Stories from the Somerville-Tiznit Sister Cities (part 2)

by karen Krolak

Part of a continuing series on Karen and Jason's trip to Morocco with 28 other people from Somerville...including Mayor Curtatone.

With our flight delay, we only had a four hour layover in Amsterdam. Jason and I figured this gave us just enough time to dart in to Amsterdam Centraal station for a taste of Dutch culture. Being from Boston, we were not worried by the snow flurries as we landed. Unbeknownst to us, though, Holland was in the midst of its largest snowstorm in 10 years. We didn't realize that the public transportation systems were ensnared in chaos until we crowded into the throngs of tourists waiting at Schiphol station. By the time we snagged a train and entered Amsterdam Centraal, we had less than 55 minutes to explore the area.

As we strolled around the harbor, I pulled a luscious ball of brown alpaca out of my pocket and started crocheting. It is a habit that began during my work on mapping movements as part of my Somerville Arts Council Fellowship. Sometimes these airy fiber tangles evolve into cowls or lacy snoods which are surprisingly warm. The brown alpaca ball was not content in my pocket, however. Jason kept noticing when it lurched into the slush and would chase after it. Cyclists who whizzed by us must have been fairly amused by our odd tourist dance.

We turned down a bustling street lined with shops eventually but we did not have the inclination or time to pop into most of them. Having been a fan of Wasik's Cheese Shop in Wellesley for decades, though, we did check out the local cheese monger. (I have included the above photo for one of my fabulous students at Impulse Dance Center. She told me that all she wanted for Christmas was cheese. Really, how many teens are that sassy?)

Though our return train was delayed, we were blissfully unaware of how lucky we were to get back to the airport in time for our flight. According to Wikipedia,
In the Netherlands, snowfall on 17 December led to a shutdown of Utrecht Centraal, by far the largest rail hub in the country. Problems arose in early afternoon, followed by heavy delays. Eventually, almost all scheduled train services were cancelled, as a means of maintaining those that were running Meanwhile, on highways in the Netherlands snowfall on 17 December led to the busiest morning rush hour of 2009, with a total of 671 kilometres (417 mi) of traffic jams. On the A12, there was an 84-kilometre (52 mi) traffic jam.
In the line for customs, I recognized a few faces from our earlier flight. I asked if any of them were with the Sister Cities program and that is how we met half of the educators from Somerville who were traveling with us. They had also ventured in to the city and were giddy with stories of their transit adventures. After getting our passports stamped, Jason and I rushed through a duty free shop for some tulip bulbs for my father and arrived at our gate as the plane was boarding. Our next stop was Casablanca.

to be continued...

To comply with recent legislation regarding blogging, I should mention that my trip was sponsored by University of the Middle East project, The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in concert with Sister Cities International, the City of Somerville, the City of Tiznit and the Moroccan American Cultural Center. Readers should know that my experiences would not be typical for anyone else...especially those resist the urge to crochet in snowstorms.

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