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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Monday, 7 April 2003
--> Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

After waking up at the Ottaway Backpackers Inn in downtown Ottawa with an enormous hangover (that Jagged Little Pill shooter I had last night was just awful, hehe!), we checked out the hostel and Lori took me for a brunch meal with lots of coffee at the Montana Cookhouse Saloon in the west end of the city.
Today I was going to meet my next hostess, who lives in Ottawa, so it was a good thing that I was already in town.

Lori dropped me off at the Bayshore Mall, where she had to do some shopping before returning to Pembroke. I thanked her for her support and sincerely hope that life gets a bit more joyful for her. At least she is already getting some advices from readers of yesterday’s report.

It was Mary Doerksen who picked me up at the Byshore Mall and took me along to her family house in Glenn Pine, a south-western suburb of Ottowa. She is married with Kern and has three children: Jacob, Zak and Anita. Zak moved out of the house and is currently a talented hair dresser at Le Salon in downtown.

Glenn Pine is one of the last areas of Ottawa where the luxurous apartments still have their own sceptic tanks. “I guess they forgot to connect us to the sewage system,” Mary joked.

Mary has been following my travels for quite a long time already after once hearing about me on the CBC radio, but decided to send in her invite when I arrived in Canada. “I actually saw you on Vicky Gabereau and after that I decided to submit my information to you. You looked quite trustful and I liked you curly hair you had then.”
The house in Glenn Pine almost looks more like a museum than the everyday houses I have seen so far. There was no Ikea at this place, I guessed.

While I was having a lunch bite with Mary in the kitchen, she was preparing this very healthy fruit bowl for tonight’s dinner. “We don’t get our vitamins in any other way,” she told me, “so a daily desert with this should be perfect for the kids.”

Mary is a very talkative person. And when I say talkative, I mean very talkative. She talks on and on and tells me one story after another, however very enjoying to listen to.

She told me about her early years, about being an adopted child growing up in Newfoundland. “I am a Newfie and Ramon, you will love it when you visit Newfoundland!” Unfortunately I don’t have many places to stay there yet and I might just have to rush by for a day…

She told me how she met her husband Kern and how life has changed from living in a one room apartment to a life she had never expected to have when she was young: gloriously happy and having three kids!

I have already heard that Newfies are very laid-back and I noticed that Mary was too. “We have travelled to Europe, and simply camped around in Canada,” she told me. “Last year I let my 17-year-old daughter Anita fly to Great Britain, to join this Buddhism event in London. Anita is a self-discovered Buddhist,” which intrigued me very much.

And next to the well-travelled-ness of the family, they were also very musical. The guest bed room I would stay in tonight was full with guitars and a keyboard and when I met Mary’s son Jacob later the day, he was pretty soon playing on his guitar. “I never pushed my children into playing music,” Mary said. “It should be all their choice. But Kern and I like to play music, so they automatically developed their interest in playing music, totally by themselves.” And that’s pretty good.

Mary used to work until her 30th, when she got the first child. “From that point I rather stayed home, than work as a computer programmer.” And more kids followed. “But then you think, what the heck shall I do when I am not at work? And somehow I rolled into the hobby of making dolls.” When Mary showed what kind of dolls she made, it was clear we are not talking about baby dolls or simply stuffed fabric dolls. She has actually become quite professional with her dolls production. What she showed me really amazed me. She makes dolls of clay with detailed reproductions of the human body. In the living room she showed me her Adam and Eve creation. “I once joined a contest with Adam and Eve, but I got zero point on their clothing, so I could never win at the end,” she laughed. However I think that it is quite unique what she makes! Check out her website at for more.

It was later in the afternoon when I met up with the rest of the family. The kids arrived back from school and Kern got back from his work. Kern works as a statistic analyser (if I got that right) and is currently hired by the Canadian Defence Department.

I asked Kern what he thought about the fact that Mary had invited over this Dutch guy through the Internet. “Well, that’s typical Mary.” And Mary told me that she had not told her family about her inviting me. “I only told them once you phoned me last week, because then there suddenly was a good reason to tell them about it.”

I joined the family for dinner. A friend of Anita was joining along too and it seemed very casual to all of them to meet a stranger person in the house. “I think it’s a good thing for children, to meet other people,” Mary later told me, “it gives them the chance to see who else is out there and you share ideas of lives and cultures.”

After dinner I got myself hooked on their high-speed internet connection that runs through the entire house and pretty soon I discovered that everybody was already snoozing away pretty fast. At 9pm the parents were already to bed, Anita was out to a friend and Jacob was creating 3D-animations on his computer.

Mary had already told me that they were very much morning-people, something I had to excuse myself for not honestly being one too. “That’s alright, you can just sleep in tomorrow.” But Mary and Kern actually wake up very early, say around 6am, and after a quick breakfast they go to the sporting centre in town for their exercises. They do this some 4 times a week and the kids happily join in. That was interesting to hear, maybe I should join in on that. At least it would always be good for me to get some exercise.

I finished my writings before heading on to the fold-out couch in the guest room in a sleepy house.

Good night Ottawa!