The campervan squeezes along the narrow streets. We suck in our breath and pray that nothing comes the other way. I’m grateful that our friends discovered Blokzijl in the northern Netherlands by canal boat and told us about it, otherwise we would never have found it.
Now we sit in an old café. The owner seems as old as the building. He creeps in the darkness amidst tables set with candles and surrounded by art work in the style of the Dutch Masters. The rain and gloom is fitting with the atmosphere but somehow adds to the experience of visiting this medieval fortress built in the 1600’s. We are the only patrons.
Outside the rain quietly fills the gaps in the cobblestones spraying afar as red cape-clad cyclists pedal passed. They stop momentarily and peer in the window. No doubt we do not make a suitable display and they pedal on in the rain. Barry Manilow sings on the radio in contrast to what I see and feel.
As I finish my coffee and yet another slice of Dutch appeltaart the music changes, the radio now plays “You can be a Champion” transporting me back to Vanuatu where Facebook reminds me that I was two years ago. The song was sung loudly and enthusiastically by my Grade Six class as they graduated from primary school, many of them departing to boarding schools in more developed countries. How life changes, so quickly, and yet Blokzijl reminds me that in reality, some things never change, they just wear the markings of time.