Tuesday, April 17, 2007


i know that hengelo is off the beaten path, it's not really known for its history, or architecture, or museums, or great culture... it's not like paris, or rome, or amsterdam, or london. but still, it's my town and i love it. and i hope that anyone who comes to visit us will be touched by the coziness and the simplicity of my little dutch town. i hope that when we have a chance to share our village, people will enjoy the pubs and cafes, the market, the sound of the bells singing every night at 6:00, and the countless bicyclists. it's quite "gezellig."

and last week we actually had a chance to share this sweetness-that-is-hengelo with a friend of ours. adam met shep when they were both in grad school at the university of colorado. he spent a few days in amsterdam before he came out to see us for several days. it was soooo great.

shep arrived on wednesday evening after taking the train to almelo and then getting on the bus to hengelo. (normally he could have taken the train the entire way but they're doing some construction on the tracks so the bus is the only way to go right now.) i met him at the station, and literally minutes after i greeted shep, adam arrived too! on our way home, we walked through the market as it was closing up for the day. the rest of the night was spent drinking heineken and getting all the gossip from the u.s. it was just surreal to have such a good friend sitting there in our living room, speaking english to us without an accent, knowing so much about us. it was easy. it was fun.

on thursday i had to work, so shep borrowed my bike and he and adam rode out to the university so he could meet some of the people in adam's department. (they both studied science policy stuff in grad school, and shep is really involved with science policy stuff in washington, so it was fun/good for him to meet some international philosophers of technology.) then they rode into enschede to rent shep a bike, and they met me after work for a drink and some turkish pida (lekker!). we rode through a park on the way home and swung by campus, stopping off at the faculty club for a couple free drinks. (we LOVE the faculty club! adam is a member there and there's this upstairs loft with swanky chairs and wine glasses and a fireplace, and anything -- ANYTHING -- you want to drink is free. i usually go for the red wine, adam goes for the 7-up, and shep went for the grolsch on tap.) then home for the night.

friday was gorgeous, and the rest of the weekend was beautiful too! i took the day off of work and after sleeping in, we all rode bikes out to twickel castle, which we had been to before (see our posts on delden and ootmarsum). but this time we went into the garden. there was nobody else there, i think because the season was so early and people weren't expecting it to be open yet, so we had the place all to ourselves. we picnicked by a pond, watching great blue herons fly overhead and listening to songbirds, gazing at the castle towers and lounging in the shade of a willow tree. it was just lovely. we took a ton of pictures, and i laid in the soft grass, staring up at the flowers of a magnolia tree.

friday night was poker night. we had a couple of friends over: stu (the american, who has won over 6,000 euros playing poker this year at the casino in enschede), and martijn (who is dutch and tries to win stu's money when he goes with him to the casino). i promptly lost all of my money to them (it's okay because we were only playing penny-poker) but went in for another euro's worth of chips and stayed up until 1:00 a.m.! but that's nothing compared with the rest of them -- after making sure all the boys had a fresh beer, and blowing out the candles, i headed upstairs, fully expecting adam to be behind me soon. but he didn't crawl into bed until 4:30 in the morning! how fun! i'm actually so happy for him that he got to stay up all night playing poker and hanging out with the guys. he never does that, and he needs to do that once in a while i think.

on saturday i went to the market early, while the boys were still asleep, to make sure i would get some strawberries before it got too hot. (it was seriously in the 80's all weekend, and STRONG sunshine too!) i actually met the produce-boy that i buy most of my veggies from every week. as soon as i walked up to him, he said, "how did you enjoy your ice cream?"

"excuse me?" i said.

"your ice cream," he went on. "i was standing right next to you in line yesterday at the ice cream shop. you were wearing a striped shirt."

"you were? oh, i'm sorry! i guess i didn't recognize you without this table of vegetables here! my name is amber. now next time you see me you can say hello."

so, isn't that great?! it's another story about how i'm starting to meet people outside of the setting that i'm used to seeing them in... it's people in my neighborhood at the market, at the ice cream shop, at the train station, at the beer cafe around the corner, etc. it makes me feel more at home. (and, as it turns out, rick -- the produce-boy -- lives literally around the corner from me. we're neighbors! yay!)

but that was a tangent. okay, sorry. so after the boys woke up, we went back to the market together, this time to buy potting soil and herbs for our achtertuin. we got three giant basil plants (which we broke up before we planted), a pot of chives, and a HUGE bucket of daisies, which are my favoritest flower ever. Ever.

afterwards we rode into enschede to return shep's bike and then hung out at a bar near the old church and had a couple of belgian beers in the hot, hot sunshine. seriously. it was hot out there. then i took the train home and shep rode my bike back to hengelo, and we all ate dinner together. then we walked around the corner and shot some pool for a couple of hours. home early so shep could get a full night's sleep.

he left bright and early on a lovely sunday morning, and flew home without much inconvenience despite a big nor'easter battering d.c. that day. we miss him already.

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