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.
Saturday, 24 May 2003
St Johns --> Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada This morning Sherri had to leave for work early and I woke up when Allison appeared at the house and the entire place smelled like fish. I almost worried about the contents of my bag. What would my next hosts all think!
As a special kind of breakfast happening, Karl was busy in the kitchen with fresh salty fish, going for something they call fish and brewis on this rocky island. It's made with original hard bread (really hard!) and lots of fish.
Oh you won't believe how everything smelled like fish this morning!!!
And bar-friend Allison had invited herself over this morning as she had never had fish and brewis herself and loved to give it a try. I tried it too.
And I was sorry. I couldn't get it through my throat. It made really strange mushy sounds when I touched it. It smelled really too fishy and the idea of putting molasses on it, really ruined my morning appetite. Sorry, Karl!
I am normally not picky about food that fast, but it might have been the wrong thing at the wrong time of the day with the wrong attitude because of the fishy scent everywhere.
Boy, did I love that peanut butter sandwich I made next!
Today I had to get moving again too. I had a really really wonderful stay-for-a-few-days with Karl and Sherry, but I still have ONE other invitation in Newfoundland.
One friend of Karl, Mike, is a cab driver in town and he had seen my website and was very impressed. He offered to give me a free drive from St John's to my next destination, the neighboring town of Mount Pearl.
I said goodbye to Karl and Sherri and got in the taxi. Mike told me that he was running for candidate in the liberal party of Newfoundland and that made him the first cab driver I ever met with political ambitions!
He called Mount Pearl the bedroom community on the outskirts of St Johns. "The people who live here work in St Johns every day and come back here in the end of the day. Nothing else really happens here." And that's how it certainly looked like.
There was nothing older than 15 years and most of the villas I saw here were at least worth $400,000. And it was very quiet. Like a ghost town. Lawns were green, parking garages had the cars and vans parked in front of them and I expected sprinkler to turn on any minute. With the blue sky I almost thought I had ended up in The Truman Show.
But my next hosts live here, so I should be a bit nicer about their neighborhood. I thanked Mike for his support and rang the bell at the right address.
I am staying with Lorraine and Mary Hicks in Mount Pearl. They also live in a really big wooden house. A stairway curls up to the bedrooms on the second floor and I saw a grand piano in one side room. The table in the dining room was full with paperwork and boxes.
"I have been very busy lately," Lorraine told me. She works at a big accountant firm in St Johns. "I do most of my work at home. With some personal things going on in the family, which was a good thing to do."
Lorraine lives together with her "baby sister" Mary, who has down syndrome and since their parents deceased a few years ago, Lorraine is the main caretaker of Mary.
Mary and I could immediately get along very well. She was very excited to finally meet me. "I think you are cute," she said open-hearted.
Lorraine had heard about me through Vicky Gaberaux' talk show some ten weeks ago. "I have back problems and I was lying on the floor and I could not get up. I could not even change the channels on the television!"
And then she saw me.
"And then the interview with you showed up. I saw you and thought: what a great idea!" She invited me over through my website but had not seen it since then.
"With my back problems I can't sit down behind a computer very long anymore."
So of course this resulted in me answering all kinds of questions about my travels, about Canada, about my home country, about my favorite country, the worst places, and etcetera. I answered every question politely while I drunk a fruitful smoothie she made earlier today.
"Why are you taking all these photos, Ramon?" she asked.
"I take photos wherever I go," I told Lorraine.
"You don't put them on your website, do you?"
"Yes, I do that everyday, that's part of my internet project."
"Oh, please Ramon, I look terrible in my clothes today!"
I told her the whole deal about my website and about the big community of followers I have that like to see where and with who I am staying everyday. "Sharing my stories and photos is what I do in return for staying at peoples places.
"I didn't know that!" she said.
"Well, it's on the website," I laughed.
With Lorraine being used to be the caretaker of Mary for the last ten years, I was getting very spoiled. Whenever I had something to eat or drink, she'd ask I needed something else or another drink, to make sure I was alright. After confirming that I was alright, she told me she could not help it.
"I am used to taking care of Mary and not really to strangers visiting my house, like you do. Are you sure you don't want another drink?"
"No thank you, Lorraine, my cup of coffee is still full."
Mary has down syndrome but she still is a very clever lady. Most of the times Lorraine would translate what she was saying to me - even when I could understand Mary's talking.
Mary loves sport and she will be swimming at the Special Olympics in Stephenville this month. "I have won many gold medals the last years I played along," she proudly told me. She also loves music and when I played some dance music from my laptop, she immediately started to swing in the kitchen. "Cool!" she said.
She asked me if I liked Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez and more of these singing puppets, because she really loves them. And she secretly has a crush on the lead singer of the Newfoundland band Great Big Sea.
After I had a little power nap in the end of the afternoon I joined the family for a bowl of very good turkey soup and we watched some television for a while afterwards.
"I put a lot of my time in my work and I find watching television at night very relaxing," Lorraine told me. When the folks headed to bed I installed myself behind my laptop for some late night work.
Earlier this week I wrote I was possibly stuck on the island as Lorraine was the one who sponsored me on the ferry to Newfoundland and the bus company threw in a free seat on their bus to Whitbourne. I coudn't simply expect both of them to do the same thing again and wrote about this.
"No worries, Ramon!" a man (who wishes to stay anonymous) from Ontario emailed me. "Let me pay you a ticket for you so you can fly from St John's to Halifax!"
I was astounded! How many people would just email me and tell me they'll pull their credit card to get me off a big rocky island?!
Together we arranged I would leave the island on Monday. Therefore I had to arrange some latest things with some new hosts in Nova Scotia and see how I would continue my travels down there again. Should I get on that sponsored VIA Rail train towards Ontario already?
Good night Mount Pearl!