Netherlands - Round The World Tour 2003 T-31



Monday 10th February

So, I missed the final of the B&H snooker championships on TV yesterday. Buggar! I still don’t know who won. Having watched the quarter & semi-finals over the course of the past week, missing the final was particularly irritating. Still, missing the sports event on the tube, last night, didn’t play too much on my mind as we visited Diana & Lei and then Dinie & Dré later in the afternoon. Here in Kerkrade, these are the people that are always on our ‘absolutely must see’ list. We have a long history with Diana & Lei – even to the point of going on holiday with them in years past. Diana and Sandy went to school together. And, of course, living next to Dinie & Dré for 4 years has also left its imprint. Many an evening were spent in their company, around the table, playing cards. As has been the case with our card playing routine with Dave & Jennifer over the past 5 years or so, the only two card games we ever used to play were Hearts & Whist (farmer’s bridge). Although Dinie disagrees with me (the two of us often do), I don’t remember ever playing using the rules that they are now accustomed to. Still, it’s nice to agree to disagree 🙂

Today saw something of a minor miracle. I actually obtained my Dutch & International driver’s licenses 🙂 Mars must have lined up with the inner moons of Jupiter or something as everything fell into line consecutively. With the memory of my recent failed attempt to renew my Dutch driver’s license earlier in the week, still fresh in my mind, I set off this morning to the Police station. With all the necessary documentation in hand, I had high hopes that today would be the day. And yes, my new identity/residents permit was there waiting for me. The new card looks much like a credit card but never before have I been so pleased to see a thin piece of plastic. Amazing that so much importance can hang off such an unassuming little inanimate object. With this card, I could now go to the municipality building to finally complete the registration procedure, which is necessary before I can renew the driver’s license. Still with me so far? OK, back on the bike and off I head up the hill and away from the Police station in the direction of the town centre. I was salivating over my shiny new card as I huffed and puffed up the steep incline when I noticed it! They misspelled my first name on the card! Shit!!! As various visions of how I was going to enjoy garrotting whichever civil servant it was that was responsible for the error, were flashing through my mind, I arrived at the municipality building and secured my bike. The guy at the front desk, whom by now was quite familiar with me, had already printed out my ticket to see the relevant clerk before I’d even set foot through the door. Luckily, the very helpful woman that I have been dealing with up till now was in the office today and shrugged off the typo as irrelevant. She was quite satisfied that I had jumped through all the requisite hurdles and adjusted my status in her computer. With the registration procedure now complete, I was able to renew my driver’s license for a mere €30. Finally!

So, off to Heerlen and the ANWB to get my International driver’s license. As it turns out, I actually needed two different International documents. Because we are going to some obscure places, there was a second document that we needed over and above the ‘ordinary’ International driver’s license. I remember Tanzania being one of the places on the small list of countries for which the additional document was required. Not to worry. I handed over the two passport photos (luckily I now keep a stash of a half a dozen or so with me at all times) and the requisite number of €s and the deed was swiftly done.

I’m still a little troubled by the inaccuracy on my new identity/residents card. What should I do about it? Should I return it for a new one? We leave the country in less than 2 days and the chance of getting a new, error free, card between now and then is about as remote as Wiel completely configuring his computer unassisted 🙂 If I simply ignore the problem and take the card with me, I’m a little worried about some bureaucratic pencil pusher at some border crossing making a fuss. I can just imagine myself trying to convince a Chinese border guard why my ‘papers’ are ‘not in order’. I’ll probably just leave it behind and forget that I even have it. With my entire driver’s license needs now taken care of, it’s not like I need it any more. Actually, I think I’ll keep it tucked away somewhere to be used in the future as a reference for a job interview. After all, anyone who has one of these must have the patience of a saint, the energy of a marathon runner and the persistence of a salmon returning upstream to spawn. Those are qualities that employers look for, after all, aren’t they?