First Leg

Well, I finally managed to get the use of some photo-editing software to resize, crop, and ‘adjust’ (i.e. brightness, contrast, colour levels) a few of the photos I’ve taken since leaving Canada. Not only that, I even managed to upload them to the interwebernet on a 2KB/s internet connection. I’ll be posting several sets of photos over the next few days, and in each entry I plan on keeping the text to a minimum due to time restraints and an inability to remember what went on way back when many of these were taken.

I left Vancouver May 27th, landed in London on the morning of the 28th, and got off a bus in Paris by nightfall. I spent a few days at my friend Scary’s place along with my old pal Martin, and even got to meet up with Robin and Maya for a few hours one day. The girls and I went to Sacré Coeur cathedral and one of the big Parisian cemeteries where we marvelled at the crazy monuments (some were basically small churches on top of tombs), and the hundreds of stray cats.

Sacré Coeur

Robin and Maya exploring the cemetery

Somehow my Canon Powershot SD1000 point-and-shoot digital camera managed to capture two images in one… this happens when you forget to wind your film forward on an old manual camera, but how a digital camera could combine two images, without any exposure issues, is a real mystery. Then again, we were in a place full of ghosts and things.


Cool stained glass

Only in Paris…

After a few days I headed back to England to drop off my luggage at my friend Oz’s place in Poole. I took a sidetrip in London first to go visit the Imperial War Museum, a place I had intended to visit 5 years earlier when I lived in East Sussex. A few cool machines:

Imperial War Museum silhouette (boring photo taken on point-and-shoot; contrast and brightness levels taken to extremes to make it less boring)

What I always seem to remember best about London – the dirty, smelly, noisy Tube. There was a really good musician playing in one of the stations, in the long round corridor that leads down to the platform, creating a really rich tone which faded into the distance as I walked away. I had to work hard not to break into a big smile amidst all the gloomy suits in the station.

The trains at Waterloo Station, my departure point for the 3hr ride to Poole.

Mealtime with Oz’s family. I can definitely say it was impossible to go hungry while staying with Oz and his parents, who were super hospitable and always ready with a hot cup of tea :-)

Mr and Mrs Ahmed even took me to a boot sale! It’s basically a huge field turned into a yard-sale with hundreds of people who pay a fee to set up a table and sell their stuff. This lady’s job is to collect the small entrance fee from each car of people coming to buy stuff (i.e. us!). I got a cell phone to use in Sweden for cheap, and generally had a great time looking at all the stuff. It reminded me in a strange way of the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market in Thailand… Jos, Ron, and Ian would probably understand.

As part of the agreement by which Oz managed to NOT wake up bright and early and go to the boot sale (he doesn’t like them, even though they’re so much fun), he agreed to mow the lawn. When we got home, he was not only awake, but had finished the lawn and was going to town on the hedges!

Unfortunately, time never really stops, and my stay with the Ahmed family was soon at an end.

After a solid night’s sleep on a relatively comfy bench in the surprisingly quiet Gatwick Airport surrounded by other sofa-surfers, I hit he skies en route to Douala via Brussels.

We left Gatwick very late, so when we landed in Belgium I ran to my next departure gate and boarded the plane without any waiting around. Once aboard, however, we had a delay of a few minutes after undercover police decided to arrest and remove a lady sitting a couple of rows back from me, while she kicked and screamed in a rather sad and desperate way, with most of the Africans on the plane yelling in different languages at the poor flight attendants for allowing such a thing to happen. I was just glad it wasn’t me.

After a relatively uneventful flight (the only event was the Congolese magistrate next to me spilling his red wine all over himself) we landed in Douala, Cameroon. Brussels Airlines even managed to get my luggage on the plane, which is saying a lot when landing in Cameroon: about 1/3 of volunteers who have arrived after me have had their luggage delayed by several days (none delayed on Brussels Airlines), and a few things have even disappeared in transit from inside of luggage.

This post is a bit more long-winded than planned, but then again I’m not known for being concise.