Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Naar Maastricht

Finally time to head back to the Netherlands: a cascade of business meetings and a flood of travel have kept me away for longer than usual.  I grabbed an early flight the day after the Board meeting armed with tax records receipts and Dutch lessons.

Stansted airport, outside London, is rapidly becoming the least passenger-friendly airport I visit.  They now charge 2 gbp for the express drop-off: this is a fee simply to pull up to the airport and jump out of the car!  (2.70 buys you Short Term Parking as an alternative)

Ticketing and bad drop-of lies are long and surly; security hold passengers away from putting their belongings into the x-ray bins until called forward, pointlessly slowing the checks.  There’s no wifi in the wait area, no charging stations, no way forward until called upon to run 15 minutes out to the gate at ten minutes before departure.  There is invariably only one customs agent to check a long line of non-British visitors.

Maastricht worked better; I got through passport control and out to the curb in time to meet the bus into town without a half-hour’s wait.  The Netherlands is *cold*, the snow started falling almost immediately, then changed to a penetrating sleet.  My fingers froze the first time out on the bike: I’ve pulled gloves back out of the closet.  The wind howls along the Maas like it used to off the lake in Chicago.

I’ve jumped straight back into daily Dutch lessons along with the work and end-of-year tax prep.  Vocabulary is good; pronunciation not so durable. 

I remember a still life drawing class where we were given a small block of wood to outline.  I held it tipped and drew the edge.  It was very hard: no matter what I did, I drew a different angle than what I could see.  It was as though the muscles weren’t connected to my eyes.  It’s the same thing when reading: I see the word, hear the way a native would say it.  But my mouth doesn’t make the right shapes, so Leuk comes out somewhere between look and lake.

I’ve reconnected with a bunch of friends, so the Maastricht SSBsocial schedule is full for a few days while I find out what everyone’s been up to.  I just hope that the weather improves by the weekend.

‘something like this…

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