Sunday, February 18, 2007

Carnaval

It's carnaval again. The time of year that us Dutchies get dressed up as crazy as we can and roam the streets drinking and singing for about 4 days. There is a religious origin to this annual feast, which has something to do with the beginning of the yearly fasting and the last opportunity to really eat and drink, a lot. But I am not religious at all, so to me it has always been about dressing up and partying.

Me celebrating Carnaval last year in Maastricht

I'm not really a party animal, so in recent years, I haven't really been celebrating this 4-day party. But last year I decided to join in all the madness one last time, because I thought it might be the last time I would be in the Netherlands during Carnaval. As it turns out I am still here during this year's Carnaval, but I didn't join my family today when they headed out to Maastricht to party. I already said my goodbyes to the Carnaval tradition last year.

Guido, Lia and Chantal this morning before heading to Maastricht

What makes Carnaval in Maastricht special are the beautiful costumes. People in Maastricht really put a lot of work into their costumes and it is a lot of fun to see all their wonderful creations. In Eindhoven, where I'm from, people do get dressed up but they don't put a lot of thought into it so there's not much to look at. The main concern here is to drink as much as possible and score more often than your friends. Hence, I don't really enjoy Carnaval here.

Lots of interesting folks lining up for the restroom in Maastricht

I had to work yesterday, so we had a number of interesting customers in the store: princesses, drug lords, butterflies, fairies, clowns and more. My coworker wanted to join in the Carnaval fun by getting dressed up a bit, but he didn't want to be the only one. So I joined him and we got dressed up like devils with insect-eyes, and we even attached red devil tails to our pants. We looked pretty weird, but it was pretty normal behavior this time of year!

Me and my EXPO coworker Jesse a.k.a. Jamai

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Only 100 days left...

I just glanced at the countdown clock on this blog and realized that there are only 100 days, 1 hour and less than 20 minutes left until my plane takes off in Dusseldorf! In 100 days I will move to Japan and leave behind my life in Europe, and the people I love so much that live here... O O! I dread having to say goodbye to those people and look forward to my Japanese adventure in equal measure.

Happy Valentine's Day!

With each of us living on our own side of the world, Yasu and I had to send out our Valentine's card early to make sure it would arrive in time. Lately, letter transit times between Japan and the Netherlands have been unpredictable, so we kind of just send stuff out hoping it will arrive sometime near the intended date. Last Saturday, I received a lovely card and some pink Laura Mercier lip gloss which Robin McGraw recommended (that's right Dr. Phil's wife and Yasu is a big Dr. Phil fan). Yasu received my card on Monday, and I included some heartshaped and peachscented bath confetti, which he is to save until I get to Japan and we can enjoy it together! Although, you are not supposed to put any soap or soaplike things into a Japanese bath...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The winter has finally come... and gone...

After weeks of non-winter weather, this week it finally got a bit colder and today there was an actual snow storm! It was beautiful! I was walking to the busstop from my house through heavy snowfall and the ground was covered in a thick layer of snow. Every step I took was accompanied by that wonderful squeeky noise that only snow can make. The snow was so dry I could comfortably run through the snow with my otherwise slippery shoes. It didn't take long before I turned white, but I loved every second of it! I love the winter and I hate the summer, so I was so happy winter had finally come!

At the busstop

It was snowing really hard and most people decided to stay inside. So it was really silent on the streets, sometimes a car would drive by slowly but it was like the snow drowned out all regular city noises. And I did not notice the bus until it was almost in front of me, because of the big white flakes blurring my vision.

There was a car blocking the road sideways (I have no idea how the driver had managed to get her car in such an awkward position) and she was stuck between the curbs on each side and just bopping back and forth. Our very cheerful busdriver (must be a winter-lover too) hopped out of the bus to help her push her car onto the sidewalk, thereby effectively opening up the road again.
Also the snow insipired one of our neighbors to relight his outside Christmas lights again! I guess he really missed the snow during the holidays and is trying to make up for it! Unfortunately, after work I discovered that most of the snow was already gone :(.