Monday, May 5 – Terneuzen, Cadzand and ???
Once again, Edwin drove the Cadzand – Terneuzen – Cadzand circuit as he picked us up only to return to Mariela [a good choice on his part]. The drive is both familiar by now and hypnotic. David has developed the habit of split-second naps as we drive. The land and houses still fascinate us and we think we may never tire of seeing all of this. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
The best part of this vacation may be the people. Historic sites and banks of brightly colored tulips can last a long time in an album, but talking to the people is even better. At the time, we thought our afternoon with Anna in Enkhuizen was the highlight of the trip, but now we realize that just talking and joking with friends [Peter and Manu, Edwin and Mariela] is the real reason to travel. Anyone can visit “the sights” and “the sites,” but we are lucky enough to have a stronger connection to the “real” people of the Netherlands and Belgium.
So we sat in Mariela’s backyard and chatted until she went inside and prepared delicious scrambled eggs which we ate with more of Mario’s heavenly bread and, of course, cheese and garlic butter. And more coffee. It is surprising that we can sleep with our caffeine intake this week.
After lunch, we walked to the bakery to meet Mario, but we were in for a surprise. When we went into the store, we met Marit, Mariela’s daughter, who was working behind the counter. This was our first glimpse of her since arriving Saturday. She was friendly and attentive as Mariela bought even more bread and David bought a little surprise to bring home [no, not more stroopwafels].
We went into the back of the shop where the actual baking occurs and met Mario, a gentle bear of a man who was warm and funny but proud of his work and workplace. It was being cleaned after a busy day, so we did not get to see all of the machinery or see the baking process. Still, he pointed out the ovens and freezer and took us into a room filled with miscellaneous bits and pieces of equipment including molds and cookie cutters.
We walked back home, for that is what it feels like already, and chatted some more. Marit and a girlfriend came in and said they were going to the beach. Mariela told them to be back by 6:00 so they would not miss supper. Shortly after they left, we did, too.
We drove to a neighboring village which Edwin said is even smaller the Cadzand if that is possible. Edwin parked the car on the verge and we began what turned out to be a nature walk along a well-marked path. It was well-marked for two reasons – there was no longer any grass on the path and it was bordered by a low-voltage electrified fence. There were only 2 ways to go, forward or backward; there was no way to deviate because of the fence. We did not know if the fence was meant to confine us or the cattle.
This being a nature walk, we saw plenty of nature. In addition to lots of trees in their full spring glory, there were the usual cattle, sheep and ducks. The occasional butterfly crossed our path, too. We were walking on the ridge of a protective berm created as a defensive barrier against invaders rather than the sea. It was very like a dike in every way except its original purpose. Because we were on the “high road,” we could see the neighboring houses and farms. The sun was bright even though it was still a bit chilly and breezy, and the 5 of us [including Ward] looked forward to the return of civilization.
That return came in the form of a village pub. It was surprisingly busy for a Monday afternoon, and we took a table outside where we sat in the sun [and David without his hat!] and had drinks. Edwin and Mariela had beer, of course, and even MA had a “lady’s beer” which had a lemon flavor to it. Ward and David had sodas. Some things never change.
The house had smelled wonderful when we arrived in the morning and when we returned for supper after our commune with nature, we understood why. Mariela had prepared a ratatouille for the family, slow simmered all day. With it, she served beef which had been cooked or, perhaps, marinated in a mustard sauce; there was no sauce on it, but it was infused with the taste in every bite. Dessert was pastries from the shop.
The pastries were brought by Marit who joined us, with her friend, for dinner. They were the day’s leftovers, a perk of being part of the business. And they were yummy.
We don’t know what Marit expected of Edwin’s friends [us], but she seemed quite surprised that we were not old fogies, just old. Again, we sat and talked like any other family. Whenever they lapsed into Dutch, we just looked at each other, as we have been doing for several days, and said, “Sorry.” They have caught onto the joke of our one word of Dutch and laugh with us. Marit’s friend spoke very little English but she did tell us that she has been to Disneyworld 3 times. We encouraged Mariela, Edwin and the children to come to Florida where they could stay with us. It would be fun but we’re not sure if they took us seriously.
We also found out that we had become Marit’s homework assignment. She was to have some interaction with English before returning to school from the week-long holiday. Instead of reading or watching American or British television, she was speaking English with us [and very well, at that]. We talked about books and popular culture and finally, somehow, got to a discussion of slang. Before we were done, we had given examples of American English and Hebrew dirty words. Her report to her class should be a lively one.
Once more into the night as Edwin returned us to his house where we had to pack for our departure tomorrow.
Tomorrow – Terneuzen to Amsterdam