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Reports

Friday, 18 July 2003
Calgary --> Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

After a little sleep in Tammy picked me up at home as she skipped an hour off work. It was my time to go again and today I would head back north, back to Edmonton. Again.


And fortunately I didn't have to hitchhike! Once again Canadian hospitality can proudly waves its flag as I got a bus ride offered from Sylvia Martin, my ex-hostess in Edmonton! World travellers have a fascinating lifestyle nowadays, that's for sure!

Thanks to Sylvia Martin's sponsoring I could hop on the luxury Red Arrows bus again and cross the 300 km north with a wee bit of an ooh and an aah, because to be totally honest with you: there is not much in between Calgary and Edmonton.

I actually had to traverse back to Edmonton again, as my next train trip from ViaRail is scheduled to depart there tomorrow morning.

In Edmonton I was picked up at the train station by a new Edmonton hostess, Jocelyn Maclean. Jocelyn works at the submissions department of the University of Alberta and it was "nothing" for her to pick me up at the down town bus depot.

She lives in one of the many condominium flats built along the green Edmonton river valley. "Okay this is the thing, Ramon," she said. "I have a hair dresser appointment at 4pm. We are going to have a barbeque at a friend's house tonight and you will be staying at my boyfriend's house."

"That about the boyfriend's house is just because I only live in a one-bedroom apartment and he has more space. So why not stay there, eh?" That sounded all good to me, I am just the guest that has to live along with that.

So to have something to do in the time Jocelyn had her hair being done, she had given me $10 for a stroll around. "Have a coffee or something," she had said. And we decided to meet up again in front of the hair dressers.

That meant I had some time on my own to explore Edmonton on feet, something I had not really done yet. I walked up and down Jasper Avenue, one of the main streets. The sun was shining on top of me amidst a totally blue sky. It's good I have sun screen with me all the time now.

I eventually escaped into the big supermarket Save-On-Foods, mainly because of the air conditioning. It was on a square of drive-through (don't they call it Drive-In's anymore?) fast food chains, one-dollar-shops and small unnecessary souvenir shops. In the supermarket I didn't buy anything, but – as usual – I was enjoying the groceries.

There still is so much on the shelves that amazes me, that I want to touch and study, fruits I want to hold and smell. Back home in The Netherlands there just is not this much in a supermarket, mainly because I guess we don't really need that much in Europe.

I think I browsed through every magazine in the magazines section, something that seemed to be allowed as one lady was copying an entire fitness magazine with the latest train and stretch exercises. With pen and paper!

Up to date again with world's music, gossip, economy and sports I walked back to the hair dresser where I ended up in the park in front of the building. Boy it was really warm, I actually had another cool down in the shade.

When Jocelyn picked me up again, just after 6pm, I couldn't notice much about her hair. "Oh well, yes, I decided not to cut it after all. So it's bleached here and there," and some more lady hair terms were thrown at me, which I never get to comprehend or remember anyway because they are part of the lady's society dictionary.

Had I already told you it was hot? "I really need a beer," Jocelyn told me and she took me along to the Urban Lounge pub in Old Strathcona, where we enjoyed Coronas in the sun. Sometimes afternoon beers can be soooo refreshing!

Next: off to the barbecue at Jocelyn's friends house. I told Jocelyn it felt strange to be with a hostess already but until bedtime I actually won't see the place I am actually staying.

The barbecue was at Joccy's friends Charity's house. Preferrably called Chair (she has that website!) had read about my travels. Her boyfriend and another guy were already grilling the meat on the grill in the back garden.

I enjoyed the hamburger bun for this evening and a few drinks, while talks about my travels were mostly avoided. "I have seen your website," Chair said, "so I won't bore you with all kinds of questions."

Pretty soon the guys left. They had their boys' night card night tonight. And as Joccy has no internet connection at her or her friends house, Chair offered to let me use her cable connection while I was there. I hid myself in the remaining of the day in the cool basement and checked emails and edited photos.

Suddenly relatives of Chair came down and occupied the basement. A couple and their two kids were apparently camping down here for the coming days. "We are from north of Edmonton," the man told me, "and we came down here for a visit to the Klondike Days."

The Klondike Days are something very much similar to the Calgary Stampede, only it's not about cowboys, it's all about the gold miners.

The only unfortunate thing (and I don't think the marketing manager of Edmonton's Klondike Days had ever thought about that) is that cowboys are eternal. As long as there is cattle there will be cowgirls and cowboys. But with gold miners there is a problem.

The real gold mining days are a thing of the past and there are not many real gold miners around. Well, they still exist, but they are rather old. That explains why the Klondike Days will never really appeal to a massive audience as the Calgary Stampede does, because it misses the glamour. It's not about toughness and strength, it's about dirt and darkness of mine down deep mine shafts and who wants to get dressed for that?!

It was around 11pm when we left Chair's place and said goodbye to her new basement guests. On the road again!

It ended up that I was not going to stay at Joccy's boyfriend's house tonight. He had to attend a funeral of a friend earlier today, which explained why I had not seen him yet. I could totally understand he would not be in the mood of spending time with a stranger Jocelyn had picked up from the web and be a host of the night.

So, Joccy finally took me along to her own little apartment. She lives on the 4th floor of an apartment complex and it was one of those buildings build in the same time of the Toronto underground system: it had no elevators. That's okay with me, but I won't carry my backpack anymore since my back troubles after my Australian trip. I just had to bang it up the stairs, by pulling the handle. I guess Joccy's neighbours have heard me. All one hundred of them.

Jocelyn sincerely apologized to me about the state of her apartment. "If I knew you'd be staying here, I would have cleaned up a bit." But that was fine to me. Her place looked like some teenagers had been partying nonstop for the last few days. I actually had a good laugh about it, positively of course. Maybe because I always stay at very cleaned places. Her couch became a fold-out bed after we removed some piles of clothing and stretched it out.

A fan in the living room gave me some fresh breeze, but overall it was pretty hot. As everywhere. As the entire day. I am really not complaining, I just want to give you the same feeling as I had this night, when I slept sweating mooson…

Good night Edmonton!

Ramon