We got together with many of our dear old friends from years gone by to share our friendships and spend some
I have not gone into the full detail of our wanderings but instead just given a sampling of our daily routines. Through
photos and their captions I will present to you a closer look into our travels because like the old adage says, “a
picture is worth a thousand words”.
I have taken the liberty of inserting at the end of this travelogue a collection of political and economic views that we
observed this year in Europe. We found it very interesting to listen to views and opinions from afar and hope you will
August 26th we were all packed and out the door. Our caretaker gives us a ride to the airport and in his beat up little
VW Beetle. Gregario is an ass and Jane and I decide then and there that his job with us is over. His wife Conchi has
been our cleaning lady for nearly ten years now and if it hadn’t been for her outstanding work and fantastic care of
our home along with the friendship we have developed with her over the years we would never have considered her
husband Gregario for a job. Conchi is the only part of the team that does any work at all and both Jane and I feel
that she deserved a much better husband than she got with Gregario.
All was well at the airport in Merida; we were early and had a chance to sit back and enjoy a lovely lunch of Jane’s
homemade veggie pizza and her homemade elderberry wine as we had the time to think over our upcoming plans
which were now unfolding.
Our trip to Mexico City aboard Aero Mexico was uneventful and even the scenery was blah due to the heavy cloud
cover. Our scaled back flight food aboard of a ham and cheese croissant was OK washed down with a Modelo beer.
In Mexico City it seemed like out luck had turned around and our checked luggage was the first out onto the
carousal. Then the KLM check-in was faster than normal. Our gate was adjacent to immigration so we were plenty
early with time to relax, read, write and visit.
Looking out across the grand valley of Mexico City I couldn'T help but think of the 40 million inhabitants calling this
place home. Mexico City is the largest city on the planet. Its population is greater than Holland, Denmark, Norway
and Sweden combined or larger than the twelve largest cities in the US all put together. As I always exclaim to Jane
about Mexico City, “that is a lot of toilets to flush”. Incredibly the infrastructure all works; an amazing feat and credit
to the Mexicans.
Black clouds were gathering this PM. Mexico City generates its own weather system. We were about to witness it
combined with remnants of a hurricane, “Ignacio” working its way up the Pacific coast.
Peering out the rain drenched windows of the airport; the accumulation of rainwater on the ground was approaching
six inches in depth. Through the rain clouds we could see marching in low black clouds that were blacker than smut.
All hell was about to break loose and it did.
The airport was closed to all traffic. At this time in the afternoon aircraft are approaching from Europe, South
America, Canada, the US and even the Orient on the other side of the Pacific.
Our departure time was indefinitely postponed but no official announcement was made so the waiting was to begin.
rations of whole-wheat tortillas, beans and chili peppers. We were OK but the strain was now being seen on many of
rations of whole-wheat tortillas, beans and chili peppers. We were OK but the strain was now being seen on many of
our fellow passengers with connecting flights, others with family and friends that would drive long distances to
rendezvous at the airport in Holland and like a German lady seated near us who would miss a speaking engagement
at a conference and lose a $4,000 payment. We had lots of time to exchange stories.
at a conference and lose a $4,000 payment. We had lots of time to exchange stories.
Midnight came and went and we still waited with no definite news. If our ten hour flight would have departed on
schedule we would be connecting with the bus to our hotel Ibis at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam at that time, but
that was all just a dream now. At one AM the announcement to queue-up for a bus to a hotel was made by KLM
personal. Again we were in more waiting lines outside in the Mexico City pollution and with damp and cold rain Jane
was ready to collapse. It took four big busloads to get all of the passengers to the hotel, which was situated
downtown in the central historical district, a half hour ride by bus.
Now we had more waiting in lines to check in; we were treated to dinner and breakfast and the rumor was that our
departing flight was delayed until 2 PM the following day. Our hotel, the Fiesta Inn was five stars and situated
directly in “Centro Historico” in the downtown.
I discovered that I was ravenously hungry when I dove into the buffet dinner and consumed vast quantities of
everything in sight.
We set our alarm clock, took showers and crashed out for our six-hour snooze. One big surprise was that the place
was just as quiet as a tomb even though it was situated right in the middle of 40 million Mexicans. Our hometown of
Merida by contrast is perpetually noisy…a different culture.
We took time at breakfast to make sure we had a sustaining meal low in sugar and animal fats and then boarded the
buses for the airport at 10:30 AM. Our departure would be at 2:15 PM. After having our luggage inspected again,
we stood in countless more lines. We did have ample time to converse with our fellow passengers and discovered
that only about 20 % were Dutch. German, Polish, English and a few Mexicans made up the rest.
At the end of our 10 hour flight from Mexico City (which is more than 7000 feet above sea level and though in the
tropics very cool) we landed in Holland on an air strip ten feet below sea level and at 54 degrees north latitude
about the same latitude as James Bay in Canada where there happens to be permafrost. The amazing thing was
that both Mexico City and Amsterdam had the exact same temperature in spite of the tremendous difference in their
altitudes and latitudes.
Forty-six hours after leaving Merida we finally checked into our Hotel Ibis in Holland. Jane had made a
long distance call to change our hotel reservation arrival date…we were a day late on arrival and would have been
billed for an extra night as no-shows otherwise.
We felt like zombies from the tediously long journey and besides our extremely long trip we needed to adjust our
bodily clocks to the seven-hour difference in time zones.
After a profoundly deep sleep we were up and moving again the next day. First to bus back to the airport aboard the
hotel shuttle where we would catch the train heading east to the town of Deventer in eastern Holland where we
would then take a local bus on an hour long ride to Borculo and then walk about one kilometer toting our
possessions on our little hand truck to where our campe rvan is stored.
Hans Beerten, the owner of the camper storage facility that has grown to accommodate nearly a thousand campers
all in indoor storage in the nine years we have been doing business with him was there to greet us with a big smile
and hardy hello…welcome back!
We had sent Hans an e-mail and he saw to it that our camper was pulled out, washed, polished and the battery
charged. It looked good, our little house with all we needed; our clothes, bicycles and a place to cook and sleep.
Our friend Hans Beerten at his B&B camper storage in Borculo, Netherlands.
First we asked Hans if we could borrow his dealer license plates so we could drive the six kilometers to our camping
place because the bank we had been buying our automobile insurance with, “European green card” no longer sold
that insurance. Hans got on the phone contacted the bank then an insurance agent and had him come directly over
to issue us our insurance on the spot.
Next I tried to start our camper and it always pops off on the very first turn of the engine. Well, this time there was
nothing happening except that the glow-plug indicator light came on as normal but then there was nothing. The ten-
year-old battery had finally died. I don’t know what this battery was made of but it outlasted any other battery I have
ever owned by three times and it had lived so long that I was expecting it to go on forever but this was its very last
whimper. Back to consult with Hans. He again was on the phone and told me that I could expect to have my new
battery in less than half an hour. True to his word it was not only there but installed in our vehicle and ready to start
our reliable little diesel engine all by the time we were finishing with the insurance agent.
Now I know why Hans Beerten is such a successful businessman, the largest land owner in town and from what I can
tell probably the most prosperous. He gets things done at lightning speed in his friendly take-charge manner that is
exceptional and I am amazed. I must add here that this wife also has a big hand in their business.
The engine cranked, we went shopping, to the bank for some Euros and paid the insurance agent and were set up
at our favorite camping spot with electric, gas, canopies and lawn furniture set out all by one PM.
Henk and Lies Klein-Kranenbarg the owners and our good friends of the camping Veldzicht at Haarlo in
the Netherlands. This photo was taken inside their new clubhouse. Web: www.campingveldzicht.nl
After lunch Jane and I took a snooze and we both agreed that we hadn't slept that soundly in years. In all previous
trips to Europe we were tired but not fatigued. This trip was more than twice the normal hours and coupled with the
standing in lines and uncertainty it was just like taking two trips to Europe back to back.
Europe had just suffered through its hottest and driest summer in nearly one hundred years but now all that was
behind as September was upon us. It felt good to put on wool knee socks and a windbreaker. Snoozing with the cool
night air is what we had been dreaming of and came for.
Summertime in the Yucatan is the best season with temperatures in the 70s and mid 80s but spring and fall can be
counted on to be scorchers.
After just three days out in the fresh unpolluted air we made our first extended bicycle trip to Vreden in Germany for
shopping. This 50 plus kilometer trip is through heavy woods and a couple of small quiet villages. Vreden has a
small town atmosphere but has 6 large supermarkets and a large city park adjacent to the downtown business
district. The brick paved streets in the business district there definitely discourage any automobile traffic but ethnic
restaurants, bakeries and small shops give a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Our first stop in Vreden was at the Lidl Store which is a store that has the best German quality products at
irresistibly low prices and they also feature twice weekly specials that range from clothing to electronic gadgets. The
amazing thing is that their specials are always sold out in two days. When we travel across Germany we always know
that we can find our favorite food and drink items there.
Well, back to what happened after just three days in the fresh air, as we entered the store the smell of cigarette
smoke commingled with perfume assaulted us and before we were two minutes in the store Jane had an
uncontrolled asthma attack.
On our way back home that day after a very nice lunch in the city park of Danish Blue-Brie cheese, Schwarzwald
shrinken, (smoked German ham) on mehrkorn krustenbrot sandwiches we uncorked a bottle of French red wine. (At
lunch a half bottle is sufficient.)
On our way back home black clouds came storming in from the northwest right off the North Sea and dumped an ice
cold rain that made us take refuge in a covered bus-halt, (bus stop). As a consequence of the smoky store, cold
arctic blast and extra long exerting bike ride, Jane spent the next several days and nights coughing before she
recuperated. We had plans to get together with friends but that would be out of the question until Jane had
recovered her health.
Over the next few days the weather moderated and we were able to make several bicycle trips into the Grenze area
along the Dutch-German border that is heavily wooded and ironically called the “Flamingo Route”.
Biking the roads near Haarlo the first days of September.
September second was Jane’s 59th birthday. We had plans to linger late in bed this morning but our persistent
insurance man came early to deliver our auto insurance policy paper which is known as a “Green Card” and is
absolutely mandatory for driving in Europe.
This day marked 39 years together with my Jane and I must admit that they have been my very best. Jane and I
share something that no amount of money can buy. Trust built over the years on fidelity is a priceless commodity
that is not for sale at any price and we both have it. Jane is not only my wife but also my very best friend and pal.
We biked to the nearby town of Eibergen, went to the library to use the Internet and were greeted like long lost
friends by the personal who address us on a first name basis. Next we went to the city park for our AM coffee and
some people watching. For lunch we shared a Holland specialty at the market of fresh deep fried fish at the same
fish wagon we have shopped at for the past nine years and got the latest news of the owner’s family.
Hans in his spotlessly clean fish store at Eibergen, Netherlands. He also has a wagon that he takes to
the markets and does a very brisk business selling our favorite food.
We did some shopping and then took a long picturesque ride home through the woods. We were both ready for a
peaceful PM and took a nap before our afternoon coffee. We finished this peaceful day with a salmon salad spiced
with Turkish Feta cheese and then a bottle of French red wine. Jane even mixed up some Caribbean style rum for
after dinner. It just doesn’t get much better than that with our dining table in these secluded woods overlooking a
pond with jumping fish and crooking frogs.
September third; Now that we had our insurance papers for the car we were ready to head to our favorite spot some
40 miles north at a small village on the German border named Lattrop. Here too we have been coming for six years
and the owners Bennie and Riki Rerink have even come to Mexico to visit us.
Bennie and Riki Rerink with Jane in front of their home in Lattrop, Netherlands.
Their small farm camping is cozy and personal and we love its private campsites. Bennie and Riki have been busy
with upgrades and improvements and couldn’t wait to show them off to us.
Bennie Rerink and I in front of their recently renovated hotel and banquet hall.
When we first started coming here six years ago they had just upgraded the bath facilities that are all done in white
ceramic and keep spotlessly clean and immaculate. At that time they had two small sleeping rooms, a large
kitchen/recreation room and a big rustic banquet hall in a barn where they had regular music festivals with the
Rerink family making up most of the musicians.
Riki, Bennie and their son Bjorn Rerink in their home.
This year the banquet hall had been upgraded to a stately five star quality, five new excessively spacious hotel
rooms were added, all with commanding views of the picturesque country side silhouetted with windmills and red
bricked farm buildings. In spite of the upgrades the place still possesses its quiet and placid rural charm.
Before the day was over we were set up, settled in, had a peaceful afternoon nap and then bicycled over across the
German border to shop at the K&K grocery store.
Camping at Lattrop where it is quiet and secluded but convenient and serene.
That evening for dinner we had a huge salad with North Sea smoked salmon with fresh roggenbrot (rye bread) and
a liter of French red wine. This was all followed up with coffee and some of Jane’s homemade rum drinks. This
finished a very nice day at a very nice place.
Thursday, September 4th; this was my birthday. We were up at 8 AM and it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10
degrees Celsius and warming up quickly under crystal clear skies. We were off early going cross-country on our
bicycles via narrow bike paths, “fietspads” through gardens, backyards, open fields standing tall with mature corn,
along rivers, canals and brooks past ancient farms and windmills to the town of Ootmarsum to visit the weekly
market and have our treat of Holland North Sea deep fried fish. On the way we stopped in the woods at a park
bench to savor the changing seasons and have our AM coffee. In the shade it was cool and crisp but very welcome
to us knowing that we had escaped the heat back in Merida at the hottest season of the year there which is in
September and October.
In the Yucatan of Mexico there are two hot seasons; in the spring, April and May are scorchers, June, July and
August pristine followed by hot and humid September and October when the heat is commingled with the rainy
So, here we were escaping the heat bundled up in long pants, wool socks; a welcome and much appreciated
After our fish dinner at the market in Ootmarsum we decided to take advantage of the ideal fall day by riding one of
our favorite routes up along the Dutch-German border,
nipping into Germany as we went. We discovered blackberries in profusion and our temptation to gorge ourselves
It had been two years since we had made this trip through these twisting country lanes and hardwood forests but we
glided along without a glance at out tour map; this was a nostalgia trip to a place unlike anything else in Holland or
Germany. With this seldom in a lifetime weather and the kids all back in school, the place was our exclusive
paradise. The fall profusion of harvests was at its peak and I stopped to gather some wild hop flowers, one of the
essential ingredients in German beer. I will dry some of these hop flowers to bring back to Mexico but quite by
chance I discovered that by chewing one of these tangy and zesty flower buds I completely satisfied my desire to
drink a beer. So, here I had discovered a no-alcohol, no-calorie substitute for drinking beer. The satisfaction of beer
drinking without alcohol is pleasant but Jane with her asthma condition can’t tolerate these Hallertau hops. She even
had asthma attacks when I brought the hops into our camper to dry at night. Cascade hops from the US don’t invoke
the same response.
Harvesting Hallertau hops flowers from the vine along the German border.
We lamented that we couldn't harvest the tons of elderberries hanging in profusion and at the pinnacle of their
ripeness for Jane’s winemaking. In Mexico we struggle to produce enough for our wine making and here the profuse
quantity is a thousand times more that all the birds could hope to consume.
On the banks of the Dinkel River that runs along the boundary of Germany and Holland there is situated a lovely
covered picnic table where we stopped to sample the “Oud Kaas” , old Dutch cheese, Jane had purchased back in
the Ootmadsum market with German rye-crisp and French wine. The moment was divine, delightful and just too
tranquil to resist. We laid back to take a snooze…a slice of heaven.
Jane enjoying a laid back heavenly snooze on a lovely fall day not to be forgotten.
Our road back along the German border to Lattrop camping
After her third attack that disgorged a fair amount of my skin and a little flesh, the little villain was removed. Copious
quantities of Merthiolate to disinfect and close scrutiny would be needed for several days to make sure I hadn’t
contracted one of the many infectious diseases transmitted by this species. According to the instructions on the tick
extractor tool, blood poisoning and also “Septicemia” along with such things as Lyme’s disease could occur and in
which case a doctor would be required. A week after this incident’ other than the bruise and laceration’ I seemed
This evening Jane treated me to one of my favorite European specialties; bratwurst, sauerkraut plus
caraway all slightly browned and served on hard German dinner rolls with extra tangy mustard. (Photo)
Jane says; “if you want to eat like a German every day you have to start your day with a Bromo-seltzer”.
The freshness of the air with the slight autumn chill felt good when having our dinner out in our private garden spot.
These are things that we can’t do in Mexico and especially this season of the year back in the Yucatan. A day like
this shared with my very best friend Jane is what life is all about and makes for another long, lovely and lasting
September 5th is another clear bright and crisp morning as we set out early for an ambitious backwoods bike
trip into Germany. We wind our way up into a pointed part of Holland protruding into Germany on paved country
lanes. We were happy to make this trip without consulting our map because of the more than two dozen different
roads we had to intersect on like; Horstweg, Bergvennen, Benbroiker, Jonkershoes Weg, Aaksberg and so on…in
Germany we were on similar roads and several times had to take refuge to give way to the super sized German
harvesting equipment that was hastily out to make hay while the sun shined, or in this case corn silage which they
refer to as “Mais” as the Spanish do.
I nicknamed our next road Dremple Strasse or Bump Street because it is composed of brick and is obviously pre-
WWII vintage. We were once again thankful for our well-sprung bicycle seats that took the bounce out of the road.
We crossed the Vechte River and wound our way north to Veldhausen. This quaint seldom-traveled route has two
positively lovely covered picnic areas kept clean and neat with garbage disposal cans. We were surprised that at the
first spot a locked bar had been installed to keep cars out…bikers only.
At Veldhausen we followed a winding highway to our next town of Neunenhaus, on a freshly paved bike path to our
shopping destination. On the way to the market held each Friday we shopped at Lidl and Aldi, two competing
supermarkets that feature fast moving quality products at bargain prices.
We have been regulars at the open-air market fish wagon for many years and keep up with the owner and his family.
Here I have to tell of a very sad and tragic story of the owners good looking young son. Last year he enthusiastically
told us of his new job in Canada where he would be doing missionary work. We corresponded by e-mail and were
happy for his excitement and anticipation. Well, we hadn’t heard from him in some time so now we were eager to
hear how things had gone for him.
His sister was working this morning as we placed our order for two large fried codfish and she reluctantly related
what had happened to her brother. It turned out that he was totally overcome with religious zeal believing that by
some benevolent spiritual happening the Lord would transport him to Canada.
He gave away all of his worldly possessions to his church associates and on the day he expected to leave he sat in
his then empty house with his wife and four children waiting for the taxi that the Lord was sending. He even thought
that his airline tickets would be waiting for him. This poor disillusioned soul was now mad at his family members that
had tried to talk some sense into him along with the guilt and shame of having been completely duped.
Again the day was just too very nice to hurry home and so we picked another quaint bike route south only passable
on foot or bicycle. This route was established in 1829 and is marked by carved stone monuments at regular
intervals along the wooded path, known as the “Grenze” area. Both countries discouraged development along the
border so that all commerce could be duly taxed. Now with the European Union all of that has changed with no more
cross border checks and the annoying 10% the money exchangers screwed travelers out of. It is now much the
same as traveling from state to state in the US.
Jane packed our camp stove so we had our 4PM coffee on the trail. Our inventory of thermos bottles had dwindled
down to one because the others had died of trauma. While we sat in the woods at a park bench Jane came up with
yet another idea and that was for a side trip to the shopping center Möma. Another five kilometers on a 60 kilometer
bike trip wouldn’t be noticed. So, into Nordhorn we went. This beautiful city still amazed us because farming
extended right up to the urban area.
The Möma store is placed at the border and is so big that it requires a day to take it all in. We knew what we were
looking for and were even surprised that the model of stainless steel thermos we had found the year before and
paid $10.00 for was now $8.00. So, we got two.
Saturday the 6th of September we had on-off rain and only planned to venture to Nordhorn for the market and
shopping. The fish wagon at the Nordhorn market has the very best fish in the area and definitely has the biggest
following of loyal clients. Several of the venders at the market remembered us so it was like old home week being
back again. Last year we biked to Nordhorn and rented an apartment for a week so every one of the past nine years
we have shopped here and ridden the many bicycle trails. These are some of our favorites and among the best to
be found anywhere, especially if you are like us and hunt for places devoid of tourists.
Nordhorn market, I am waiting for my fried fish order to be filled
Fresh fall produce at the Nordhorn open-air market.
Fresh organic potatoes, apples and eggs for sale…check him out; email@example.com He used to work
in Canada and now has his own farm nearby Nordhorn.
Always very friendly, he loves to chat in English and is very good at it.
Another year older but back to the same spot where we have become regulars.
This PM Jane and I finally got serious about our planned trip to the North Sea and pulled out all of our many boxes
of maps to pour over various routes. The route we plan to take is sparsely populated so we must take into
consideration various variables. A tailwind, nice day, smooth path and no breakdowns and we have made 90 miles
or more in one day. We carry heavy packs and that makes our energy expended nearly double per mile traveled
and a headwind is a big drag and detractor on miles made good also. Under the very worst of conditions we have
been held down to 25 miles in a day.
Two years ago I started a list of essentials for bicycle travel with variations for Mexico and the tropics. Each year I
have also upgraded our bicycles and refreshed worn and broken parts. This year new roller chains, idler sprockets,
brake pads, cables, improved front bike bag hangers and shift controls were among some of the repairs and
Sunday the 7th of September we had light on and off AM rain but Jane and I managed a nice sojourn into the
“Borgbos” or castle grounds, (woods) of Denekamp in Holland. It is nice of Queen Beatrix to allow we commoners to
enjoy one of her castle grounds in spite of the fact that she is the richest woman in the world. I must admit that all of
her many other estates are meticulously maintained and even tall wooded forests are pampered but selectively cut.
Nothing goes to waste in Holland and every square inch of land in this most densely populated country in Europe is
used to its utmost and wisely.
Leaving Lattrop heading for Denekamp with early morning haze over the canal.
Entering Denekamp and passing through the heavily wooded castle grounds.
Our AM coffee spot was enchantingly quiet, tranquil and pristine. Our covered picnic table made of slab boards
nearly half a meter wide were harvested and cut on the Queen’s castle grounds. Just as we savored the last of our
coffee we could see off in the distance a large group of bicyclers headed our way. Sure enough the senior citizens
came in like a flock of migratory birds settling in for the night. The timing was great and they even managed to get
some warm park bench seats as we departed.
Our castle grounds coffee stop was momentarily quiet and tranquil.
Sunday afternoons belong to Jane and I and we were more than happy to relinquish the bike paths and picnic spots.
Monday through Fridays we get almost exclusive use of it all, which is fair enough. This PM the rain picked up and
persisted through the next day when it even got worse.
Our cozy warm electrically heated camper on a cold wet and rainy night
Monday, September 8th a day of persistent rain gave us a lovely day at home to listen to the radio, (BBC),
read, write, study maps and eat up some of our hoarded provisions. The rain did thin the group at Bennie’s camping
place but he did manage to fill his banquet hall and rental rooms.
Late that afternoon we did put on our northern bicycle outfits that resemble snowmobile
suits except that they have a multitude of zippers and Velcro vents to control body temperature and ventured out to
the local store for some staples. When we returned the decision to get me warm waterproof biking boots was
The next morning at 4AM the sky cleared, the rain quit and the crystal clear heavens were bright with stars so we
opened our camper to take in the fresh fall air. Our old friends were there to keep us company Pegasus,
Cassiopeia, Orion, the Big Dipper and the North Star, now 54 degrees above the horizon.
We now had a beautiful fall day ahead of us and the time to enjoy it all. We had lunch out on our garden furniture
and then biked that PM via the canal path to an enormous retail establishment situated on the German border but in
Holland. It caters to gardeners selling nearly one hundred styles and variations of small cabins. Each is on display
along with more varieties of lawn furniture than I thought existed in the whole world. They sell the most elaborate of
statuary and lighting accessories for the formalist of formal gardens and every exotic plant in every color. Also
tropical birds in cages and strangely colored fish were also among the dazzling variety under one roof covering
We found what we were after; I got my rubber boots that fit like a glove for our cold wet bicycle trips and some warm
We even could have purchased Dutch wooden shoes in sizes from small children’s to enormous things that would
require me to take two steps to make them move They were either in plain natural wood, (lindeboom), similar to
aspen or ornately painted and varnished versions. We made the half hour bicycle trip to the town of Denekamp to
do the Internet at the library where we are regulars and keep a library pass card for the computer use.
Our friend Henk, the head librarian at the Denekamp library, who has gone out of his way to assist us in
every way over the years. Two years ago he even made our reservations for a ship we took from
Holland to the US…of course his Dutch is good.
We try to pick up our e-mail and check our finances at least one time per week when we travel and we try to make
sure that our pen pals don’t send us large attachments because we almost always have to delete them unopened
due to our time constraints on public computers.
Windmill next to the Denekamp library where Jane and I stop to have our coffee.
Adjacent to the library in Denekamp is situated a two centuries old windmill and a lovely little park with a table made
of one of the old millstones where we have stopped many a time over the years for our coffee breaks.
The paved bike path from Denekamp to Nordhorn makes for smooth going.
Jane checked her watch and came to the conclusion that if we left that moment and had a spirited ride that we could
go up along the Amelo-Nordhorn canal to the Nordhorn market for a fried fish dinner. We set off along the ancient
canal lined with towering hardwood trees over a new bicycle path freshly paved and had smooth sailing.
Yes, success, we made it and our reward was well worth the effort. After lunch we decided to take a shopping tour
and revisit one of our favorite stores the former “Kaufhalle” now taken over by an Italian supermarket chain named,
“Extra”. We still liked the store with its excellent selection of items in every department but it had lost a lot of its
German charm. The day was still young and we were still in the mood to shop so we went to Aldi, Lidl and Möma.
The sky was now blackening and that is a sign to head in the direction of home. In this part of Europe the weather
pattern is quite predictable. Whenever the sun comes out to warm the countryside it generates enough heat to
cause thermal updrafts in the atmosphere and that causes the ice-cold black clouds to be sucked inland from the
North Sea where they drench northern Holland. As a dear friend has often stated, “Holland is a green country…it
rains”. He also used to say, “In Holland the weatherman is always right…except when he is wrong”.
We made one more stop to shop that afternoon and when we came out of the Centrum Garden Center store, the
rain was already pouring down with vengeance. I had Jane wait while I went to unlock our bicycles; we then ducked
under a winkelwagon or shopping cart shelter to change into our waterproof biking suits. Now I had a chance to put
on my new biking boots. In a minute we were gliding along the Omleiding Kanaal on the paved dike top in the ice-
cold driving rain. Now we were warm, dry and completely enjoying this typical weather. Without the proper equipment
this lovely ride through the rain could have easily been a freezing and miserable experience.
This evening we had our salad and smoked salmon dinner inside with the electric heater making cozy the “woodsy”
The next few days had a similar weather pattern but by Saturday the icy rain subsided but warming would be a slow
process especially this time of year when the shortened days at this northern latitude take its toll on temperatures.
Early mornings in the low 30s would start the day with bright blue skies and 6 inches of dew glistening on the green
grass that took close scrutiny to discern whether or not it wasn’t really frost. By mid-day Indian summer was upon us
and we were looking for cool shade.
Our dear long time Dutch friends, the Rabbeliers, came to visit us. We had many stories to share. At our age much
was said about health problems. Leen had triple bypass surgery and his wife Fien a couple of cancer surgeries
since our last rendezvous two years earlier in September of 2001when we departed Europe aboard a freighter
bound for America. Nine years earlier we had met them when we first landed with our campervan after crossing the
Atlantic and landing at the port of Vlaardingen near to Rotterdam. There they were managing a “Friends of Nature”
camping place. They have been to Mexico to visit us and we have been to several camping places with them over
the years both in Holland and Germany.
In spite of their previous health problems and their age of 70 years, both appeared robust and spunky as they
enthusiastically told us of their upcoming 4 ½ month trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Ironically they will fly from Amsterdam airport at Schiphol for Australia on October 14th, the same day we make our
return trip home to Mexico.
Jane, Fien and Leen Rabbelier visiting over morning coffee at our camping spot.
Enjoying our afternoon coffee with our friends the Rabbeliers in the little town of Lattrop at hotel De
Holtweijde where the rooms range in price from 142 to 360 Euros per night. This is a short walk from our
(Next is a series of photos with their captions that will tell the rest of the story of our trip to Europe followed by the
political and economic comments we heard this year.
Jane at the Denekamp Wednesday open air market; all the people come to shop by bicycle.
Cheese venders at the Denekamp open air market; samples are generous.
A long line of people queuing up for fresh fried fish to eat there or carry home.
Singraven castle at Denekamp with the mill pond full of logs to be cut at the mill.
Singraven castle water-powered sawmill on the castle grounds in Denekamp.
The hotel and banquet hall buildings at Bennie and Riki Rerink’s farm camping, “Bossem”. www.bossem.
nl The big walnut tree in the photo was just heavy with ripe walnuts. Jane and I were the last campers of
the season when we left this year.
The view from behind our camper at Bossom camping; from this spot you can see the hills in Germany.
Gentle rolling hills and lots of woods are interspersed with efficiently run family farms connected by
wondering paved roads and bicycle paths.
A typical farm next to our camping place with its windmill and all meticulously kept
Riding horses by the thousands are well fed and kept here. This spot was in the town of Lattrop where
the paved bicycle path followed along the riverside dike top.
Alongside a country road in Lattrop we stopped at this neat little roadside park bench for our coffee
break. Note the little wooden bridge and clever turnstile to keep the cattle in.
Across the German border from Lattrop is the town of Nordhorn. This garden is in the city center where
there is a walking park with a river, canal and waterfall maintained to perfection just a few steps from
the downtown business shopping area.
Jane and I are regulars here and if you look close you will see her in this photo.
Nordhorn city park stone sculptures and other art objects.
On the east side of Nordhorn is located this canal and paved path which Jane and I took when we
started our bicycle trip to Berlin and Poland two years ago. We have that story written up but have not
put it on our web site. If you are interested we can supply it. It is a travel log and critique of the hotels
we stayed in.
This is the same spot as the previous photo only facing in the other direction.
Indian summer in the Nordhorn gardens of the lovely city park.
This covered shelter is situated far out in the woods on the Holland-German border. The significance of
it is that this is where we had our first lunch break when we begun our bicycle trip from Holland to
Switzerland last year.
The 26th of September 2003 Jane and I camped at our third and last camping place of this year in Europe at a
very small village named Haart. Friends had recommended it to us. The stone marker in the photo caught our
attention the year before and we took photos of it but unfortunately almost all of our trip photos were destroyed so
now we had an opportunity to recapture at least this photo. The monument is a border marker erected in 1766 and
has carved in it a coat of arms with two lions facing each other and stands on a mound of earth four feet tall and has
one bullet pot mark.
These are the friends that we came to the area of Haart to visit; Eldar and Lada. They came from
Uzbekistan and want to settle in Canada. Both are 28 years old and have dreams of a secure future away
from political turmoil.
We were the last remaining at the little camping place named “Slotboom” near to the village of Haart.
Jane is parking her bike under the port side canopy.
This lovely little picnic shelter we found far out in the woods on the German border and it was at the
end of a trail. Neatly kept, this place had a cooking grill, covered table, information map and even a
garbage can. It was clean and well maintained.
Back at Haarlo camping a couple of days before our return home to Mexico we were paid a visit by our
friends that live in the lovely city of Doetinchem. Henk and Mini Esmeijer were the ones that
recommended the camping spot at the little camping place “Slotboom” and they even sent us a
computer print out of a map and driving instructions to get there. We met them several years earlier at
Bennie and Riki Rerinks camping in Lattrop near Nordhorn on the German border. Henk was pointing
out our Texas license plate with the GW on it.
After we put our camper away on a Friday morning we went by train to visit our good friends the
Rabbeliers that live near to Rotterdam for three days. We had a superb visit and our first day together
they took us to visit this most incredible engineering marvel that is designed to protect Holland from
excessively high flood tides by blocking the river that leads into Europe’s busiest port of Rotterdam. A
large freighter enters or leaves every seven minutes around the clock. I highly recommend that you
check out the statistics of this wonder. http://www.keringhuis.nl/engels/home_noflash.html
(Note our friends, the Rabbeliers, home is nine meters below the level of the sea.)
Fien Rabbelier; in her kitchen at their seniors only apartment house putting together our supper. Their
apartment has a location absolutely made to order for convenience to shopping and also public
Leen Rabbelier getting a close haircut and a shave for his up coming trip to Australia by his daughter in
Leen and Fien Rabbelier shopping in one of the many stores located in the shopping plaza adjacent to
their home. Holland cheese is enjoyed by the locals and is not just for export. However, the cheese that
they do export can’t measure up to the product purchased domestically.
Leen and Fien Rabbelier on their 48th wedding anniversary with their family on an all day outing to the
town of Dordrecht. Jane and I were invited to take part in this get-together that included a trip from
Rotterdam on a high speed passenger boat, then a walking tour of the centuries old historical town of
Dordrecht where we had a light lunch at a “local knowledge only” restaurant. In late afternoon we
returned back downstream to Rotterdam by boat and followed up with a group dinner at a Chinese
restaurant and a walk to their son Ron’s home for tea and conversation.
Leen and Fien Rabbelier at the Dordrecht old ships museum.
Here is what happened to me while walking on the city tour of Dordrecht. Two things contributed to my
misstep and fall. First I was wearing lace-up shoes that weren’t tied tight and also had on nylon socks
that were slippery in the loose shoes. With my hands in my pockets to keep them warm on this cool fall
day, I fell to the ground so fast that I couldn’t pull my hands out to break my fall and thus broke my head
To summarize I have put several here a few of the political and economic conditions that we observed this year as
we visited Europe and hope that you will get a little different view of how others perceive the United States and its
We had the misfortune of having American license plates on our campervan and they are from Texas of all places.
Just to top it all off the Texas license plates letters are G-W.,, to boot!. Driving around in the US, that is just great but
in Europe this year many have taken the “Europe bashing” from the US seriously and their tolerance level is at an all
Europe has numerous problems both economic and political and the flood of refugees has tested their tolerance
and finger pointing at the US is their response.
Most of these homeless refugees now roaming in Europe had to run for their lives because of arms shipments from
the US to places where barefoot and hungry children weren’t given food and clothes but guns and ammunition.
We had heard of how bad things were in Europe economically but building construction and public works projects
are going ahead much more actively than in the US in spite of the very strong Euro versus the dollar.
Everyone in Europe has their full health care provided with no worries and retirement checks are more than
generous. We have met several Germans that receive $100,000 a year retirement from their government plans. By
contrast thousands of laid off workers in the US have lost their retirement benefits and countless others have poor
or no medical benefits. One big reason that the Europeans have such wonderful benefits is that their governments
are not stationing their military around the globe, buying countless aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and bombs. What
the US government hasn’t taken from the people they have allowed corporate America to shamelessly commandeer
Jane and I have recently witnessed the European crime wave, which is much worse in the cities. Even in quiet and
tranquil little Norway my cousin Trygve Trondsen has had his prestigious home robbed of its large art collection and
household items. Daily we hear of robberies and shootings on the major highways across Europe. Auto theft is
rampant with well-organized gangs coming from the east block countries, notably Poland and Russia, to spirit off
automobiles. None are safe from these thieves as even older vehicles are snatched up if only to be stripped of their
For these reasons Jane and I with our conspicuous Texas license plates are stand out targets not only for these
thieves but also as political enemies of most foreign nations and various religious groups. We have found that a little
paranoia could keep you alive but too much of it is deleterious and robs you of freedom and adventure.
Regarding European economic conditions; a humorous comment coming out of Germany, one of the countries with
the highest unemployment; “The unemployed are being black-mailed into going back to work by the government that
is taking away their benefits.”
In spite of the very strong Euro that in the end will plunder the fragile overly socially generous economies of most of
Europe, Holland and Germany are going ahead with numerous spendthrift public works projects.
More and more new automobiles that are somehow tending to be larger in size each year in spite of where the
economy and fuel prices are headed are now seen. $5.00 a gallon gasoline and diesel fuel at $3.60 per gallon
makes diesel the predominate choice.
The European children take their bicycles to school in all weather conditions and they definitely reflect the results of
their healthy exercise. They are not only slim and trim but look healthy with rosy red cheeks. In the US and
especially bad in Mexico where we live, 2/3 of the school children are seriously overweight or obese from lack of
physical exercise. Here in Mexico I am ashamed of the wretched physical condition of the general population and it
is rare to see a child that walks or takes a bicycle to school and the adults set the pace.
Last year Jane and I noticed a marked change in how the Europeans regarded the U.S. Previously we would see
American flags featured and displayed in every country we have visited all across the continent. Also American
products were bought in preference to cheaper domestic products.
Now the regard for America and especially George W. Bush has gone from dislike to despise. I must admit with all
the people we have met in nearly two months in Europe we have yet to find even a single person with a positive
feeling this year. We hear comments like, “everywhere America goes blood flows” and “America has built a 100%
coalition of enemies”.
The avalanche of refugees pouring into Europe was in large part a direct result of conflicts that America has been
directly involved in.
It is easy to point fingers and not a single European country has clean hands in that regard. Even little Holland can
bear the shame of the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslim men, women and children in former Yugoslavia when they
disarmed them and then stood by to watch them all slaughtered back in 1995. There is enough blame to go around.
Ironically the xenophobic ultra conservative right wing isolationists fever is beginning to rear its ugly head in the form
of the hatred and distain for foreigners, especially the easy ones to spot like middle-easterners with their dark hair
and distinctive clothing.
As an outsider peering in, I find the human nature to be all but humane. It is ironic that in this place that stables
thousands upon thousands of riding horses, all receiving the ultimate in nutritional and medical attention, the
thought of assisting refugees or the country’s senior citizens turns humans inhumane.
Holland is in the process of passing legislation in this regard:. One law definitely slams the door of entry in the faces
of these foreigners. This law requires all persons receiving social benefits including those accrued for retirement
with vestment of up to 30 years to be fluent in the Dutch language. A 7,000 Euro course is mandatory to meet that
On the other side of this coin the Dutch are becoming paranoid. Their retirement payments will be dwindling
because of a reduction in the birth rate with the result of fewer young people in the work force that they were relying
on to shoulder the burden for funding their world-class state of the art retirement plan. The solution decided upon
was a persuasive public campaign encouraging the young Dutch to procreate. At the same time government
assistance for all forms of contraception was halted…that even included persons on refugee status. Ironically, at the
same time, the Dutch complain that their country is overcrowded.
This year Jane and I have made the decision to sell our VW camper van.
An interesting comment we received from an acquaintance of ours in Holland was; “why would you ever want to sell
your lovely little camper van, you could drive everywhere in it”. My reply to that was; “we have driven everywhere
that we wanted to”.
And so it is, we have made other trips to Europe over the years but with this particular camper we have enjoyed 9
years of consecutive European vacation trips, most of which have been 3 to 5 months in length. Our Europe trips
have led us from Scandinavia to the southern Iberian Peninsula, from western Ireland and the British Isles to the
East Block Countries, with the time to mingle with the natives, visit the capitols, check out the castles, museums and
cathedrals. We have been into and across the Alps, Pyrenees, the Slieve, Derry Nasaggart, Boggeragh and
Knockmedown mountains of the Emerald Isles and up to climb Galdhoppigen in the Jotunheimen Mountains amongst
iridescent glaciers at the highest summit in Norway and then up and down the Fjords. We have visited the major
cities across the continent and in looking back would only care to revisit a couple of them.
We bought our first camper van in 1981 and made our first long trip in 1982 travelling through 26 states in the US
and 4 provinces in Canada. Over the years we have owned 6 in all. A year ago we sold 2 of them in less than one
week leaving us with only our diesel in Europe. After 22 years and 6 camper vans we are ready to move on and
leave the driving and consumption of fossil fuels to others.
Written by John M. Grimsrud
Edited and illustrated by wife Jane A. Grimsrud
POSTSCRIPT: BACK HOME IN MERIDA
The next morning after our return to Merida we got on our bicycles and headed to our favorite coffee shop. Photo
Ooops! Wrong photo! This is a photo of a “Coffee Shop” in Holland. There is no iced mocha on their
menu, only cannabis and hashish! Note the marijuana leaf in the window! For more info: http://www.
Below is a photo of our favorite coffee shop in Merida and in the photo are a group of men that reserve
a table for 10:30 am every day:
Back at the camper before supper we went for our showers and I
discovered a very
aggressive wood tick busily burrowing into my flesh. I stopped his
progress by pinching the skin very tightly in the direction of his
intended route. We sprayed WD-40 on him in the hope that he
would abandon his intended decent into my body but that only
accelerated his aggressive burrowing. I had Jane run to see if she
could get some assistance from Bennie or Riki Rerink, the owners of
the camping place. Jane was back in a couple of minutes that
seemed like hours under the circumstances with a neat little
contraption that resembled a ratcheting tweezers and aggressively
edged tips. Meanwhile I had kept up my diligent battle of thwarting
the tick’s forward movement. I had pinched that part of my thigh
black and blue but couldn't relent.
This neat little tweezers came with instructions written in about 25
The first statement was; “don’t attempt the use any chemicals
because of the probability of aggravating the tick into more
aggressive burrowing.” Next; “make sure that the tick is completely
removed by being steady and persistent with the tweezers”.
Jane’s first attempt only succeeded in getting about half of the tick.
Downtown Nordhorn looking out
from the top of the church tower
with the market below and our
favorite fish wagon. (The one with
the blue roof.) Over the years Jane
and I have had our picture taken
from the bridge in the center of
the photo on the right.
Near to Haart is the town of
Bredevoort renowned for its many
book stores and built high upon a
manmade hill in the town is located
this windmill. The significance of
the photo can be found in the little
sign to Jane’s right that signifies
(no poop here).
Here I am all patched up. Of the 16
family members that we made the
outing with, amazingly five were
nurses and one, Karen, did a
super job with a special talent, so I
want to thank her again for special
On one wall of the coffee
shop hangs this painting
made by a very talented
local artist by the name of
Michel Maugée. When we
sit and sip our iced mochas
and gaze at this painting,
we often wonder what he
painted this or if he has he
painted this or if he has
ever visited the “coffee
shops” of Holland