This is to my Mum. Today she’s 48.
Happy birthday, mum! Happy happy birthday! And may you party tonight in the comfort of the company of the ones that can be there, around you, today, on this very special today. So you’re 48! I have to say it took me a while to do the maths the other day. I was somehow stuck at the idea of you being still 30 or 35 or something. But hey, I guess 48 is as nice, although some years passed. And although I know I have my share in your stream of disappointments, I can only hope that someday I’ll be able to look in your eyes and have a sincere and warm smile, just as a reflection of you golden heart that was able to power you with enough trust in me, again and again. No time for regrets now, so have a glass of wine and bottoms up! No big advice on life coming from this end (I wouldn’t dare), it’s just this boy of yours trying to know and to put his hands on this new chapter of our parent-son, now a bit more mature interaction. It’s just this that I’d like to say: as hard as it may be, don’t mind me! If anything, know that most of the times I am safe. Even from me. And as much as the past would hurt, it’s only the future that I have left and trust me that I am trying to make the best of it. And this road is the best idea that I got so far. Ah, who am I kidding? I know you’ll be worried at times, so that’s why you need to have a great time today! :) To you, Mum, I raise a glass and bow.
I’m in Rotterdam now, after walking for two days from Roosendaal, via the old fortress of Willemstad, over the Haringvliet Bridge, through the polders, through the Heinenoord Tunnel and… here I am, ready for the road again, off to Amsterdam. But, until then, this is what I’ve been up to lately on The World Photo Tour.
I left Roosendaal on a strange day with an odd sun-clouds-wind ratio. The aim was to reach the fortress of Willemstad and it was on this length of the road when I got a first taste of Netherlands’ artificial feel. There are no rivers here, but canals, and even the earth I walk on was took back from under the sea. And given the effort, no wonder they use every single piece of it. I saw crop fields here that look like they were drawn after precise blue-prints. And even the soil, so much over-used and exhausted by now, drained of every mineral, is being renewed from these big soil mounds you can see here and there.
But you gotta love the little touches as well. Like, for instance, the announcement of a newborn with a happy pink flag. Or – a bit over the line if you ask me – the little petrol pump you can see sometimes outside houses.
A bit of thirst there, innit? Well, I did notice a bit of love for the American cars so it all goes hand in hand. And they do like their gas-guzzlers. But, on the other hand, the Dutch are fond of wind-generated electricity as well. With so much wind, who wouldn’t? Under fast moving clouds, and strange dual light, I continued my route North right until sunset, to this little beach where I camped and ate.
In the morning, heading north to Rotterdam, I stopped in Klaaswaal where I realised I lost track of time again. It was Sunday. Sunday Easter. But I was lucky enough to find one local pub open – Happy Day Sportcafe was a hive of Dutch men and women gathered together at their host – Hans. And the place looked like it was close to public, since they were smoking inside and everything, but Hans was OK letting me have my phone charged with some power while enjoying a beer. And not only that, but I was in for a meal as well. So with my batteries fully charged, I was ready for the road again.
Back on the road, I saw more of the Dutch-water relation. Sure, there are a lot of canals going all the way around villages and streets and houses, but they are part of a very complex and amazingly huge system of drainage ditches, pumping stations (formerly the windmills), that, together wit all the dykes, dams and floodgates keep the low parts of the Netherlands dry.
Oh, and I haven’t said a word yet on the bicycle culture here. Well, having special bicycle tunnels next to vehicles tunnels and actually having a secondary, individual bike transport system parallel to the vehicles one sums it up for you.
Once in Rotterdam, I mostly enjoyed the same care of not leaving anything at the chance of random uglyness, but still adding a touch of heart, even to the most dull shapes. But in Rotterdam city centre – well – that’s a totally different story for, after heavily bombarded in 1940 and being almost completely destroyed, with the city centre levelled, everything was rebuilt on new blue-prints. And that led to the modern-day Rotterdam, which more or less looks like an architectural playground, with all sorts of daring and intricate designs. To this day, red lights in the pavement mark the spots where bombs fell.
Well, I guess that’s about it for now. Your fellow traveller is on his way to Amsterdam now. No, no silly jokes, as I already got a lot of insinuating smiles on this one. Just to get something straight: if one wants to smoke, snort, shoot or whatever, one can do so anywhere in the world and actually anywhere in Holland, by the way. :)
A tune to go with it. Smooth.
This was The World Photo Tour update. Over and out.