How has it been 10 months already?

Maybe it’s because we’ve been bunkered down, or maybe it’s because time really moves swiftly (unless you’re in the last 10km of a marathon or waiting for your nails to dry), but it doesn’t feel like we’ve been here for 10 months and I still feel like a visitor in many ways. If you asked me to recommend cool restaurants in the area or things to do with the kids close by, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you. Ask me how to get to  Amsterdam Oost or West, and I’d wonder if I’d ever even been to those places, and don’t make me go anywhere by bike without following a GPS. Unless it’s to the nearby parks, stations and supermarkets.

It’s a bit weird as I feel like a bit of tourist, but one who still pays taxes. I don’t really know my way around the city but I’m a class mom and liaise between the teachers and parents. I can’t yet indicate left or right when I’m turning on my bike (I need both hands on the handlebars or else I lose my balance) and I pay for health insurance each month. There is so much that says I live here and I’m integrating, but equally there are things that make me quite foreign (even though in Amsterdam there are lots of expats).

This morning when I was running, a cyclist got angry because my running friend and I were running two abreast, and he didn’t want to move so he shouted a bit for me to move. In South Africa, knowing more about the culture and the rules, I would have shouted back. But in this case, I was mute – was I in the wrong (I don’t think so because we were running alongside the park with very few cars and lots of runners and bikes, plus there was space for him to move), would my retort not be perceived seriously because I can’t speak Dutch, or is it just not the done thing to do – speaking back to older people on their bikes.

It’s these things that I’m finding the hardest – learning cultures, and what’s acceptable and not. For example, does someone not have manners (please, thank you_ because of where they’re from (I’m not referring to the Dutch because they’re very polite) or because they just have no manners? Can I act “normal” in front of non South Africans? Is it okay to swear? Can I cry? Can I get angry? Can I complain? Can I shout at the bad cyclist? (um, okay, that would be me – I’m the bad cyclist).

I guess time makes one familiar with what the norm is, and I’m assuming that once I start getting out more as things ease, home will indeed become more familiar and I might know east from west, and how to react if a cyclist almost knocks me.

Last week, restaurant terraces opened, and we headed to de Pijp. Only Rebecca had food – we were just so happy to be out that we went to two restaurants for drinks (coffee and beer). Obviously it rained a bit, then it was sunny, then windy, then sunny. While still being fairly chilly.

And some pics while running:

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