Week 03-2018. Amersfoort.

Hollandse Rading Shades in Hollandse Rading.
It was pretty busy on Sunday. Of course, I went to church. After church I did the usual tour, Hollandse Rading and Eemnes. In Eemnes my daughter in law gave me a Led-lamp from the garden covering. In each beam of the covering there are 4 led-lamps. These lamps get broke rather often and I am asked to find out where you can buy new ones. Back in the flat in Amersfoort I find some angry people because of experienced bad behaviour: the coffee machine is dismantled because somebody appeared to have tried to burn the electricity lead. In the washroom the machine that was due to be replaced was toppled over and all the soap-pads where spread about the room. One of the new inhabitants is clearly out of his mind, which is not a surprise. Fortunately, one of the washing machines is still functioning properly, so I used that one to do my laundry around midnight.

Stormschade 2 Storm damage.
I had a notice of some uneasiness and yes, on Monday morning my nose started running at high speed. I did not feel very well and concluded: I got a flu, at last, for the first time in years.
After midnight on Tuesday I was still busy trying to overcome the cold, the running nose and the sloppy feeling, when I was alarmed by an extremely noisy lot of people in the common kitchen. I went there and saw four new tenants cooking. They were, at the meantime, trying to discuss matters unknown to me in such loud voices that one could hear them through the whole flat. I made my point: no noise after 22:00 o’clock and cooking hot meals after midnight is stupid. They reacted very impolite, arguing totally out of line. Another tenant came to my aid and I went back to bed. I noticed, fortunately that most of the noise had ceased.
For Tuesday and Wednesday, I had appointments, to visit my sister in Ridderkerk and a friend in Rotterdam. I rang them on Monday already, to cancel the appointment.
Halfway Wednesday I did receive a package, ordered from a web-shop. The package is a food-dryer which I intended to take with me next week to Norway, for my brother there. I had already complained about the fact that delivery was so late, since they had stated on their site: delivery in 5-6 working days, and I had ordered and paid at the 19th of December 2017.
At Thursday we experienced a storm across the country. The storm had such a magnitude that a code red was given as a warning. The storm is in the past 200 years one of the worst. Lorries were blown over, roofs were blown off blocks of houses and many trees did not survive. Casualties were not to many: only three people died as a result of the storm.

Geen leidingbreuk Watermain leak seems over.
On Friday I went to search for the Led-lamps and fortunately I did find the type I had been looking for, at least I think so. I bought one specimen to try next Sunday. I it is alright, I go back there and buy more.
Out on the street, I noticed water coming from down the road. I warned the house caretaker who rang the waterboard. They came to mark the position, but did not feel the need to start digging to find a suspected leak in a watermain. On Saturday I went to see how that ‘leaky’ spot was looking and saw it being dry. I wonder how that is possible.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, January 14-20.
The 6th travelling day is a good one. I start with a bath in the ice-cold water of the small stream. The scenery is terrific, hilly, forest and the first sights of pampa. The traffic passing me, is always careful and waving and hooting. I see many unknown birds and end the day again along the side of a small stream. The next day I arrive at Punta Maria and ‘park’ at the home of Mr. Martinelli, the minister of economic affairs. He is not at home. A number of men are busy preparing banners and boards for the oncoming elections. When Martinelli arrives, I am invited into his private quarters. My horses are taken care of by some of his men. I enjoy this pleasant hospitality, enjoy the splendid view across the ocean and the food I am presented. I get a place to sleep in a large barn with a lovely burning woodstove.
Jut and Jil are not easy to handle today, they walk with their bellies pushing one another, causing the luggage to shift. It is a bit of a fight, with terribly blowing wind, a large bridge to cross which they do only when I walk with them. I get help from lorry drivers and other passers-by. I am shown a way to shorten the distance to Rio Grande by 10 km, through the country without signs of course, but I manage to find my way. The last part I get the police to escort me into town to a hotel where I can fence of a tiny area to contain Jul and Jil. With a taxi I go to a shop where I buy a large bag of food for Jut and Jil. I the hotel I hire a room. Early the next morning I hear a horse neigh. Looking out of my window I see only Jil: Jut is gone. We call the police and start looking. At the petrol station they have seen him. I find Jut in someone’s front garden, busy mowing the lawn. Today it happens 5 times. Jil is quietly staying where he is. At one of the escape sessions, Jut is playing with me. He sees me, runs away into town, sometimes taking time to eat some of the grass and rolling over. It is amazing to see how the locals react: no problem and even some joy.
The sea shore is extremely flat and during low tide, you don’t even see the waterline anymore.
Monday morning: Jut escaped again and stays grazing in the middle of the main road. With an arm full of hay, I walk up to him and this time he just follows me back to the hotel. The cleaning lady is nearly ready with doing my laundry. At breakfast, with a view across the ocean, the only thing you see is total emptiness.
I need a vet and I require documentation from Senasa. The documentation is necessary to cross the Chilanian part of Tierra del Fuego and the Magellan straigths. The situation at the hotel is not ideal to say the least. I get an option to go 11km into the direction of San Sebastian at ‘the mission’. The hotel owner, Daniel Ringa is a local trader, his wife Adriana is running the hotel. Three kilometres away from the hotel, they run a Gaz-supply business from home. They have a lot of fertile land and I am allowed to stay with them there for as long as I have to wait for the necessary paperwork.

arg1 de kinderen van Daniel en Adriana


I did have a very nice time there with ‘grandpa’ and the children Yamila(13), Mamimiliano(10) Santiago(7) and Florencia(5). Jut and Jil have to share the grounds with a one-year old filly called Pan. I am allowed to reside in a shed on the grounds. I sleep very well there and it is amazing to see Jul and Jil appearing in the doorway every morning, waking me up.
The days with the family Ringa are very pleasant. During the day I am caring for Jut and Jil and talking to grandpa and playing with the children, they are on holiday. With grandpa I drink maté nearly the whole day. I show him a lot of things, also in writing. At one of these sessions I get to know that grandpa is illiterate. He knows it and it does not bother him at all. When I make some comparison between Argentina and Holland they are amazed: inhabitants per km2: 11 in Argentina/450 in Holland. Inflation in Argentina: 80% against 6% in Holland.
When the veterinarian arrives, Horacio Pico, his verdict about Jut is devastating: he judges Jul unfit for the journey we are doing. He suggests me to go to Estancia Maria Behety, where they breed and train horses. It is Wednesday and I have to call tomorrow to make an appointment to visit the estancia.

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Week 02-2018. Amersfoort.

Bij de Bergkerk (1) Bergkerk Amersfoort.
The whole week was a bit dull. Not really something special. I stayed at home most of the time, apart from going to the supermarket for food.
From the landlord we received a letter, about the use of public areas: they need to be free of objects and that appears to be a problem. A number of tenants don’t read those rules (given from the governmental fire and safety department) and our landlord does not enforce application. And enforcement by tenants is in this case wishful thinking.
Last year I ordered a kitchen machine. At their site it said that ‘delivery’ would take 5 days after receipt of payment. After payment I did receive a confirmation stating that deliver would be ‘approx.’ within three weeks. I am now waiting four weeks, so I rang the firm. So far it did not lead to a delivery.

Rond de Stichtse rotonde (2) Walking around ‘Stichtse Rotonde’.

Rond de Stichtse rotonde (5) Berg hotel.
The present population in the flat consists of single women but mostly men and mostly young men. These persons are all having social or emotional problems and that is why they were given a chance to live a decent life on their own in their own apartment. A number of them are not capable of living in a community. In the cellar, where we park our bicycles, there are thefts and destruction of private items as well as of general items. Some of the youngsters placed here, at the cost of the taxpayer, are feeling unsafe. As usual in these circumstances, there is only one rotten apple required to contaminate the whole basket.

Voormalig ziekenhuis (1) The ongoing demolition of a hospital.

On Saturday one of the tenants, he lives opposite me and I have known him to live there for 10 years now, created a tense situation with another neighbour. At midday he, aroused so much trouble that my real neighbour threatened to kick him in the face. My neighbour was sensible and went away, solving the problem for now at least.

Argentina on horseback. 1999, January 7-13.

Pieter Bokma y uno de los caballos
This week is the week of truth: I paid all my depts. and I do have everything I need.
On Thursday I go to town to buy the last necessities. On Friday I did buy a dry cell battery because by now it was very clear that an ordinary car battery was a very bad idea. Acid from the battery did cost me a lot of problems. I had to get rid of many items affected by the battery acid.
On Friday the 8th I had my first ‘travel day’. From there on I am going to register them. At six o’clock I started packing which took me till midday, and after having taken a picture with the children at the centro hipico, I left. In town I was confronted with the usual attacks from the many dogs. They are not violent but merely making a lot of noise. I carried on and ended up at a petrol station at the outskirts of town. I was allowed to erect my tent there and stay overnight, which I did. I did get some visitors there, locals but also from Buenos Aires.

Peter, un holandés a caballo
On my way, the 2nd travel day, I am met with again journalist taking pictures and asking me all sorts. One of the guys stopping is a governmental fellow: ministry of economic affairs for Tierra del Fuego. I am invited to pass by his hacienda on the way up North.
I have numerous problems with my luggage to solve, but I consider that all part of the deal. At a certain moment I will have reached a situation where I can say that I am ‘in control’.
I arrive at some sort of a camping, called ‘Las Cotorras’, completely rigged for winter sport activities. They have sledge-dogs, trikes, quads and everything for hire. It is not the season so I am welcome to stay for the weekend. It did not take long before I was completely accepted by the staff. In their restaurant I am served a good dinner, with 1 kg tender beef, potatoes and Brussels sprouts. After an interesting evening with the staff, the owner and his family, I go asleep in my tent.
The next morning, Sunday, I wake up around eleven o’clock, with aching muscles. My host comes up and asks my permission to use one of my horses: he wants to go into the mountains to search for his horses.
Monday morning, the 3rd travelling day: After breakfast, with Antonio, the dogs’ keeper, and Carlos, the cook, I get a bag with rolls and a bag with apples and oranges. I am not allowed to pay anything. It takes half an hour to start riding, because of the farewell ceremony: cuddles, hugs, kisses and well wishing.
The weather has changed dramatically, it is raining cast and dogs. The first loss: my poncho is gone. I get soaking wet. On the mud road, this is highway no.3, the Pan-American highway, a group of large SUVs’, mostly Pajero’s, come up to me and stop. They are Michaela and Caecilia, two girls riding at the Centro Hipico ‘Fin del Mundo’, with Mr. Martinelli and two media crews, for TV and radio. They are on a publicity tour for Martinelli’s political party. The crews film me and they interview me. After hugs and kisses, they continue and so do I.
We are climbing now, through the mountains and across a pass called Garibaldi. The view is spectacular and the water in lakes and streams is crystal clear: I have no problem drinking it. At Lago Escondido I stop at a large sawmill, put up my tent and cook a meal, for the first time. For Jul and Jil there is plenty grass to eat and water to drink.

arg2 Jut en Jil gepakt + Jut gepakt in de verte
Tuesday, the 4th travelling day. A guy with a pick-up comes talking to me. He has a camping some 30km away up North, one day of driving. He invites me there and points out that it is necessary to evaluate after 4 days of travelling. I don’t disagree and promise him to come. It’s along the road anyway.
For the first time we come to a steel grid in the road, to prevent horses, cows and sheep to wander away from their designated area. My horses don’t want to cross it either, so I have to look for a way out. I find a gate, it is closed but an old man there leads me through an opening in the fence. Now I am driving off route 3, along Lago Fagnano, a tourist attraction. Buses with tourists from Ushuaia come up here for the view. It is a ‘moon’landscape, totally deserted, with the remains of wildfire. It is clearly not a ‘trodden’ path. I am on my way to Tolhuin, have to cross a mud river, through peat, extremely high grass and clouds of enormous mosquitos. We go through thicket, jump across a partly fallen fence and back to a path. Again, we come to a locked fence and have to do a detour to get back to route 3. After this very intense day of travelling, we arrive at ‘Los Alamos’, where we are welcomed warmly. Oscar Zapato appears to be the big boss here. After unpacking the horses, they get a large meadow with good grass and plenty water. I am asked to join ‘the family’, consisting of two women, four men and approximately 12 children of various ages, colours and types. The stove is on, with more fire outside of it then inside. My nose is very pleased with the scents of tasty food.

arg3 Los Alamos camping en de vaste bewonersThe Zapato family and their living quarters.

Outside some men are skinning beavers while another is training one of the many dogs. This is their trade: catching and skinning beavers, breeding and training dogs, and running a camping. After the noisy and very humorous dinner, the whole family stays inside to enjoy ‘my company’. I filmed the whole lot.
The next morning, the 5th travel day, we work on my horses and gear. It leads to many alterations. After breakfast and later an early lunch, I am ready to leave when an official arrives from Tolhuin. The men in the car are from the home guard, sent from the maire to make sure that I reach Tolhuin safely. How nice this is. Oscar and his son are saddling their horses, because they are joining me for an hour or so. On the way they catch some horses running free (from other farms). Close to Tolhuin, Oscar and his son left me a while ago, I am met by a car with flashing light. Two men, equipped with mobile phones, pick me up and invite me to a meeting with the ‘intendente’. I turned it down, because I felt a bit in a hurry to meet my appointment with Mr. Martinelli at Punta Maria, on the road to Rio Grande.
I did find a very nice place to put up my tent for the night: a small river with a nice patch a juicy grass for Jut and Jil.

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Week 01-2018. Amersfoort.

Eva schenkt bubbels Distribution of bubbles.
The last day of this year happens to be a Sunday. That means that I go to church. My friend Hanke informed me that she will not attend. She feels too weak.
The first casualty from fireworks was listed: a 39-year-old family father died when a powerful composite exploded in his face.
After the service in church, I went to see my friend in Hollandse Rading for a chat and coffee. From there I carried on to my family in Eemnes. I was summoned to attend the evening meal of curly kale hotchpotch with smoked sausage and bacon. Four friends of one of the boys were there to enjoy that meal as well, after which they drove off to Amsterdam to see the new year in. My daughter in law with my grandson and I were invited to do so as guests of a befriended family in Eemnes. The kids were lighting their packs of fireworks, while the elders chatted, drank alcohol free bubbles and ate doughnut balls and apple turnovers. It was a pleasant night, but I was glad to be home at 02:30hr and allowed myself a good glass of whisky to celebrate to beginning of the new year.

Local trees in winter: bare.

Local views: Soest-Zuid and Pavilion Hebron.

On Wednesday morning I finished a job that had been laying on my shoulders for a long time. I digitised diaries: one from my grandfather, 5 from my father and a lot from my mother. The whole set, scanned to JPG files, amounted to 4,06GB and that is a lot. I bought two flash drives and copied the lot onto them with the idea to hand these files over to my brother, sisters and other interested family members. In the afternoon I visited a long-time friend in Muiden to talk about plans for this summer.

Muiden (1) Entrance into Muiden.

This woman, Joke, had been a class mate when we were in primary school. This year many of these class mates are having their 75th birthday and I am going to try to get as many as possible of them together to celebrate that event. One of the class mates is living in Jakarta and he and his wife, are expected to come to the Netherlands around the end of July. After the talks with this former class mate I continued to Amsterdam. There, the daughter of my older brother had organized a meal for me and my younger sister with her husband.

Bo (1) Daughter of my niece.

It was a very nice evening, eating home made pizza and, again, drinking non-alcoholic drinks (apart from the first glass of white wine).
The rest of the week went by without anything special. I stayed at home, clearing it from unused items to throw away. I intent to continue that activity until my cellar box is accessible again.

Amersfoort stationsgebied (2) Bus station Amersfoort.

Bonus: Argentina on horseback
1999, January 1-6.
It is the 31st of December 1998. Party time for ‘family only’. I am being treated as an extension of the family by now. Grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and their children are all there. I do have a lot of fun with three ‘teenagers’ from a family that came all the way from Cipoletti in the Province of Rio Negro. Two sisters, Jaqueline (17) and Valeria (18) are asking me all about Europe and my trip in Argentina. (I visited the family in Cipoletti in 2017).

Product van Jaqueline
On Saturday 2nd January, I was invited to join my host Adolfo and others, to a rough area where he keeps untamed horses. Eight horses were rounded up and driven into a fenced off area. They were given the brand of the Centro Hipico.
I have, by now, everything I need: horses, saddles, slings, bridles and the paperwork done. Now is the time to get all my gear on a horse. I try everything first on a mock up saddle back, sorting out a procedure. I do a lot of trials before I try to get everything on a real horse. It appears to be a lengthy and tiring job and I hope it will work eventually. There are some very odd items to load, like a solar panel and a battery. Luckily the horse, either Jul or Jil, is very patient when I am busy but it takes me three hours and that is a lot. When everything is packed, I need time to recover from it. And this is the stationary situation. I wonder how all this is holding out under driving conditions. The first trial was indeed not a success. After a few kilometres the whole load toppled over and I had to undo it from the horse and pack it into a pick-up car: back to the centro and start all over again!
Tuesday 5th January. In Ushuaia at the Tourist Information office, my host has arranged some sort of a farewell party. On the way there, again the luggage on my pack-horse toppled over and was returned to the Centro. I continued to Ushuaia, accompanied by three girls and a banner from the Centro. The press was there: The local TV station and a reporter from a country-wide operating newspaper.

Afscheid van Ushuaia

The maire of Ushuaia wished me all the best and good luck. After the happening I returned to the Centro for further trials.
Wednesday the 6th of January is Epiphany. The children are given presents and again it is party time. In the afternoon I help Christiaan, the stable-lad, to chase horses from the nearby mountainous region back to the centro. Most of the horses are rounded up easily, but a small group of 5 horses with a ‘leader’ are adamant and don’t want to go back to the centro. I asked and was given permission to try and get them. It took me two hours of very hard but very satisfying horse-riding to get them back into the Centro. After midnight I went to bed, in my hay-stack, satisfied and very tired.

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Week 52-2017. Amersfoort.

Voormalig zusterhuis Lichtenberg (1) Local hospital being demolished at last!
Twice this Sunday before Christmas, I went to church. The first time at 9:39 in the morning and in the evening at 22:00 the Christmasnight service. I experienced the night service as the least Christmas service since long, with a very modern sermon from our own minister, touching on nowadays (des)information technology: very interesting.
The two Christmas days I did stay at home. I had planned to finalize my mourning period about the decease of Hessel, only drinking water instead of feasting and eating. It appeared to be easy: 48 hours of reflection without food or smoking.

Z&S gebedsruimte Islamic prayer room in the Protestant church.
On Wednesday I picked up my usual activities, scanning diaries from my mother, walking my daily walk, eating, drinking and smoking. My daughter in law asked me about a wooden bull in my possession, of which Hessel had told her that he liked that a lot. I pulled the bull out of my cellarbox, cleaned it and oiled it. When I sent a picture of it to my daughter in law, with the question if she would like to have it, she responded: beautiful, yes please! So I will give it her next week Sunday.

Fungi Beautiful nature in my backyard. Fungi eating a tree trunk.
I called my friend in Canada, to ask him about the conditions overthere. He appeared to spent this last week with his son in Cambridge-Ontario. And yes, he confirmed the conditions as we know them from the news: it’s effing cold and the amounts of snow are horrendous.


Living at Utrechtseweg and in former barracks on Leusderweg.
On Friday I was asked to take a hedgehog from the RSPCA here, to Huizen. They did call me late in the afternoon, so I had to hurry to get to Huizen before closure of the sanctuary there. On a Friday just before the end of the year, hurrying in Dutch traffic is not a good idea: I entered into a traffic jam, but arrived in time in Huizen. After the delivery of the hedgehog I saw my daughter in law for coffee and half an hour of exchanging news and thoughts.

‘t Klooster and modern living at ‘Berg quarter’.
Saturday was a much to warm, wet and windy day. My friends send me numerous messages, mostly funny. From my friend in Slovakia I got a u-tube video totally about her workplace in Hummené. A pity is that she, my friend, told me to be sick with a severe cold. No wonder with her way of life: to busy, walking in and out and in contact with many customers and often children.

Bonus: Argentina on horseback.
1998, December 24-30.
One early morning I took Jut, saddles him and rode to town with the objective to go to the telephone shop and call my bank in Holland: I needed money to pay for horses, saddles, lodging and gear. I ‘parked’ my horse at the walkway because only there appeared to be a bar where I could attach his lead. Two police officers appeared, interested in me and my horse, of course requesting my identity papers. When they heard my story they appeared very amused, but in the end, I was asked to get my horse off the walkway: ‘it is after all, their walkway’.
Christmas eve at the Centro Hipico is funny. The three children have to search for their presents and when found, they rip the raps off, just like small children do: eager and hastily. After that they are ‘over the moon’ and start showing and playing. The elder start drinking, eating and having fun with Christmas jingles.

arg8 Adolfo en paard met 6 kinderen + Jut en Jil bij mijn tent

My host Adolfo with 6 of his ‘students’ on one horse, and my Jil and Jut around my tent.
One of these days some indians arrive. They come usually in pairs, going around farms for all sorts of jobs, like shoeiing and branding horses. My two horses are going to get the brand of the Hipico. It is not very pretty to see that happen: I keep Jil’s head in my hands during branding and I am getting emotional when I see a tear in his eye appear during the work. I don’t like it at all, but it seems necessary. I now know, since I did get the paperwork for Jil done, her age to be 8 years old, color Gateado Criollo, previous owner Roberto Padin. Mr. Padin said to me, when he sold me Jil: this horse will do your whole journey of 15.000kms and if not, you call me and I will sent you another horse! Amazing. During the training days this week, I grew very fond of Jil. He appeared fast and very attentive. I hardly had to give him any signals through his bit: steering with my knees and body was sufficient. I used to leads only to keep myself in the saddle.
Training involves also going with the stable-gaucho or the centro owner and tourists for a ride through the area. Those trips are absolutely fabulous and it is very funny to notice that most of the tourists think that I am a local with a lot of experience: my experience is only from these last days here in Ushuaia. Before that I only had a couple of lessons in Holland: amazing how fast one learns here with a really good horse accustomed to this sort of ‘Indians work’.
The preparatory work is now going forward. I am testing the systems, packing horses with all the gear I have which is quite a lot. The packsaddle I bought from Adolfo, the Centro owner. This packsaddle is a former army saddle for the transportation of a canon: heavy and strong. But I need something strong, with having to mount a battery and a solar panel as well, apart from tent, water, food, and all the other gear.
It keeps me pretty busy and I am certainly not always succesful, with the whole luggage with saddle and all coming down the belly of the packhorse, which he does not like at all.

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Week 51-2017. Amersfoort.
The week started very slippery indeed. After the snow from the past week, it now gets wet and since it is still cold, the roads are freezing up: a situation quite dangerous for my friend Hanke. Back at her home we had coffee and I handed her the birthday presents I bought for her. I did not stay long because my daughter-in-law had tickets for an event in a tiny local theatre. One of her friends is singing in a group of enthusiastic housewives group called VocalEasy. Logically their performance is related to Christmas and it is fun. I like this sort of small scale local activities.

VocalEasy (4) VocalEasy.

On Monday, I do some shopping and notice quite a change in town. At one of the diagonal roads of town a shortcut to another one had been possible for ages. The situation is gravely different and the shortcut does no longer exist. It was a surprise to me, but then, I don’t go to town to often.

Zonnehof Amersfoort, op de schop (2) Zonnehof Amersfoort.

At home it is busy this week. Electricians are pulling cables across the hallways and in the cellar a new hot water boiler is being installed. The old boiler, is was told, was something like 30 years old and appeared to be leaking. In all the corridors they are going to install routers for wifi, in order to raise the standard of the service which happened to be rather diabolically bad. According to the technician, this job may take another month to finalize. The same applies for the renewal of the electrical substations in every kitchen: that was supposed to happen on Friday but they managed only one item, out of ten.

Nieuwe boiler (1) Leaky hotwater boiler.

After the spell of wintery weather, the temperatures are too high again. During one of my daily walks, I came across a hedge full with blackberries. These berries are not going to be consumable in any sense, but they grew pretty well.
Klimaat verandering (2)Climate change.
At a nearby railway crossing I watched the traffic there. You see large lorries pulling up before the warning lights are off (because another train may come), you see teens looking at their smartphone even when they are crossing the pretty busy road. I did like sitting there for a while. Maybe I go do that more often and sit with something to eat or drink at the cafeteria there.
One of our former tenants came back from Vietnam, where he is trying to built a life. His stories were very positive and interesting. He happened to be back for the wedding of his father. Those things happen.

Wandeling naar spoorweg overgang (2)Rail crossing and pancake house.
It had been a quiet week, with most people preparing for a rich Christmas.
My friend Hanke came to my home, with a backpack full of foodstuff. All those things she cannot eat; I will take all of it to my family in Eemnes. They will know to deal with it. Hanke also brought me a tin full of vegetable chips. I finished the previous load and I love them: Healthy, tasty and homemade.
Bonus: Argentina on horseback.
1998, December 17-24.
This week at the Centro Hipico all the children taking lessons there, are having a Christmas celebration. The smaller children stay overnight and that is great fun.
The older children, teens, come with their parents and have a massive ‘asado’ or BBQ at the centro. I am always invited to join. Since I am living at the centro now, I help with everything. I help the stable gaucho Christiaan, with feeding horses, with grooming horses and with getting horses out of the wild outback. I do help Adolfo and his wife with preparations for the BBQ, with tables and chairs, with anything that pops up like putting up a Christmas tree.
When I do have to go to town, I nowadays take one of my own horses. It is a one-hour ride one way and I love it, but I am becoming restless: I want to go. I am waiting for materials from Buenos Aires, like a saddle, and I am waiting for the official paperwork which has to come from Buenos Aires as well.
I am residing in my tent. Usually I get up around 5 o’clock. The sun hardly goes under and the dark of the night is totally absent these days. So, it is summer, but I have great difficulty in getting warm during the night. That’s why I take to bed when I feel like it, even in the middle of the day when it is warmer. I usually sleep very well then for some hours.

arg4 Adolfo Imbert bij de bbq + MichaelaPreparing asado for the smaller children and party time for the older ones.
The parties were a lot of fun, communicating with a tiny bit of English, a tiny bit of Spanish and a lot of gestures. Getting sufficient money down here in Ushuaia was not at all easy. I did send a telex to my bank and in the end, it all worked out: I did get money after a week which I consider quite good.
On the 24th all the elders and the children go to town: buying Christmas presents. The day is full of hassle, busy packing presents, cooking, running around, taking care of the horses, which is to go on as well.
Jut and Jill are performing very well and getting very much accustomed to me. We go on well, so much is clear.



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Week 50-2017. Amersfoort.

My drive

My drive.

It is winter, clearly. Since long I have not seen so much snow in Holland. It is clear that many people are not used to driving under these conditions. Some schools are closed and on the motorway, there are quite some accidents. The accidents are mostly just causing damage to cars, because people are driving extremely cautious. Nevertheless, I come across some situations with cars spinning just in front of me. Later in the week, when most of the snow is gone, there are situations with frozen roads, causing cyclists and drivers of mopeds to topple over.

Snow and wind damage Snow and wind damage.
On Wednesday, I have an appointment with a friend from Rotterdam. We are meeting in Leiden and spend some hours there, exchanging experiences from the past year. My friend had some 6 weeks terrific weeks in China, with the parents of students he is helping through the Dutch life. His comments are about the speed of development and modernisation in the enormous Chinese towns and the lack of real freedom for the people. We sat down on a heated terrace along the market and commented on what we saw passing.

Selfie in Leiden with windmill Selfie in Leiden with windmill.
My friend took the train back to Rotterdam, while I walked to the home where I grew up: My sister and her husband are living there now, since my parents left there long ago to live in an apartment with less space and less to clean for my mother. After some hours of talking I went to bed in their study where they had placed an inflatable matrass for me.
The next morning, I had to get up early in order to allow my brother in law to do his work as a self-employed consultant. I had parked my car in Oegstgeest at a pub where we went to meet old schoolmates the year before. I had to walk a muddy path, but it was the shortest way.

Leiden wetland with black sheep Leiden wetland with black sheep.

Rhijngeesterstraatweg Rhijngeesterstraatweg.
On my way back home, I did my shopping in Soest.
The other days of the week I stayed at home, writing x-mas greetings and chatting with my fellow tenants.
On Saturday I went to the market in Amersfoort. I had not been there for a long time. In the main shopping street, I was an older man playing Christmas carols on his accordion. I approached him while forking out some change: he did not speak one word of Dutch and did not understand me either. He appeared somewhat uneasy with the attention I gave him.

Langestraat musician Langestraat musician.
All in all, it had been a quiet week.

Bonus: Argentina on horseback.
1998, December 10-17.
The first horse I bought is Jut, maroon, of undisclosed age but easy to ride. The second horse I had bought, arrived this week, ridden by a tiny gaucho. Jil I named this horse, a blonde gelding. It had been working pretty hard and seemed happy with that. Putting the two together appeared no problem. After some testing of each other, the relations where settled. They ate together from the same trough, whilst Jut chased, kicked and bit any other horse away of it.

Map for journey with these two, Jut and JilMy two travel mates, Jut and Jil.

Map from my intended first leg up to the border of Bolivia.
From this point onwards, I started really to organise my departure. The map is showing the first leg of my intended trip: all of Argentina from Ushuaia to Bolivia.
Now I had to wait for health tests of the horses, new shoes for them, a saddle, injections, passports etc. Those things take a lot of time, because you need authorised people to do that and these people are not readily available in Ushuaia: they had to come from Rio Grande and the paperwork had to be authorised in Buenos Aires. All that allowed me to ride my horses in the wild and mountainous area. That appeared to be a fabulous activity. Sometimes I could join the Centro Hipico’s gaucho and owner on their trips with tourists and I sometimes went alone to pick up horses walking around the area to chase them back to the Centro. Especially Jil appeared to be extremely good for that kind of work. Even though I can in no way be called a trained horseman, I never fell off and it was a pleasure to notice the reaction from these two horses on my presence already after only a couple of days.

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Week 49-2017. The first snowfall this winter in Amersfoort.

My view The view this week.
The first snowfall in the country is triggering a lot of roar in the media, much like kicking into an anthill. The message from Trump, about getting the USA embassy to Jerusalem is nearly forgotten due to the problems the snow is causing in the country. Palestinians firing indiscriminately rockets into Israeli territory, for retaliation of Trumps message, are, in our media, lovingly called combatting mates. In my opinion they should be named terrorists.

Hedgehog sanctuary Hedgehog sanctuary with lots of rain.
I don’t go out much this week. There was only one complementary trip to Huizen, to get a hedgehog to the sanctuary in Huizen.
At home I continued writing Christmas greetings, sorting my documentation and throwing away a lot of old paperwork. Of course, I am still busy digitising my mothers’ diaries. Sometimes I take the time to read some of it, but then I should not if I want to finish this enormous task before not too long.

Strength Be strong.
A daily walk is a welcome break in the indoor activities. On Thursday there was a lot of arousal in the house: the hot water supply was cut off, due to a disturbing event in the boiler room. We all were preparing for a weekend without a shower. Fortunately, the problem appeared to be a minor one and was solved at midday on Friday: Everybody happy.

Empty Utrechtseweg 280 Empty Utrechtseweg 280.
I did get in contact with two friends of whom I had not heard of for some time. We did talk about a get together in Amersfoort.

Shopping centre Soest-Zuid Shopping centre Soest Zuid.

Bonus, 6-12-1998: Through Argentina as horseman.
On a Sunday, the owner of the Centro Hipico in Ushuaia picks me up from the backpacker’s hostel. We, that is his family and I, drive to an arena somewhere in the woods. The arena is a large fenced meadow with at the end an area where something like 20 wild horses are kept. A lot of locals, all of them carrying a hot water bottle for their mate, are gathered. They are having a party, with a stand and an installation for music and an announcer. Of course they have many fire places for ‘asado’, the Argentinian Barbeque.

Rodeo in Ushuaia

My helper in Ushuaia with his family and an impression of the rodeo.

A wild horse, unsaddled, is blinded and fixed to a pole. One of the horseman who dares, is mounting the horse and when everything is considered steady, the lead to the pole is disconnected and the blind taken off. With a slap on the back, the horse is urged to move. The idea is, to stay mounted for a minute. Some gauchos make it and are taken off their mount by two gauchos on very well-trained horses. The guys who don’t make it, are not seldom hurt when they are thrown off. All these men know what I am looking for and I am offered a horse for free if I was to take this challenge and stay on one of those horses for the standard minute. I decide not to try it, but it was fun to watch and attend this event.

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