Moving Experience II

So having given up on cell phone service for the moment I stumbled around a bit locating the exit to the bus stop. Turns out the numbers inside the terminal bear no relationship to those on the outside.

Part of my disorientation, which continued throughout, occurred because there are a great many cognates and almost cognates between Dutch and English. So there were times when I thought I was understanding something only to realize that I had merely picked up a word or two. Drummer = drumster; spiritual = spiritueel. Easy enough, but sometimes things are not what they seem. The word “spoken” has nothing to do with conversation. It means to “haunt.” And “die” has nothing to do with a state of being, or with gambling. It means “that” as in “that cat.” Oh, well.

Found the stop for the No. 197, which would take me to Museumplein, plein being square. I saw two of the four museums from the outside but never actually entered any of them. The computerized board at the stop said the bus was due at 10 a.m. I was prepared to wait 10 or 15 minutes, but the bus arrived at precisely 10, with another one due in 15 minutes. I asked the driver about how long it would take to get to Museumplein and he said about a half-hour. The buses have two computerized screens, one in the front and one halfway back that give the names of the next four stops and the estimated times of arrival. This screen alternates with a screen giving the final destination in big letters in case someone has inadvertently chosen the wrong bus. There’s also a sign in English and Dutch asking passengers to refrain from talking to the driver while the bus was moving. After we got under way, I saw why.

People getting on and off the bus fit all descriptions. The first stop was the north side of the airport, so workers, including a flight attendant in KLM’s bright blue, alighted there. Business folk got on and off. A young woman in a very short skirt with a coat one inch shorter and four-inch heels sat in the first seat behind the rear doors, the one spot where her legs would be clearly visible. She didn’t move a muscle the entire trip.

Once we left the airport, we flew, even around the curves and down the narrow streets. The bus did fine, though some of the passengers who were standing never quite got their sea legs. A few stops seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but a bike chained to a nearby light pole hinted at civilization. I finally caught a glimpse of a canal with houseboats moored along side. Then I realized the folks that lived on the houseboats probably rode their bikes to the bus stop. Just as I was thinking how cute and quaint and green everything was – truly a picture of the old Holland, we crossed the Amsterdam city limits. My first view was of a huge glass and aluminum building with the name Pricewaterhouse Coopers plastered all over the side. Names of more multi-nationals flashed by and all I could think, “You’re not in Hans Brinker country any more.”

At about the 19 minute mark, the stop for Museumplein flashed up on the screen and in another few minutes, we were pulling over. Travel time: a very efficient 27 minutes. The bus had passed the street where my host and hostess lived, so I walked back a couple of blocks and proceeded up Jacob Obrechtstraat. Found the right number and rang the bell. A short woman with a big smile and a mass of curly hair greeted me and ushered me in.

Her name is Harriett Broekman (two “Ts,” like my great aunt; nickname Hans). She and her husband, Ira Goldwasser, were to be my hosts for the next three days. I couldn’t have done better. Harriett asked if I wanted to take a nap, but I had gotten a second wind and accepted her offer of a cup of coffee instead. It was excellent, far better than Peet’s my current choice at home. One pours boiling water over a small filter in a plastic cup, which is discarded after the water flows through. There’s no mess, but my environmental side would put the little filters and coffee into the composter.

We sat and chatted until Ira appeared, then we chatted some more. He is from New York, and she was born in Amsterdam. He’s a psychiatrist; she’s written for magazines; they’ve done radio shows. But their passion in life is dancing, specifically Latin music. In fact they are best known as Dr. and Mrs. Salsa. This link in no way shows how gorgeous and stylish they are. I learned the next day what elegant dancers they are as well.

At about 1 p.m. I began to feel my lack of sleep catching up with me and excused myself for a nap. When I awoke three hours later Kathryn and Ash and a friend of Hans and Ira’s were having coffee and goodies.

Tomorrow: Dinner and the movie Zen.

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