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If I had a weekly column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


3 JULI, 2016

An American from Texas moves to Delft for work - and stays

DELFT - Gareth Wiley has lived in Delft from 2004, now a permanent resident since 2012, and is still confused, despite generous help from friends. He sees his life in Delft through American eyes.

My very first time in the Netherlands, I came on the night flight from hot Houston to much cooler Schiphol. A Dutch co-worker back in Texas had referred me to a hotel in a town called Delft which I had never heard of. I took a taxi because the train was just too much for me to figure out with no sleep. The hotel let me check in, ignoring my appearance. I tossed the bags on the bed and went looking for strong coffee. Amazing, the number of cafes in Delft.


"I've been enjoying the cafe and terrace at the Engel for over ten years now. You likely will see everyone you know walk by sooner or later. A book and a cold one on a sunny day are fine by me."

I was assigned a cubette and dropped into a new project at the stage: 'Any of you here have a clue?' Meetings were packed with people from round the world, which was a change from meetings in Houston. Here, I met a wider range of people. Not to say the folks in Houston are lacking. They are not, not at all.

New projects spawn new teams which have events to create a shared, foolish memory; we had them in Houston too. My first one here, knotted-rope puzzle games were given to each of us. The Dutch guy went at it hard and finally said: "It is not possible." But another man picked it up, fussed and untied it. Good to see the Dutch are able to laugh at themselves 'being too Dutch'.

I found the Cafe Engel and discovered just how wonderful coffee can be. Folks were friendly and directed me back toward my hotel. I had a day job then and needed sleep to be convincingly corporate my first day in a new, foreign team.

Really, the vocabulary to describe my impressions of Delft is yet beyond me. There were so many strong scenes of people and an old-new place, which had the effect of making me shy. Curiosity assured that did not last very long.

Bravely, I rented a bike and decided that I would ride it to work at Rijswijk. I was cocky, so rode it on a trail run on a Sunday. My university degree is in Geography, which only means I am able to get far more lost more easily than most men.

But I did manage to commute on a bike by doing things like buying a map, going the same route and keeping it out of the canal. I was used to a 45 minute commute in rush hour traffic at 80 miles an hour; a bike is simple and exercise.

Next trip, I spent hours on the steps outside my hotel room looking at sky and skyline. A job opened in Rijswijk; I applied and was hired. I began my immigration to foreign, unfamiliar Delft. It is not Brazoria county, Texas, but: 'It'll do me'.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved -
In memory of Herb Caen