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(English summary below)

Die meisten von euch werden die Bildergeschichte von Janosch mit dem kleinen Baeren und dem kleinen Tiger kennen, die eines Tages in ihrem kleinen gemuetlichen Haeuschen unruhig werden und sich von Reiselust gepackt aufmachen in ihr Traumland, nach Panama (denn Panama riecht von oben bis unten nach Bananen, wenn ich mich recht erinnere). So gehen sie also los. Und wie es der Zufall will, biegen sie dabei immer links ab (denn rechts wohnt der Bauer, und wo der Bauer wohnt, da kann nicht Panama sein, so die bestechende Logik). Sie treffen jede Menge interessante Leute und lernen eine Menge Dinge, die sie vorher nicht wussten. Und am Ende kommen sie wieder da an, wo sie losgelaufen sind und sind eigentlich sehr zufrieden mit der ganzen Angelegenheit.

Warum erzaehle ich das alles? Na ja, ich bin auf meiner Farm in Tatamagouche Richtung Sueden gestartet, nach Truro, bin dort links abgebogen, um mit dem Bus nach North Sydney zu fahren, dann wieder links, mit der Faehre nach Norden, nach Neufundland, die Westkueste herauf und bis nach Labrador, dann wieder links, nach Quebec und per Frachtschiff zurueck nach Westen und in Rimouski bin ich schliesslich in die Busstation gegangen und habe ein Ticket geloest. Und zwar nicht, wie eigentlich vorgesehen, weiter nach Westen, nach Quebec City oder Montreal, sonder geradewegs zurueck nach Sueden, nach Truro, um von da dann schliesslich wieder nach Tatamagouche zu trampen. Ich bin also wieder da, wo ich angefangen habe, auf Green Dragon bei Stephan und Gerlinde. Und bei meinen Ziegen und Katzen und Huehnern und dem Hund.

Warum? Weil ich solche Sehnsucht nach der Farm hatte. Ich bin hier einfach noch nicht fertig. Je weiter ich auf meiner Tour gekommen bin, desto groesser wurde der Wunsch, zurueck zu gehen und am Ende habe ich eigentlich nur noch nach einem Grund gesucht. Fast war ich enttaeuscht, als ich in Blanc Sablon doch noch ein Ticket fuer das Frachtschiff bekommen habe, das eigentlich schon ausgebucht war, weil das sonst ein Anlass gewesen waere, zurueck zu gehen. Und am Ende war ich soweit, dass ich mir gewuenscht habe, dass jemand mein Gepaeck klaut oder so, damit ich sozusagen gar nicht anders kann als wieder nach Nova Scotia zurueck zu gehen. Das war dann der Punkt wo ich mir gedacht habe: was soll das eigentlich? Wem muss ich was beweisen? Wenn ich lieber auf Green Dragon Farm bin als irgendwo anders, wenn meine Sehnsucht nach diesem Ort soviel staerker ist als meine Neugier auf etwas Neues, warum gestatte ich mir das dann nicht einfach?

Und so bin ich dann (nach einer vierzehnstuendigen Busfahrt und einer interessanten Nacht im schaebigsten Hotel von Truro) wieder bei Stephan und Gerlinde angekommen. Ich hatte vorher nicht angerufen oder so, sondern stand einfach mit Sack und Pack wieder bei ihnen auf dem Hof (eine typische Jutta Aktion, also). Sie haben sich gefreut und mein Zimmer war auch noch frei.

Jetzt ist alles wieder wie vorher, Ziegen melken, Salat schneiden, hervorragendes Essen, viel Arbeit, kein Internetanschluss. Ich bin gluecklich, aber die Blog-Eintraege werden vorraussichtlich etwas langweiliger ausfallen.

Wie es von hier aus weiter geht und wie lange ich hierbleibe weiss ich noch nicht. Die Rueckkehr nach Nova Scotia hat meinen gesamten Zeitplan natuerlich endgueltig gekippt. Ausserdem ist mir klargeworden, dass ich auf die Kanada-Durchquerung auf dem Landweg ohne Auto keine rechte Lust habe. Entweder ich versuche einen billigen Flug nach Calgary zu finden und nehme dort irgendwo in einem Monat oder so meine Route wieder auf (wobei mir das widerstrebt, weil Fliegen ja nun noch beschissener ist als Autofahren, nicht nur wegen CO2, sondern auch noch aus einer Reihe anderer Gruende) oder ich lasse meinen Flug ab Vancouver verfallen (ist ein Billigflug ohne Umbuchungs- oder Stornierungsmoeglichkeit) und bleibe bis Oktober hier und versuche einen guenstigen Rueckflug ab Halifax zu kriegen. Genaugenommen ist das ziemlich wahrscheinlich eine ganze Ecke guenstiger, denn egal wie ich Canada durchquere, es kostet mich auf jeden Fall eine Menge Geld.

Paula, the smiling goat

What goes round comes round

Just to keep my English speaking readers up to date (if any? yell if you can hear me …): On arriving in Rimouski after a four day freight ship cruise along the lower north shore of Quebec, I spontaneously decided to return to Green Dragon Farm in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. I bought a bus ticket to Truro (14 h bus ride), stayed in a crappy motel for the night and hitchhiked back to the farm the very next day.

Stephan and Gerlinde appear to be happy to have me back and I am very happy to have made that decision. I just have missed this place too much and for some reason I have the feeling that I am not quite finished here just yet.

I still have to decide how to continue, I can either stay here for the rest of the summer and book a one way flight back to Germany from Halifax or I can still try to make my way west (most possibly by airplane since I am way behind schedule now) after staying here for another couple of weeks.

Either way it will be boring talk of goats, salad greens and organic farming again on this channel and no more travelling adventures for a while. Stay tuned if you can stand it 🙂

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Canada’s youngest province is named Newfoundland Labrador. Newfoundland is an island, Labrador is the north easternmost part of the Canadian mainland. While quite a few tourists find their way to Newfoundland, only a very small number of them also ventures further north to Labrador. Anyone who has ever travelled with me will know that I am mostly drawn to places where no one else goes. Since time does not allow me to visit the Yukon or North Western Territories let lone Nunavut on this trip, I decided I wanted at least to dip into Labrador for a couple of days.

Broken telephone pole in deserted village of L'Anse au Cotard

Labrador has two highways, one from the Quebec border along the coast up to Cartwright and a second one from Labrador City (again directly on the Quebec border) to Happy Valley / Goose Bay. Between Cartwright and Goose Bay there is a piece of highway missing. It has been under construction for quite a few years now, the locals tell me that they have trouble finding rocks to build it with (for anyone who has seen parts of Labrador, that is a difficult theory to believe in). The Labrador City side of the highway is the only one that has a connection to the mainland highway system. The other part, the one I am on at the moment, can only be reached (and left again) by boat. There are three ferry lines that connect this part of the world with the rest, two from the island of Newfoundland (I took the one from St. Barbe to Blanc Sablon, the other runs from Lewisport to Cartwright) and one from Blanc Sablon to Rimouski.

Actually, Blanc Sablon is already in Quebec, just behind the border. At least now. Historically it belonged to Labrador, the Blanc Sablon River, west of the village, was the traditional borderline. When Newfoundland joined Canada in 1948, this border was redrawn. It now runs along a hilltop east of Blanc Sablon, causing the village to fall over to the officially French speaking province of Quebec. Does anyone around here care? No, not as far as I can tell, everyone I met speaks English around here. There is just one small community named Lourdes de Blanc Sablon, some 7 km along the road, where people are of French origin.

L'Anse au Claire seen from a hilltop

I stayed for two nights at a B&B in L’Anse au Claire, the first village on the Labrador side of the mentioned hilltop. It is run by Gloria and Norm Letto. The Lettos run about everything else in L’Anse au Claire as well, it seems. They have always lived around here and have many stories to tell about the time not so long ago, when official rules and regulations had not reached this remote corner of the world yet. For example, no one of the people who have lived here for more than 20 years has ever purchased land. There is virtually no privately owned land. People just built their houses wherever they wanted, making sure that the neighbours agreed with their choice and that was it.

A family from Nova Scotia who stayed in the same B&B offered me to ride with them up to Red Bay and back. Red Bay is where the paved part of the road ends and a 400 km gravel road to Cartwright starts. It is pretty much the end of the world for most tourists who come up here. Only very adventurous tourists would dare to go further. Only very stupid hitchhikers would even think about trying to go up there.

Even down here in the south, where the road is good, Labrador is a pretty barren, almost hostile place. I was surprised how much colder it is here than it has been in Newfoundland. After all, the island’s north tip is just 100 km south of the Labrador coast. There are hardly any trees at all here, only in some protected valleys you might find some small fir or spruce trees, not higher than two or three meter. The rest of the land is covered with moss, berry bushes and wildflowers.

Gloria and Norm told me that the foundations of their house were built from wood from a shipwreck that washed ashore in 1954. I totally don’t understand why people don’t build stone houses here. There surely are more stones than wood around.

So, that is Labrador as I experienced it: a harsh landscape, friendly people (yet They are very patriotic, the Labradorians ...not as humorous as the Newfies from the island, grimmer and darker) and awful wheather.

This morning I took a last walk along the coastline, up to a broken cliff that the locals call „the ugly place“ and the wind had finally stopped. That made a world of difference, the land suddenly seemed only half as bad to me, once I was able to keep my eyes open and the hair out of my face. Then a swarm of blackflies closed in and started nibbeling tiny pieces of flesh out of my ears, my neck and my face. Could I get the wind back, please?

Travelling to Labrador is a little bit like Bungee Jumping. You do it once, just to prove that you can. There should be a T-shirt: „I did it … Labrador“ or something like that. I am glad that I was here, it was interesting to see and all that, now I am definitely glad to go somewhere else.

The Ugly Place

After six and a half weeks I finally left Green Dragon Farm. And man, do I miss that place! So far there hasn’t been a day, maybe not even an hour, that I did not think back to Gerlinde, Stephan, Nyima and all the animals there. I wish I could have stayed. Well, I could have stayed, I suppose, but Canada is a large and amazing country and it would have been a shame to just stay in one place for the whole summer and miss out on all the rest. So I finally packed all my gear together again and set out to the island of Newfoundland (pronounced Newfinland, with a stress on the first syllable).

view over Rocky Harbour Bay

Newfoundland is tremendously beautiful. I have not seen a stretch of it yet that I did not like. It has steep hills and mountains that seem to rise out of nowhere and form wonderful remote valleys, a rugged coastline and large moorlands and tundras further up north.

I limited myself to travelling up the west coast, since travel without a private car is very difficult around here and I did not want to end up doing to many kilometres without really finding the time to experience the country.

Hitchhiking in Newfoundland is … well … adventurous, I suppose, even more so than in other areas of the world. Sometimes you get picked up right away, literally right away, before even lowering your backpack to the ground or anything, and at other times you get stranded beside the highway for hours. There is not altogether that much traffic, except for the tourists in their RVs and rental cars. Tourists very seldom take hitchhikers. Actually I tended to say that tourists don’t take hitchhikers at all, but I got picked up by a nice family from London, Ontario travelling in an RV, so I have to make amends there.

Mostly it is locals that pick you up. 80 % of them are fishermen on their way to or from their boats. They go only short distances, from one little village to the next, and they all have the same kind of stories to tell: about traffic accidents with moose, about how slow and difficult fishing has become, about their children who moved to work in the oil fields in Fort Mc Murray, Alberta. But also about hunting moose in fall, about riding ski-dos in winter and about growing their own potatoes at the roadside in summer (they actually do plant little potatoe beds, all neat and fenced in, directly beside the highway … the Newfoundland version of guerilla gardening … mostly because it is the only level piece of land they can find). If the old ones ever travelled it used to be with the military. Most of the young ones come back after a few years from Alberta and other places, slightly desillusioned. Newfoundlanders really love their home.

They also have a great sense of humor, very blunt and self-ironic and politically completely incorrect. In that respect they are not very Canadian at all. Most seem to have a talent for music and play one or more instruments. Their music is simple but beautiful, close to celtic folk with the odd bit of shanty mixed in, the kind of music you would expect from a seafaring people.

Gros Morne Mountain from a distance

I stopped in Gros Morne National Park for four nights and climbed Gros Morne Mountain. That was a strenous 7 hour hike, very steep in parts, but well worth the effort. I saw a family of moose up there, bathing and drinking from a pond, just a few meters off the trail. Actually, the bull moose was almost too close for my comfort, but rut is still a few month off, so it was quite safe to pass him. Actually, when I came back down the same way five hours later, he was still standing in the same spot. I started to suspect that this bull moose was payed by the park management as a tourist attraction.

Moose on Gros Morne Mountain

I met two other hitchhikers, David from Quebec City with whom I travelled from Port aux Basque to Deer Lake and Dan from Australia, who was picked up by the same car that had picked me close to Cow Head. Dan and I got stuck in the tiny village of Green Island Cove, far up the northern peninsula the other night and shared a room in a B&B there. We went on the L’Anse aux Meadows to visit the Viking settlement there and to St. Anthony and then split up again, because Dan was eager to get to St. Johns for the George Street Festival, while I wanted to stay up north and catch the ferry to Quebec and Labrador. It is good to meet travelling companions like that on the way, even if it is only for a day. It makes the long waits beside the highway much less annoying. It also makes me feel a little more secure. Not that there is much to be afraid of up here. Crime rates are very low and people leave their doors unlocked and their keys in the car at all times, even in the towns. But I swear to you, when you stand beside the highway for an hour or two on your own, your mind can make up all kinds of weird stories, from marauding black bears to hitchhikers died from starvation.

This morning the lady from the B&B offered me a ride down to „the lights“ (which means the only set of traffic lights in St. Anthony and very probably all of the northern peninsula). We started chatting about this and that, religion, politics and the world in general and she just kept driving … she took me all the way back to the ferry terminal, just over 100 km, bought me a tea there, equipped me with a handful of Watchtowers, Awakes and other Jehova’s Wittnesses material and left. I can live with that. Actually, she is an amazingly bright and smart person to talk to and I really enjoyed our conversation. I really cannot imaging her falling for the whole Bible-Creation-Armageddon deal.

In a few hours, the ferry will carry me north, away from the island of Newfoundland to the even remoter shores of Labrador and eastern Quebec. Not many tourists go that far and I am really curious what I will find there. I am also a little afraid to get stranded there, but if worse comes to worse I can always get back onto a ferry to Newfoundland, they run at least twice a day during summer.

Travelling like this is expensive though, even if you are hitchhiking. Since I do not carry a tent, I normally have to stay in a B&B every night. That’s nice and cozy of course and grants me nice little extras like free tea and internet access, but it costs at least 50 $ a night, more than I am keen on spending and in the long run more than I can afford. I hope it will get better when I get back towards the more densely settled areas. I have a couchsurfing arrangement for Quebec City (provided I make it in time).

Just to prove that I was really there ...

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