“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” Tim Cahill
I was cycling slowly in the stillness of the night, looking for a place to put up my tent. I tried to spot something which would be more than a shallow ditch or a fragment of meadow on the edge of the forest. Canada differs from Mexico or Colombia. Knocking at the door does not equal an invitation for a supper. Firstly, there are less and less houses and gas stations. Secondly, even if I’m so lucky that I can get to some buildings just before sunset, I have no guarantee that someone will let me stay nearby. Money would fix all things. There are lots of motels or campgrounds along the way. The problem is that with my twelve American dollars daily budget I simply cannot afford them.
After all, sleeping in the forest does not sound so bad. But the nights often end with a morning visit of a teddy bear. Then, I do not know how to behave. I carry bear spray and I keep it handy but everybody says that if the bear is hungry the spray will not save me and I will be eaten anyway.
That time the buildings appeared unexpectedly – I might well write that they suddenly fell down straight from the sky. A pale light was coming through half-drawn curtains. I came closer.
– No problem, you can put up your tent wherever you want – said an older, white-beard man after opening the door. – But please get inside if you wish. We will talk a little and drink a beer. Santa Claus, I thought, someone dropped him from heaven.
The words hovered over the table, rose, then dropped and faded. The smoke hid them in the reigned chaos of papers, cans, glass pieces, wood and metal frames. In one of them – my host with a young woman. Sunny and cheerful faces with clear sky in the background.
The cats came out only after some time. First, the ginger ones and then – the huge black-and-white feline creature. – Strange that she came out – said James. – She never shows herself to a stranger.
I stretched out my hand, she came closer and then jumped on my knees. I touched her once, then she fled and did not come back. The time stopped, and so did we in it.
In the morning a bird song woke me up. It sounded like a bell. I listened for a moment, but the sound melted into silence and did not repeat itself. I said goodbye to the man. I kept on listening. The bird was gliding in the sky, higher, and higher, until it disappeared in the clouds.