The trainride through Canada 3

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Tuesday 21 October 23:48


Canada passes by

We looked out at once but the snowflakes almost hypnotized you. We pulled out of the city and the suburbs soon lay behind us. The windows of the car were first frosted up but the heating slots along the grooves changed that quickly. My brother said he was glad he was aboard the train, and I thought, ‘we have ended the bad to worse.’ Aboard there had been a lot of space where you could walk about. Here was an aisle, lined on both sides with comfortable seats but it was all very cramped in comparison to a ship. After a while, you have seen all the white landscape that you ever want to see and my brother and I decided to pay a visit our 'sleeper'.That was a walk and a half over the shocking and moving floor. A steward had left the door open and was making the beds with crisp linens, he smiled kindly at us.

‘Good afternoon gentlemen,’ he said,’ it can not be your bedtime yet’. ‘No,’ I said, we are a bit bored and did not want to sit still all time.’ ‘You boys  sound American,’ said the steward, ‘where are you from, what state?’ ‘No, we come from Europe’, my brother put in,’ where are you come from?’ ‘Alberta,’ said the man, ‘the West is the best '.. ‘Hey, that is where we are going,’ I said, ‘fancy that !’ Where in Alberta’, the man wantd to know?’ ‘Calgary,’ I answered.’ ‘Ah, I have been there’, the man said,’ I get off in Edmonton.’

‘Boy Calgary, that is the cowboy town, you are going to live there’, he asked, while he pulled the blankets straight?’ ’I think so,’ I said. ‘Well guys that is the Calgary stampede for you,’ he laughed. ‘The Calgary what’, asked my brother? ‘Stampede’, said the man, ‘wild cow milking contests,’ six span wagon races, horseshoe throwing and rodeo, riding wild bronx that want to trample you..’ ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Never heard of that,’ the man asked surprised? ‘Boy, if you've seen it once, you will never forget it, well you all take care now, you hear,’and he walked away to the next cabin. Until now, the few Canadians we had met, had been especially friendly. We could not then know the huge divide in Canada between the French part and English part.


‘And men,’ asked my father, when we came back, ‘what did it look like?’ ‘Well,’ we said, ‘bunk beds and a sink and a toilet’. ‘Oh yeah,’ I asked my father,’ you know they say that ‘the West, is the best?’ ‘Yes,’ my father said without blinking his eyes, ‘that is  why we are going there. But that is always what Westerners say, of course You know what they say about Quebec, where we have arrived?’ ‘No,’ we said, until recently we had never heard of Quebec. ‘Oh,’ he said, I thought it was general knowledge’, they say, ‘la plus belle provence du Quebec Canada.’ ‘Look outside see that, is that  lovely?’ I had to admit that it looked rather shabby and desolate and abandoned. ‘Therefore, you should always convince yourself about what things are like yourself, it's usually not what people say it is like. Look, we will be  crossing Manitoba in a little and you know what they say about it?’ We didn’t know of course. ‘The land of 100 000 lakes’ continued my father’. ‘100 000 lakes,’ I exclaimed how big is  Manitoba, it must be massive?’ ‘Very large indeed, replied my father, and picked up his magazine again,’ indicating that the chat was terminated.

‘So,’ my brother said to my sister,’ did you know that where we are going they hold  once a year, a sort of cowboy festival?’ My sister raised her eyebrows. I could just see her going there, all the cowboys would look at her and fall out of their saddle or get a horseshoe thrown against the head. The normal effect my big sister had on men. She did not notice that, but men always gazed at her and walked under cars with averted faces, while crossing the street, she was a beauty. ‘They ride on wild bronx’, said my brother and I added, ‘with a span of six horses, they love chuck wagon races.’ My father looked up and filled in, ‘they also compete in wild cow milking contests, which I think must be pretty difficult because the cows will try to kick your ass. It were moments like these that filled me with awe for my father.


Was there anything that he did not know? Awe but with an alarm bell ringing, warning.. take heed that you never have this man against you, then you would end up poorly. I realized that as a kind of harbinger of impending doom. The hours passed unnoticed. We read some, and talked about the time in Italy when we had fled from Libya. It had already become a memory again. We had visited just about every excavation and we talked about the upcoming life in North America. My father had selected beyond all other reasons, for another reason Canada and not America. ‘All is not well in Vietnam,’ he said, ‘and I have two sons, you do not need to tell me anything, soon, thousands of young boys will be brought home dead in a body bag and they will only send more guys in because they don’t want to lose face. Again he was prophetically right. He knew what the five star General Westmoreland, did not realise from his own experiences in Indonesia, you cannot win a guerrilla war. My mother in the meantime was knitting away and occasionally she put it down in order to read a book. My little sisters were bored silly. They were told many a fairy tale and we had endless series of ‘ I spy, I spy with my little eye and the color is....’

The train ride began to bore us, just as annoying as a famous train scene that I would see in a movie theater, years later where the director treated the cinema vistor of the movie ‘Dr. Zhivago,’ to a shot taken from a Russian train thundering through the snowy fields, a 10-minute long shot.

It was a welcome distraction when it was announced that the dining car was ready to serve evening meal. We stayed particularly long at the table to bridge time and then went to bed early. I had to toss and turn a few times before I fell, after processing the events of the day, in a bottomless sleep.


also read,4, Canadian years, the endless prairies


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Het in Engels lezen is ook weer eens een goede training voor mij, gelukkig hoef ik het niet hard op te lezen dan zou niemand mij begrijpen, lezen lukt me wel maar in Engels uitspreken een stuk minder, dus soms blijf ik extra op een woord hangen om de uitspraak weer goed te leren om daarna opnieuw voor en door te lezen, maakt het verhaal nog bewuster mee daardoor. ;-)