This is getting really belgium

May 25, 2007 at 12:53 pm 9 comments

 The pissing bastards

(Don’t know if you caught the obscure Get Fuzzy reference)

So I spent the last couple of days in Belgium, having a little interviewing marathon for my thesis. 4 guys in 2 days (3 of them on the same day!). It was a very educational experience, I learned a number of the new things, including about myself.

For one, I learned that I really need to be in my own environment to be eco-conscious. As soon as normality is taken away from me,  my ‘convictions’ fly out the window faster than you can say ‘global warming’. I behaved very poorly these 2 days, as much as it pains me to admit it. I was doing it all. Using the tiny little hotel toiletries… Eating mediocre non-organic meat, and worse, unsustainable tuna and salmon sushi…. Accepting coffee in plastic cups at my meetings… I even bought a glass of juice in a pretty little plastic cup, a paper packaged brownie and didn’t bitch about it. I found that it’s really hard to fight the disposable establishment when I’m out of my element like this…

At least I came to my senses at lunch and consciously didn’t eat at this one place  (even though it looked really good) because to say that place was over-packaged would be an understatement. Even their soup was in disposable paper cups… Not to mention the *gasp* Styrofoam coffee cups. So I went to a more traditional place instead, you know, with real dishes.

A new world was opened to me, now that I now what good towels feel like… And now I have to go back to my crappy ones *sigh* Nonetheless, even though from now on I will probably be coveting towels like those every time I pass a linen store, I have made a resolution (yeah, that’s right, I can make resolutions too you know). I decided not to buy anymore ‘things for the house”. I tend to exorcise my need to consume by buying candle-holders and special cheese-slicers and stuff like that. But now I am trying to slip into ‘moving out’ mode, which means stopping accumulating things and starting to purge all the useless crap I’ve been buying.

I found out that Belgiums are weird. They greet each other with kisses… Now, that would not be strange to me at all, because all of us Mediterraneans do that. The particular thing about waffle eaters is that unlike us meds, guys kiss guys on the cheek… That’s just so odd!!! At first I even thought it was a gay thing, but then I saw regular scrubs doing it, so it must be a cultural thing…
And trust me, they were straight! (I know because I have been accused of having an overactive gaydar, never the other way around).

I realize now how lucky I am to have dutch tap water. I had to refill my bottle in Belgium and man, it tastes horrible! I am starting to doubt if I will be strong enough to keep off the bottle if I have to live in a place with yucky water like that! I was dehydrating all the way back on the train just because of the taste of it…

My rusty french is better than I thought… at least the 357 people I asked for directions seemed to understand me. And I always found what I was looking for, so yay for me. The absurd thing is that at times I had to slip in dutch words into the mix, and my dutch is so much worse than my french!

Anyway, I really like Belgium. It has a sort of chaotic charm to it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to do any of the touristy stuff this time, because Brussels is really beautiful. I didn’t even buy chocolate, can you imagine? Hard as it is to believe, I actually think that Belgium is the European country that is more similar to my familiar old Portugal, at least out of northern Europe. I think even more than France. (I know I’m just talking out of my @$$ cause I didn’t go to ALL of the countries in Europe… yet. But still… the point remains.)

Its amazing how you can clearly see the point where Belgium ends and Holland begins. On the Belgium side you actually have hills, and trees growing randomly in a seemingly natural manner. On the dutch side, everything is flat  flat flat flat. All the trees are planted precisely 5m away from each other. All the farms are exactly rectangular, forming a perfectly geometric pattern, like a masterfully crafted quilt. Seriously, the dutch are so anal… But I guess the Belgiums would have all drowned a long time ago if they had to claim half their country from the North Sea.

And now you ask ‘Wow! How did you manage to insult so many people in such a short post?’ Well… I guess it takes a special kind of talent :p

Army of pissing boys by Mr Jaded on Flickr.

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Edit: I am having some trouble making the Get Fuzzy link work, because it is on an archive of Cafepress. If that link is not working, and you are dying to know what the ‘fuzzy’ reference is, go here, choose ‘strip designs’ and ‘bucky’s unique vocabulary’.

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Entry filed under: environment, food, shopping, travel, water. Tags: .

Not dead yet Recycling Guide – hardcore treehugger style

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lori V.  |  May 25, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Alina, I’m cracking up for several reasons on this post…

    Bucky… very funny. And your super-charming habit of occasionally confusing words reminds me of this strip… Case in point: exOrcise vs. exErcise. You mentioned excOrcising your need to consume by consuming even more (exOrcise means to rid yourself of demons or evil influences)… it should have been “excErcise my need to consume by buying…” 😉

    Also, my 16-year-old is headed to both Amsterdam and Belgium in a little less than 2 weeks. She is quite anal about a lot of things, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she’ll notice the difference between the two countries at her age.

    Finally, my great-grandparents were Belgian, and if I think really hard, I do seem to remember they were “kissy” people (tiny kissy people, as they were both less than 5 feet tall, I think). Anyway, cute reminisce… Gramma and Grampa DeDeurwaerder (how’s that for a name?) were both born in Belgium. Gramma moved to French-speaking Quebec as a small child, and Grampa grew up in Belgium speaking Flemish. When he moved to Canada in his 20’s & met Gramma, she spoke French, he spoke Flemish, neither spoke the other, and yet they were married after only 6 weeks… they were married for well over 60 years before Grampa passed away! 🙂

    Welcome back… I missed you!

  • 2. Alina  |  May 27, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Hey Lori,

    Actually, I did mean to exorcise like in purging demons… but I guess you are right, it doesnt make that much sense, huh? My boyfriend is always making fun of me because I always say ‘explore’ instead of ‘exploit’… Like in ‘those poor children are being explored’. In portuguese they are the same word… Other classics include ‘chopstick’, pokerdots and uneatable (but Im sticking to this one because it sounds better than ‘inedible”)

    Amsterdam is different than the rest of the country… less square, more crazy…

  • 3. Lori V.  |  May 28, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I, for one, find little grammatical quirks like that charming (in people that weren’t raised speaking English, that is… otherwise it’s damned annoying! LOL)…

    How far are you from Amsterdam?

  • 4. Alina  |  May 28, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    I am only 1,5h from Amsterdam by bus+train, and it’s a completely different region! I know that in the states thats how long it must takes to get by car from the outskirts to the ‘center’, in some places! Living in a small country is pretty cool in that sense. Both Belgium and France are only 3 hours away 😉

  • 5. deliberately  |  May 29, 2007 at 10:10 am

    I just tagged your site with a meme called Seven Random Facts. See my site for details. Keep up the posts!

  • 6. Greenpa  |  June 20, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Hi, Alina; sorry it’s taken me so long to get over here. I always enjoy your acute observations.

    This is what caught me here: “all of us Mediterraneans do that. The particular thing about waffle eaters is that unlike us meds, guys kiss guys on the cheek… That’s just so odd!!! At first I even thought it was a gay thing, but then I saw regular scrubs doing it, so it must be a cultural thing…”

    a) how the heck is Portugal, or Holland, Mediterranean? 🙂 and
    b) if you think THAT’S odd, visit Egypt. Last time I was there was 1989, so maybe it’s different- but seeing pairs of uniformed guards, with automatic weapons- strolling down the streets- HOLDING HANDS- took some getting used to. Pure culture.

  • 7. Alina  |  June 20, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Welcome back Greenpa. Always nice to see you around these parts.

    Even though Portugal is not technically on the Mediterranean, culturally it is. Isn’t that what matters? 😀 But yeah, both guys kissing guys and holding hands sounds pretty fruity too me… I mean, here in Holland that is common sighting too, but in that case we all know what that means :p

  • […] 20th, 2007 So, ok, I know I said I wasn’t going to buy anymore ‘things for the house’. But I went on my usual […]

  • […] have mentioned before that I have a really had time keeping up with my best green intentions when I am out of my element. […]

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