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Saturday, travel edition

May 22, 2010

Dearest Courtney,

You can be seriously jealous of us today – we witnessed the most awesomely amazing parade that has ever marched across a part of the planet.

Eighty-five thousand people joined us in Brussels today to see the biennial Zinneke parade, which celebrates the cultural diversity and creativity of the people living in the different neighborhoods of Brussels.  It began in 2000, so it wasn’t in existence when I spent a year here.  We weren’t sure what to expect when Elke invited us.  OH. MY. GOODNESS. are we glad we went!

There are not pictures or video enough to convey the atmosphere.  It was a 6 hour party and parade through the whole center of the city.  Each neighborhood represented themselves with spectacular costumes and music and outrageous performances.  The costumes and displays were all clearly homemade from recycled materials and wonky and beautiful and magical and strange.  We were absolutely entranced.  If you ever ever ever have a chance to experience this day, you have to take it!  Just don’t expect to have an opportunity to do much else in Brussels that day, because there were so many people that we could barely move.  While trying to make our way back to the train station, we were stuck in the crowds on one block in particular for a full 20 minutes.  This parade is not for the claustrophobic.  Seriously, the pictures don’t do it justice and I should just not post them and leave it to your imagination.

Imagine:  DRUMS!  Loud loud LOUD and rhythmic. Face paint of every dramatic and shocking shade and combination.  Hair tied in ribbons and spectacular hats.  People in spectacular costumes and contraptions and stilts and flaming do-hickeys.  25-foot spiders with legs dangling into the spectators to brush our heads.  MORE DRUMS.  Horns covered in lettuce leaves and groups dressed as a nightmarisih vegetable brigade wielding banners and spears of carrots and leeks.  Strange mobs of mimes that dramatically act as though they are gorging themselves and then scatter into the crowd screaming “I HAVE TO PEEEEEE!”  Collections of children dressed as bloody tongues?  20 foot creatures – kings and dragons and cakes.  I have never taken hallucinogenic drugs, but I’m fairly sure this could be what it’s like.  Incredible and beyond description, really.  None of it made any sense whatsoever.  I wish you could have seen it.

on stilts

the parade enters the grote markt

here comes the spider


the vegetable brigade

Tonight we had dinner with Chris and Leo, my AFS parents, and it was DELICIOUS.  We joke that visiting Belgium is like getting a freebie trip to Italy because they cook authentic Italian food superbly.  Dinner was phenomenal and it was wonderful to sit and chat after the meal was over.

Time is flying by too quickly and I don’t want to start thinking about the “must do before I leave” list yet, but I’d better.  Kyle made me sad tonight when he reminded me that if it’s another 5 years before we return, the kids will be 8 and 6 when we see them again.  That’s beyond belief.  Can we extend our wormhole to Belgium, too?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    May 22, 2010 8:31 pm

    wow. I never knew I needed a lettuce costume, but clearly I do. and the collars on the outfits in the first picture… so cool. Not sure I’d be so comfortable with the flame hats.

    I will check into the logistics of extending the wormhole. I just need to brush up on my astrophysics. Will do that as soon as the longest, most drawn out Pia bedtime EVER comes to a successful end. Curses to my neighbor who thinks it is acceptable to mow his lawn after 8:00!!!

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