Saturday, July 2, 2011

Journey to the land of tulips and windmills 4

I've arrived in a certain corner of Holland at a certain brother-in-law's house, both of which shall remain nameless for reasons I'm about to describe. There are those who are seasoned travellers, those who can seamlessly meld into the customs and mores of whatever place they are in. Then there are those like me.

My task was simple, perhaps too simple. Myself and my niece and nephew- whom we'll call Diede (age almost 14) and Rik (12) mounted bicycles (that is the way of the Dutch) and rode into the nearby nameless, albeit charming medieval town (wtf, let's call it Grave) to buy some provisions (let's call them food and beer) for our stay in their domestic territory. In the supermarket, while Diede and Rik scurried around making themselves useful, I wandered the aisles squinting at labels and wondering what they meant. Our cart filled at an alarming rate and, with the foresight of an untrained novelist, I realized that we were buying too much to carry in the saddlebags of our bicycles.

We had twelve bottles of water and twelve bottles of Duvel, an exquisite Belgian beer at less than half the price in Canada. The water was duly chucked. As we stuffed the saddlebags of my brother-in-law's bike- which he kindly gave me the use of- I realized through my jet-lagged fog, that keeping myself and the bike balanced was going to be a challenge. Unfortunately the overloaded contraption chose the moment I was moving my hands from saddlebag to handlebars to topple over. It crashed to the sidewalk, sending something plastic and broken (a flashlight holder?) skittering from the handlebars onto the street. There was only one thing I dreaded more than facing the wrath of my brother-in-law (let's call him Henk): that was seeing a stream of delicious golden Duvel tracking its way into the gutter. Fortunately the latter did not happen. The Duvels survived. It remains to be seen whether I survive the former.

Because there is more, much more of my bumbling tourist act to come, more that will sorely test the patience and hospitality of the brother-in-law we are calling Henk. You see I picked the bike up (including the broken plastic pieces of whatever it was) and in my euphoria at finding the Duvels unscathed, mounted the bi-wheeled machine and attempted to leave. Problem. Bike still locked. Locked with a key the Dutch cleverly build in above the rear tire. No problem. I will unlock it. Problem. Bike won't unlock. No problem. I'll turn the key a bit harder. Problem. The key has snapped off in my hand. The over-loaded bike was still locked. Huge problem.

I'll not bore the reader with the denouement to this problem (let's call it a challenge). We have another nine days of seamless melding to attempt (including the authentic Dutch wedding of my niece) and I, along with my Duvels, intend to enjoy them as fully as possible, though I do see a great deal of walking in my near future.

No comments: