Saturday, August 28, 2004

Kann Ik Nederlands Sprekken?(Can I Speak Dutch?)

Kann Ik Nederlands Sprekken?(Can I Speak Dutch?)
22 August 2004

After two days in Cologne, I suppose I'm unwinding some. I called Roland and Angelique in Netherlands yesterday and they said that they would make the two-hour drive from Apeldoorn (just north of Arnhem in Netherlands) down to Cologne to pick me up. I told them that the train was no problem, but they insisted.

As soon as I got down to the lobby, I saw Angelique--she hadn't changed at all. She and Roland look about the same at 17 years ago. As we both stated, maybe a bit more gray and a few more...wrinkles, but otherwise no worse for the wear! Seventeen years is certain to have some impact on the body, but we don't want to harp on the obvious! The important part is that our personalities and memories are still intact.

We drove first out to their new home going up near Arnhem, so I got to see the new location. It is a very nice three story red brick townhome. The garage wasn't up yet, but the house was locked up now. I guess that is new from when they were there last week. Guess I'll just have to pay another visit when it's done so that I can see it from the inside. Then we went out to Hoenderloo where we got some great soft-serve ice cream. People drive in from all over Netherlands to this little stand just for the ice cream. Being the ice cream hound that I am, I was happy. Then out to Apeldoorn. We did Italian for supper at Pinnoccio's. There is another one in Nijmegen near where Roland's parent's bars were on Molenstraat and oddly enough, Roland knows the restaurant manager from there. He now works at the restaurant in Apeldoorn.

We had a great time catching up again. You know that you are life-long friends with someone when the years apart mean almost nothing and you can pick up where you left off.

Their daughter Ilke is great. She is almost nine years old and will start learning English this year. Since she couldn't speak English, she wanted to teach me Dutch. So we went through a barrage of words in Dutch and Roland, Angelique and I would repeat and translate what it was in English. Actually, Dutch is very close to German, so I really have never had too difficult of a time listening or reading Dutch; pronounciation is another story.

Over the next few days, we were all learning and quizzing Ilke on the Dutch provences and their provential capitals. Having traveled the Netherlands some, I may have had a little advantage over Ilke in learning some of them, but she is a quick study--Limburg-Maastricht, North Holland-Haarlem, South Holland-Den Haag, Groningen-Groningen.... I always liked history and geography.

So I am ready to get into bed the first night and Roland was somewhat apologetic for the accomodations. They have been packing for the move, so their study is packed with boxes. But they were able to squeeze in an Army cot with a four-inch foam matress. I laughed as soon as I saw it because that was exactly what I had been sleeping on for my first three months in Baghdad! I have to say that I slept like a baby for the first time in three weeks. I have been wound up so tightly lately that I had only been sleeping for three or four hours at a stretch for the last few weeks. Maybe being in a familiar bed did the trick, because I didn't even sleep that good in the four star hotel in Cologne! Ten hours of sleep later, I could honestly say that I have unwound some.
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