once a year, there is a kermis that comes to town. so when i say that the carnival is in town, i mean, quite literally, that the carnival is in town. directly outside our window there were four rides: a ferris wheel, a camel-race game, a fun house labyrinth thing (the rainforest), and a kiddie roller coaster. in the market, which as you know is practically our front yard, were all the big rides like bumper cars, a carosel, and lots and lots of scary, upside-down, twisting, whiplash-inducing rides. over by the train station there was a big roller coaster, and on the street where the subway restaurant is at there was this terrifying ride that was probably 6 or 7 stories high that would swing upside down and sideways and just did not look healthy at all. but maybe i'm just old.
the kermis would open most days around noon, and would wrap up by midnight or 12:30 at the latest. fortunately for us, we were mostly in the kiddie section, so most things on our street would finish up by 11:00 so our sleep schedules weren't too interrupted. it started up on wednesday, though they started setting up for all of this on monday morning. it ran until sunday evening, and then that's when the REAL noise started up, when they started to tear it all down that night. all night long, clanging poles and dropping tools and yelling... by monday morning everything was gone and the street sweeper had already come so it looked like there was never a carnival at all, and that we had just imagined the whole thing.
fun to see a fish stand at our carnival. just across the border, in germany, which is really only about 15 km away, you would not see this at all!
and you know it never really bothered us terribly that the kermis was here. it was really kind of fun and entertaining to live in the middle of the carnival for a week. it was neat to watch families wander through our street with cotton candy and stuffed animals, and to watch the camel race game. it was this game where you had to roll these balls up into holes, like skeeball, and the more points you got or the faster you were able to roll, the further your camel went along the track. first one to the end wins. when there was a big group playing against each other, the owner of the game would get out his microphone and start announcing the race. "een, twee, en rollen!" (one, two, and roll!) and then he'd yell out, "number 8 taking the lead!" and "number 12 up the stretch!" it was pretty cool!
adam seemed really touched by the carneys. like van gogh and his peasants, the people stuck in these booths really broke adam's heart. i think it must be something with being a philosopher (i've met other philosophers with this sentiment), where the image of someone doing something faceless, invisible, but necessary, really brings the humanity of the circumstance to the occasion. how does the floor of the train station stay so clean? who ever sees the man mopping that floor? what is his life like? is he lonely, or desperate, or just humble and grateful for a job? the kiddie ferris wheel seemed to break adam's heart the most, because it was such a small, simple ride that brought joy to so many children, but it was never busy. and adam would be so sad when the camel race guy didn't have any business. it was all he could do not to just grab all his spare change, throw on his shoes, and go out there to play the game in order just to make the carney feel better. i hope adam has a chance to write more about this experience, because i think it's quite sentimental and sweet, and i'm just not expressing it the right way. but it was touching to see.
the kermis left town about a week ago and it's been quiet on our street ever since. i'm already looking forward to next year when we can take spruitje out and look at all the flashing lights and see all the fast moving rides. of course he'll be too small to ride on anything but i think he might enjoy being out in the crowds too. i know we sure did!