Saturday, February 16, 2008


It is a cold but sunny Saturday morning in Bremen. I now depart for Kohlfahrt, an intriguing German tradition. Work colleagues pay 30 Euros each. This is used to buy a wagon full of flavored Schnapps and other gut twisting nasty concoctions. It also provides for a feast at the end. We all meet - fairly soon, actually - at a streetcar stop wearing a cup and a string tying it around the neck. I have just made the latter from a dangling piece of laundry hanging wire. The boss may show up, but only at the beginning. You are supposed to get really drunk. By German standards, this means dead, and so I will not struggle to keep up.

Last weekend I went to Groningen with my cousin John. This was a pleasant town. We rode bikes around a big lake on a sunny day. This was my first time riding a bicycle in heavy traffic. Them Dutch get all into it, with bicycle turn and passing lanes, hand signals, glaring, and of course bells. No horns, all bells. Gotta clear them confused Americans somehow.

On the way back, two passport police checked our passports. They were polite and proceeded throughout the train without incident. Excluding one guy, who happened to be sitting really near us. He claimed to be a Nigerian citizen with a Nigerian passport living in Spain. He said he was going from Amsterdam to Germany to visit a friend. The passport cop was clearly suspicious. On questioning, he gave inconsistent answers about the duration and goals of his travels. The passport cop explained that the picture on the passport did not look like him, and said they would head down to the station for an identity check, and if there was no problem, he would be released. The guy tried to stand up, and was blocked. Then the funny part. He asked, quite politely and reasonably, if he could just go back to Amsterdam. He then continued to argue for this, as if it were a perfectly reasonable option. Why not? Just get off at the next station, turn around, no problem. I'll even take back the mushrooms I was smuggling. The passport cop was quite polite, spoke good english, kept his large frame right in the aisle to prevent movement, and kept saying no. The second passport cop, who had gone off to do some other stuff, noteworthily came back to help his buddy right when the train was about to pull in. More cops were at the station, obviously waiting. They went off without incident, except the guy continued to plead for a return and forget option.

1 comment:

Femke said...

You went to Groningen? You went to MY university place and you dare to call it a 'town'? It is a big city!!

Where'd you go to? Isn't it the best place? Who needs San Diego when you can live in Groningen?