Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Splurging in Belgium

Last June, while we were in the Turks and Caicos, I checked the internet to see what my chances were to go to Belgium this summer. I searched many websites and the result was always the same: plane tickets from the Dominican Republic to Belgium (through the US) were extremely expensive. For the first time ever, it downed on me that a visit to Belgium might be out of the question this year. It had been over a year since I saw my family and friends. They would have to do without me for a bit longer…

Irie brought us safely to Luperon, where we settled for hurricane season. One day, a friend of mine had stumbled across the website of Jet Air and asked me whether I would be interested in a direct flight to Belgium for around $600… Do-oh! What do you think? I checked into the matter and a few hours later, I got my flight booked. I would fly non-stop from Puerto Plata (1,5 hours away) to Brussels in about 9 hours. The plane back would stop in Jamaica, before returning to the Dominican Republic. The price: 420 euros, all inclusive, with booking fee, taxes and tourist card. I would not go through the United States, a tremendous advantage, since I always get in trouble there.

The weeks in Luperon passed by quickly with lots of events and chores on and off the boat. The high temperature and humidity made it hard for everybody to breathe, get things done and enjoy the boat life and the environment. When August 2nd arrived, I was happy to leave Luperon and was more than ready for my break on land, in a Western country… The overnight flight went smooth and once in Brussels, my parents were waiting for me in the airport. They had been there the day before as well, because they thought I’d arrive on Saturday, the only day I ever mentioned to them in emails. Miscommunications!

It didn’t take long before I adjusted to the luxuries of a house. Five weeks long, I enjoyed every single shower I took, every toilet visit I made, a comfortable bed to sleep in, not bumping my head on anything, being able to just walk outside and take a bike or a hike, taking my time to open the fridge and grab whatever I felt for, picking up the phone when it rang or to call people myself, trying out all the comfortable chairs in the house, using electricity as I pleased and sitting behind the computer to do some writing or to check the web. Awesome!

The weather was cold, grey and rainy. Three days it was above 75 degrees and I think I saw the sun maybe 10 days for a few hours. It was the worst August ever and a terrible summer, but… I didn’t care. The only thing I didn’t want to do was sweating while doing nothing and getting a headache from the heat every day. No worries here. The temperature was about half of what I was used to in the Dominican Republic and I actually enjoyed wearing socks, shoes, trousers and sweaters and sleeping with a flannel duvet cover.

Living in my parents’ place was a spoil. The food was delicious and I had company whenever I wanted. Because my stay lasted five weeks, I found a healthy balance between visiting people and just doing stuff at home. What a difference with my two week stay from last year, when I ran and drove from here to there, telling the same stories over and over again. This time, I managed to write and read some, work on photo albums, surf the web, run errands, go for walks with my parents and shop by bike.

To visit friends, I mostly used public transportation and to see family, the car was available in the weekends. I got treated to a few fun concerts, good meals, great conversations, rides on motorbikes, walks in nature and playtime with kids and dogs. I had a wonderful time with everybody and can’t wait to come “home” again, next year. Then, the food will still be fantastic and the company interesting, but the existing kids will have changed once more and new ones will have appeared. But first, I had to get back to the boat in safety and experience hurricane Ike…


- Oma and I
- Ine and Lore
- Showing pictures and telling stories to family
- Walking with Peter and Rosy in the Flamish Ardens
- Eating mussles at home
- Rosy and I drinking mojitos
- Hanging out with Argus, the dog of Ellen and Davy
- Macy Gray on the Lokerse Feesten