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Winnipeg, Manitoba

Still waiting on the laptop. I just phoned but the guy I needed to speak to wasn’t there so waiting for him to call back.

Sitting in the common room of the hostel as people chat, eat breakfast, prepare sandwiches, decide what they’re doing today, talk about the differences between their countries – when there’s snow in Britain children are sent home from school.

A Japanese guy reads a magazine out loud to himself. A talkative Brit – your expert traveller, has no trouble striking up a conversation with whoever happens to be around – sits in silence at the one dollar for ten minutes internet terminal.

I’m not the oldest person here, but most are younger than me. I look younger than my years though, so don’t feel too out of place. I don’t know why fitting in is so important to me but it is. I guess because it lets me become invisible.

When I’m moving I’m invisible, in the sense that I don’t have to interact with people, except people in cars, but that’s different. A hoot or a hand gesture is not a conversation. I’m just a cyclist. As a person I’m invisible. Sometimes I think I’m invisible to myself as well. I don’t look in mirrors very often, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about being invisible as a person. Maybe you need someone else to tell you what sort of person you are, that if you just rely on your own image of yourself, rarely or never having it reaffirmed by others, then that image steadily melts away.

Too much analysis is bad for the soul. Just describe what’s happening.

Two English guys playing draughts. A Scottish girl commentating on the game, giving advice to the one who appears to be losing, sitting on the arm of his chair.

Move one of them. That one’s closer. Then he can get two of you.

He’s giving his next move a lot of thought.

A Japanese woman is on the internet. I’m waiting.

I was just listening to a Liverpudlian guy talking about the novel he’s writing: The Winnipeggers. He wants to meet some natives who speak a native language. When he first said natives I thought he was just talking about people who were born and grew up in Winnipeg, but then realized he was talking about “natives” as in aboriginals, indians – never sure of the correct term.

Now I’m listening to a guy who laughs at everything. Is he a happy person or is he just one of those people who laughs because he can’t think of anything to say?

Two others are reading quietly. The refrigerator hums loudly. I’m very sensitive to noise I think. It doesn’t seem to bother most people. I guess it depends where you grew up. I grew up in a quiet home. (I was the loudest thing in it. But I used to be louder than I am now.) Perhaps if you grew up in a loud home you expect noise as thee norm. Quiet is something to be filled with sound.

Now someone is speaking on the phone next to me. It’ll be good to get back on the road. I don’t like the noise of the traffic, but it’s the kind of noise you can filter out after a while. And I’ll try to take a quiet road. Highway 2 rather than Highway 1. Hopefully most of the trucks will take Highway 1 which is more direct. I don’t mind doing a few extra kilometers if it means more peace and more safety.

I’m frustrated that I’ve spent so long here. I was looking forward to the rest and thought the time would give me a chance to think about things, but things just seem more mixed up now than before. I’m not even sure what things I’m talking about. There’s more clarity on the bike. On the bike I only have to think about cycling. For most of the time at least. Towards the end of the day I start having to think about where I’m going to stop for the night, but that doesn’t usually take too much thought. Sometimes, if I’m in a barren area, I have to think about where I’m going to get food and water, but so far that hasn’t been too much of a problem.

Once all the practicalities are taken care of (which they never are really) I can get on with pedalling, and day dreaming. I can’t recall what I dream about. Thoughts just pass through my head.

Sometimes I think about why I’m doing this. Often I think about brief social encounters which may have happened days previously, but because they’re such isolated incidents they take on a significance they wouldn’t in a normal day to day life in the city (not something I ever really had when I lived in the city). In the five days I’ve been here I’ve become more attuned to social encounters. It’s hard to imagine getting back on the bike right now. I have an apprehension, as I did just before starting this trip. But that soon went once I got going.

Sitting in a coffee shop sheltering from the rain. There was thunder and lightening earlier, and more of it now. “It’s raining soup and I’ve got a fork” – Half Man Half Biscuit.

Seems like the rain’s easing off a bit now. I’ve drunk my coffee and eaten the chocolate chip cookie so better head outside in a minute. It’s getting late and I really need an early night.

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