06 November 2006
It's really hard to keep up blogging now we're back in Belgium, even though there's not much else for me to do. Mayba that is the actual reason: nothing happens, so I can't write anything. I thought coming back will give me all sorts of things to do, but that isn't true at all. I believe it is even worse than in Sweden.
But I do have some little things to tell today. In january, we will be going on honeymoon to Thailand. We will spend three nights in Bangkok and eleven on Koh Samui. I can't wait!!!
Last wednesday we went to the movies in Ostend. When we came out, a woman approached us.
"Could you spare me a moment?", she asked us. We nodded. "Are you a couple?" was her next question. Our answer was again positive.
"You might already know where I'm trying to get at" (to be honest, we didn't have any idea, we were thinking all kinds of other things than what we would say next.) "I work with a production company," she said, "and we are looking for couples for 'Temptation Island'. Would you guys be interested?" Off course we said no way, but it was quite funny. Especially because when we first got married, at the community they also asked us if VTM could come and film our wedding.
Maybe we should start considering a carreer in reality TV.
26 October 2006
We had a lot of fun with the table decorations. (The problem afterwards was that the colour of those thing got into my skin and I couldn't get it off for two days).
As it got later in the evening, Christian suddenly found the floor to be his best friend.
I really like this picture. On it are Jeroen, Elinor, Pelle and David.
19 October 2006
It feels really weird to be in the same place for a while, even more so to be able toplan at least some things ahead. It's funny how quickly you adjust to not being able to polan things and to just live day by day.
We went to the photographer yesterday and the wedding pictures turned out wonderful. The waiting time to get your album is about four months though, and although she said she would do her best to get it done while we're still in Belgium, she couldn't assure us that. Grr...
Not much else to tell really, I'm just dointg the laundry and cleaning up our room... not that exciting. So if I don't write too much the next couple of days, don't be mad, it's just that not much is happening.
17 October 2006
There was another party this saturday at Elinor's. The whole company was invited, so there where a lot of people. She made mexican food for all of us and it was actually quite good. After dinner, they started making whipped cream, so David assumed we were getting dessert, too. What a mistake to think such a thing. When people in Sweden make whipped cream it can have no other reason than to make hot shots of course!
We didn't drink all that much, because we wanted to enjoy our last day off in Sweden and go for a shopping spree the next day (I have to mention that their winter collection is quite good, I think it's even better than ours in Belgium).
So the party went on and we had great fun dancing and just plain enjoying ourselves. Until at about one o'clock we started getting tired and wanted to go home. We had driven there with Jan, and when David went to ask him to go home, he got quite dazzled. He drank too much to drive he said and he wouldn't allow anybody else to drive his car. He never had the intention to go back home and he would sleep over. That had been the plan from the beginning and it seems everybody forgot to mention that to us.
I got so angry, we instantly called a cab and got home anyway. (If ever somebody comes to Sweden: cabs are extremely expensive, so you'd better drie to parties yourself, you've got to be carefull, though, because there's a zero tolerance towards alcohol, so you'll drink one glass of wine with your food and that's it!)
I do have pictures from the party, but they're on the other laptop, so I'll upload them when we're in Belgium.
This is it... We're all packed and leaving around three thirty. It feels weird. In the end we have been here for three months and it really allready feels like home. We got to know a lot of people. Will we see them again? Will we ever get back here? Who knows...
Still leaving Sweden means getting away from really bad food and equally bad coffee, so in that department we won't miss it. But it also means giving up having our own place for a while, and as much as we love our parents, that is not easy after living on our own for so long. It also means haing more time for our friends at home...
It's really confusing, I'm not sure if I will miss it at all, but I certainly couldn't guess feeling so weird about leaving today.
Palm oil fame
On a lighter note, the company had a visit from a guy who has a palm plantation in Columbia. He came here after seeing the article in the newspaper abut David and his biofuel machine. Another guy from his company had already met David in Indonesia, and since David is apparently getting rather famous, they where interested in buying a machine as well. So they came over here.
14 October 2006
We had to be towed for the second time today. This time, our car waited to break down until we got to a parking lot next to the highway, luckily. The good part is that Jeroen (the Dutch guy) drove by right that moment and saw us there, so he could come and tow us back to the company. Last time it was the fuel punp that had a leak, we've had that replaced. This time, it seems to be the filter... so I don't know if they'll be able the fix that and if we will be able to go to the appartment... Anyhow, David still has a lot of work to do today, so we'll find out sometime this afternoon.
I would also like to ask you all again to comment when you read this site. With sitemeter I can now keep track who's on and for how long, but it's still quite frustrating to keep writing and nobody ever says anything. So please next time, take five seconds to leave a comment!
11 October 2006
Ok, I've called this part one in the hope of getting more pictures sent to me in the next couple of days, becuse these are the first ones I've seen so far and I'm extremely curious.
Isabelle, ik hoop dat dit uw nieuwsgierigheid toch al een beetje kan onderdrukken!
Nic, nog s heel erg bedankt hé!
Our magnificent, gigantic, three-flavours wedding cake, from which I could only eat half a slice (why oh why did I put on such a tightly fitted dress!)
David and his mom.
David's dad and sister. Although not a big dancer, David's dad didn't leave the dancefloor for one second that night. He was going so completely wild, we started wondering if he had taken speed...
A while ago - I think it must have been somewhere last week - a Swedish newspaper published an article about the Holocaust which provoked a lot of commotion here in Sweden. The reason for this scandal was an advertisement by a gas company, saying how it is the most environmentally friendly energiesource, right underneath the article mentioned above... Talk about product placement!
Home sweet home
We took the plane coming back here two days ago. As we've become regulars on the Ryanair Charleroi to Skavsta flight, we use web check in (because the check-in at charleroi airport is hell, frankly) and so we can beat the boarding cue. As we were waiting to board, there was another Flemish guy behind us who had also used web check-in. "The joy of having a computer", he said to me. I nodded and answered that it was quite easy and less uncomfortable than the usual way. He said that, sadly, in Sweden he wouldn't be able to check in through the internet. I frowned and asked him why - apparently assuming that everybody lives in Sweden. As he said he wasn't sure he could print out bhis boarding pass in the hotel, I caught myself saying: "ah, but we live in Sweden". I was rather surprised about saying such a thing.
Some more remarks about the wedding
David had a headache for about two days after the wedding. It made us wonder about how quickly we lost our partying stamina. We would have never had so much trouble with getting into bed at three o'clock and drinking a couple of beers when we were 20... What will it be when we're forty if it goes downhill so fast!
Another fun fact that few of you know about: in the beginning of the party (somewhat after the speech), my nephews girlfriend came to me. She had to tell me something, she wispered, and took me off to a quieter place. David's pants was torn, she said, at the backside (yes, at his butt!). Because he always put his hands in his pockets, it became visible... And there was nothing we could do, because we didn't think about bringing needle and thread (whuy would we do that!)... So I told David to stop putting his hands in his pockets. He was so embarrased that he put on his jacket and ran around with hat until he was to drunk to bother.
10 October 2006
We're back in Sweden since yesterday evening, and this should be the last visit. We should be back in Belgium by the 17th of october, if all goes well.
I haven't got any pictures from the wedding yet, so if anybody has some, please send them to me!! I would like to dedicate this blog to an overview of the wedding, but there's so much to tell, that I don't know where to start. Firts of all Isabelle and the two Jokes, it is such a pitty you guys could't be there, because it was truly magnificent. I had my doubts before, because it wasn't really what we had wanted, but it has proven to be really great.
I got to the hairdresser at 7.15 in the morning after a night of getting hardly any sleep. It was real fun and she did my hair just great. She used 3 pieces of 45 cm long hair!
My mom came to pick me up at about 9 o'clock and we left for Brussels around ten thirty. When we arrived at the hotel (we stayed at the Conrad) the photographer was already waiting for us, so we quickly went into the room and I started painting my face on... Nathalie arrived shortly after us and we had quite some fun getting on my dress and undergarments.
We were a little behind schedule. David was at the hotel before I could put on my dress. When I finally got to the bar I had to stop him from crying (I knew I would cry too, if he would and was afraid it would ruin my make up). My mom did cry (and she thinks I did not see it).
The server came to offer us a glass of champagne to congratulate us on our wedding, but we hadn't eaten anything until then and it quickly got to our head. And I had to pee, too, which was quite a task with the enormous dress I was wearing. I had to take Nathalie with me and couldn't close the door. It was very funny and Nathalie was sorry she didn't bring her camera to take a picture of that event.
While we were in the bar, a little girl came in with her mama. She gaspt for air whilst pointing at me and said: "look, mama, a princess..." (It wasn't the last kid that would say that during the day, so I think I achieved my goal!)
After taking some pictures in the bar (It was raining and we were waiting for it to stop), we went to the 'Justitiepaleis' and the Sablon. My brother joined us to drive the car and he was already wearing his tux. The kind with slips at the backside. So when we where walking round the Sablon, there was a couple sitting in a café. When the girl saw us she pointed us out to her boyfriend and said: "Look, how cute!" then my brother passed by and the uy want: "You see, it's not for real!". When finally the photographer passed by thay were startled and didn't know if it was for real or not. From there, the phototour lead to La Grand Place and the Galerie des Princes. We were so hungry we got some muffins at Haagen Das and got a discount! Later on we were eating that and a woman came up to us to ask us where we got them. When we were taking pictures in the galerie, another woman came to ask us if we were realy getting married or if we were just there for decoration.
We went to L'estaminet for a beer and got a standing ovation. I had to turn around to fully show my dress. When David went to pay the check, the man scribbled a smiley face on a piece of paper and said we didn't need to pay.
The time had come to get to L'abbaye de Forest, where the party would be. Eventhough we got lost driving there, we managed to get there before anyone else. Slowly people started arriving, but there was no sign of our photographer (we had dropped him off at his car and he would join us from there). In the end he got there and apparently was stuck in traffic for about half an hour.
And so the party started. The food was great, everybody looked lovely. But I could hardly eat anything, because I had a corset-like bodice on my dress, that restrained my stomach from expanding! We had a wonderfull five high wedding cake with all different flavours. Again, I only ate half of one piece, because it didn't fit in my dress. David did the most wonderfull speech.
It was over quite early, because there where elections the next day. I think we got into our bed at 3 in the morning.
That's about all I can think of. I hope to post some pictures later on.
02 October 2006
29 September 2006
We haven't encountered that many bizar names... I think the strangest one around here is 'Per'. There's also a Kennert (but they pronounce it Kenneth anyway!). What I really want to talk about today is the strange manner in which Swedish people pronounce their names. Sometimes so different from the spelling that there's not even the slightest bit of the name recognisable.
So, you've got the simple things like vowels changing in pronunciation, which is quite common, because it also happens in English or French. In that fashion the a is pronounced as a double o. So David becomes Doovid en Jan Joon.
Stranger though, and I cannot imagine what the rule is behind this, the pronounce Per as Pelle. And now the really amazing part: there's this guy Gert and they say Jek to him. Seriously...
26 September 2006
Here's some things that happened to David while I was away
Last week David was hard at work when suddenly he heard a loud buzzing noise. He assumed something was wrong with his installation and started looking for a problem. While he was searching, he heard and felt a loud explosion and dropped to the ground, thinking that one of the machines had exploded. When nothing else happened, he got up from the floor to go into the office. Only to find out noone else was as shook up as he. During conversation, he found out the explosion was nothing more than the builders blasting away the rock to clear the area for the new construction. He tought to himself that he was very lucky that nobody saw him duck in fear of world war three.
The dissapearance of mr. wallet
Another story David told me.
Sometime last week, he suddenly couldn't find his wallet anymore. Since this is something that happens regularly, he didn't panic and assumed the thing was still sitting in his car. When he got to check the car, it wasn't there. He drove to work only to find out it wasn't here either. So he went back home and went trough the whole appartment again. No wallet. He decided to call cardblock the next day, that the thing was definately stolen or lost. When he got in his car the next day to drive to work, he noticed something lying on the ground next to his door.
Off course this was his wallet, that had been lying in the parking lot for two days. When he went through it he noticed there wasn't anything missing from it. Not even the money.
We're wondering if something like this is possible in Belgium.
The attack of the invisible door
This is something that happend a while ago, but we still have such a laugh about it that I decided to share it, eventhough David will kill me for it. He wanted to go from the office space to the factory which is separated with a door. He walked straight into the door, eyes open... How do you do that? Since then his glasses are totally crooked off course and he took quite a bump to the head.
When he told the story to Christian, one off the chemical engineers here, Christian said he too had done that several times? So what? They can construct bridges and planes and stuff, but they don't know you have to open a door before you can walk through it? Maybe that's something they should include in the university courses then...
I can only post some pics I took the first day of the cruise, cause I took these with my camera. The rest of the trip I fooled around with my parent's camera and my father didn't succeed in putting their pictures on a cd - what should I say: middleaged people and technology don't mix! My brother didn't get the time to get some of his pictures my way, so you'll have to do with these.
Bodrum harbour, where we started off. (and ended also) A very loud and busy place where the water smells awfull, quite the opposite of the rest of our trip.
Le grand blue.
My parents and Shakir (the man who arranged all this).
23 September 2006
Hi everybody!!! I just got back from the blue cruise in Turkey, where I spent one week floating on the Egean sea with my brother and parents. I'll upload some pictures later tonight.
The cruise was really relax. We didn't do much more than swim, go snorkling, eat delightful Turkish food, sleep, play games and read books. The weather was really good, so we all managed to get a tan. Still, the last day the weather turned, so we went at the right time.
We also managed to learn some Turkish, since we were on the boat with Turkish friends of my parents. Turkish is really hard and it bares no resemblance to anything we know, but it's fun.
So, iyi geceler and I'll try to get those pictures on as quickly as possible.
15 September 2006
I'll be leaving for Turkey tomorrow night. We'll be doing a Blue Cruise, starting off from Bodrum. So I won't be able to write all off next week. I will be able to get a tan and rest before the big wedding event!
Anyhow, I promise to post some pictures after I get back.
11 September 2006
After winning over the Indonesian television, and having his self-made video on how to make biodiesel in laboratory condition, David has taken another step and will soon be in the Swedish newspaper, picture and all.
The company was visited by the Swedish minister of Environment today. She showed up with two police escort cars and her own bodyguard (who was also a women - in her sixties, we think, can you imagine). Some journalists were here too, and they showed quite some interest in David taking the machine to Afrika. So tomorrow David's face will be printed. Off course he failed to ask which newspaper it was, so we might have some problems finding the right one. Maybe we'll find out later today.
We didn't go to Stockholm in the end. David is having some trouble with his machine, so he had to come to work on Saturday. So we bought a game and spend the rest of our off time playing it.
07 September 2006
There's a refund for recycling plastic bottles and metal cans, about the same as we get in Belgium for glass.
Swedish people warm their houses and water with the heat they retreive from burning trash.
Passports and ID need to be picked up at the bank.
The lit sky I talked about in one of my earliest posts is no more. It gets pitchblack at night now. It even gets dark as early as eight PM.
David's machine is finally finished. Four days after the planned date. So work really starts now for him. We're still going to try to get the weekend off and visit Stockholm. Otherwise we won't have seen much of Sweden during the length of our stay.
There's not much else to talk about really. Life's quietly drifting further. I read a lot lately. Most of the things we still had to plan for the wedding party are coming together, mainly thanks to my mum.
05 September 2006
I've noticed there's some misunderstandings about our whereabouts. We were in Belgium all of last week and are now back here. I'll be here until the thirteenth or fourteenth of september, then I'll get back to go to Turkey. It's quite stunning the amount of planes I will have taken this year, I wonder if it's not even more than all the planes I had taken in my life before this time put together.
It's still bright and sunny here, but there's a strong northern wind that makes putting on a sweater mandatory. Everything is the same over here. they're still putting David's machine together (even though it had to be finished yesterday), which makes the time frame we're on rather narrow. But we'll have to manage, because we definitely need to get back home the first of october.
24 August 2006
Furthermore, my weddingdress is in the store. It has actually been there since july, but they didn't bother to call us. So my mom and I have been stressing for nothing the whole time!
Bu that's it for now... maybe I will write something else once we're in Belgium... It depends.
20 August 2006
As you can see, we went on a roadtrip trough Östergöttland today. the day started off rather dim and gray, but we went for it anyway (took our raincoats, just in case). Just one hour after we left, it cleared up and it ended up a really bright and sunny day. The trip took us first to Söderköpping, a very pitoresque little city with cute pastel-coloured houses and a broad channel that leads to the sea. The city is flanked by a tall rock, where you can do hikes (which we couldn't because of David's leg). There's about 12000 inhabitants in Söderköpping and, juging by our little walk through town, just as many churches. It's just 18 kilometers away from Nörrköpping (where we live).
We continued our trip taking the 210 east. We had a picnic in the woods along the road. We had our first glance at the sea in St. Anna . Although that part of Sweden is flanked by the sea at two sides, it's fairly green and there's a lot of farmland along the road. The sea isn't such a big attraction here, the big "touristical" spots are mainly for boating. I say "touristical" because this isn't a very touristic region at all. There are some camping areas along the 210, but there are few foreigners in the region.
We turned back via Söderköpping again, to stop and have an icecream at it's infamous Glassrestaurang, where I got a lot more than I could handle.
19 August 2006
The dining space in our kitchen
The wonders of Swedish plumming
Maybe it seems weird that I should write on plumming, but it's a rather strange phenomenon that we've now noticed in both of our appartments. Bathtubs aren't built in like in Belgium, they're loose-standing elements in your bathroom. So be it that the drainage isn't fixed either. It's just a hole in your bathtub that spils on the floor. And in the bathroom floor there's alos a hole somewhat situated at about the same space of the hole in your bathtub. So when you flush down the water it literally spills on the entire bathroomfloor. To avoid the bathroom to be entirely flooded, you have to let the water run down bit by bit.
So we finally found a doctor on thuesday evening at five. It was in e general health care center (they don't have private doctors like in Belgium). The doctor came, David started explaining and showed his leg. The doctor took one lok at it and jumped back a meter. He started mumbling and twitching. He said he couldn't help us, that he'd only seen such a thing once in his life and that it had spread all over the patients body. He quickly wrote a letter for us to take to the hospital and kindly threw us out. (After we'd had to pay 159 euro for nothing! Apparently our worldwide insurance doesn't work in Sweden - and we have two of them - aparently Sweden is not part of the world?)
So we went to the hospital and there the fun really started. We first arrived at the wrong department of the hospital and were sent to the emergency room. Once there, the unfriendly secretary told us there was nothng they could do for us that they couldn't have done in the general health center. And any way, we would have to wait until midnight (still, there were only three or four people in the waiting room). Meanwhile David was getting more amd more ill, he had a fever and was very dizzy. I didn't feel good either and especially didn't feel like waiting 'til midnight. Luckily Kennert from the company had joined us (because none of the medical personnel nor the doctors spoke any English). He phoned the health center we'd been to first, to get them to call the secretary and explain that we had a serious situation. Then he went to the secretary/nurse alone to chat (I think he seduced her or something). Suddenly she would check what she could do and half an hour later we where taken in by a nurse who took David's temerature and some blood. She told us teh doctor would be there shortly.
The doctor was a big German man, named Franz Rommel. He took one look at David's leg and concluded it was a bacterial infection. He called in another nurse and they treated his leg.
When the doctor left to go and write a prescription, the nurse put a bandage around david's leg and all was done in about 20 minutes.
David got off the bed and wanted to put his pants back on, when the nurse started checking him out. "You look good", she said. Didn't she notice me? It's not like I look as if I could be his sister...
Anyway, we've been caring for David for a few days now and it gets better every day. He hasn't been to work two days, but now he's all better.
15 August 2006
I have to explain why I haven't been writing that much lately. As usual it is due to technology taking a turn on me again. Last week, I finally got to install the super adobe première. I was going wild, making movies and all, getting acquainted to the software, getting along fine, when suddenly my laptop wouldn't connect to internet any more. He kept telling me he couldn't find any wireless networks, while there's two of them here and they're functioning just fine. So we restarted, checked all of our settings, restarted again, even uninstalled première (you never know if it might have caused a conflict situation). All systems seemt to be woring fine, software and hardware. We were getting out of our wits and decided to reinstall the drivers of our wifi. And now it works again. I was almost driven to abandon computers altogether.
Discovering Swedish medicine
Yesterday, David woke up with a somewhat weird fenomena on his leg, it was lightly swollen and warm and had some little points on it, kind of like zits. He went o work and as the day passed, it got worse and worse. By the end of the day it was very warm and completely swollen and the points had multiplied enormously. So we called David's parents (who are both doctors), to ask wht it could be (we even sent them a picture and all). We went to the pharmacist to see if she could give us something, but she had never seen such a thing and I don't think she really knew what she was doing. We couldn't get any antibiotics, because you need a prescription. The doctors here stop working at four o'clock, so since it was already six, he wanted to go today.
The very nice representative of this company called the doctor's service and they told him David could just drop in. So he did, and when he got there, they said all doctors where occupied untill thursday (!!!). So now we're just waiting and hoping he can go somewhere else this afternoon. In the meanwhile, his leg hurts more and more and he starts feeling dizzy.
That's what you get for not bringing your full first aid kit as usual, because you want to diminish the waight of your luggage.
Furthermore, I myslef am sick too, but I have only a soar throat. I asked David when he will ever have a normal illness, he laughed.
On being an expat
We've moved house yesterday. Olivier left this weekend and we took his appartment, so Jeroen can get back into his own. Slowly but surely I start feeling like a nomad. But they have the advantage of carrying their house and everything with them on their camel, while I have to adjust every time. But the appartment is fine, it's a bit smaller, but this time it's completely ours untill the day we leave here.
Being an expat does change you. I can only account for myself, of course, but I find myself appreciating things I never thought about at home. Stupid, small things you don't even notice become suddenly clear. I very much miss delicate food. Food that looks like food and tastes like food.
You also notice how quick life is. At home, we almost never bothered to take pictures, unless it was a special occasion, or on holidays. Why take pictures if you can see eachother every day if you want to. Now we now we can't see anybody everyday... except eachother. We're strudding around al of the time with our camera, because frankly: will we ever see these people again after we left? We eagerly ling on to the moments we live, because tomorrow they might be gone. I noticed the same behaviour on Olivier, walking around with his camera all the time, never failing to take a picture when the opportunity arises. For him it must have been worse, since he had been here for four months and made friends. You're never sure when and if you will see them again.
I'm very carefull now, I feel that I am keeping more of a distance to people than usual. I don't want to allow anybody in, because I know I will be leaving.
14 August 2006
On Thursday, I saw what was to me the most multicultural soccer game I have seen in my life. Now, I must mention that I haven’t seen much (a fact on which I am extremely proud). The guys from the company were lured into a match by the local restaurant. If we would win, we’d all get a free lunch. If they’d win, they would all get an ice-cream. So you can imagine the stakes were high.
Now, the team we played against were Arabs who own a Greek restaurant, with an Italian name, where they serve Mexican food. Our team was constituted of Polish, Belgian, Dutch and Swedish people. On the field English, Dutch, Arab, Swedish and French snares were interchanged.
My dear little hubby, who’s somewhat a virgin in the soccer department came up with entirely new tactics, which I think will soon be picked up by professionals.
Move one is the al elegant jump-around-the-ball. A very psychological move where you make the other player believe that you’re going to intercept the ball, but instead, you jump around it in a pirouette, ballet-style.
The second move is mainly for the beginner: if you can’t intercept the ball, or kick it with you feet, throw yourself at it. It’s a bedazzling, but very effective strategy.
Another strategy that was frequently displayed by David’s team mates is the grease-move: corrupt your contesters mind by making seventies moves while kicking the ball. The other player will be so confused that he forgets to follow the ball.
09 August 2006
I haven't written anything in a while, because for the first time ever since we got here, we had a weekend for ourselves. Seen the growing clothing shortage, we went shopping and to my great surprise even found some things.
We also went to what is apparently a traditional Swedish party, on Saturday. It's called a Kräftfest and basically, people come together to eat crayfish and sing songs and have a big community party. As all things in Sweden, this again was a hidden opportunity for them to drink a lot of booze. We didn't drink quite that much, but we had a very good time indeed.
Here's a picture of where we were sitting. At the front left is Olivier, then you've got Adam looking quite interested, and still sober (between them is Nils, but you can't see him properly). From the righthandside there's Johan (orange shirt), Christian and David (who is the boss of the company).
Another funny anecdote on this party is that we were invited by David (the boss) and he told us that we had to bring our own crayfish (and of course our own drinks). We've spend two days to figure out what the hell he ment by crayfish, and we finally turned out uying Turkish crayfish in the shop. We thought that they would be barbecued at the party and were convinced that we needed fresh uncooked ones. When we came at David's place they told us that there would be no barbeque of any kind... So we started panicking. All ends well, since the crayfish we bought turned out to be cooked anyway.
I'm trying to post a few more pictures today, since I didn't put any in in my former posts. Here you've got David and Adam.
The fun thing about the party is that it took place in the middle of nowhere, in the woods, next to a lake. Mosquitobites included of course.
04 August 2006
Next to that the fact that I don't really feel at home (seeing that our appartment isnot our appartment, but somebody elses and that we will be moving there in a week anyway...) doesn't make it easier. Then there's this anxiety that overwhelmes me that it will always be like this, no matter where we are, I'll always feel like a shadow, like I'm alone.
The feeling passes when David gets home, but it's still difficult. I feel like my brain gets cluttered with all types of questions, and there's never an answer, since the only person to dialogue with is me.
But I'm ok, I'll get through, as usual.
03 August 2006
I just want to give a quick overview of what David's boss told us yesterday at dinner about the fun things I will be able to do in Cameroon. There's a company plane, but I can only fly it if I pass my permit in Belgium (I say I beacause David will not have the time to do this when we're back in Belgium). The plane is owned by an old, Robert Redfort type man who likes women a lot, so Sven (the boss) told me it wouldn't be a problem for me to fly in it once I get the permit.
There's also a lot of wavesurfing, but again, you should take lessons somewhere else, because that is rather touristical there, so quite expensive. (I think I will be calling in my sweet brother for this). Futhermore it's a rather nice place for motorbiking, I replied that I didn't have a driver's licency. Anyway, you can buy it over there and exchange it here for a belgian one. He says it's really safe over there, because there's nobody on the road anyway.
Then he also told me taht if I realy got bored, I could go and teach at the international school (but it's grammarschool and I'm not sure I'll be having the time for that).
We went to a little get together this Saturday. It was held at the apartment of Nils, who also works at the company. As I mentioned earlier on, people have a tendency to drink something at home and then go out later on. We met a lot of people, and after a while, we started talking about my thesis (since a lot of people seem to like its subject). This subject led to a discussion about prostitution, which apparently, is legal in Sweden. To be correct: it is legal to be a prostitute, but it is illegal to pay for one… Talking about schizophrenic laws!
So the conversation went on… suddenly, when we started talking about escort girls and that they make a lot of money, Nils uttered that he used to have a nanny and that she was an escort girl herself!
Later on we went to the local discotheque, which was rather fun. It’s been ages since I went to such a place and it’s funny to see all the people desperately seeking somebody (we had to almost tie ourselves to a pole not to be picked up. Some guy even grabbed my ass! And no, this wasn’t a pleasant moment, seeing he was ugly and old!
When I went to the bathroom some girl started seducing me (when I told the guys later on they found that particularly enjoyable!). I didn’t see if the toilets where free, and she started talking to me in Swedish. I told her I spoke English and she asked me where I was from. “Belgium”, I said. She shook the water off her hands and took my hand. “Wonderful”, she said, all the while keeping my hand in hers. “And you seem quite wonderful to me, too.” She still wouldn’t let go of my hand and looked me in the eyes with a big smile on her face. I pulled my hand back and said I really had to pee.
Belgium seems to be rather exotic in Swedish eyes. They know very little about it. For example they don’t know what languages we speak, or that there even is ‘another Dutch’.
Somewhat later I started talking to guy on the dance floor, who was a friend of Nils. When the slows started, he grabbed me and started dancing with me, ‘til one of his friends came by and told him something. He stopped in the middle of a movement and looked at me quite startled. “Are you married?” He asked me. I said: “Yes, off course”, showing him my ring and all. “But to whom?” he wondered. I pointed at David. He looked at me quite shocked and started sputtering out words I couldn’t understand, so I said to him that if he wanted to dance with somebody else, he could go. He didn’t hesitate and ran of like a scarred rabbit.
So I went back to David (who was dancing with Olivier) and told the story to them. We did some weird and uncomfortable three-way slow in the meantime, and we had a great laugh.
We had to drink the local beer that evening. It costs 5 euros for one that doesn’t even hold 3% alcohol and still it gives headaches in the morning.
All night long, we tried to find a girl for Olivier. He didn’t like the way they were dressed up, too slutty, he said (ça fait pute – to use his exact words). Anyway, seems like he’s quite the serious guy and he’s looking for a real relationship (hurray for him – quite the last of the Mohicans!). So if there are any candidates, I think he’s a good catch, but you’ll have to be willing to go to Africa… You can send your resume to me.
Guide to Swedish supermarkets
After two weeks we got used to the different food customs here in Sweden, but to say the least, we were quite shocked in the beginning. There are some very, very weird examples of packaging here. They’ve got all kinds of cream cheeses in tubes (like toothpaste, but metallic tubes). TV-dinners are packed in plastic sausages. So is jelly. Bread here is soft and mushy and stays good for over a week. Asian, Indian and Mexican food are very hip over here, and you can get that about everywhere.
Furthermore Sweden’s very Americanized, especially where food’s concerned. There’s a MacDonald’s at about every street corner. The key words for Swedish for seem to be fat, sour and salty… I even wonder if people cook here at all, since there’s hardly any fish or meat for sale (except for burgers or steak). You also see the American influence in the custom of grouping shops together in big shopping malls.
Tuff as we are, we set out to at least try some of it. We’ve tried the astronaut-like cheese (in the metal tubes) and it turned out to be not too bad, rather salty though (but I think that of a lot of the food here). They’ve got a lot of sausage in one piece to go on bread. We’ve tried that too, but it wasn’t good at all. It’s sour! They eat a lot of sour things here, especially fish (at breakfast even!). Now we don’t really want to try any more.
A lot of Swedish people still chew tobacco. It’s called Snuss and you stick a ball of it under your upper lip. It’s filthy and it stings and it tastes disgusting. (And then they say that’s normal…)
29 July 2006
Then on to a funny story. The company where we're currently at is young, but quickly developping. So they wanted to build a new part for the factory. Digging the earth away for the foundations, they found all kunds of weird engravings in the rock and pieces of pottery. They had to be tested and proved to be 6000 years old. Ever since, a team of archeologists have been digging around and building work had to be stopped until further notice.
Some more info on Sweden for today. A lot of Swedish people have got tattoos... And if I say a lot I mean it. We're starting to wonder if this is a legacy from the Vikings or if people get free tattoos at birth. Secondly it never gets dark here... All night long there's this blueish light in the sky. It was rather hard to sleep through this the first days, but you get used to it rather quick. The sun gets up really early, too, in the morning, so we must check our alarmclock to be sure we're not getting out of bed at four in the morning.
I had packed for about tree weeks when I came here. Since we now will probably be staying here for almost tree months, I'm having some vestimenatry problems, so here are some tips for other girls packing their bags at this instant, or in the near future (only for destinations where the weather's ok!):
- Take two bikinis, preferably one who doesn't leave too many marks and one that is particulary good for swimming
- put a little handbag in your luggage, because it's not fun to always have to take your big travelbag along with you
- take paper handkerchiefs (I forgot this time, and itis something that always comes in handy)
- don't take to much stiff or dressed up clothing, you won't have so many opportunities to put them on, so one set will do
- accessorize: take a belt with you, some big necklace, two paires of earrings... this will get you a lot further with the comfy clothes you packed
- take two skirts. You might think you'd only need one, but it's hot and you can combine more with a skirt than with a dress. (I only took one and I'm running around in it half the time)
- take something practical to wear when you're on your own (I took a little stretchy dress - tennisstyle - and I put this on most of the time when I'm at home). This is also convenient when you're at a hotel, you can quickly throw it on and do your thing.
That's about it. If something else comes to my mind, I'll make sure to let you know... (I add this for myself too, so I can check next time what I forgot this time.)
Ik denk ni dat ik het filmke online ga zetten, aangezien het niet echt de bedoeling kan zijn dat iedereen zomaar op internet kan zien hoe je biodiesel maakt. Maar je krijgt het zeker wel s te zien hoor!
28 July 2006
Ok, this post might be a little boring, but I have to get it off my chest to avoid insanity! Let's see it as a therapeutical session!
As I've mentioned a couple of times I am making a movie to show David's work progress. So far no harm done. I started using Movie Maker for that purpose, but this seemed an unreliable program. First of all, it crashes once you have more than two minutes of film (!!), second of all, there's no way to mix the compelentary audio. So, as I had almost finished the video, and didn't feel like starting all over again, we saved the video and wanted to put on audio using another program (for example cakewalk). Since I was unable to find a usefull version of any audio mixing program, and since actually that would be taking a step back, we started searching another program to do both at the same time (audio mixing and video!). First of all I have tried four of these programs and none of them worked or did what they had to do, or they crashed, or whatever! Then we ran in to some more problems with audio formats being incompatible to the software. So we said: let's try to put it on mac and use the general movie editing software to do this all at once.
And now you would think that we found the pathway to succes... NO! The wmv file was also incompatible with mac. Now there's four of us going at it finding a way to finally gat that wretched movie over with! And it's not like we're computer analphabetics or anything.
Then what I also would like to talk about is our car. I think the piece of scrap metal is older than I am! It drivers on 100% biodiesel, so we call it the biomobiel. Over the last two weeks both fornt door locks gave up, so that we can only close the door at the passenger's side. The brakes only work half the time. Sometimes when we drive electronical parts fall off... That is the result of having no technical control for cars in Sweden! It takes us wher we want to go, though, and we have good music in it, since we can connect our ipods to the cassetteplayer.
Maybe I should also explain where we're living in this post. We're currently subletting an appartment from a Dutch guy who also works at this company. There's a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, a living room and a hallway. The layout of the appartments here is quite different from the ones in Belgium. For example, all houses and appartments have a big kitchen and hallway. The living room is just another room off the hallway. Aparently, our appartment is situated in the nicer living quarter of Norrkoping (although it doesn't really seem that way, I think). It's on a small road at walking distance from the city center.
Furthermore I'm getting quite frustrated, because I've been working on the movie all morning with no result whatsoever. I've allready had to use a dozen programs (I'm currently trying to add a musicmix), but none of them seem to do exactly what I want them to do. So if somebody can give me a tip on a good program for movie editing, let me know!
Well, I think that's it for now, maybe I'll check in later if I get some more inspiration.
27 July 2006
Misconceptions about Sweden: Many people think life is especially expensive here. This has proven to be incorrect. Housing prices are really cheap here, and the food is about the same price as in Belgium. Alcohol is expensive, though, because there's a big problem with people consuming too much of it. As going out is so expensive, people tend to either stay at home and drink, or get drunk before going to a pub.
Now onto another subject: I've discovered MovieMaker this week and have started on a film for my husbands company, where I explane the process of what he's doing. When he was in Indonesia, he already made a film about his work there, and he wished that I would do the same over here. It's quite fun to do, and if it wasn't such a shitty program, I'd like to make them just for fun. As MovieMaker crashes often, and I don't have a proper camera, this will be something to explore later. For now I'm sticking to fotography to entertain myself. The sky is particularly beautiful here for that purpose (yes, I admit, I've got a little obsession with that subject!). Here's an example to prove my point.
Since we didn't have a lot of spare time this weekend, David has taken it slow the past few days at work. Therefor, we have been able to go to a lake in Aby in the evening on monday. The water was surprisingly warm (but it's also been around thirty degrees the past couple of days). There's a lot of lakes around here, since we're at the heart of the lake-country. Apparently some of you had the misconception that the lakes where in the northern part of Sweden.
I haven’t mentioned this before, but there’s this wonderful thing in Sweden called: free right of passage, which means that everybody can walk about everywhere (apparently also on private property), as long as you respect the owner and don’t damage or destroy anything. You can imagine how wonderful this must be for the passionate horse- or nature lover. So it happens that almost everybody here has a horse. And who can blame them with all this space lying about!
Another misconception a lot of people have is that Swedish people are blond. There are maybe a few more blond people here than in Belgium, but it's a dark blond. What's more surprising is that almost all Swedish people we've seen up until now have vivid blue eyes.
That's it for today, I guess.
After being here for a while, we’ve started noticing that some things are strangely opposite from what we’re used to in Belgium. For example: front doors open to the outside, which has caused a lot of frustration, when we try to get out. We’re always pulling the door, wondering if it’s still locked! Until we remember that it’s the other way around.
Another example: you have to put keys upside down in the lock, with the patterned part upward. Same with your visa or MasterCard: magnetic strip upward.
We haven’t had much time to visit anything this weekend, since David had to work most of the time. We did go to a barbecue, organised by one of the local guys of the Swedish company where David is working. People tend to drink a lot here. Disgusting things like Danish schnapps, which smells and tastes like perfume, and Swedish vodka (you could as well be drinking disinfecting alcohol). They can’t bare it though, at the end of the joyful event, they were all as drunk as a beaver, while we only had three or four shots. Some of them didn’t even manage to speak English properly anymore.
So as you can see, expatriate life hasn’t been so lonely up until now. We both have a great deal of work, and at the company where David is working, his local colleagues are very open and used to working with ‘strangers’. Next to us and Olivier, there are also two Polish guys (who, strangely enough, seem to speak English with an Italian accent).
21 July 2006
This was advised to me as a way to keep in touch with everyone as we travel over the globe.
We are currently in Sweden, I've been here for almost a week or so. Once the crappy ryanair plane took off at Charleroi-airport (which is curiosly called Brussels south), I realised that, when I'll be coming back next time to Belgium, it would only be as a tourist. Once I took off, and now we're both in the same place, we don't really live there any more. It's a strange feeling.
So what is there about Sweden... A lot!
First of all, Swedish people have a strange way of expressing themselves: instead of saying "Hello", they say "Hey hey!" and in return "hello" means goodbye here.
We haven"t really visited a great deal, since David has to work a lot to meet his goals. But we've been to Arkosund and saw the city center of Norrköping, which isn't a big deal. It's not pretty at all. It's situated at a stream, but the buildings around it are rather smudgy. There's a shopping street and shops are open all week - even on sundays. Foodstores are open untill 9 PM, which is a welcome difference from Belgium.
Arkosund is beautiful though. It's a coastal shore with rocky beaches and a lot of boats (as you can see in the added picture).
About the weather: it's a little fresher than it was in Belgium, but the sun is shining and it hasn't rained yet.