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From Dutch Shopping to Africa

September 26 , 2004

(Written October 11)

Dear Families and Friends,


Now that we have a car big enough to actually carry souvenirs, we have to SHOP. Of course, there's no point in just shopping locally so we followed in the footsteps of our friend and big-time shopper, Robin. She and Art are back in Texas now, trying to find space for all 17,000 pounds of household stuff they shipped back, but her memory will remain, along with her driving instructions to the almost-famous xxxxx weekend market a few hours north in The Netherlands.

Now, our apartment isn't very big, so it's not like we'll try to match Robin's five or six antique dinning room tables or anything, but we do have places for a small cabinet or two. That was our goal, along with having a nice drive and seeing a country we have not yet toured.

So, how'd we do?

Our first clue about the size of the place was the almost-full parking lot. Of course, here in Europe our car towers over others, unlike back at the U. S. of A. Wall Mart. In side we wandered for two or three hours. I'm showing just a single picture because, for the most part, this was the same flea market that can be found almost anywhere, just bigger perhaps.

We left successful: no purchases!

Leaving the market we ran into a stopped autobahn (or whatever the Dutch call freeways). Everything was stopped so we joined the stream of cars driving backwards on the on-ramp. It seemed strange but, what the heck, we were just following the locals. Of course we then proceeded to get lost for an hour. We drove down back roads, pausing at a church to make sure we got in our daily quota of touristy things to do, until we found ourselves back exactly at the on/off-ramp. Do we report this as traffic so bad we lost and hour or navigating so badly ...
We stayed overnight in Nijmegen. (Unpronounceable, like most Dutch towns.) It was a pretty unremarkable place but the hotel was pleasant enough. The next day, we decided to go cross-country and see what we could. The first stop of interest turned out to be a parking lot filled with folks in ancient French cars or old-but-not-so-ancient DeLoreans.

Just next to the impromptu car show was the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. This is the final resting place of World War II soldiers who marched from the beaches of Normandy, along the coast to finally push the Germany army back across the Rhine River, a few miles away.

We've seen several war cemeteries here in Europe. This one seemed almost a forgotten corner, honoring an Army on the verge of being forgotten - except by a few who look and remember.

Farther down the road, we ran across a wonderful African museum. Inside, there were dozens of masks, carvings, ceremonial costumes, and other artifacts. Everything was presented in a subdued light that both highlighted and divided each piece.

Outside, there were reproductions of several village types. It was a fun place to explore and may be the closest we get to seeing such places in real life!

On the way out, we passed a series of modern African carvings that reminded us of one we have, back "home" in San Jose. I wonder if we'll ever see all out things again. For the near term, we'll just make do with memories - and make more memories as we go.



Take care and, don't forget, the road to Africa might pass through Holland.


Best regards,

John and Marianne


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