jueves, 18 de octubre de 2012

Loafing in Nijmegen

Alright, you got me there. 

Last time I wrote, I was in the middle of a post-travel low and I was feeling a little bummed out, trying to find my own space again in Nijmegen. The months I spent abroad had been full of excitement and adventures and life in Nijmegen was missing a little oomph. Where are my unwilling midnight naps on the subway? Where are Elia and her Amazon order for 35 boxes of cereal? Where are Julia and all the Couchsurfers showing up at my house for mexican wedding dances? And, most important of all, where are the "moves like Jasper" on Friday afternoons with my friends from the lab?!? Well, they're not in Nijmegen and it's been a bit hard to come to terms with the fact that a very happy moment in my life is over and that there's just no pieces to pick up. So, here I am, starting all over again.

Since my last post, I've kept myself busy with a healthy balance of work on my PhD and more or less successfully forcing excitement into my life. You could say I've been trying out a few different activities to find those that work best with my new, uh, lifestyle (whatever that may be). Last week, I had a try at knitting a deformed scarf and I took an extravagant historical tour of Nijmegen, which were both nice but were still missing some punch. Things kind of picked up on Friday and I started off the weekend by stuffing my face with sushi at the "All-you-can-eat" sushi restaurant in Nijmegen.  Saturday went on with some shopping for gramophone records and birthday cakes, going to goodbye parties, going to birthday parties and dancing Gangnam style until we got kicked out of the club at 4 am, when I still had a lot of party left inside of me. Sunday started off with a full morning of basking in bed and then continued with a coffee, a walk and a nice talk in Berg en Dal and meeting Alex for dinner. We've made plans for our next stop: Antwerp and Brugges in November!

Monday was very rough. I had to pass out in the evening, trying to recover from the weekend which, I must say, was watered with an excess of beer. When I woke up, I had dinner with my roomie, Markus, and somehow convinced him that the best thing to do on a Monday at 10:30 pm is to go for a bicycle ride to the other side of the Waal and have a beer by the riverside (I'm pretty sure though I had him at "beer"). We biked there, found a spot to chill out and drink a beer and then went all pretentious, trying to identify the stars in the sky. I failed at finding Orion's belt, which is the only constellation I can recognize but Markus swears to God he found the Big Dipper. We then took the car bridge back into Nijmegen and had a hot rum cow to some Pink Floyd.
Nijmegen from the other side of the river (left) and Markus, who hates having pictures taken (right).

Since then, there's been more dinners with good friends, congratulations for jobs well done and some guitar playing. I've been dancing some more Gangnam style (I'm trying to get that sideways shuffle down), trying to recover the ability to stand on my head, learning to play the berimbau and lending my face to an ageing make-up class. I think that, despite the lack of midnight subway naps, I might have found some excitement and adventures in Nijmegen. 

We'll see...

Ageing make up... Looking good

lunes, 8 de octubre de 2012

Km 23,329: Nijmegen

I've spent some time the past few weeks thinking about what I could write about, now that my trip is over and Nijmegen is not an exotic destination. I just didn't feel like I had anything to sit down and write about. I think I may have an amateur version of writer's block.

I've also been busy trying to pick up the threads of the life I left in the Netherlands a few months ago. Tyler Durden, always a wise man, once said that nothing is static, everything is evolving and everything is falling apart. So it shouldn't be a surprise that quite a few things have changed while I was away and that more than picking up threads, I sometimes feel like I'm pulling on them, with occasional unexpected results. But I don't want to talk about that tonight. I want to write something about Nijmegen to reflect that I'm happy to be back and that I want to experience this city in a new way.

I went to capoeira class tonight, after nearly eight months of sedentarism which, oy vey, have resulted in the loss of my ability to stand on my head. The class was in Lent, a city on the other side of the river that is slowly growing to become a massive suburban appendix of Nijmegen. For me, Lent is just a far away land to which I had never ventured by bike. As half of Lent is still under construction, at night it becomes a maze of mud and half-built houses that you have to solve while riding your bike in absolute darkness. I was getting tired and blasphemous after half an hour of blind biking in circles, but found the way back to the city. Then, I arrived to the river that separates Nijmegen from Lent and stopped to catch my breath and stare at Nijmegen's skyline and the reflection of its lights on the river. And it made me very happy.

After visiting Berlin, I found out that water brings cities to life. Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Barcelona and Seville are just a few examples of cities that wouldn't be the same without their bridges and rivers or their beaches and seas. After visiting Berlin, I decided I wanted to live in a city where there would be a large waterbody, because it would make the city alive and beautiful. And now I do, and I have to say that it makes me very happy.

So there. Now, you get some pictures of bird graffitis on the tables in Dutch trains.