You know what? I’m amazed about myself.
I’ve been known to myself until now as someone that is not really good in extraverted talk with people who I don’t really know, but during the past 4 days, where I had a train ride from Ottawa to Vancouver, I discovered that I could easily talk to anybody, even about subjects that I was not particularly interested in before. I even became quite popular with some people (I think hihi), which was a totally new experience to me, also not to be shy in that and just to let it all hang out. I remarked that I and the way I communicated (also about my world-trip and about my blog), was quite appreciated, and that people were genuinely interested. That was such a great feeling, to just be open about myself and to them, and to also listen to their stories and experiences.
This might sound weird and normal to you, but for me it’s quite special, since I’ve always had the tendency to stay in my own little world. But because we were all in the same boat (well eh, train), and because during meals we were put with different people at the table and inbetween we could also talk at the bar or so, I was kind of automatically opened up, to my own amazement and gratitude.
It is nice to see how a train like that can form a separate world, apart from the rest of life, and you start living a kind of group-life on board the train; you get to know people that you otherwise would not even notice, you hear stories that otherwise you wouldn’t hear…
And of course you see al kinds of different landschapes: from Ottawa to Toronto it is all quite cultivated, from Toronto to Winnipeg we drove mostly through rough forests with different kinds of pine trees and mainly birches, for hours and hours (everything is big and with lots of space here!), from Winipeg until Edmonton it was mainly farmland and prairies, and from Edmonton onward to Vancouver it became hilly first, then Rocky (and other) Mountains, and again hilly close to Vancouver.
We had several stops along the way, where we had the opportunity to stretch our legs and look a bit around: in Toronto (big city!) I had to change trains, and I had 4,5 hours nothingness inbetween; the lady next to me in the train (Nika) had adviced me to go and see the CN Tower, just 8 minutes walk from Union Station (530 something meters high, with a panoramadeck and restaurant at 346 meters), and that felt like a wonderful idea. In 15 seconds with the elevator to where I needed to be, had magnificent views up there and a nice meal in the restaurant (so special to eat 346 meters from the ground!); also stood on the glass floor, where I could directly see the activities on the ground 346 meters lower (loved it!).
Then boarding time on the train; had reserved business class (with real bed), because for 4 nights I thought it would be good to at least have a real bed; I had reserved a lower berth, which appeared to be two couches put together with a matress over it and sheets etc. as a normal bed, and a curtain in front so that I got a bedstead-like effect, which I liked. So I didn’t have a private cabin as I kind of expected, but a common space which I shared with a nice little family with a one-year-old baby (Leif, Amanda and Eric). You’d better not be prude here, because there ain’t so much privacy here… But once behind my closed curtains and with my little bed-light on, it still felt cosy and at home. Not that I really slept that first night, pffff… No way, maybe 1 hour or so just before waking up again in the morning, but that’s it.
The first full day we had one stop in the middle of nowhere at Hornepayne, where we could step out in the middle of a snowstorm, which was again another experience during this trip of mine… Children throwing snow-balls and sleighing, others taking their dog out for a walk…
One of those people was Seija, a very nice young lady that had a banjo with her and was on her way back home after a year out there in the “dangerous outside world”; I could see she clearly was one of those indigo kids: very sensitive and intuitive, very wise for her age (20, I realized suddenly that I easily could be her father) and those eyes that looked right through me. We interpretered tarot-cards for eachother, and it was amazing how ripe and accurate the things were that she said.
The next morning we arrived at Winnipeg, where we had 4 hours that we could spend outside the train; I went for a walk alongside the Museum of Human Rights, with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front, and over a magnificent (in the morning sunlight) white bridge, that led to Saint Boniface (now part of Winnipeg), where I drank a latte macchiato with maple syrup in a nice little bistro (mnjamnjam!); then on the way back to the station a man (Chris) came to me, telling that he believed in Jesus and if he could pray for me and my handicap. I thought: well, why not? A prayer might help, you never know…
And he put one hand on my neck and one on my left arm, and prayed: “cerebral palsy, and all the trauma that he got at 2 years old, leave Nico now and let him start a new life!” I was moved by his faith, and my left arm relaxed; then he prayed a second time, and my left arm relaxed… But that was it… Enough for me, but I guess he must have thought I was a big disbeliever, because he suddenly had to urgently go back to his office…
Then visit to the little railway museum at the station (funny all those old things exposed there).
Boarding and continue over the prairies; oh yeah, forgot to say that there is still quite some snow over here and it is cold! Very nice talk with Leif about our lives; we talked about drugs and ayahuasca-ceremonies, because I have been thinking sometimes lately of going to such a ceremony, to feel what it could do for me (they always say that one can have great experiences and get answers on one’s life questions). But Leif strongly disadviced me to go there, because ayahuasca is a mind-changing substance that can create hallucinations. And he said that I could have the same effect without ayahuasca, staying on the safe side. He also spontaneously touched my left arm and hand, which moved me very much, because rare people only do that. It felt so loving and accepting, Wow, thanks Leif!
It was a bumpy night; the train had a long straight track here, so it could get some speed here: 85 miles an hour, which made that we were hustled quite a bit in our beds.
Edmonton: woke up here, at the highest (on the map) city we would go to; Seija went out here, with her dog (it must have been happy it could walk and run around again!). On Tuesday afternoon we could get off at Jasper (Leif and family left us here) to stretch our legs and have some coffee or whatever, and then on through the mountains. Very beautiful with a few amazing views, were it not that those grrrrr pine trees blocked the view quite often; I was still happy that the deciduous trees didn’t have leaves yet, otherwise I would even have seen less… Later on another short stop in an in-the-middle-of-nowhere hamlet at around sunset. I asked myself what those people do here, what’s their business? It’s so clearly out of any social context, with nothing what I would call interesting, besides nature of course…
Finally a reasonably good night’s sleep (in a compartment where only me was left behind), because of the slower speed of the train through the mountains; early wake-up as we were nearing Vancouver, with a beautiful sunrise above far away (again) mountains.
Entering Vancouver station, I had to say good-bye to all the nice people that I got to know there: Steve and Judy, Chris and Hazel, Kim, (the guitar-playing singer who had sung for us), Steve and Cathy, Ryan (a whale worker at sea), Rick (a writer), Laure and Sebastien, Oscar (a Dutch man!) who travelled with his daughter, and some others that I don’t know the names of. Thanks guys and girls, for a very pleasant train-ride that I surely will remember all of my life!
I got on a taxi together with Tina and Jude (mother and daughter) to my hotel, that was close to theirs.
And that’s where I say good night to you for now, with all the love in my heart,
Nico – Traveller of The Earth
And… in episode 21 Nico once again brings us along on his interior journey, further exploring his desire to be true to himself.