September 20, 2016

Goodbye, Holland

Living in a foreign country means your life is constantly in flux. This can make everyday very exciting, but it can also mean that changes can pop up when least expected.

I had become very comfortable with my annual trip to the Netherlands for a week each August to coach the volleyball camp at the American school. After all, this was my fifth summer in a row, and I was now a coach who had been around since the high school players were all in middle school.

The volleyball coach at the school, Cat, is the reason I have been invited year after year to help with her camp. We became friends at a volleyball tournament in Paris and connected with our American volleyball perspectives. Of course, Cat was an expat, too, and now her family is moving back to the USA.

If I'm extremely fortunate, whoever the new coach may be next fall will still want to run a camp and will contact me. However, in the likelihood that will not happen, I am happy to say that my fifth - and, perhaps final - summer week in Holland was one for the books!

After many failed attempts in previous years to get any of my volleyball friends to come to the camp to coach with me, this summer, I was finally able to convince not one, but two of my best friends to spend the week in Wassenaar with me!

Having both Kia and Regi on their first trip to the Netherlands proved to be much more motivating to me to get out and do stuff. Kia and I spent Thursday in Gouda at the cheese market before Regi arrived. On Friday, we took a long walk around Wassenaar to many of the old places I discovered on my first trip there in 2012.

Saturday night we ventured into Amsterdam to wander the twilight streets and canals. Sunday through Tuesday found us at the miraculously sunny North Sea beach, and enjoying our meals lakeside at the Brasserie Buitenhuis.

And, yes, we did twenty hours of awesome volleyball coaching in between all of the fun outings.

I also brushed up on my European driving skills (albeit in a junky old automatic car), earned more tanning points at the beach, got to eat at the best Dutch pancake place at De Schulpwei, walked across shores made entirely of seashells, finally found the I Amsterdam sign, embraced Rotterdam for the first time, and had my favorite bagels at Bagels & Beans.

I am totally positive that this will not be my very last time in Holland. But I am realistic enough to understand that it was probably my last annual trip there that I could really count on and plan. Now I will just have to think much more in advance about any Dutch adventures I may want to embark upon.

It's more of a "goodbye for now," and a hope to be back in the Netherlands again someday soon.