Friday April 10, 2015
Today Michael has sent his first e-mail from Canada with a few pictures from the trip.
On the picture below you can see what he should take along. The most important piece of luggage is packed in the large carton box: 'the bicycle'.
The day started for Michael as follows: "Today is the day, it's all exciting. TV channel SBS6' program 'Heart of Holland' was this morning at last not present at our breakfast for making an interesting item. That I didn't want to, because the tension of my departure for my family is already heavy enough.
There I stood at Schiphol airport with my wife Ellen, my youngest son Toss and the luggage in doubt if this really was the right thing for me to do. Why do I do this to my wife and children? It stroke me heavier than I expected. The wealth I actually do have. Why leave all this behind?
After checking in, dropping off my luggage and delivering my bike at the special luggage department I was promised that I was not to carry my stuff anymore until arriving in St.John’s. I am curious...
We are walking back to the point where we finally have to say goodbye. I succeed in holding back my tears. Regrets? No, but the fear to hurt the ones I love so dearly.
I walk through Customs where all my hand luggage is unpacked and checked. Everything is in order and one is interested in my trip. Just arriving at the gate I see that my carton bike box is standing next to the plane, so I quickly make a picture!
In the plane I find a perfect, beautiful place next to a nice guy, that gets up to offer me the seat at the window. 'Are you the one that's gonna cycle Canada?' How come he knows that? It turns out that the man who works at Icelandair was told that I would come and that there would be some filming. Coincidental encounter? Maybe, but he is on its way to his family in Iceland and later on he will emigrate to the Netherlands! A particularly interesting conversation of 3 hours follows!
After a quiet flight and a perfect landing on Iceland I walk into the arrivals hall where I check my luggage and I see where the gate is where I need to be. When checking in for the flight to Toronto I am asked where I'm going to by a Belgian man who works on Iceland. I can speak some Dutch with him...
At the gate the realization hits me hard that I really am alone. I don't know anyone and no one seems even interested in me. I get a hot feeling and for a while I think 'I want to go home, to my family!'. Fortunately I can set my mind to something else. After 15 minutes I found myself again. As we go on board I see my bike again standing outside in the rain and wet snow. If only that goes well. I trust that it will...
Once on board I sit next to a nice-looking lady who seems not so talkative. That will be a long flight. We are rapidly rising on, I watch a movie, get something to eat and try to get some sleep. That succeeds. After about 2.5 hours of sleep I decide to dazzle and try to sleep. After all, the flight time is 5 hours.
Just before landing I have a conversation with the lady who appears to work for the German TV. She asks for the reason I travel to Canada. She travels there for a film Congress. We exchange cards and she promises to spread the word for me.Coincidental encounter again? I do not know...
At the airport in Toronto I am being checked several times. By an agent that checks my data and passport with the card on which I answered all kinds of questions I am asked if I have permission for raising money for charities. Oh, my god. They want a proof that I really going to make the trip. I give her my business card and the message that I honor Terry Fox with my trip does wonders. All of a sudden it is not important anymore that I don't have the papers of consent and she wishes me the best of luck!
In the great hall I see my luminous bag coming. It has become pretty nasty, just like my bag that what will arrive later. Now waiting for my bike yet to come. It takes not long before it arrives at the special counter too. It is dreadful how the box looks like: torn around the handles and nasty. Walking with this big box and luggage right through the hall and narrow passages I have a lot of attention and I keep getting questions. They are all supporters when it is clear what I'm going to do!
Now I have to wait almost 4 hours to continue my trip. St. John's, here we come!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Han Schomakers