Tuesday, April 28, 2015
"I wake up early and, like Ann, I am downstairs at 7:00 AM. Another delicious breakfast and then... packing my things up! First, I check upon my email and my bank account, Oops, a big credit card payment. It shocks me. All my costs thus far are paid for in big swoop. Yet, something appears to have gone wrong. I am charged twice. Alas, for that reason I am on the telephone with the bank for an hour. I have to send them copies of my statements to clarify things. In the end, it also seems not okay to them and it will be further explored.
Yet I have to pack my items in order to leave. I have an appointment with a journalist of a local newspaper in Smith Falls today. Now that I have packed everything, I realize that I didn't store her telephone number. So, I have to empty a bag, grab my computer, start it up, etc. Not very handy...
In the mean time, Bob got home and he will wave me goodbye. My cousin Ann already left for her appointment in Smith Falls. After packing everything up again, I realize that I didn't write down the address in Perth. Oh, NO! Together with Bob, I search for it in the telephone book. Got it! I verify it by calling the number; however, nobody picks up the phone. Try again later, I think. It is getting late, I really have to go now. Bob waves me goodbye under a beautiful sky. Yes, here I go, with some reluctance on my bicycle to Smith Falls. Riding in the sunshine is really great and it's really beautiful. I enjoy it a lot.
Along the way I hear a car honking. My cousin Ann comes from the direction of Smith Falls, we wave to each other. It does me good to see her briefly and she me on the bicycle. A half hour later I arrive in Smith Falls. I call the journalist and tell her that I am at the locks and that, in my opinion, we could take nice pictures there. Before I end the call, a big pickup truck stops next to me. It's my cousin Mike who is here to pick up a few things. He tells me he'll be back. Within two minutes the journalist arrives. She is a nice young lady. She records all my answers on a digital recorder. Mike returns after a while and walks towards me. The interview continues and Mike gives me signals that he has to move on. We interrupt the interview briefly so Mike and I can say our goodbyes. We continue with the interview and immediately after pictures are taken. All in all, about an hours worth of interview. In the mean time, it's 12 noon now. We complete the interview and I go eat lunch in Smith Falls.
I am half way for today, I now realize, while I watch the weather forecast for the coming days on the TV. A week with great weather ahead.
After lunch I go to pick up some sport drinks at a gas station. People are looking at me, which is no big surprise as I do stand out in my cycling clothes and helmet camera. A lady enters the store and says, “Hey, are you the guy who rides Terry Fox's route?” “Yes,” I answer. “Well, what a coincidence, I just read it in the newspaper this morning. Good for you...” A brief conversation develops and I pay for my drinks. People wave goodbye and I continue my bike ride. After an hour I arrive in Perth.
Earlier, around noon, Mike had told me that his wife was working in Perth today and to call her for lunch or something. Although too late for lunch, I still call her. My feeling is that I should do so and I decide to listen to my feelings. Apparently, MJ was following me on my website to verify my arrival in Perth. She invites me to drink a cup of coffee at Tim Hortens. “Of course,” I answer. Within 10 minutes we are seated at Tim Hortens and in cozy conversation. Sure, this is a very special way of saying goodbye to my family – in stages, I dare say. MJ has to return to work after a half an hour, and now we are really saying our goodbyes. MJ is a very nice woman. All my relatives in Canada are dear and near to my heart. It's really a pity that my stay with them has been so short.
I continue to ride my bicycle to Jackie and her husband who live outside Perth. It's still quite a bit of cycling. More than 10 km. Close to my destination a car stops and the woman of the young couple inside asks whether I am Dutch. “Yes”, I say. “Do you live here in Ontario?” “No, I am...,” and I tell my story again. It's a fun and special conversation. A young Dutch woman who married a Canadian man who actually is from Merrickville, where, again, my family lives. It is really a nice conversation and it is too bad that it is interrupted by my telephone. The connection is bad and I barely hear a thing. A while later another call. It is Jackie. “Michael, we follow you on your website and notice that you are riding further away from us. Are you still planning to visit us?”
“What?”, I think. It appears that I entered the wrong address in my Tomtom. I enter the correct one and we agree that I will meet up with them. Jackie had thought, for a moment, that I would ride to Kingston today. That is almost 100 km further and not my intention. She immediately offers me, after some deliberation with her husband Klaas, to stay at their place. I disconnect and ride back (13 km) and after 45 minutes I stand in front of a very big house. I am very warmly received and we drink a cup of coffee in the backyard.
It is really beautiful here! The backyard looks out over water and it is almost indescribably. I am really impressed. I may just stay overnight for free and I am the first, because they intent to use the basement as a B&B. It truly is a full living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. The living room looks out over the beautiful backyard. Can I just accept all this? “Yes, you can, see it as our sponsorship of you.” What a great setting, a beautiful spacious ground floor and lovely people. I'm really impressed and a little off guard.
Jackie indicates she is going to make nasi (fried rice) and whether I like that? “What?,” I think, “Can I take you guys out for dinner or something?” “Nope!”
It is overwhelming. We drink our coffee in delightful sunshine. After a while Jackie goes upstairs to cook and Klaas and I continue to talk. He is a likeable, quiet and kind man and it feels to me somehow actually directly familiar.
I decide to change and before I go upstairs I see that a printed version of the Ottawa Citizen article is lying on my bed. Nice! There also is an envelope. I decide to take it upstairs where dinner is ready now.
Open the envelope tomorrow morning. It is a little something for you. I am sincerely impressed and honestly have to say not to know how to exactly deal with all the lovely attention and kindness. It feels good, it isn't that, it's just that I am surprised and a little off balance. At dinner we continue to talk and have a great view over the garden and the water. Beautiful, I can't find words for it. It is so beautiful here.
During coffee I find out that Jackie's mother and younger brother both suffer from Sarcoidosis. Although Jackie wrote that in the beginning, I didn't know that. To my amazement I didn't remember it. We engage in a real nice conversation and I think that we can converse filling many an evening. Before going downstairs, I listen to the frogs from the deck. Squirrels walk through the garden and in the back of the yard is a groundhog. Beavers and geese swim; it's just like a living painting. For a brief moment I know why I had wished to emigrate to Canada. My life is good, yet, this is so cool.
Eventually, I start my computer and I have an excellent and very fast WiFi connection here. I type my blog and upload it. It is after 12 midnight before I go to bed.
I hadn't dared to dream all that this morning!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Albert Dijkstra