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The black hole

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June 10, 2020
skating in the Netherlands
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June 25, 2020
 

Saturday April 4th - Baie-Comeau

 

“The situation in the world doesn’t look good. I think you should go back to the Netherlands. We want you to leave here today or tomorrow." Those were the hard words of our host Denis. After escaping from the Route Blanche, we went to Denis and France in Baie-Comeau, a small town on the north coast where we would sit out the lockdown in Quebec and stay until our freighter left for Europe. It was a well-considered choice. We had a lot of fun with the family and we felt completely at home. The days are filled with sports and catching up on work on our website. "For us it is a rest period like we had many during our trip. "It seems like there is no corona” we laugh. We build an igloo in the yard and we cook a number of Dutch and Belgian recipes. It is early April and our freighter leaves in a month. By then the lockdown will be over and we can travel towards the freighter, at least that’s what we think. Until that specific morning. Suddenly we are on the street in the middle of a lockdown. There is no public transport and renting a place is prohibited by the government. Denis and France checkmate us. A master move or a wake-up call that we might be happy with in the end?

 

We call another family where we stayed for a few days during our ski adventure. They come to pick us up, a three hour drive, and we can stay in their house as long as we want. In our way of traveling we always have a lot of confidence in other people and are also very dependent on the help that people offer us. The coronavirus changes the situation and suddenly this dependence is our vulnerability. "The country where we travel is our home," we keep saying, but finding a comfortable and safe home is now almost an impossible task. What if the situation changes again and we have to "flee" for a third time. What if the lockdown lasts longer than a few weeks? What if we can't travel to our freighter? What if they stop taking passengers? What if something happens to our family at home and we can't go home? The uncertainties are consuming our mind and we can't make a decision. The next morning we call the embassy and the freighter company. The chance that we can board the ship is nonexistent, nor is the chance that we can travel there. The stubbornness not to interrupt our journey and to stay in Canada crumbles further and further, until the thin wall has become just a bit of dust. We make the decision, we go home while we still can. We try to address the positive sides to ourselves. "This way we can better prepare ourselves for the next part in Europe”. During our trip we learned that we have to make decisions to get rid of a restless feeling. This time, the decision does not have that effect and doubt lingers in our heads. We regularly accuse each other in all the tension.

 

The next morning we pick up the rental car and drive 1,000 kilometers to Montreal Airport. A big part we drive along the route we have skied. We feel a sense of pride. "We've all skied this," Zoë says a few times. We enjoy the beautiful landscape and the fact that we have the fate in our own hands. With every kilometer we leave the north coast behind us and close the book a bit. On the way there are two police checks where we can pass without problems. The police officers are surprised when we tell them that we are going home to the Netherlands. They don't know what to say and wish us a safe journey. On the road it is quiet, almost deserted. At the airport it is even more deserted. The departures screen has four flights scheduled for the entire day. We fly via Paris to Amsterdam in an almost empty plane. "Sit where-ever you want, place enough," says the flight attendant when we board the plane. When we land at Schiphol airport in the morning, we see hundreds of planes parked at the terminals and on the runways. We are back home, just like a year and a half ago. Then we were cheerful and emotional, now we feel relief and familiarity. Maybe we made the right choice after all.

 

Driving from Schiphol to Breda, Zoë hometown, we are amazed by the number of cars on the Dutch highways. There hardly seems to be corona here, compared to Quebec. In the streets people keep their distance, but the fear that we saw in Canada isn't here at all. For us it is a relief and we finally feel peace of mind. We realize how stressed we have been the last weeks, without really realizing it. In Quebec we searched several times a day for news reports about the evolution of the virus. That news brought us uncertainty or hope, depending on the day. Now that we are at home, we look at the latest corona stats in the evening, but it does not influence our mood. We have a home where they won’t put us on the street. A warm place with our own family. Of the many uncertainties, only one remains. When can we continue our journey? We don't really care whether that is in one month or in two months. As always, we have a lot of work to do, or else we make up a lot of work. Create new travel plans, website updates, episodes for youtube, starting our webshop or think about our future. The upcoming skate adventure is probably the last part of our world trip, and suddenly the end comes close. A light panic strikes us because we have no idea what we want afterwards. Where are we going to live, what kind of work are we looking for, what do we do with WeLeaf? There are so many questions that we have thought off during our trip, but now need to become more concrete. People once asked us "are you not afraid of the black hole after your trip". Full of confidence we said that we learned so much during our trip, we know what we want and finding a job should be no problem. The answers to those questions are not so clear at all when we think about them concretely. Maybe there exists a black hole after all.

 

We absolutely do not like ambiguity and uncertainty, we want to move forward with a plan. The route to this is less important, but we need a direction. We fill our days with brainstorms, reading educational books and do online courses. We fill empty papers with the future of WeLeaf, our work criteria and we collect all kinds of information about living in Sweden and Norway. These two countries are very high on the list of potential candidates. So far we have passed twenty countries in the past three and a half years, but we would not want to settle in any of them. We are in love with Argentina, but could we also work in that culture? The nature and climate of Canada suits us perfectly, but it is far away from our family and on the north coast there is only one road. According to our extensive list of housing criteria, Sweden and Norway seem to score very high, so with that idea we skate north. If we don't like it, there are 173 other countries in the world. While skiing, we asked ourselves a question from a card game every day. One of the questions was "what question would you ask an omniscient oracle". Olivier's question would be "in which country or region do I find my ideal place to live?". We haven't encountered the oracle yet, but we have learned that the journey always gives us an answer.

We are back home for two months now. It seems like we blinked twice, time goes by that fast. According to the general theory of relativity, a black hole is an area of space and time from which nothing can escape, not even light. Scientists haven't discovered what's really in it, so if they don't even find it, we shouldn't worry too much about it, true?

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