The Canadian Years

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Monday 20 October 21:18

The Canadian years, St Lawrence by San-Daniel 2014




It was late October and we were on deck. We had been at sea for days on end, something  which I had experienced with persistent seasickness. It had been  a very unpleasant journey. We had left Libya so far behind us,that it seemed like a bad dream. We had to wait several months before we got clearance to go to go Canada where a job was waiting for my father.  Here we were again, going to a new country, we were the family "never home" because we had no home. We were suitcase people.  My  father's contracts with major oil companies were always of a  4 or 5 years duration and then he could renew it, if we were going to a new country, where his knowledge was needed. In Canada he looked forward to the appointment at the University that would perpetuate his further career. We would ‘come home'. It seemed to us what we were going to live in Canada  forever and  always .. Yep that is how folk think at times.

The deck was green and some rusty spots had been touched up with primer . The ship was well maintained and you could always find a sailor painting or swabbing. It was a Dutch ship, of course! My father was in those cases very chauvinistic. To be honest it had all been shipshape, except my 8 days of seasickness. My dad would always prefer a boat crossing above a plane. Although he was flown  several times a month, in pipercubs  from left to right in Libya, and although he was a great technician, he had no confidence in flying machines. He was very pragmatic  and once when I had been violently sick and I asked him why he preferred  the crossing by ship to flying,  he simply said, ‘if  a boat sinks then you can still swim and the debate was settled.

My brother had called me, he came barging into the hut with sparkling eyes; ' we have sighted land,’ he cried. Get out of bed, put on a coat and get outside.'  So we stood on deck a few minutes later.  It was cold, more than cold, the wind cut right through you.’ Holy cow’, I said,’ I was expecting it to be a bit warmer!’ ‘ This is the East sucker’, my brother said, he had his mannerisms, he knew everything better. I must confess that I had no idea of ​​where we were to arrive, all I knew that we would land on the East side, otherwise you would have had to sail around the continent. Somewhere in my head I had expected, a kind of an image of California, surfers and beach parties. There was no internet or google and  I had formed my image of North America on the basis of films.’I know that this is the East,’ I said resolutely, and I was immediately pleased that we would be travelling towards the West.


The ship was anchored. My sisters were now standing next to us, they were shivering and I shivered along.’ Pooh’, said, my older sister, I'm glad we do not live here’. It felt terribly unreal,’ I wish we were where we were going,’.  I was so fed up. The drone of the machines and the pitching of the ship on the waves. I nodded, ‘yes it is terrible here,’ I replied. We were standing in the wind, and besides some obscure equipment, something that was probably a signal light. Mounted on the wall hung a large thermometer. ‘Have a look I said,’ the mercury showed minus 25 degrees.

‘What are we waiting for’, asked my eldest sister who was pretty beyond compare, without being. aware of it. She always crushed the men with her beauty. These men walked into lamp posts or stumbled over their own feet, or could only utter foolish talk. She had asked it of someone with a few stripes on his sleeve.  ‘for the drag thing,’ the man stuttered,  who had become  bewitched that very minute.  ‘the ice tug thing,’ he said.’ I mean breaker’ and he colored violently. Why don’t you say what you mean,’ asked my sister who was always very direct and would be so for the rest of her  life. ‘I'll be back’, the man said, and he walked with his head into the low door.

‘So,’ said my father, who had also come out,’ it may take a while, the ice is a foot thick.’ That is what we are heading for,’ he said, pointing into the distance at a harbor area. ‘This is the st Lawrence river,’ he continued, ‘which is frozen over early this year. Will you come with me to my cabin?’ In the hut, he began by welcoming us to Canada, we'll be very happy here’, he said, ‘and once in Alberta we will never move anymore. ‘Dad,’ I said, It was minus 25 outside, how cold is it in Alberta?’  ‘Oh’, my father said,’ it has a continental climate, it can vary, sometimes minus 40 with a wind chill factor and a polar wind it may fall a bit more. My parents were mad, I knew for sure now, if you were not in the desert where you could hardly breathe in the heat, then sat you like half an Eskimo in frozen areas of min us 40 degrees.


My father knew where he was going, he was a walking source of statistical knowledge,’ there is an average of 88 days of snow per year,’ he said’, and that is preceded by some 22 days thunder and thunderstorms’. ‘That sounds just great’,  I thought.’ ‘Summer is relatively short and August and September are the rainy months’, he went on ‘and you should assume that the spring is also quite wet.’ ‘That sucks half a year,’ I thought. ‘How are we going there,’ asked my brother and is it still far?’ ‘I have booked train tickets’ my father said, and a sleeper.’ Oh,’ my sister said in surprise, ‘how far is it?’’ 3,500 kilometers,’ said my father,’ so will be a few days in the train.’ Typically, my father, you heard sparsely where you were going.’ I have arranged a shelter, once we arrive and then we will take it from there. Your mother and I will start looking for a permanent home for us all’ I wanted to ask some more questions, but he raised his hand.’ For now you know enough.’ I feel movement let's see if our new country comes into view.’

The ice was cracking away and a brave ice breaker opened a track where I suspected it would turn into a mass of ice again within an hour. A pilot boat came alongside and two customs officers examined our papers. Half an hour later we were in a few taxis speeding towards  he train station. 

San Daniel 2014

also read rushing through the snow

Reacties (5) 

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inderdaad een hele mooie vertaling.
Mooie vertaling van een bijzonder verhaal.
Ik ga je boek binnenkort bestellen, Nederlandse versie, mooi deze Engelse vertaling!
He, bekende vertaling :-))
you have a wonderful memory madam..