Delft - Rotterdam - Dordrecht, or gotta learn to crawl before you can learn to walk
Day two and it is raining. I hate the cold of winter, but rain and wind suck just the same. I'm an outdoor kind of guy, but only when the sun is shining. What the hell was I thinking when I decided to leave during autumn? The alternative was of course to wait till March or April and I didn't want to. So now I'm walking in the rain. I stop under a bridge to put on my rain clothes but when I continue the rain stops. Autumn has decided to wait a bit. Thank autumn.
Tonight I'll be sleeping at the house of the guitar player of my band, Arash, and his girlfriend Nienke. We still have to add the vocal tracks to the songs we recorded a few weeks earlier. Michiel, the bass player and mastermind behind the production of the recordings will be there also. Saying goodbye to the Netherlands will be a slow process. I arrive at three o'clock and need an hour to recover from the 15 km walk. My body is still resisting its new daily program. After we are done it is time for dinner: Tikka Masala and I eat a bunch. I sleep in the bed of one of Arash's sons that night and have strange dreams. I can't recall a single one when I wake up.
The sky is no limit
The sun has returned when I leave Arash and Nienke's house. Rotterdam never appealed to me much, but walking through it is different then traveling by car. Maybe it's my mindset. I'm eager
to press on to Dordrecht, where Stefan and Patty - whom I met through Twitter - will be expecting me. In the old harbour of Rotterdam I get a call from Radio West for a live interview. They will call me each week for an update. I take too much time and arrive in Dordrecht later than planned. While Patty prepares dinner I sit with Stefan in the living room and talk for a bit. The talking is easy and when Patty joins us she is surprised at what we have managed to cover in half an hour. I feel at ease and am glad to start out this way. If all my guest appearances will be like this Í am going to have a great time traveling.
I decide to stay another day in Dordrecht. I still have some practical stuff to
get out of the way and my father and (step)mother are coming over for lunch. From Dordrecht to Breda is 35 km and the 25 I did from Rotterdam to Dordrecht make me confident I can do them in one day if I start early enough. No blisters and no injuries yet so I decide to skip Moerdijk. The sky is no limit, butr if you aim high enough you'll be sure to shoot yourself in the foot. Suckerrrrr!
17-9-2010 Dordrecht - Breda, or why highways are for cars and how to get ready for the paralympics
Saying goodbye again
At my saying goodbye party I found that walking out of your home town is different from taking off at an airport. It just doesn't feel like saying goodbye for a year and a half. The second day in Dordrecht however my parents came over for lunch. I was full of good vibes since I managed, with the help of Stefan and Patty, to find another place to crash that night in Dordrecht within an hour. The lunch was nice and I was glad to speak to them properly after my kick off. My parents got a bit emotional when we said goodbye though and I felt empty afterwards. I was still in the Netherlands and would be moving 20 km a day so it still didn't feel like leaving, but my parents felt what I will know soon enough: it's gonna be some time before I see them again. I will miss them.
My bed that night was right around the corner. Remko, Arnoud and Jaap are regular couch surfers and have a guest room especially for the occasion. Frozen pizza was to be the evening meal and it tasted better than any I ever had. I was left to myself for a bit since they had their plans made for the evening and I came unexpected but afterwards we had some time to talk. I would have loved to stay another day but I had to walk on. Next stop Breda.
A bridge too far
Again the sun is shining. 25 km next to the highway and the noise is overwhelming. Great views of the surroundings, but the noise, the noise! When I finally leave the highway I feel pain in my right leg. It's the muscle at the front of the leg that is famous for harassing pilgrims that move too fast too quickly. I made a classic mistake. The walk is 6 km too long and when I arrive at my destination I can do nothing but sit and put my leg up.
My host in Breda is Marijke, sister of an ex-colleague at the Nationale Toneel. She traveled extensively with her husband Benoit who died the year before. He was very much into religion and they had bookcases full of relevant literature about pilgrimages. We talked a bit over dinner about him and about their travels and afterwards we sat and watched Il'ya longtemps que je t'aime' on television.
I knew the moment I walked in Marijke's house that this would be an encounter I would remember. Marijke is 62 and wants to travel again, but her daughter is still studying, so she can't stop working yet. She likes what she does, but she has never been one to stay in one place for long.
The morning of my departure I find a card with an image of St. Benoit ... , the pilgrim that her husband named himself after when he converted to Christianity. I will not soon do the same, but I am grateful for the gesture and will carry the card and Marijke's message on it with me to Jerusalem.