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

Friday, 25 April 2003
Fredericton --> Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

After two days in Fredericton I had to go again. My next hostesses in my next town Saint John, at the south coast of the New Brunswick province, told me on the phone they would easily pick me up in Fredericton. Really? That's cool!


"We actually have to get out of the house. We are having certain things reconstructed, so there are people walking in and out all the time," Sarah Tippett explained to me. We set a time and we would meet up around 2.30pm at the bookstore of the local Fredericton mall.

I packed my bags and said thanks and goodbye to Hayley somewhere after noon. Emaly could to drive me to this mall and at that bookshop I once again was astounded by the amount of books a big commercial store has. It's just overwhelming! I can't take that much books!

I should be very happy for not having any money in my pockets, because my home in the Netherlands would be too big and I'll have to start another website to pay off my debts!

My next hostesses found me browsing around in the travel books section. "Hey, that must be him," I heard Melanie say. As these really big commercial book stores in have a Starbucks coffee shop inside of them, I was taken along for a cup of latte with cinnamon.

In the car to Saint John Melanie and Sarah told me it was absolutely no problem to pick us up. And while we were listening to various radio stations, Sarah told me how she once got to know about me. "It was a few years ago when I heard you on the CBC Radio, you were in Vancouver at that moment. I had invited you when I lived in Rothesay, a suburb of Saint John, then another two times in Saint John it selves. I have been moving around a bit," she explained.

Sarah is a science student at the University of Saint John. She hopes to graduate as a doctor in a few years. Melanie is the working lady of their sharehouse. She sells timeshares for a travel company in town.

Saint John, that's what the white lettered sign on the hill – just like Hollywood! – said when we arrived in this small city, known for the stinky paper and pulp mill owned by the Irving Company. In return for the smell this big company spread over the city, that company created this patch of green along the coast and called it a Nature Park.

"We have a lot of dead people too," said Melanie when I was given a fast tour around Saint John. On both sides of the car I saw endless cemeteries, mostly with graves of early British Loyalists who came over after America's war of Independence.

One of the first Loyalists who arrived here in 1783 was not very impressed by her new country, she recorded it was "the roughest land I ever saw… such a feeling of loneliness came over me that I sat down on the damp moss with my baby in my lap and cried."

I actually saw a confusing mishmash of industrial and residential zones spread over the bluffs, valleys and plateaus where the high Saint John River twists and turns its way into the Bay of Fundy.

The downtown area, where my hostesses live, is squeezed onto a peninsula immediately east of the river mouth – a surprisingly compact centre for a city of 130,000 people with the focus firmly on the short drag, King Street. In 1877 a fire wiped out most of thee town, but as a major shipbuilding centre Saint John was sufficiently wealthy to withstand the costs of immediate reconstruction. Most of the remaining buildings, from before the fire, are in a late Victorian style.

Saint John is also known for the Reversing Falls Rapids. Where the Saint John River ends in the Bay of Fundy, the high tide create the weird and wonderful effect of all the water going back inland again.

At my hostesses basement home I was given Sarah's bedroom. "I will be sleeping on the couch tonight," she informed. "You have seen enough couches lately, haven't you?" Great! Thanks.

And I had to see the new bathroom that was totally finished today. It had a new floor, very very blue walls and a colourful new curtain. "Cool place huh?" Melanie said.

Sarah told me she has been following my website 'religiously'.
"That's okay," I said, "as long as you don't see me as a God."
"Oh, Lord, no," she answered.

Melanie's mum was also staying over for a few nights as they have to attend a something strange like a wedding shower or something tomorrow.

"We love movies," Sarah told me when I looked at this wall of VHS-tapes and DVD-discs. Varying from Disney flicks ("We have family kids over once in a while," Melanie had a good excuse there), to the latest movies from the box office. "We have seen most of it already six times," Sarah said, "but if you want to see something just turn it on."

The ladies had noticed from me refusing beer tonight (sorry, I just can't take it every night) that tonight wouldn't be a party night. If tonight would be a homely night in, they would take me out in Saint John tomorrow night. "You have to see my favourite pub O'Leary!" Sarah said.

We ended up watching the comical cult movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, about this traditional Greek family living in the American city Chicago where one of the daughters falls in love with a non-Greek man. And this stirs up the heart of the father and many things have to be arranged to get the couple to stay together anyway. Pretty funny!

During the movie various friends of Melanie and Sarah came over, they sat down and drank their beers in a way that made me guess that they were here every night. I would too, with that video collection. ;-)

Good night Saint John!

Ramon.