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Published: March 12th 2011
I have finally managed to find the time to once again get the fingernails trimmed through the battering of the keyboard. It wasn’t easy finding the time with Opa trying to finish off the documentation of another one of his flowers, accompanied by O&O asking to see exactly every single photo I’ve taken in the past few weeks. Each photo required an explanation and I felt my photographic prowess was definitely questioned. So, sorry to those of you who also have no clue as to what some of the photos are of: just ask.
This is all perfectly understandable when you’re not living in your own space, and this fact is felt harder sometimes than others. With patience, determination and a bit of sneakiness I get by. You have to find your own comfort zone within someone else’s and this just takes time. I’m just grateful I have such an awesome pair of grandparents who let a young South African man take up residence for a long period of time in their abode. I’ve got it way better than Harry Potter at least. I knew this before I came here and the more work I do and as I become
further involved within the community the less I fit in with other’s schemes and more with mine. I’ve got hockey trials next week with a club’s second team to see if they find me good enough to coach. If I make it, I get to coach and play for the team as a sort of compensation.
Thursday consisted of a visit to Den Bosch, where O&O and I all endevoured to finish a legendary bosse-bol. It tasted fantastic; a sort-of over-sized ball/eclaire coated in dark chocolate. I then walked/rolled around the city whilst O&O visited a museum. I got to see the amazing church and the city's blend of both modern and old architecture. A lot of the design is centred around it having been a fort. Can't believe I nearly forgot to put this day in!
It was Opa’s birthday and he woke up to a tit resting on the breakfast table. This ‘fowl’ statement pertains to the small blue-tit knick-knack I’d bought him, which he very much appreciated. It now sits opposite him when he seats himself to complete a Sudoku and watch the real tits feed outside. Amidst cake,
cheese, flowers and bon-bons accompanied by various visitors during the morning I think Opa had a good start to his birthday. That evening we were treated to dinner at a restaurant in Eindhoven. It was delicious and I ordered a Carpaccio starter after which followed a fat piece of pork and lastly a cup of coffee.
I ended off Opa’s birthday by going back to Sittard with R&G. Here I would somehow meet up with Daniel who’d been partying since the early hours of the afternoon. After receiving a de-briefing from Rene and Geraldine in military fashion (I’m exaggerating) about “the youth these days” I bravely stepped out into the cold in my sultan suit. I got about halfway to the café where I was going to meet Daniel and suddenly a passerby had a good laugh at my outfit. I started to realise what R&G meant about how mean the kids were thesedays. I asked him what was so funny and all he could giggle was, “Gaddafi”. Thank goodness my beard and shaggy hair were trimmed otherwise the snipers would have had me the moment I stepped out the car.
So… not Aladdin, not a dashing young
prince, not a Sultan, but Gaddafi Jr. strode into Bloem Café for a night out with the Cousin and Co. We entertained ourselves with flying chickens, pisangs, beers and krekkels (the tokens needed instead of cash; I’ve forgotten how you spell it). There was no end-of-night saucyness involved this time and all food managed to enter the gullet on first attempt. We ended up cycling back at around 3am to crawl into our beds. With one bike, most of the alcohol was burnt off lifting each other on the uphill. ‘Uphill’ you say? I tell you, what little there was, was severely felt due to the alcohol, freezing temperatures and 90kg man I lifted in his carnival suit (which looked like it weighed about the same as him).
We woke up pretty late, as expected, and after a breakfast of chopped-up pig (I dare not call it bacon) and egg we watched some TV and played on the PS3. An early-supper at R&G was much appreciated before the main night of carnival. Daniel and I said our goodbyes and headed for Maurice’s house just outside of Sittard. Daniel’s friend had had his face painted by his
girlfriend to look like a skull and Amy had done a brilliant job. We all headed into Sittard with Daniel and I each lifting somebody on the back of the bicycle.
The town's square was extremely busy with various personalities (ranging from the young-and-slick to the old-and-jolly) singing renditions of all the carnival songs off a particular balcony. I had no idea what they were singing about. I just swayed to various songs I used in my head to block out the same monotonous beat in every carnival song attempting to embed itself in my subconscious. As the night wore on, my confidence grew in knowing the songs and I belted out random lines in the wrong pitch at various times much to the amusement of anyone around. Thank goodness I’ll never see most of those people again.
Daniel and I had a tour of the square when we had finally plucked up the courage to immerse ourselves between the jailbait, golden oldies and general drunken public. We were only able to make one round tour as it took about half an hour to exit our corner and then the next hour plucking up the courage to do
it again. On our tour Daniel nearly ended up on the centre-stage (where later the more popular acts came), I managed to grab some packets of salami from the VIP tables and we both managed to keep our shoes on. The rest of the night followed much the same course as Friday, with Daniel and I being the troopers until a 3am cycle home again.
Another late morning was followed by a manly lunch fit for Gaddafi. Today was the day R&G were going to appear in the big ‘optocht’. This is much the same as the floats that go through the town of Stellenbosch at the beginning of Jool. They were on the very last float as René was part of the personal ‘guard’ of Sittard’s carnival Prince. Each town has its own prince which is basically the face of their carnival. The prince also has many duties with regards to running carnival and various charity endeavours.
The floats were really well done (a bit better than the student’s efforts in Stellenbosch). Sweets and toys are thrown off the top of most of them as they pass by for the kids to devour. The
afternoon wore on and little kiddies became more and more rabid. I kept my hands in my pockets for fear of their beady little eyes locking onto and chomping anything small enough to fit in their mouths. René and Geraldine passed us by in a flash, but not before René had the chance to practice his sharp-shooting with his sugary projectiles of pleasure-and-pain. My camera received a few expertly placed sugar-bombs as well as my face. He also managed to pelt the 4-year-old munching on my kneecap back into his pram.
After the mayhem of the ‘optocht’ was over we headed to Maastricht. It’s a bit of a bigger town than Sittard and we walked all night through the crowded streets from one party to another. Bands played in the abbeys and it was really fun seeing the diversity of costumes. It wasn’t too fun trying to work our way through the really crowded spaces, but you just have to laugh when stuck between a Darth Vader and Miss Piggy.
We took the last train home and had a last look around a ‘quiet’ Sittard (compared to Maastricht). The cycle home in the morning wasn’t as cold as
before and Daniel and I laughed at the stories of the night. Just before bed we made an international call to my Mom’s cell for her birthday. Great voicemail message.
Daniel and I cleaned his flat, fed the animals and ourselves. That evening we once again had supper with R&G and traded our vastly different carnival experiences. Desireé also joined us for supper and stayed to play a board game afterwards, which Daniel and I dominated.
Tuesday + Wednesday (08-09/03/2011)
I headed home early Tuesday morning with cracked lips, a dry throat, the sniffles and many awesome memories. I was still able to stretch my cheeks into a smile goodbye. The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent organising Thursday and recovering after the boy’s weekend. Considerable time was also spent on re-telling the tales to O&O and paging through the large amount of photos.
My first day of work! I shaved, gelled the hair and set off mid-afternoon to show my potential to cater at the PSV match that evening. I got sent to the East wing where the staff were served a dinner of a sausage and mash
with spinach. Thankfully the ordeal of trying to remove my bag from my locker downstairs was not going to be needed. I had to fit my clothing bag with kilo’s of warm jerseys into the locker, and having done so realised the sandwiches I’d made were stuffed at the very bottom. You can imagine my relief in realising we got given food!
I was paired with the largest man in the room. You could spot him easily in the corner where the heavy breathing was coming from. We set off to the northern wing to manage three VIP rooms by ourselves; no easy task apparently on my first day. However, Wout (that was big-boy’s name) surprised me at every turn and I did what he suggested as he’d already been working the stadium’s corridors for a year. We worked really well together; N.F.F. and I (N.F.F. was the nickname I gave him: nimble-footed-fatty). He said he’d gladly have me back again to walk the same routes, which was a great confidence booster. He had much less kind words to say about some of the other newbies!
When all the cutlery was once again polished, the plates stacked and
the last of the over-fed and drunk VIP’s rolled out with their silver-spoons us staff got to tuck into the leftover food and wine. Fantastic. I even managed to salvage some pastrami on its way into the bin. Top wine, new acquaintances and an empty PSV stadium to admire.
After the 16:00h-01:00h shift ended a colleague of mine found a 5€ note lying on the ground and treated me + 1 to a beer on the Eindhoven markt. On the way I finally got to turn my phone on again and found that De Vooruitgang (the cafe I hope to work at) had called me. They wanted me to come sign up Friday at 3pm and I thought, “well, might as well pop in now!”.
Good idea; I found the manager with beer-in-hand and smile-on-face. He said he’d forgotten I was working PSV, apologised, and told me to come 5pm the next day for another meeting. It was a double-good idea because I was looking super-smart after working PSV and he could see that side of me too. The night ended off on a very good note, except for the long and cold cycle home.
Woke up late to give my legs the chance they deserved at some rest. I started writing this epic and then later in the afternoon went through to town to book more work with JMW and have a chat to that manager. I came home starving-hungry just after 6pm, but with a waiter’s t-shirt from De Vooruitgang and a six-pack of beer in hand. O&O cracked the champagne and now all that remains is me to perform well enough on Monday and Tuesday at De V’ for them to want to keep me!
I did some more driving (my first harrowing lesson on Wednesday) and took O&O shopping. We then popped into A&A’s house to decorate it with birthday slingers. A&A are away and should be surprised to find some colour and un-orderly decorations within their tastefully-minimalistic abode. The rest of my Saturday has been taken up by this blog-ma-jig. This evening O&O are going to play cards and I’ve got Kingdom of Heaven to watch, along with the duty of tasting rest of my Belgian beer. This week is D-week as far as I’m concerned. Along with the hockey trials, if my stint at
the café goes well I’ll see no need to move to another country anytime soon.
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