Friday the 26th of June
Waking up. Packing. Saying our goodbyes.
Two weeks seems like such an insignificant time period that, I am sure in due time, will make no real difference to the course of my life. But these two weeks have been beyond incredible – I hope I will never forget the time that has passed making memories with my fellow fifty tourers. I made sure to give everyone as big a hug as I could muster for I knew it might be the last time I would know these people and couldn’t risk to regret a halfhearted farewell. The bus departed to Schiphol Airport were I was dropped off with a few others also; paused for a moment to watch the Contiki Coach logo disappear into the distance for the final time and then each departed our separate ways. I never thought I would feel the impact of this departure as intensely as I have whilst I am sure my fellow travellers are unperturbed by our distancing – clearly goodbyes aren’t my strong suit. Since the beginning of our trip I have been regarded by many as their little sister as I am the youngest and least experienced of our group. In this respect I have enjoyed travelling with this group of people that have become a circumstantial family. It will be weird going from seeing my Contiki Company every minute of everyday for two full weeks to seeing them not at all.
The bus was empty. It was more than an hour from the airport to Vandenmortelstraat where I had to navigate the streets to the house of my grandma. There was an unsettling difference in the public bus on which I made my commute to her home – I was so accustomed to hearing card games being played in the backseat and the annoying rock beat of We’ve Got it Goin On that the silence within the vehicle was almost unnerving. I longed to rest my head on my bus buddy but my backpack, being the closest thing I had to a companion, would have to bear my weight while I napped instead. It had been less than a month since I had last seen Oma so I was excited to be in her company again to share the many memories I had made over the past few weeks. It was great to fell at home with a relative who granted me the warm welcome of the typical coffee and cake. That afternoon I awoke to find my uncle and his daughter had stopped by for lunch. My five year old cousin is the most adorable young girl I had ever seen! Her short white-blond tresses blew around her face in the wind as she bravely played at the beach. She amused herself and wanted to jump off the crate as she watched the big kids do – she felt proud when she did with the little help from her father. I had fallen asleep in the striped deck chairs out front of the Koele Costa Cafe and was grateful to have another relaxing nap. My travels had exhausted me! When the afternoon was coming to a close and weather was turning grey, she was upset to have to leave the sandcastle she had built.
I was living every kid’s dream: pancakes for dinner! Sweet banana flensjes dripping in chocolate sauce and powdered sugar evoked my dearest childhood memories. It took me back to the early mornings of special occasions, when I would awake to the comforting scent of cakes cooking that spurred me to run down the stairs to the inviting stack of my mothers even more special flensjes. I would drool over the stack of thin pancakes surrounded with an assortment of toppings, from sugars and sprinkles to syrups and strawberries that would be licked clean from the plate before we left the table. It was my childhood in a meal.