Monday, June 1, 2015
Today's message was a day late. Michael is still in Thunder Bay; he has a ticket for the Greyhound bus and is getting ready to get his luggage weighed. There is also a surprise:
"I get up extra early and pack my things to go to the Greyhound bus station. At 8:15 I am there and the office is already open. The first thing I am told is that the bus broke down in White River and will not be arriving at 10:15 as planned, but rather at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I already had the feeling yesterday that things would not go as I would like to. I buy two boxes to pack up my bike. The young man behind the counter lets me know that he doesn't want to lose his job, but agrees that I was not properly informed when I bought my ticket and that is not okay. Well, I already knew that.
Being somewhat experienced by now, I take apart my bike and within an hour I made a good bike box with actual handles. The young man is impressed with my handiwork. He says: “You're right these boxes are way too small but you got a very good solution man!”
It's time to count and weigh my bags. Every bag counts as separate luggage, and I have to pay an extra $170. Upsetting as that may be for me, this young man is not to blame and I have no choice but to pay the extra cost.
The young man is very helpful; he didn't charge for one of the bags. I decide not to get too worried about the total $300 cost of this bus trip: it's a good thing that I skip this part between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. Apparently yesterday on this road a cyclist was hit by a truck in this morning two cyclists were killed in British Columbia on Highway 99.
I am allowed to store my luggage in a safe room so I can leave to get something to eat. The promised breakfast at Tiffany's, after I paid for it, is a tiny sandwich with egg and a piece of fake meat, which has been kept warm in a piece of paper for a while. My comments on having to pay six dollars for this piece of chemical garbage leads to an unproductive exchange of words.
I go to the shopping mall where things look more promising. But I find that the people are very reserved and that the atmosphere is not great...
As I walk back to the Greyhound station, to my surprise, I see that Dave is there! He is enthusiastic and says: “I was at the campground and they treated me fine but I didn't feel okay. I really wanted to join you! What do you think? What I didn't know was that my grandfather who was from Holland died just before I was born from sarcoidosis! I simply have to go with you.”
I'm glad to see him. Dave is on the same bus as I am. He has taken his bike apart and together we put it in a bike box. After that we check out the mall. When we return, it appears that the bus isn't coming until 4:40 pm.
When we finally board the bus, the driver appears to be an a..hole. Sorry, but I have no other words for it. He makes us stand in line and lets the people who were already on the bus get on first. We are not allowed to talk and have to answer his questions immediately. I really have to control myself because I am ready to hit this brutal, arrogant guy.
A man inside the hall starts to yell: “Thanks Greyhound thanks!!!” The driver screams that if he does that one more time he's not coming on the bus. Dave and I are not allowed to watch our bikes being loaded. It's remains to be seen whether they are actually coming with us.
Finally we're on the bus and leave at 5 o'clock. The bus appeared to have a broken radiator, which caused most of the luggage on board to be damaged by coolant. The luggage of the man who yelled was permanently damaged.
I sit beside a young lady of 22 and have a nice conversation with her and other bus passengers. I tell them how my trip has gone so far. Five and a half hours on a broken down bus. With a woman who was almost arrested because, according to the bus driver she had called him names and that he was aggressive man who secretly drinks…
Despite everything I have seen and heard our trip goes fairly well. We only make one stop in the nine hour trip to catch up on lost time. We arrive at Winnipeg Airport at half an hour past midnight and have had two other drivers in the meantime. The last one is a whole lot friendlier. My luggage is promptly brought to me. When finally everything has been unloaded Dave and I still don't have our bikes.
The bikes are the bus trailer which just took off again. Thankfully the personnel here assist us really well. When we get to the trailer we see to our horror that the bikes have just been thrown on top of the other luggage. Dave gets really mad when he sees this and I have to say it's understandable.
All in all when we put our bikes together everything seems okay. Everyone had to leave the bus at this stop and we receive a lot of attention. When Dave is finished putting his bike back together he's left with a couple of nuts and bolts. That is not a good Dave! Before we leave we speak to several passengers and personnel of Greyhound. One of the passengers named Eric lets me know that his mother died of cancer. He is clearly emotional and thinks it's wonderful what we are doing. He gives each of us $20 but comes back a minute later with another $100 for each of us, which he just got at the bank machine. We refuse to take it of course, but he says: “Will you please accept this. I was unable to support my mother. I have a good job now and I can afford to give you this donation. I want you guys to continue with this, please.”
This is really something special. This big guy is standing here with tears in his eyes so grateful that we except his donation. It has a special effect on people around us and everybody wishes of us good luck.
A little later everyone watches as we bike into the night. It is really strange to be biking through Winnipeg at 2:00 am and not seeing anyone. Dave and I go to a motel where, unfortunately, they are not willing to negotiate the price for a room, but I'm so tired that I'm okay with it. The room is reasonably big and clean. Quickly I go to bed.
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen