Days: 384 (14 July 2015)
Total distance travelled: 96,764.66 kilometres (60,102.27 miles)
I’ve often said (or at the very least thought it to myself) that travel is all about the people that you meet.
Bill lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario (Canada).
He has a cheeky sense of humour and dislikes snakes.
Bill also suffers from palsy.
I’m not certain however, that ‘suffers’ is the correct term, as more appropriate would be he is afflicted.
It was on our second day out of Toronto that we met Bill, so we’d probably only covered around sixteen hundred of the roughly five thousand kilometres of what many had labelled a crazy bus journey.
For much of his adult life, Bill apparently lived in various facilities, changed only as government funding increased or decreased (the current Harper conservative government has made life very difficult for those with disabilities by all accounts).
Turns out he didn’t have to.
We sit and we ponder which plane we’ll catch to whatever country for our next adventure.
Bill’s great adventure is that he now lives alone, independently in his very own apartment, with only occasional assistance from carers who will come and assist.
On our bus from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg (going to visit his sister and her five children), Bill was just happy to simply talk with us (other than his friend and acting carer Cheryl, nobody else on our bus spoke to Bill during the whole journey… which was a shame, as Bill loved to talk).
About twenty minutes after what was I’m sure a ‘healthy’ lunch stop (the Greyhound service seems to schedule its rest stops around either a Tim Hortons donut shop, or McDonalds), a loud bang was heard beneath the bus and a short time later we were on the side of the highway with an overheated engine.
The bus soon emptied as it began to heat up (due to the air-conditioning only running when the doors were closed, not due to a fire or anything crazy).
Bill, confined to his motorized wheelchair, could do no such thing.
He stoically sat there whilst news of a broken fan belt and cracked bearings confirmed we were going nowhere anytime soon.
When another bus appeared behind, after some attempts at makeshift repairs which ultimately came to naught, we were eventually told to transfer vehicles (at least those of us that had connections).
But not Bill.
Needing a bus that was wheelchair capable (ours obviously was, but this fresh arrival was not), he and Cheryl would have to wait around five hours longer for a bus to come all the way from Thunder Bay!
When Cheryl had asked Bill how he was when the bus first stopped, he’d said “It could always be worse.”
Outside, Cheryl gave each of us a warm hug as we said our goodbyes.
I think she was grateful we’d engaged Bill as a person, not as an inconvenience.
The last we saw of Bill, he was patiently sitting in his chair.
He was smiling as I waved goodbye.
Bill didn’t mean to be, nor do I think he even realised it, but Bill was pretty inspirational…
* Our buses (for there were many that made up this journey) from Toronto to Whitehorse cost a ridiculously cheap $253.12 CAN for the two of us (because we booked well in advance).