On August 1st, Jean and his son Thomas-Ã‰ric leave the home of their hosts in Edinburgh. Gail and Michael whom Jean had already met in Malawi devoted themselves to make their stay in the Scottish capital as pleasant as could be!
Father and son are very happy to share these moments of walking together even if they must go through a few days of rain. something that happens frequently in the British Isles. When evening comes, they either camp or are welcomed at the homes of residents.
On August 8th, Thomas leaves his father again to board a plane to Berlin where he will attend to his friend’s wedding and then settle in Hamburg where he foresees to begin work soon.
The road toward London is embellished with historic sites and pastoral scenery. Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, Thirsk, York. In this city, he meets with reverend John Sentamu, who was appointed the Church of England’s first black Archbishop.
From Spennymoor, Jean emails me: “English people are lovely! They are curious, open-minded and very friendly! You would not believe the invitations for tea that I must politely decline because I must move forward!”
From Lincoln, where he arrived on August 17th, he gets on the train to London early the next morning for a short interview with CTV, a Canadian TV channel. Back to Lincoln on the same day, he gets back on the road early on the 19th, and a year older! His friends from the Association of Walkers for Children wish him Happy Birthday from Buenos Aires!
In Osbourny, he gets a substantial help to push his chariot and as a gift, he receives a little Teddy Bear that the donors then send to Montreal to keep me company while waiting for Jean’s return. in 6 years!!!
David Pitchford and his girlfriend Jo, host him in their home from August 27 to the 31st, taking good care of him. On August 29th, he is welcomed with enthusiasm at the Canadian High Commission in London and on the 31st, accompanied by Jennifer Brown, Media Relations Officer at the High Commission, Jean is introduced to Mrs Shane Winser, Head of Expeditions and Field Research of the famous “Royal Geographical Society”.
September 3, he crosses the English Channel from Dover to Calais. His friend, Jean-Alexis Bayart who had organized the activities of his departure of France, last June, meets him in Calais and accompanies him for a couple of days.
September 7, he emails me: “This morning, I crossed the border to Belgium, the 35th country of my course! I am in Veurne and the weather is nice! I am always as lucky with regard to the weather. Apparently, it rained during the entire month of August here. I am now heading toward Brussels.”
September 12, it is with a heart filled with sadness that I inform my walker of his father’s death, after more than a year of hospitalization. At that time, Jean is in Brussels, at the home of his friends, Laurence and Gerardo who sympathize with his pain and try to comfort him.
In April 2005, at the time of my visit to Jean in Alexandria in Egypt, I remember a phone call he had with his father who was already in the hospital at that moment. He had then said to his son the walker: “I don’t have much time left before joining in the hereafter my family and my friends who already preceded me. When this happens, I don’t want you to be sad and come back for a heap of ashes! On the contrary, I want you to continue your walk while knowing that I will be with you every day. finally walking with you as I always wished instead of stagnating in this hospital bed.”
The people of Belgium are most welcoming and I do realize with the photos that they send me that my darling does not seem to be in a condition of extreme gauntness. is it the Belgian beer or their French fries???
Jean enters The Netherlands September 19 and again, he is welcomed with much kindliness! More. he benefits of an important enough media coverage. television, newspapers, magazines. I publish everything on the Website while not understanding a single word. I didn’t learn Dutch yet. Jean is still in The Netherlands when the project “Daughter/granddaughter” sets off. As his son Thomas-Ã‰ric has an apartment in Hamburg, would there be a possibility that his daughter Ã‰lisa-Jane, whom he has not seen since his departure in August 2000, and his granddaughter Laury, whom he has yet to see, do come to visit him in this German city???
This was a wish that our dear friend and angel, Michel, now promoted to archangel, had expressed, the same man who paid my plane fare and had welcomed both of us, Jean and I, in his home in Aix en Provence, last April. He now takes care of the transportation of Jean’s daughter and granddaughter from Montreal to Hamburg! Let us hope that this visit, so much wanted, compensates in a certain way, the sadness of the recent death.
On the phone with her grandfather, a few weeks before the wonderful visit, Laury declares: “You know Papy, what you are doing is like the grain of sand that crosses the sandbox!” A rather profound saying for a 5 year old child!
Jean arrives in Germany on October 2nd. He walks to Rotenburg and then gets on the train to Hamburg where he joins his son Thomas-Ã‰ric at his apartment. This is a one-week technical halt that was foreseen in the program. First of all, he receives a brand new chariot from yet another angel, Chariot Carrier, thus allowing him to put in storage the faithful companion of his walk on the whole African continent and Western Europe. Furthermore, as winter will be coming shortly and that he will be crossing Eastern Europe during that season, he must foresee the appropriated clothing and equipment.
A thousand thanks to Mr. AndrÃ©as KrÃ¼ger, Director of Public Relations of Globetrotter Stores in Hamburg for providing Jean with warm garments and gear that will allow him to face the rigorous climate of this part of Europe.
Jean also took advantage of his stay in Hamburg to attend, together with the resident Canadian Consul, to a Standing Event on the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Two days later, on the 18th, Jean gets back on the train to Rotenburg and from there continues his walk toward Berlin. Once there, he then comes back to Hamburg by train again to welcome his daughter and granddaughter arriving at the airport on the 31st, more or less at the time I am writing these lines. How powerfully emotional!!! The narration and the photos of this remarkable meeting will reach you in the next update, in February 2007.
I started again to add photos on the Web site. I have more than one-year delay to catch up, but hopefully I will bring it up to date!!!
Till next time.
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