Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sunday, May 4 – Terneuzen and Elsewhere

We didn’t really know what we were going to do today, but we were up early, as usual, so that we were ready and waiting when Edwin arrived.  We breakfasted on really great bread from Mario’s bakery and caught up on our electronics while we waited.

We repeated the drive to Mariela’s house, marveling again at the countryside and animal life – horse, cows, sheep, goats and ducks.  Once at Mariela’s, we sat in the backyard surrounded by her “natural” garden.  The garden has little bits of lots of plants, both annuals and perennials, but no large swaths like Keukenhof.  If there is more than one of a type of plant, it is probably not near another one.  It is controlled chaos and is lovely.

Her house had been her father’s and she has taken pains not to disturb things too much.  The potting shed and green house [the glass house] are just as he left them and she said she is afraid to try to repair them lest they fall into ruins.  The house is spacious although we have spent time only in the sun room with its wall of glass so we can see the garden. 

Mariela cooked for us again today.  Brunch was omelets and more of that good bread plus a young Dutch cheese we sliced as we went along.  We ate outside where Edwin had brought the kitchen table and the men [including Ward] dragged chairs.  There was still no sign of Marit but we have not given up hope.

After lunch, Edwin said that it was a good day to visit Brugge.  We had written to him earlier saying we wanted to return, especially after the confusion last week.  Brugge is only 45 minutes from Cadzand, so we were there in no time.  Edwin took a less-traveled route to avoid traffic but mostly to show us more of the Lowlands scenery.

He parked the car in a garage outside the center of the Old Town and the 5 of us walked along the cobblestones while being wary of cyclists.  Our only goal was to visit a comic book store for Mariela who is addicted to them.  We made no effort to get to Market Square, where we met Peter and Manu a week ago, but we got there anyway after walking through the non-tourist shopping district and some decidedly-tourist cafes.  Mariela stopped to get some tobacco for her cigarette habit; she rolls them herself to avoid the high taxes on cigarettes and they look suspiciously like joints.  David went into the store with her and bought a present to add to the ever-growing collection.

Mariela needed a bathroom so we stopped in the biergarten of a Brugge brewery.  After we ordered drinks [beer, soda, coffee], she excused herself and we sat in the courtyard crowded with other Sunday celebrants.  Brugge was nowhere near empty today but the crowds were manageable unlike last week when there was no room to move.  We saw many of the same places today – Market Square, Fish Market, Tanner’s Courtyard, etc. – without feeling crushed or rushed.  Even if we had not recognized some of the landmarks, it was a more enjoyable day.  Brugge may depend on tourism to keep its economy afloat, but it is still a lovely medieval town.

All good things come to an end and all too soon we were on the road again.  Edwin must feel like a bus driver by now.  We chatted some more at Mariela’s before heading to a restaurant a block away.  On the way, we stopped at the local church to view the Peace Flame, an everlasting flame meant to light the way to world peace.  There were handwritten messages in the courtyard, not so unlike the paper cranes we saw in Nagasaki at the Peace Park.  Seeing the Peace Flame in Cadzand was a moving experience.

Dinner was down the block at the local bar/restaurant/hotel.  At Edwin’s suggestion, we all ordered the beef satay.  It was a great choice and all the plates were clean when we finished.  Then the fun began.  David tried to pay for dinner, but the waitress/owner would not accept any of his plastic.  He could not convince her that his MasterCard would work in her EuroCard chip-card reader even though they have the same logo and are supposed to be interchangeable.  She probably would have had a cow if he had tried to pay in US dollars, but Edwin saved the day again by charging dinner on his card.  Tomorrow we must find an ATM so we can reimburse Edwin.

Once again, we ended up at Mariela’s until it was almost dark.  Once again, Edwin had to make the 90 minutes roundtrip to and from Terneuzen.  And once again we were grateful to have such a friend.

Tomorrow – Terneuzen, Cadzand and ???, part 2



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