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Reports

Wednesday, 11 June 2003
--> London, Ontario, Canada (day 2)

As I wrote yesterday, my London hostess Kelly Anderson had to leave to her work at the General Motors factory very early in the morning. But she had told me that I could stay another day in London as I had to catch up in writings and had to figure out which places in Ontario I would be visiting this week too.
Hey, Ramon, where are all the photos?
My camera records its photos on standard 3" floppy disks and after photos are taken, I only have to insert these disks into my laptop and copy them to my drive for further processing. Well guess what: today's disk decided to quit on me. I can still see the thumbnails on my camera, but the original picture-files seem to be corrupted.

Sometimes that is the only way to discover if a disk's life is at its end. Today's and tomorrow's photos included one I could recover, but you will miss out the photos of London city, the covered market where I had lunch, a visit to the children festival in the Victoria Park (great photos with a big fluffy beer and me fighting with cotton candy) some shots of the University in London, and not to mention all what happened the next day.

Too bad, hey? It's no big deal to me, more photos tomorrow, from another disk…


If you have ever seen the list of places to stay in Canada and than look at the big list below Ontario, you would be amazed by the amount of people that have invited me here. But unfortunately for me, it's not always like the smell of roses.

Since a month I have been sending all the people that are on my personal potential-places-to-stay-very-soon-list an email. In this email I not only ask if their invitation still stands, but also once again explain what I am exactly doing and inserting the most frequently asked questions and answers that I used to get on a daily basis.

I also sincerely state that I do not wish to be the main subject of the day when I stay with hosts, because it takes away all my reasons to travel as it gets hard to get to know the people I stay with (if they are only very fascinated and interested in meeting me).

I am just being honest. I have a life too.

Since I have started sending out these emails, only those who reply to those emails get on the list of places-I-really-might-be-staying. All others don't get on this list if they don't let me know if they are still alive.

Some emails immediately bounced back with an error telling me the address did not exist anymore. And this way a lot of dots on my map of Ontario disappeared.

Maybe people got scared or didn't know what to do with me now, as they only invited me because they once saw me on TV.

If people don't reply that email, I can make my conclusions. They are not on the internet and therefore unable to follow any progress of my travels, or least to say: read only the front page of my website which answers most of the questions people love to ask me.

It's not that I only want to stay with people who really follow my travels too, but I have too many times (looking back to the last three months) stayed with people that did not know I was from The Netherlands, how I got the idea to travel this way, or that I even publish reports and photos on a website.

And since I have been sending out this email, I enjoyed my days with these hosts very much as it was that they already me and I was instantly included in their everyday lives. And that's what letmestayforaday.com should be all about.

And so I skip certain places.... This is what I receive in return from various people I finally did not stay at...
Subject: Thanks for nothing Ramon!
I have been watching your global trek since the beginning and only when I realized that you were in Canada did I extend an invitation. No response to my to my invitation...oh well best of luck my friend I'm sure that you do not need me or any of your newly acquainted friends to justify your travels as wealth and riches are just around the corner. Enjoy, as so many have put themselves out there for you and only you... do you really realize what you have stirred in others or are you still so caught up in the smaller ideals of what you have come to symbolize that those smaller then you have fallen by the wayside?
Good luck Ramon.

Is it really that hard to understand I can't EVER stay with everybody that invites me over? If you want to comment on this, you can do that on the forum, right here.

My response to people like this (I got more inspiring emails like this): tomorrow there will indeed be nothing.



Back to this Wednesday again. I had myself some breakfast with whatever I found in Kelly's fridge (as she told me to look around) and sat down with my laptop in her living room. She returned from work around 12.30 and she was very jealous that I got to sleep in today. Hehe.

Last night's movie took some time off her sleeping so the first thing she did was have a little power nap to be awake again for the rest of the day. I was fine with that and typed away on my digital typewriter.

The National Post article did not only deliver me an amazing amount of visitors yesterday (just over 100,000 on one day!) but also lots of other media requests. Radio stations want to speak me, live on their show, magazines request an interview and even television programmes send me their invitations to be on their show. I am not doing much with it, because it is not always that necessary.

And yes, what's quoted in the National Post is true: I turned down an invitation to be a guest on Jay Leno's Tonight Show last month. Just because I am in Canada right now and can't really use the mass attention such a show would give me.

Don't get me wrong, I am very honored.

After her nap, Kelly suggested to show me around London for a bit and have some lunch in town. And as she does not like to drive, she let me drive her luxurious Volkswagen! "I hate driving, I rather be a passenger. I talk too much to be a good driver," she told me and suddenly I felt pretty safe behind the wheel myself.

We parked the car in the garage underneath the Covent Market in the old downtown area of London and had a walk around there. It was cool to see so many little stalls with fruits and vegetables and they are for once not part of one big superstore where its employees don't know what the heck they are selling.

After a lunch bite of shawarma (strange, in the countries it originates from they all say shoarma, who spelled it wrong when coming to this continent?!) we drove towards the new downtown area of town and we passed the Victoria Park where a children festival was going on. We had a stroll down along the tents where kids were entertained, played around with toys, water or clay and got informed by a real police and fire men. In the meantime Kelly and I were fighting with a giant cotton candy, which after all should not had to be the biggest one we could buy… Oh my stomach!

I drove another bit through London and we ended up at the campus of the University of Western Ontario, one of the top 10 research, oldest and best universities in Canada with some 30,000 students. I was very amazed by the campus' historical architecture, as I am from a country where nobody seems to care from what kind of straight concrete they build modern day universities.

In the evening Kelly took me along to the Caribbean restaurant Jambalaya on Richmond Street with her friend Millie. With an utmost friendly man in a Hawaiian shirt serving us tropical cocktails on the outside patio in the sun this place is a real recommendation. It made me yearn for a tour through Central America!

The night ended not much later after another few cocktails ("Hey Ramon, you have to try this!" I heard my hostess and her friend say) at the Barking Frog, an upmarket pub across the street.

We actually fled this place halfway the second cocktail because we could not talk anymore. There was a man playing on his guitar and singing through a microphone and it was not that he played too loud, but more that he should be jailed for playing in front of an audience. With goose bumps on our back and our hair up straight we had to suffer while listening to that guy (he should be happy that I forgot his name) who sang a beautiful David Gray song with the most despondent voice I have ever heard.

Back home Kelly went to bed early tonight. She apologized for it but she was very tired of the whole day and already had a very hurried morning at work too. Well okay, I would take the couch tonight and she could sleep in her own bed. "That's good, that way you can watch that other DVD we got last night, if you want." And that's what I did after I settled myself on the couch, with a beer, that cotton candy we bought earlier today (so you can imagine it was pretty much) and the remote control for the DVD player.

Good night London!

Ramon.