Departure, arrival and settling in
Monday was greeted with enthusiasm, anxiety and mostly apprehension as to what the rest of the day would have in store for this 'newbie' traveler. A quick coffee was shared with two of my closest and oldest friends in the morning before making sure bags were packed and weighed. A last skinny-dip in the pool was a suitable goodbye to sunny South Africa and the warm weather.
At the airport the bags were wrapped in plastic to preserve the highly-valuable rooibos tea and home-made CD's. My Sector9 trilam was also included in the wrapping process and the skateboard stuck out just as badly from the bag as I did as a foreigner when arriving in Holland.
I was very fortunate to meet an acquaintance in the CT airport. Torbjorn was a fellow longboarder whom I’d had the chance to meet at a race in December. He was also heading in the same direction on the same flight back to his native land, Norway. I sent my last few smses, whilst I could, describing with glee the fact that nobody was seated next to me in the middle seat of the row I was
in. A Chinese girl was in the window seat and she was leaving Cape Town to visit her family in Bangkok. The in-flight entertainment from Emirates was fantastic. I kept myself busy with mini-golf and “Despicable Me”. Landing in Dubai, Torbjorn and I wandered the airport and had a coffee in order to be able to sink into some decent couches. Before we knew it, we were asked to board flight EK 147 for Amsterdam.
The toll of the long journey was beginning to hit hard half-way through the second aerial stint. I tried to get up and walk as much as I could but a large amount of turbulence prompted us adventures to return to our small holding cells. Thank goodness (for some reason) I had nobody next to me on this flight as well. The Indian woman in the window seat was also good conversation and gave me a contact in Rotterdam to try out. I lay down on the extra chair available in positions Pilates, Yoga and Karma Sutra followers would be proud of.
Rene and Geraldine (uncle and Aunt) picked me up from the airport bang-on-time. However, my stomach had begun to churn from
the long journey/food/ travel-stress and I took the liberty of the back-seat to zonk-out for the 1 ½ hour drive. We arrived at Opa and Oma to find Opa just on his way out to fetch Oma from an art lesson. Tea and stories were later shared and my Dutch was steadily being put to the test. Rene, used to feeding an army (literally), went all-out for supper and bought plenty of lasagna and pizza. My stomach was not up to the test and I picked at some lettuce and beans. 7pm = bedtime and I crept into a multi-layered extravaganza for the night.
The next morning (02/02/2010) I was well-rested and awoken by the mutterings of Opa and Oma and the new house-noises. The unfamiliar birds chirping gave a nice change to the starlings, guinea fowl and bush-thrush back home. Feeling far better than the previous day, I managed to have some yoghurt (which is bloody amazing here) for breakfast. I quickly realized that socks were not good enough for the morning chill. I’m definitely losing some calluses on my feet this year with my feet now permanently engulfed in layers of socks and my warmest shoes. From
hardly wearing a t-shirt and getting out of my boxers at 11am to putting my hoody on as I wake up is quite an experience.
Another shock to the system was actually going for a cycle today. Opa and I sorted out my bank account at ABN and on the way he was kind enough to show me just how dangerous the slippery roads can be. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt too badly. In fact, the most dangerous looking aspect of Holland so far are the town’s kids. I met a few on the way home later high on a case of energy drinks they had very subtly consumed and strewn over the nearby surrounds. Their modern bikes and cool winter jackets (as well as frothing mouths and demon-eyes) intimidated me somewhat and I dared pedal faster to my possible detriment.
This afternoon I had to return to the bank to show some form of proof I had a South African address. As if the un-gelled, bearded, boy with broken-Dutch and a 1980’s winter-jacket didn’t say enough. The independent cycle trip did a lot for the confidence; although a few drivers will go home with stories of a demented
cyclist playing “chicken’’ with the cars on the wrong side of the road until I screamed across to the other side again, only then forgetting I had to back-pedal to break and re-arranged a frosty hedge.
Ariejan and Anita (Uncle and Aunt) visited in the afternoon for tea. I’ll be visiting them shortly as mention of an amazing chocolate shop (which is also relatively inexpensive) around the corner from them gave me enough reason to brave the distance. Supper consisted of lasagna yet-again with some butternut and “heerlikke’’ yoghurt. My stomach is slowly regaining some strength and a chat with a special someone put a rather large smile on my face.
Now it’s time to crawl under the multiple duvets once again and listen to some Bon Iver (the classical music on Opa’s laptop can only be listened to for so-long). The iPod is being used sparingly due to me forgetting the charger-cable…urgh. Photos will also take a while as the cable for that was left too…all the instruments but none of the lifelines!
Tomorrow sees the begin of job-hunting and the exploration of Eindhoven!
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