet, working away on my jetlag. Tomorrow Jeff takes me downtown and Wednesday I’ll hop on to another address in town.

Good night Canada!

Ramon.