is a tropical summer evening in the Netherlands. Today is 24 August 2001. Precisely
two months since my birthday there is yet another celebration. Tonight we will
have dinner in Rotterdam near Parkzicht. Everyone in The Netherlands can be
found outside, having another pint on a terrace outside a cafe; after all, the
weekend has started. Dressed very summery we arrive in 'groups' of 2 times 2
and 1 time 1 in the 'Place To Be'. Let's first have a bit of wine…
We* are not the only ones who have come up with this idea, and as the waiters and waitresses aren't really bothered we have to wait for a long time before we get our drinks. The conversation soon turns to our 'daily hustles'. And there are quite a few of them [food, education, losing some weight, to work or not to work, men yes or no?, service at banks, etc. etc.], but luckily we have got all night. We place our orders and happily continue our conversation. It's striking that the longer one talks about the meaning of, and nonsense in life the harder one can laugh about it! After five side and the equal amount of main dishes, three bottles of wine and ten cups of coffee I'm afraid the evening has come to an end. In the very best of moods we leave the restaurant. We are almost the last to leave.
As a memento for this and many other cheerful evenings out I have been given a printed cushion cover. In the middle there is a big picture of the five of us on a terrace in Paris, enjoying a salad Nicoise and a delicious white wine; under it the all-explaining text: 'Homesick?'
* Dees, Marieke, Tinus, Sjaan and I
unaware of what was about to take place I got on the train on Sunday night 26
August, on my way to Marc's (the web master himself) and Sascha's. I was enjoying
the last rays of sunlight and a slight delay courtesy of Dutch Rail and was
thinking about further input for this web site. When I arrived at Utrecht Central
Station I was met by Marc. Very soon we started talking about the web site,
a digital camera and the mini laptop that I might take with me. So far nothing
had happened. But…
as we walked into his appartment I suddenly spotted my two-month-old niece Marieke in her maxi cosi, smiling at me in her own special way (for that is something she excels in!) and watching me with a lot of attention. I really didn't understand ANYTHING about this! How on earth had this baby arrived here? Naiv as I can be on such occasions, I asked Marieke, 'Where are your mummy and daddy, then?' Again a broad grin. (And I still hadn't noticed anything! What do you mean, 'natural born blonde'???) This situation asked for action. So, I picked up the child and entered the living room with her. … SURPRISE!!!! Just around the corner, there was the whole bunch of 'criminals' (better known under the name: 'the Logistics'**).
A moment of absolute speechlessness (which doesn't happen too often). I was completely stunned, which led to great hilarity. To cut a long story short, it was a very successful party. With a bag full of items for my rucksack, including priority number 1 (no, not even more items; how would I take it all with me?!) and some dried tears on my cheecks I went home. Another goodbye - it's so difficult to imagine that I will not be seeing so many people for quite some time! Well, we'll see how it goes with this web page…
**Marc & Sascha, Esther & Paul, An & Inno, Esther & Koos, Alfons, Jos, René, Richard, Etienne.
Three more weeks to go…
Today in three weeks' time I will be in Delhi. I can hardly imagine what it will be like. Actually I don't like the idea, because as usual I still have zóóó too much to do! Visas, foreign currency, medicine, checklist, notes. Once upon a long time ago I was a disciplined and organised person who could take care of this all in half a day instead of three full days... On days like these you start to understand that it is really wise of people to make travel plans at least a year before they leave and not just a couple of months in advance. Last weekend I decided that, if on my first day in Delhi the big question arises ('Why am I doing this?'), I will book myself into a hotel the same night. Sometimes life can be so simple…
But many things have been sorted out now. I have had all the vaccinations I needed, so now I feel like some giant (anti) poison ball. In the evenings I don't need light anymore, I am radiating myself. Hopefully, all those mosquitoes over there will notice, too, so that it has a purpose after all.
I have also bought a rucksack. 55 liters. Of course I never ever experience any doubts and when the shop assistant repeated my answer with eyes like UFOs ('Really? You have never walked with a rucksack on your back?'), I replied in my very down-to-earth way: 'Of course I have. I have just never had such a big bag and I have never been to Asia, but luckily I'm not travelling with you!' I would have preferred an even bigger rucksack, preferably with a minimum capacity of 65 liters. The more space there is the better! But I couldn't have it that way. At a certain point I was standing in front of a mirror with a 70 liter rucksack on my back. There wasn't even anything in it, but I almost fell on my back. This brought me down to earth again. The remark, 'It is really a rucksack for men, Miss' was really a consolation, but I realized that my make up (föhn) was put back into the category: Priority No. 2, not 1. With some talent for understatement I say, 'What a shame!'
I have planned most of my journey now, too (see: 'travel itinerary'). I'm sure it will change again but so as not to drive the lady at the travel clinic completely berserk ('You must know approximately where you'll be going, otherwise I cannot give you a prescription for anti malaria tablets'). Also, as far as choices in life go I will be going on an exciting trip.
See, there's still enough time. I am going to be alright!!!
What has happened?
HELP!!! The web master of my web site will be going on holiday!!! That means I'll have to write a small piece quick-quick so that the latest news on the site will be a bit recent. This week all sorts of things have been organised and a lot of typing has been done for this page. It was really good to hear and read people's reactions (so early on!). The following or remaining two weeks will also be "busy" what with all the preparations and doing fun things. There are still some dates, christenings, dinners and birthdays, so I will be alright. Have you noticed how relaxed I am? And would you like to know why? It is because everything I want to take with me fits into my rucksack and there is even some space left! For I have just put everything into it (complete with wrappings; it was all done very roughly) and I have stood on the scales with it (I do hope they (Sjaan's) are precise enough, otherwise I'll have a problem in two weeks' time...) Six point eight kilos. Well, that is really neat, isn't it? I have to add that this is only my rucksack, hé, to stop people from worrying about me.
For the record: as of today I am out of employment, so from now on I am going to be careful. Retiring at 32 is quite something. Some money has to be spent and there is not an awful lot of it, either. Anyway, 'that's all folks!' for this time. Next time will probably be from a travel destination already, so keep an eye on this page!
Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get
How does one feel on the eve of one's departure? Well, what shall I say? A little tense? (Luckily, Dees and Mark still have got a bottle of wine left, so that offers some hope for tonight.) For what is one experiencing? That one does not like to say goodbye, that the US are in an ultimate state of confusion, that India ècht must really be very dirty, that this will be my last evening in Holland for some time and that on the other hand half of The Netherlands is backpacking, so what am I going on about???
Done anything nice lately? Yes, I have cycled to "Verhuisd" Amsterdam to do some last bits of shopping (while losing my way all the time!), collected the visa, done even more shopping and finished off the last bits of organisation. Of course I had to say goodbye to even more people and that is really depressing. Fortunately, my hairdresser has promised me that if I do marry the king of Rarotonga, she will fly over to do my hair! That is something to build hopes on.
the rucksack has been packed. I so hope that I won't bump into anyone, because even though I am hardly taking anything with me, the bag weighs 11 kilos. And that excludes gèèn clothing, make up and föhn. Which is a great shame
So, what is inside the bag? See the list somewhere else on this web site (if you really want to know). For those who love to send letters: please send them Poste Restante (at least that is what I have understood to be best). Please take a look at the web site: www.wereldreis.net, because this explains it all in detail. Also bear in mind the time it will take for the mail to arrive (e.g., send your Christmas cards by the end of October! Your friends and relatives may be delighted if you post their cards at the same time as mine.) and do not forget to include sender's details (So if anything goes wrong the letter will be returned to you).
hope you do notice that my sense of humour is still without borders, but that
my world at this moment is limited to 'waiting' until it will be tomorrow and
I will be collected and taken to Schiphol Airport (The Boxtel family is always
ready to help out!!!) So,
this is all for now. See you next time!!! (By
which time hopefully, Marc, the web master, will also be back from holiday.)
I have to admit that it has not been that difficult to say goodbye to everyone at Schiphol Airport. I do not know if that was because checking in (quite literally) took a heavy burden off my shoulders or because I always get into that wonderful holiday mood when I arrive at Schiphol Airport. That was how it went now. At about twelve o'clock I said goodbye to everyone (Dad, Mum, An, Inno, Marieke (with the cutest of all t-shirts: 'I (little heart) Auntie Jacq'), Anne, Floor, Marieke and Sjaan). Then I did have to cry a bit... Then through Customs, which was easier than I'd expected (even though the security measures had become stricter) and I quickly bought a camera, too. Just after half past one the plane left for the first stop: Paris!