Saturday, July 9, 2011

Woerden Days Pt. 1 - She Bikes!

(Saturday) Vaughn and I are hanging with the bags in Grand Central Station in Amsterdam while Jacob goes from machine to machine trying to figure to why we can't buy train tickets with either our credit or debit card. I'm a little worried that now that we've left Todd and Reinhold and their vegan cooking I may starve to death (watch for this blog to start sounding increasingly like a passage from Into the Wild). As we sit on the floor with our bags tucked behind us, Vaughn starts singing, "Weeee loook homelessss" to a cheery tune. Jacob finally breaks down and pulls out more cash and fetches us some juice and a couple hearty salads while we wait to board a train to Woerden for our first real couch surfing experience.

Woerden is a little city about 40 minutes by train south of Amsterdam. The population is just under 50,000. When we get off the train I can hear a band off in the distance with a female lead doing a really nice cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It turns out to be some sort of Harley Davidson festival but we don't get a chance to stop by. We are staying with Monique and Rembrand and their three children, Leandra (9), Quinn (6) and Mica (3). Monique and Rembrand have hosted many couch surfers and they have generously given up their room for us to stay in while we are with them for the three nights. Monique has also taken our dietary needs quite seriously and put a lot of thought into the food they've gotten for us and we are especially grateful since all the stores are closed on Sunday. The children don't speak English but they easily adapt to playing together despite the language barrier, a common unifier being video games.

After dinner Monique borrows a bike for me and we set off with Leandra to bike to a park about three miles in an adjacent town where Monique has located a basketball court. She has a tandem bike where Vaughn sits on a lower seat in front and he peddles but does not break or steer (but he does make good use of the bell). Like Amsterdam, no one here wears a helmet and I'm sure most of you reading this will be shocked to hear I even got on a bike. Thankfully, the bike lanes here are wide and well-paved and for most of the journey we rode through the countryside. I realize it may seem obvious with all the water here, but I'm still amazed by the number of storks, herons, swans and ducks we encounter. I also doubt I'll ever stop being charmed by the sheep and cows that are everywhere.

(Sunday) Monique and Rembrand are selling their house and are in the process of looking at a few different places where people are building cob houses with the intention of living in a yurt on the property while they build their own. Today the plan was to take the train about an hour and a half south where some people are building a cob community center structure as a sort of test project but now Jacob has come up to tell me that we may just go to nearby Utrecht instead. Monique ran next door to borrow a neighbor's guitar and she and Jacob are doing a little guitar lesson for now.

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