We woke up early to pack (again) and walk to the train (again) [Oh Bridget, stop whining]. This time the destination was Belgium, where we are currently spending a week with Nena’s extended family! After groggily getting out of bed and showering, we braced ourselves for rain and headed to the station. Halfway to the station it began thundering, and we increased our pace to reach cover before the downpour [mostly successfully]. I commented, "It's no wonder Europeans wrote such depressing novels, with such weather!" and Nena reminded me that I had already made a similar remark three times. Whoops.
We tentatively scaled the tall sketchy metal stairway to the other side of the tracks [3 steps at a time!]. We somehow made it safely to the awning before deluge. We caught our train, accidentally got off at the wrong stop (Rotterdam and Rosendaal -- both start with R, so it was an easy mistake), and eventually made it to Antwerpen. We waited for Nena’s Belgian friend, Cosme, to meet us. Without a working phone, and no wifi in de trein station, we had just arranged a time and place to meet, which somehow worked…
Cosme is a well-traveled, international character. He was born in Brazil, is from the French-speaking part of Belgium, and has U.S. citizenship because his father lives in New York. He and Nena know each other from their M. Eng. program at Cornell. He lives in Brussels and was our tour-guide of Antwerp (even though it is not his city) and Belgian culture for the day.
After dinner, we went for a walk around the block, drew pictures on the sidewalk with chalk, played hop-scotch, and saw who could throw rocks the furthest into an algae-filled pond [hmm... roadside ditch]. Nena’s cousin Nathaniel won, and Nena was second (thanks to her softball background). Before heading home, we jump-roped to the Dutch ditty: “Beertje-beertje draai je om. Beertje beertje tik de grond”, which translates to “Little bear, little bear turn around. Little bear, little bear, touch the ground”.
Emilia has a hard time pronouncing my name, calls me Beer-shit, and spells it Britgit. We have been braiding each others hair, dancing, and doing other fun pre-teen activities that fit my mental age perfectly. At night, we watched a bit of Harry Potter (in English, with Dutch subtitles), then shortly thereafter passed out, only to wake up and eat some more.