Today began a weekend long event in the city of Rotterdam known as CS Sinterklaas Weekend. Hosted by couch surfing, the event includes dinners, a couple parties, and some daytime activities. The whole idea is to have a weekend long holiday party celebrating Sinterklaas – the Dutch Santa. (Don’t worry there will be an entry about him sometime next week – it’s an amazing tradition with a long and somewhat tainted history.)
But anyway, Lily and I were surfing in Rotterdam for the weekend with a guy named Ronald. When we arrived in Rotterdam, we needed to wait for Ronald to get off work, so we decided to continue the celebration of American Thanksgiving…so we went shopping! Of course there weren’t as great of sales as there are on Black Friday in America, but we still got some cute outfits for the Sinterklaas party tomorrow night. We also found this fun little number…Seeing as we had shopped till we dropped, we fell into a couple seats at McDonalds and had some coffee and apple pie (again…Thanksgiving.) Then it was time to travel to our host’s house.. We entered the subway, and were greeted by a crazy old guy who was trying to tell us how to buy a card, but once again I was trying to tell him that my American credit card does not have a pin number and can therefore not be used on the machine. So he was nice enough to give me an hour pass and we headed down in search for a map. After finding none and almost getting on the wrong train, we made it to our transfer. Lily was smart enough to yell at me when I decide to just walk without any clue where I’m going, so we made it to our platform in record time only to find that the previous metro had broken down and a HUGE crowd had formed. It didn’t help either that there was a guy who seriously reminded us of Apu from the Simpsons who was speaking crazy talk and mixing Dutch with Spanish with English. Needless to say, we moved away from that. By the time the metro had cleared and a new one came in its place, we began to crowd on only to be pushed out by the crowd. However the doors didn’t register that and they actually CLOSED ON US!! We pushed them open and scramble to get out. But we got on the next one and safely made it to our destination where we met Ronald in his wonderful apartment and headed off to dinner.
Dinner was held in a youth hostel where the cook “Mom” had made a delicious coconut milk rice and stir fry for us to enjoy. We began meeting people from all over and learned some interesting stories. One guy was unable to eat his vegetables because he had gotten dysentery in Pakistan and had not yet introduced the vegetable (the hardest thing to digest) back into his diet. But it’s ok, cuz we ate them for him. :-D
Then it was time for the “Speed Dating.” It wasn’t really speed dating since it was more just a meet and greet of fellow couch surfers with questions to help you along…which was good because we weren’t too keen on actual speed dating. Everyone got a sticker piece of paper that was then taped to our backs. Then everyone got a question, a pen, and most likely a beer and off we went. You went up to people, asked them your question, they asked you yours, and hopefully a conversation got started. Then you had to write something on their back about what you learned.
I met quite a lot of people. I had interesting conversations with two guys about linguistics who are also studying it, a girl from Oregon who shared with me San Francisco memories, and a tiny Philipino guy who was totally the stereotypical partier I remember from high school. But my favorite person I met was during one of the mini “competitions.” It was a dance competition and the guy next to me grabbed me and told me to start dancing. We were dancing and when it was over he told me he taught tango!! He then proceeded to teach me a couple actual steps, which was quite adorable.
Lily was busy sitting in one of the couch areas, which she called the VIP lounge. People kept coming up and wanting to join, and if they were cool, we let them in. :-D Lily also attempted to find every tall person in the room (which was only guys…lucky her) and form another secret club. I did not like this club however when I was called over to stand among them.
Well it was time to go. After a quick chorus of “Poker Face” which had finally come on, we left to find our way home without the metro. We shared a nice cup of tea joined by Celine our third couch surfer, and then settled down for a nice sleep, ready for a new morning!