Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mostly on Biking

The next post will be on languages. I cleverly transition to it in the last section. 

Fact: Dutch people look effortlessly cool while biking.
Fact: I look like I got my head stuck in a bowling ball, and am still dazed and confused from the experience.
Conclusion: I’m not Dutch.
And because simply biking would just be too easy, the Dutch also often travel two on a bike. I tried to do this once. Basically, if I had been deliberately trying to make the other person as late as possible while destroying all their possessions, I really couldn’t have done a better job.

Helmets: That should probably be in the singular, as I seem to have the only helmet in all of  Holland. It result in comments such as “Going for a marathon, eh?”, “Careful you don’t fall now”, and very, very sarcastic whistles. If you look ridiculous, a certain portion of the Dutch population will consider it their personal responsibility to let you know. We will see how long I continue to value my prefrontal lobe over my dignity. Right now, a winning tactic is pretending I don’t understand Dutch. Yeah, my dignity never even had a fighting chance. 

Getting places:  Currently, my propensity for getting lost is cancelling out my propensity to over-consume anything with sugar. For example, yesterday I biked to visit my family. It’s about 40 miles as the crow flies, so I figured it would take me four hours. It took me ten hours. Partly it was my slowness (my grandma is faster than me), but mostly it was the fact that I took the very, very scenic route.  It was truly beautiful, but after the sixth hour, my appreciation for the grazing cows, the thatched-roof farm houses, the random castles and manors began to diminish, and I started to wish I had considered that fact that I regularly got lost in Richland, Washington.

Thankfully, on a sunny day in Holland, the entire population embarks on biking odysseys of their own, though presumably planned and not forced by lack of orientation skills. During the wandering course of my own biking odyssey, I asked about the entire population for directions. The people were amazingly kind and helpful, often taking a good ten minutes to make sure their directions were correct and clear. That and the fact that I was only mocked for my helmet once during the whole ten hours was very faith-in-humanity restoring experience.

Learning Dutch: About half of the Dutch people I asked for directions yesterday in Dutch answered in English. In fact, I had several conversations where my entire side was in Dutch and their entire side was in English. Although I am very impressed with how accommodating the Dutch are to foreigners, I also want to improve my Dutch, as unnecessary as Dutch is turning out to be in the Netherlands. It would be tres lame to be the only mono- in a land of bi-, tri-, and quad- linguals. (And I'm already doing such a great job at being tres lame by saying things like tres lame.)