The walk on the east coast of Australia is going well! Jean is definitely not faced with cultural shock or any mystifying exotics in this country that is very similar to our own and yet is located on the opposite side of the planet.
The rainy season is in full swing but as usual Jean is lucky and finds sunny days to carry on his walk. When rain falls too thick, he stops for the day.
Following the previous newsletter, I received many inquiries about the time the walker is supposed to come home. It seems that our friends are made to count just as we do… we are now calculating the remaining time as opposed to the previous years when we were adding up the years that were completed. More! We are even keeping score on months rather than years now!
So here are the dates and scheduled events, which of course can vary from a few weeks. Jean should walk in Australia until October 2010. He will then fly to New Zealand where he plans to walk during 3 to 4 months and finally fly to Vancouver in early 2011. He will then start the walk in Canada in early March to arrive in Montreal sometimes in October. We should rejoice in warm gatherings in 2011…
On 16 February, Australian ABC radio network broadcasts an interview with Jean on “Late Night Live” with well-known and appreciated host, Mr. Phillip Adams. Jean explains the reasons for his departure, relates a few anecdotes along his route and tells about his yearning to come back home. You may also listen to the interview on the web site, on the Media page.
He spends the last few days of February in the home of Jenny and Peter Monckton who surround him with care, provide needed equipment for his chariot and see to bestow small repairs on a tooth that was bothering him. A few days later the Micalleff family, who also treat him with great generosity, warmly welcomes him.
Up to Rockhampton, the rhythm of the walk is fast enough and he arrives in the city on March 12, a bit tired but with good spirit.
At the risk of being very repetitive, I reiterate that our world is small… While walking in Greece, in Thessaloniky more precisely, Jean meets Samuel, a pilgrim from Barcelona. And now, in Rockhampton, on the east coast of Australia, the 2 pilgrims meet again. Sam and his wife Monika invite Jean to spend a few days in their house and treat him with the greatest care!
Then on March 19, he is leisurely walking towards Gladstone when a car stops nearby and Jozsef invites him in his home. Once settled, Jean cannot believe his ears when Jozsef informs him that he is Laszlo Papp’s brother in law. Jean had made friend with Laszlo in Rakoczifalva Hungary where they had that famous walk to celebrate the 40 000 km of the wwwalk. Laszlo and Jean communicate through Internet and are happy to exchange their latest gossip.
Friends met in Gladstone send me some photos and a few days later it is the turn of Retha Smal and family to look after the walker. Then on March 31, Elvira and Nevile Cayley invite him for tea and cakes and find him a place to sleep for the night.
On April 2, Shirley and Mike welcome him in their home and it is clear that Aussies show an uncommon kindness towards him!
In Noosa, Lou and John Cooper greet him cordially. John and Jean had met in October on The Stuart Highway, close to Daly Waters. John was then touring his country on his motorcycle. In Maroochy River, it is the turn of Ruth and Jan Noordijk to host him. The Noordijk had met the walker near Mount Isa in early December during a pleasure trip.
These friends who receive Jean so warmly are eager to offer him sightseeing tours… The Australian Gold Coast is in fact offering many attractions, fabulous landscapes, wonderful beaches and it is a surfers Paradise. However Jean declines politely these invitations and isolates himself to write whenever he has a free moment. The fact is that he has begun to write his memoirs while his memories are still fresh in his mind. His Aussie friends forgive him and his refusal to visit the beautiful sites they are so proud of and promise to get his books as soon as they are published.
Till the next time…