We have now been in the Netherlands for a week and a half. Two weeks will mark the longest we’ve been on ‘vacation’. In 2008 we traveled to Cape Town for a van Aswegen family reunion for a full 2 weeks but otherwise we have not taken this much time. Although we currently feel as if we’re on a semi-holiday we’re also experiencing a unique sense of limbo as we are primarily setting up a new life abroad. Most days are dedicated to exploring the city, windmill viewing, or trying new restaurants; but in between the normal vacation-like activities we’re apartment hunting, figuring out long term public transportation, receiving banking recommendations, and I’m searching for a job. Plus, we’re still in our short stay hotel located in a suburb about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. The hotel has a gym, free laundry, kitchenette, and pool but it’s still a hotel.
I’m eager to make connections in our community, find a gym, doctor, cafes, grocery store, etc. I desire to be ‘known’ throughout my neighborhood and in turn know the lives of others. Yesterday, Sam and I were strolling through a local market and we ducked into a cheese stall for an evening snack. I asked the proprietor for a parmesan recommendation and he pointed out an equivalent Dutch cheese that had been aged for 5 years. The owner, Fred, introduced himself and proceeded to jovially (because really all cheese sellers are happy) explain that IF we purchase this cheese, open a bottle of wine, and play romantic music I would be walking around these stalls in 6 months with a pregnant belly. Of course, I giggled and immediately loved Fred. We told him that we had just moved to Amsterdam and he seemed genuinely pleased. He came around the front to present a parting gift, a small wheel of blue cheese…He must know that all the ladies love cheese and securing repeat business in this competitive dairy town seems necessary. I tried accepting the blue cheese wheel and it dropped out of my hands and bounced on the sidewalk (thankfully the cheese was wrapped in plastic). Fred graciously picked it up, nudged Sam and said…”Blondes;)” It appears hair color stereo-types are universal.