sponsors always were:
During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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 & Partners; Austria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western Hotels; South 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.
ReportsDuring 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.
Wednesday, 30 April 2003
Penobsquis --> Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada How is this for a wake-up call in the peaceful morning in a roadhouse in smalltown Penobsquis: "Ramon, be careful!!! There is a landmine next to your bed!"
I looked up from my pillow, just to find out where somebody put out something that severe that it could blow my legs off, but could not see any metal pins or something. What was going on here?
"Ramon, the puppy might have walked in here a few minutes ago. There is a bit of brown thingy next to your bed, there." I looked down and straight onto this steamy jellylike puppy cake next to my sofa bed. "I feel like a shower," I said and ran to the bathroom.
Well, that's how my day started in sunny Penobsquis. I remember Cynthia saying that I could make myself something to eat for breakfast ("Whatever you can find") in case she wouldn't be there. She had to go to the vet to check out on her other puppy, who is being treated at the animal hospital the last few days. And Doug was somewhere around the house, working on the construction.
I looked in the full fridge and I could not find anything appropriate for breakfast, searched kitchen cabinets without any luck and decided to just take a few toasts of bread to munch on. "Yeah, we aren't really breakfast people," Cynthia apologized later. "But there is a box of cereal right next to the sink."
Why am I that blind in the morning?!
In the store, just a few doors down the house, I met up with Cynthia's mum and the neighbouring lady Cathy again. "Cathy has something for you," her mum said. And she pulled out a pair of white woollen socks and a toque out for me. "For me?" I asked befuddled. "Yes, because we don't often meet a person who came all the way from the other part of the world to have normal talk with us. Let this be a nice souvenir from us in Penobsquis." I was, just like after yesterday's valuable gift, very surprised and pleased.
I had agreed to meet up with my next hostess in the next town around 12.30 in the afternoon, so I had to get packing again. "You are going to Moncton?" Cynthia asked when we was back. "That's down the road, just 45 minutes. I will drop you there." It is amazing how people just regard a 45-minutes-drive as a simply drive down the street. You'd love those folks as much as I am!
I arrived in Moncton right on time. Cynthia unloaded me at the designated meeting point, the Assumption Plaza in the centre of town.
Residents of Moncton are extremely proud of its role in Atlantic Canada as the economic leader of the region, I have heard. But the small city is by no means the largest in the Maritimes (these are all the provinces touching water on the Canadian east coast: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland), but it is multicultural, bilingual and booming with new businesses – they say.
It looks like the downtown area of this old town has recently been spruced up and restaurants and coffee shops fill the modern looking streets.
At 12.35 a car drives by on the other side of the road and all its passengers, three as far as I could see, cheered and screamed at me. Arms were waving out the open windows. A bit embarrassed I looked around me. The chance is really big that my Moncton hostess is in that car; I am not that popular in this country that simple by passers hysterical scream at me.
The car turned around and indeed, inside were Laurie Burns and her friends Chrissy and Lisa, excited to meet up with that internet traveller they heard about. I was welcomed to Moncton and stuffed my belongings in the trunk, before being taken for a ride through the town. I don't often sit in a car with three ladies, all around 20 years old, so consider it as quite amusing.
The girls were discussing where to take me as they were desperate to show me anything interesting in town. It took a while and I heard various options but finally we ended at the Centennial Park at the outskirts of Moncton, surrounded by college sporting fields.
This is where we went for a walk through the winter stripped park, where lots of trees had broken down due the last ice storm a few months ago. There wasn't really a sign of spring yet, but a walk in the fresh air did good to us.
It was Laurie Burns (19) who had invited me after friends from Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) visited their family and told them about my website and travels. Laurie immediately invited me over as she was in Moncton only for this week. She studies in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was over at her parent's house for a week. [/b]"Moncton is a good place to raise a family, but I have seen enough here. Halifax is just… so much more fun." [/b]
After the visit to the park we dropped of Laurie's friend Chrissy at her home as she would have a job interview today. The other friend Lisa came along with me to Laurie's parental home in a suburban of Moncton. Lisa also studies in Halifax.
At their home I was given the antique-looking guest room in the back of the house and in the basement living room of the house I was shown the high-speed internet computer. "I have seen you are far behind in your reports, would you like us to leave you alone for a bit, so you can work up?" I don't hear this often and I seriously had a need to pick my brains and get some latest stories out and was pleased with Laurie's offer. Laurie would drop of Lisa and come back after an hour.
I settled in their basement with my laptop connected on their ADSL-connection and started working myself away. I was left totally alone in their home, what a confidence huh?
Somewhere in the afternoon I met up with Greg, Laurie's 17-year-old brother, who came home from school and when Laurie arrived back home I noticed how much they look alike, don't they?
Laurie's mum is a nurse at the local hospital and her father works at a trucking company and they wouldn't be home early today. And as Laurie did not have any plans to cook herself, she called up some friends to have dinner out today.
With a whole bunch of people in the small car (Laurie, Greg, Chrissy, Lisa and Kathy) I was taken to the Sport Rock restaurant down the strip in Moncton. Tonight it was wing's night so the chicken wings were on special. We all ordered a basket full of chicken wings and of course I was the one taking the hot wings, which were really hot!
So what do young college students do in their spare time? Indeed, they go to and wander around at the mall. And that is what I simply joined into. Chrissy was looking for some new shoes and all the other ladies loved to try all kinds of different clothing in a funky clothing store. "All these choices!" I heard one of them complain. Yes, life is hard when you are young.
We all decided to rent a movie for the night and after a visit to the video store we ended up in the basement living room with the movie "Iglby Goes Down".
In the meantime of the movie, I quickly met up with Laurie's father and her mother. Her mum was pretty tired of working and left us all alone to watch the movie and the father was sitting in the next door room watching the hockey playoffs on another television.
The movie was a coming-of-age movie about this low-down kid and his successful brother. Her mum was a difficult to handle alcoholic and his stepfather had other girlfriends. You can understand the tagline "insanity is relative" by now. But I couldn't figure out how much this movie looked alike the book The Catcher in the Reye, like the DVD-cover said. At the end the kid and his brother help their mum with saying goodbye to life and the kid finally comes to the right sense to just leave the place and head for California for a better life.
When the movie was finished all sleepy faces said goodbye and Laurie and I headed to our beds too. Tomorrow I have to jump to another island again and I definitely had to mentally prepare for that. "Hey Ramon," Laurie said, "you can sleep in tomorrow morning."
Good night Moncton!