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If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

Earlier columns: July 3, 2016

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


10 JULI, 2016

A bench bij de Vrouw - I have an address

DELFT - I venture out into unknown Delft, one street at a time and always in view of the church steeple - the neighborhood then round the corner. Ask someone if they speak English, and almost all Dutch will say a little. My problem is, I only speak American.

As I began my work on a project for my company, the good folks who were paying for all this, I tried to do it all. Meaning, I tried to figure out how things work in Holland (trains, trams, traffic) and work 12 hour days. But, work was good and Delft was friendly. I met other expats at the Engel. A guy there asked: if I was a Texan, where was my hat. So, one day I wore my native costume.


"Few Texans dress like this unless they are 'fixin to git soom wurk dun', and they don't want to get their good clothes dirty. Or it could be for the annual Rodeo and 'Go Texan!' day."

I had no notions about leaving Texas; why would anyone, unless offered a better job and more pay. Even so, I had friends and a house there. Had the job been in Outer Mongolia, I'd think twice, but it was in Holland. I was chilled even well into mid-year. After a while, I wished my employer was Italian owned so I could have lived in warm Italy.

New friends at the hotel Emmausport, where I was staying, pointed me to an apartment-for-rent on VrouwJuttenland. It was not far from my hotel, ground floor and had one window. But that window filled the entire street side of the flat and opened fully. There was a bench out front for sitting on nice days. It had an odd loft for sleeping which the owner had built himself.

Some basic things about Houston and Delft are the same, were familiar to me. Both are on wet, flat ground, near the water and have distinct skies. How they differ starts after that. But, there are other foreigners living in town to explain things.

Then, I knew only one American in Delft, a guy from Louisiana. We often sat together at the Engel and talked in a Southern drawl, which no one else with us understood much of. Mostly we used slang, well slurred, and remarked on life abroad.

The sweet benefit of not knowing what everyone around you is saying is you do not involuntarily learn about their problem relation, weight concerns or personal issues - nor the everyday chat (prat in Dutch) like 'I'm making it, how about you?'.

My job description and boss wanted me full time at work in Rijswijk. Every other month working from Texas was not going well because each side kept forgetting about the 7 hour time difference. Enjoying Delft was not the same as moving here.

We sealed and I moved in. That was the easy part, and now I needed to close out Houston. It was sad - I sold my pickup; it was hectic - there were so many things that I had to juggle. Some are dropped and gone, while the rest are kept aloft.

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