If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


28 MAY 2017

Jan Vacations in Amerika (America)

DELFT - A few of my friends who are Dutch tell me there is no way they would visit the US. They think it is far too dangerous, racist and full of crazy's. Dutch news reports what the US news reports and tries to explain it all. America is no more explicable than is the Netherlands.

Stand in the middle of the Grote Markt square and shout: 'Hey, Jan!' and half of the males in hearing will turn and answer 'Ja - wat?'. That is not true, but Jan is a common name among men here. Jan is similar to American slang saying someone is 'an average Joe', an anyman. I have known one such Dutch guy here for over 10 years. He is the kind of friend that when you meet, always by chance, you talk. We did recently and had a catch-up.


"Dutch have always enjoyed travel, and they are willing to go a long way to scratch that itch. A friend recently returned from a vacation with his family to the American West. The national parks overwhelmed him, such as Bryce National Park, pictured here."

As I stood on the street listening to him rolling off this place and that, it was clear the national parks had impressed him the most - beyond his ability to take in. I have not been to all the places he talked about; it brought back memories of a summer as a 'rod man' for the US Geological Survey when I was 17. The work was in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. We camped out, hiked all over, and took measures of the height of the land. Being 17, I felt I had been sold into slavery and wrote to my father; no sympathy.

Especially, my friend talked about Bryce National Park. Later, I went to Google to see images of the place and understood why. What must the first people have thought when they came upon such amazement.

My friend is in his late 30's, married with young children. He is a 'Jan', meaning typical: he is hard working at what he does, spends time with his family and enjoys life. We both like old-time American Rock 'n Roll.

I was on my way to the Thursday market and came upon him unloading his van. He has a happy way about him; I cannot think of a better word. He just lately returned from taking his family on a wonderful vacation.

This trip was their first real time off in 10 years. They picked the Great American West, landing in Los Angeles and staying with long-time, real-close friends who had moved there. They rented a car and toured the land.

My friend's eyes glowed as he launched into a tale of what they did and all the there's they went to see. It was an impressive list. His children liked Alcatraz the best, that due to the National Park Service's tours.

My opinion is that Dutch very much enjoy being far away from Holland. It is a tugging perhaps that longs for adventure, for sights which are not Dutch at all. It is pure Monty Python: 'And now for something completely different'.

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