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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

Monday, 21 April 2003
Quebec City --> Rimouski, Quebec, Canada

Lucie Bruneau fed me some toasts with cheese and pate for breakfast and packed me some fruits for on the road. Today I was leaving Quebec City and I had quite a trip to make.



I had to head out east and would be hitchhiking again. It's been a long time since I have put out my thumb along the road!

To start hitchhiking I had to be at least out of the city limits and Lucie offered to take me for a ride to the other side of the St-Lawrence River. Quebec City is north of this river and from this point on the river gets wider and wider and finally becomes the Gulf of St-Lawrence. I had to get over the bridge to be ready with my thumb.

Fortunately Lucie didn't mind a drive and she didn't only take me over the river, she even dropped me off all the way in Lévis, the town that you look out from Quebec City, but on the other side of the river.

In the car to Lévis, Lucie told me she wants to leave Canada. "I have enough of it," she said. "There is nothing here I have to stay for. Every night I dream about this house I want in the mountains of Brazil. I might just leave tomorrow, you know."

I thanked her for her help and with my new sign saying 'Rimouski please' I stood along the road. Just one minute after Lucie had wished me a lot of luck, a lady pulled over. Her name is Marie-José and she was on her way from Quebec to Rimouski after visiting family for Easter last weekend. In the back her two young daughters were snoozing away.

I am so awfully lucky!

Marie-José apologized for being quiet, after such a hectic weekend with the entire family she wasn't feeling very talkative. That was all right to me; I could just sit back and enjoy the surroundings.

It was a 3-hours trip through the cleared farmlands and rolling highlands. The mor north-east we drove, the more flakes of snow I saw along the road. Probably it's a bit colder on the Gaspé Peninsula. This peninsula starts somewhere east of Rimouski. At my left the St-Lawrence River got wider until the other side slowly disappeared off the horizon.

I arrived in Rimouski just after 4pm, when Marie-José dropped me off at the Brűlerie d'Ici, which was an acknowledged coffee shop in the centre of town. This is where I let my host in this town know I had arrived on his pager, as he would pick me up when I would hit town.

Martin and Valérie welcomed me to Rimouski when I met up with them. Martin even spoke a few words in Dutch to me! I put my stuff in the trunk of their car to go for a walk around the town.

Rimouski appears quite unattractive, thanks to a fire that destroyed one-third of the buildings from the river to midtown in 1950, forcing the city to rebuild in 1960s strip-mall style.

Martin tells me all about this place as we walk along the coastal boulevard. "And our church you see there is sold. It's now a museum. And last year it was a big media thing: we had a referendum in town about building a new theatre in town."

But next to that, nothing much else seems to happen in this sleepy town. So what do Martin and Valérie do?

Martin works at Telus Quebec, for the internet service provider Globbetrotter. "I mostly work on mailservers and anti-spam software."

The couple is francophone and only Martin could speak some broken English, he was my interpreter to Valérie. "Valérie is a technical engineer," I understood.

In the past Martin has worked on camping grounds in the south of France. In the summer time this is where a lot of Dutch people escape to with their caravans and camping gear. And that's how he learned some Dutch words. "I can count to ten!" he proudly announced and then counted from one to ten in German.
"Excusez-moi, Martin, but that's German."
"Oh… really?"

Martin had heard about my project a "very long time ago. I followed you for quite a few months when you were travelling in Europe and then I somehow lost contact." Martin had invited me a few years ago and he only noticed I was in Canada when I called him last week.

The couple lives south of Rimouski. "We rather have some space around the house, than to be cramped into small city blocks," Martin explained. At their wooden house on a remote road the dog Pablo welcomes me in.

While enjoying a micro brewed apple beer we relaxed a bit on the couch and Martin asked me about how long I was in Canada so far and to which other countries I had been so far. It's all mentioned on the front page of the website, but I always stay polite and answer these same questions every day.

Sometimes this is a pain, because it only takes me energy. I am being sucked empty. But I can't ask every host to follow me around and read all the Q&A's on the website, could I?

For dinner Valérie had prepared fajitas. While doing the how-much-fujita-can-I-stuff-into-my-mouth game I tried to interview Martin on video with my digital camera.
Almost, ever had pieces of fajitas in your face?

After dinner Martin tells me about his apparently favourite sport in the winter times. It's called 'telemark' and I had never heard of it! He showed me a video on his computer and it became clear to me that this was a rare sort of acrobatic down-hill skiing, where the skiing goes through his knees every corner.

I had seen this before, but always thought it was a joke instead of a real sport. Sorry Martin.

Valérie had worked most of this Monday and was a bit tired. "Monday is not a night many things happen in town," Martin apologized. "How about renting a movie for tonight?" That sounded like a good idea to me.

I like movies, especially because I just about no time to read books. And it keeps the mind off what I do every day. It's my escape to another world.

At the video store downtown we ended up with renting Road to Perdition, a movie I had heard about before and it starred Tom Hanks, so it couldn't be that bad at all.

I can almost compare this movie with the long and dreary A Perfect World, starring Kevin Costner who kidnaps this little kid on his escape from prison. However he and the kid become best friends, the escape is still a dangerous and wanted man by the police force.

In Road to Perdition Tom Hanks plays a 'cleaner' for a big mob-man in the 1920s. But his brother gets jealous on how Hanks is always being the favourite cleaner and therefore cleans Hanks' entire family, except one son. Together he and his son escape to Perdition, where their aunt lives.

It's a long road movie, and with good dialogues that teach about confidence and family bonds, it ends up in a movie where I predicted the latest outcry by the kid: "However, he was my father." This made the entire story break its bubble. The idea was good, but Kevin Costner was first.

Good night Rimouski!

Ramon.