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Reports

Monday, 26 May 2003
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland -> Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia, Canada

This morning I woke up and found Mary in the downstairs living room area, playing cards with Lesley. Lesley is called the worker at the house, or the care taker of the place and Mary when Lorraine is busy working in her basement office.


Lesley has known Mary since she was a little girl herself. She is currently studying pharmaceutics in St Johns.

Lesley prepared me a sandwich for 'in the air' later today, as I am going to leave Newfoundland this afternoon. After some cereal for breakfast I joined them at the kitchen table with my laptop. I had to make some preparations for later and answer a load of emails before I packed my stuff together and get ready for departure.

Lorraine was very busy with her work but came up every once in a while to make sure I was alright.

She had to eventually head up to the real office in St John's and Lesley and Mary would drop me off at the St Johns International Airport around 1.30 pm. I thanked Lorraine for letting me stay the last few days and for taking that good care of me.

I had a good chance to crank up my vitamins level with all the fruit bowls and smoothies she had made for me in the last few days.

At the airport I hugged goodbye to Mary who told me that she was going to miss me. "I will put your photo in a frame in my bedroom," she said and she would dedicate a song to me tonight, as she always dedicates one song to somebody every night. "What song are you going to play?" I asked her.
"Barbie Girl from Aqua, because I really like that song," she said. I thought that was really sweet of her.

I checked in at the desk of Canjet where I received my boarding pass for Flight 161 to Halifax, Nova Scotia, by simply giving my name and showing my passport. As I wrote before, this ticket was provided to me by a big fan from Ontario who loved to help me out in getting off The Rock. I am very thankful to this person!

As I had to wait a few hours for the departure of my flight (for security reasons they said, but I couldn't believe that because half the personnel at this airport is on strike outside the terminals), my ex-hosts Karl and Sherri came to spend my last few hours in Newfoundland with me.

I joke that they were here to verify that I was really leaving this island.

"We didn't have much to do, so we decided to wave you goodbye," Karl explained and he bought us a coffee and a donut at the Tim Hortons at the airport.

Karl is still busy working out his reports about my few days with him. As I wrote, he has been following me from my early start of travels and was very thrilled to have me over for that while. I am curious what he will be writing on his own weblog about me.

When it was about to get boarding time I said a final goodbye to them and got through the security controls. Once again, everything was checked out: my laptop, my camera, my bags… They even wanted me to open up my cell phone!

At 4.20 pm I boarded the small Boeing 737-200 from Canjet that was going to take me to Halifax. It was busy on board, I had not really expected that.

And it was so foggy at the airport that I almost started to wonder if this flight would not be cancelled or at least delayed. But after the take-off the plane flew through the thin layer of fog and suddenly it was all sunny above that!

After some finger counting I can conclude that this is my sixth local flight in Canada! (1. Yellowknife – Kugluktuk, 2. Kugluktuk – Yellowknife, 3. Yellowknife – Ranklin Inlet, 4. Ranklin Inlet – Iqaluit, 5. Iqaluit – Ottawa). Which world traveller with a website would ever expect that?!

But it sure wasn't the best flight I have experienced so far. From take-off until just before the landing it was quite a bumpy flight. There were no drinks served and everybody had to stay seated with the seatbelts connected as the turbulence was just enormous. You would not be able to hold that cup of coffee if you had one. The person next to me threw away his book as he could not read the words any more.

Strangely enough I did manage to close my eyes for a bit. I was wakened when the announcement about the landing was made.

And there I was back in Nova Scotia again. I had to adjust my clocks to the local time zone again, because Newfoundland is at the rare plus 3,5 hrs GMT while Nova Scotia is at plus 3 hrs GMT.

When I got out the terminals to collect my luggage, it were Bob and Lorna (both 57) who already awaited me their with their photo camera. They live only 45 minutes driving from the Halifax airport and we happy to pick me up after arrival. I got my luggage and stuffed it into their car.

I was welcomed back by these friendly folks and they immediately told me about their link with Holland. Last year they had an elderly and ill Dutch man staying with them and after his death at their house they have stayed in close contact with his family in Holland and Australia.

Lorna told me how she had seen me on Vicki Gabereau's talk show on CTV and after showing my website to Bob they decided to extend their invitation.

For dinner they gave me the option to eat out at their favourite place near where they live or to eat something at their home. This time I went for that favourite place of theirs and we had a few bites to eat at the Wranglers Roadhouse along the route.

My two hosts live in Glen Margaret, which is a small community along the south shores of Nova Scotia. This area consists out of so many bays and inlets that I myself would get lost without a proper map. And around every corner there would be another small community and they even are not all mentioned on my own map!

Bob and Lorna are both retired. Bob used to be into the sales of electrical supplies and Lorna used to be a nurse. They met up when they both just divorced from their previous marriages and decided to live together in a very old house in lush green Glen Margeret.

The house they live in dates back to the 19th century and that is for Canadian standards very unique. I was given the big bedroom upstairs on the second floor as Bob and Lorna had their master bedroom on the first floor.

They have a very old German Sheppard dog named Victor and before entry in the house they warned me that he will be barking for a long time, "until he is used to you."

Well, you should have seen the faces of my hosts when I entered the house, said a few words and have the dog sniff me. Five minutes later we were playing ball in the living room! "I guess you made a friend there." And that's just how I did it, I treated the dog as a friend.

Bob helped me to connect my laptop to their Eastlink-cable connection and then made coffee for me as he would have beer himself.

What I got to know at this point already, was the fact that Bob smoked as a chimney. When he would take to me he had to cough at least a few seconds before finishing what he wanted to say. It made me worried about this, because it just did not sound healthy, not for a 57-year-old man. Lorna quit smoking a few years ago and never touched a cigarette ever again. But she can't help Bob, he just keeps on lighting those sticks.

But in the meantime he explained me more about this older Dutch man who stayed at their house last year. The man had moved to Canada in 1953 and wanted to move from Ontario to this region, but had a hard time finding the right place. He was already 85 and had severe throat cancer. When he had a hard time finding a house, Lorna and Bob told him he could easily live in with them and they gave them their first floor bed room.

But his health conditions got worse and worse and it was after four months with Lorna and Bob that he watched his favourite hockey team win an important game, headed to the bathroom and decided to have a good life sleep.

Bob told me the whole story and I noticed he got very emotional about this.

"He was a good man and while he was with us some relatives of him from Holland came over. They were extremely nice people!" Lorna told me.

But then, after his death, the problems started. Bob was pointed out as the person who had to execute his will and the old man had written down that all his belongings would be shared to his three brothers and their families. "That sounded easy, because it would be 33% for every brother he had," Bob said.

"But the hell broke loose when members of the family discovered that the old man had given his entire stamp collection to one of the kids of one brother. Of course, a life time collection is worth quite a load of money! But I would never have expected that all those family members to turn their backs on each other because they were missing out on that stamp collection."

And again Bob got very emotional. He could not believe that this fascinating friendly family in The Netherlands is so broken up because of a darn will! "If the old man had seen this coming, he would just have burned his entire stamp collection!" I could understand this point. "Man, he would be turning and turning around in his grave if he knew about this mess."

With another cup of coffee in the living room, with the television on on some Oprah Winfrey show, Bob told me about the serious big disaster that happened in this neighbourhood just a few years ago.

It was on September 2 in 1998 when Swissair Flight 111 plunged into the cold ocean water outside Peggy's Cove, just 10 minutes up the road from Glen Margaret.

The story goes that a technical error in the entertainment system caused a fire in the cockpit. "Can you imagine sitting in a plane and see the captain and pilot leave the cockpit because of a fire?" Bob asked.

"They knew they could not do much and they dumped their fuel over land, just around this place. And I remember it pretty good that I was sitting behind the computer, and Lorna had gone to bed, that I heard this small boom at 10.30 at night."

The plane had fallen from the sky and hit the water. "The story goes that the tail must still have been out of the water when the nose of the plane touched the bottom of the shallow water with an enormous pressure."

All 230 passengers and crew on this flight died instantly. Bob told me, once again getting very emotional, about how the fishermen got out there the first and the traumas they have left from that. "You don't want to know what they all found there, you just don't want to know."

"And all the communities around Peggy's Cove got together and everybody was helping everybody. Those who had to clean the water because of the remains of people, luggage and plane parts got free food and drinks for months from the locals. Trucks came from all over the country with free food and supplies."

It was very understandable and very impressive to hear what this area has gone through after this disaster. "Some people said they would never eat any more lobster that is caught in this water," Lorna said.

After the crash two Swissair Flight 111 Memorial sites were built. One near Peggy's Cove and one other one at the other side of this bay. Together they point at the exact spot in the water where so many people lost their lives. Bob: "I will take you there, if you want to see it." And I was aware of his if, because it will either for him and maybe for me be an emotional experience. I had already figured that out.

I think it still is a big emotional issue for all those people living in this area. I just can't really comprehend the enormous impact this disaster has had to their normal day lives.

"Nowadays lots of kids from around here have exchange programs with schools in Switzerland. They stay with the people who lost their relatives and friends through this crash. And one man from Switzerland lost his only daughter and came over to say a final goodbye to here. He liked this place that much that he decided to settle her and open up a restaurant to honour his daughter."

I headed to bed not much later this night with these impressive stories about his house and this area in my head. I am staying another night with Bob and Lorna tomorrow as they would be disappointed if I would leave in the morning already, without seeing anything of the beautiful surroundings.

Good night Glen Margaret!

Ramon