Netherlands - Round The World Tour 2003 T-61

pre-departure

Kerkrade

Saturday 1th January

So, today I thought I’d make a start on my travel journal. Actually, I should have started a few days ago but there have been so many things that needed arranging, I simply didn’t get around to it. Much has happened over the past week.

It was a difficult goodbye in America. For Jennifer’s sake, we pretended that we were just leaving for a couple of weeks to visit Las Vegas. Having moved several times in my life, and having lived in England for several years whilst dating Sandy, saying ‘goodbye’ is something that I have become accustomed to doing at various stages times throughout the years. It was particularly difficult this time since we were not only saying goodbye to our dearest and closest friends, this time we were also saying goodbye to America, with the expectation of not returning. America was good to us. I loved my work, earned a shit load of money, and had a really good time spending it all.

After 6 years of living life in the ‘seemingly endless incoming supply of money’ lane, it is now somewhat of a necessity to shift back into a more reserved mode of money management. In other words, we are no longer financially independent and are living within a restricted budget. Shit!

Coming back to Holland after being away for 6 1/2 years was somewhat of a mixed bag of feelings. A lot of happy feelings associated with familiar sounds, sights and senses. But also a fair degree of stress related to the various bureaucratic hoops that we’ve had to jump through. For starters, on the day of our departure from the States, I received a shocking e-mail from the moving company. Apparently I had to submit proof of employment in Holland as well as a home rental contract and all kinds of other stuff before we could receive an import tax exemption. Holy shit! We never had any plans of getting employment in Holland because of our trip, obviously, and it was never a requirement as far as we knew from our dealings with the relocation company. Without the tax exemption, we may be asked to pay some $10,000 just to get our stuff back!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we also had to register as residents. No problem for Sandy but as a non-Dutch citizen, I must first sign in with the police as a foreigner in Holland. As a result of 9/11, this process now takes between 2 to 6 weeks to complete. I cannot sign in with the municipality until this is complete and I cannot renew my Dutch driver’s license until I’ve signed in. I need to renew my Dutch driver’s license because it has expired and my Florida driver’s license is only good till March. I was unable to extend that in Florida because I have not yet received my physical green card and the INS stamp in my passport is only good for another few months. I need the renewed driver’s license in order to get an International driver’s license, which we need whilst we are travelling. And so the problems with red tape continue unabated.

On the positive side, however, we are starting to immerse ourselves back into the Dutch culture and I am starting to enjoy it more and more. We visited friends, family and have been to the Friture (Dutch Chip Shop) almost every day. Bliss! We have actually been able to walk places instead of taking the car. Everything is scaled down compared to Florida. Narrower roads, smaller cars, shorter distances, etc. It’s been a pleasant surprise to be able to walk from A to B. Even the sub-zero temperatures have not dampened my spirits in this regard.

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