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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,, 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:; 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,, 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,, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Sunday, 13 April 2003
Longueuil --> Montreal, Quebec, Canada

I woke up around 10am this Sunday morning and found the just awaken Jean-Francois and Joya in the kitchen. Joya was preparing coffee for all of us and J.F. was working on dough for pancakes.
J.F. had to work a night shift tonight and Joya had to study. "My job is paying me to finish my study," she told me.

But before I would head to my next place to stay for today, the loved to show me around Longueuil a bit. The town was started in the 17th century and really started to blossom in the 19th century. It took a while, but I have found this website that tells the interesting history of Longueuil throughout the last four centuries.

We had a walk around through the small streets of Longueuil where I had to honestly giggle a bit to see the beautiful historic houses in town. Just because the house I live in The Netherlands is just a few decades older, hehe.

We ended up at the shore of the St Lawrence River, where blocks of ice were being pulled apart by the stream of the river. As two little kids J.F. and I tried to sink floats of ice by throwing enough rocks on them. You can imagine Joya shaking her head to us…

Around 2pm Jean-Francois took me to my next place to stay, which was at the Eastside of Montreal. He dropped me off at the right address and he was even invited inside my next hosts' house for a drink.

This is where I met up with Louisane ("Loulou") LeBlanc and her roommate Hubert. Pretty soon we were drinking glasses of water and talking about travels and places and people.

Loulou is working at the Heritage Canadien and is the coordinator of the direction of communication (as translated from French). She explained me what she was doing, but it still was hard to understand. Hubert studies anthropology at the Montreal University (French; the McGill University is English). One again I was staying with francophones whose second language was also English so sometimes it was kind of difficult to understand each other 100%.

And again I stayed at a place that was painted colourful and French music was playing on the background. Loulou and Hubert live in the eastside of the city centre, but everything is on walking distance.

One thing I immediately noticed on Loulou was her right hand. Or actually the lack of a right hand. And as I don't like to talk around people's physical disabilities and stare at things when nobody watches, I asked her what happened with her hand.

Loulou told me the story of her life. When she was fifteen years old, the doctor discovered she was in a late stage of meningitis. Meningitis is a terrible disease that clogs blood vessels and makes organs to die. "All the most external body parts were dying first, like fingers and toes," she told me. "I lost my both my feet and my right arm eventually." But I noticed she could still walk around and have a normal life. "Yes I can walk and I can work." She smiled with happiness.

In the end of the afternoon Hubert became the kitchen chef for today. He was busy cutting lettuce and preparing tonight's recipe. "Ramon we are going to treat you the very Canadian thing. This is called Chinese Pie; it's basically what we fed the Chinese people who worked on the railroads. It was a horrible time for them." And that was my prospect on the pie I had.

One of Lou Lou's friends, Marie Elaine, had joined us for dinner and I must say that the Sheppard's Pie wasn't that bad at all.

After dinner Hubert called to a bar in town to see if there was anything interesting going on. "There is an Italian singer at the Sofa Bar" he announced. Tonight I was taken along to this bar known for all its soft sofas, where I was treated with Hoegaarden white beers and cognac cigars. Yes, I am getting spoiled.

I enjoyed it pretty much to hang out with my hosts and Marie Elaine and I loved the Italian singer Marco Calliari who sang beautiful Italian ballads and played on his guitar, assisted by an accordionist and a trumpeteer.

Good night Montreal!