At the end of March I flew to Holland to visit a friend I had not seen in over 18 years. We had originally met in Virginia Beach at the A.R. E. Foundation. (Edgar Cayce: Association for Research and Enlightenment) The next morning of all the places in Virginia Beach, we saw each other again at a church service. From that point on we have been corresponding.
It was actually a bit brazen asking to visit a stranger in a strange country and to stay at her home. But I felt strongly about going. I was not disappointed.
After an eight hour flight, a bit tired and anxious, my first sight was modern Amsterdam with thousands of daffodils blooming (too early for tulips). What a welcoming sight! I then had a 70 mile cab ride--with a wonderful driver. Finally, I arrived in Rotterdam.
Iris came downstairs from her second floor apartment to greet me in the lobby. It was as if I had just re-connected with my sister (I never had one). Though I would not have recognized her without her sending a recent photo she still has those sparkling eyes. (Yes, we have both aged considerably.)
Iris is still upbeat, brilliant, funny, serious, motherly, caring and a truly loving soul, as I remember all those years ago. Our similarities are a bit uncanny. It was fun to compare our lives as well as interesting from the men in our lives, political thoughts, ethical ideas, foods we eat, to the clothes we wear. We found that we are both set in our ways, opinionated as ever, still actively creative, love nature & the outdoors and have a zest for learning new things. We have both had some serious health issues. Iris has trouble walking and now has a "scoot" to "run" around the harbor of Rotterdam. She has endured several operations and may face some more. I have had three heart attacks--one with some heart damage. Both of us are overweight. (yes a wake up call for me. I am happy to report I lost weight walking around in Holland and am now doing about 45 minutes a day on the treadmill) Both of us even wear the same style of clothes--in black.
Iris was a gracious hostess. She made sure that I saw the sights of Rotterdam, taking me on a cruise boat tour, to the Euromast for a magnificent view of the harbor and various walking tours including the beautiful parks. Her daughter, Monica, helped show me around the city and treated us to coffee in a restaurant overlooking the harbor. We walked along the canals and I fell in love with the old sailing vessels. I am a lover of boats--and until a couple of years ago, owned a large houseboat. Before I left to go back home Iris loaded up my suitcase with typical Dutch treats.
Everywhere I went in Holland I was fascinated by the variety of architecture. Rotterdam was 90% destroyed in WWII. Most of the architecture is extremely stark and modern, though there is an old section untouched by the bombing which was absolutely beautiful.
I felt safe where ever I went, welcomed by the people--all of whom spoke impeccable English. I was impressed with how extraordinarily clean their homes, cars, cabs, streets and stores were. There is a national pride and a feeling there that we in the US seem to unfortunately lack.
Rather exciting to me was seeing the modern windmills and their efforts to use alternative energy. They are now beginning to embed solar panels in roads for creating more non-polluting energy. Even next to the interstate highways are bike paths--or for the "40er" vehicles. These are very small electric/gas cars that the government offers high tax credits on. They travel a max of 40 miles an hour. Holland does extensive re-cycling. Iris’ apartment makes excellent use of nature light and special fresh air louvers. She rarely turns on heat because the apartments are so well insulated.