I visited the Netherlands in May for a week on business and returned again recently for three weeks. I took a lot of photos and made a few observations. This is what I found.
First, the name and the nation
The country is called the Netherlands, which means “low lands”, because it’s all near sea level, and indeed when the dikes fail during the eventual zombie apocalypse, most of it will be reclaimed by the North Sea. Even tho the people are “Dutch”, they can’t call it “Dutchland” because the Germans stole that name from them in World War 1.*
* Since the Germans never gave it back, as part of reparations, the Dutch are allowed to claim that Mata Hari was good looking.
The Netherlands is also called “Holland”, altho this is just the name of one region. It’s a lot like calling Great Britain “England” even tho England is just one region of Great Britain. The other regions are Zealand, Flevoland, Upper Holland, Outer Holland, Holland II, the Gaza Strip, Tulip Island, and EuroDisney. The former Dutch colonies of New Zealand and Flavor-Flavoland are now independent. The Holland Tunnel connects the Netherlands to New Jersey.
The Netherlands was once a powerful sea-faring kingdom, but now is a constitutional democracy with a monarch figurehead, currently Queen Beatrix, who is commonly called “Queen Bea”, followed by a buzzing sound. The Netherlands is run from a city called The Hague by a council of representatives called the Dutch Old Masters. There is an important trade alliance between the small countries of Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg called “the United Colors of Benetton.” The flag of the Netherlands is a sideways French flag.
Point 2, the national character
The Netherlands is a small country of 16.6 million and a like number of sheep*, slightly larger than the population of Mexico City, minus the sheep. The countryside is beautiful, the architecture is grand, and the people are universally wonderful. Most of them speak pretty good English, which is more than can be said of England. Even the street punks are helpful toward strangers, mostly because they are high all the time from the lax drug law enforcement.
* Dutch sheep do not look like cute English sheep. They look like a cross between a pig and a small, angry cow.
The Dutch adore their nearly-World-Cup-winning soccer team and proudly display its garish orange colors. The orange comes from William of Orange, father of the fatherland, also known as William the Silent for this one time he kept his mouth shut and let the King of France make an ass of himself, which is a little like calling George W Bush “George the Not-Completely-Terrible”. The name “Orange” and the color orange actually have no relation (the name is from a place in southern France, while the color is from the Eastern name of the orange fruit norange/noranga).
Probably due to the national character and the ready availability of marijuana, the Netherlands’ has little crime. Its only crime problem is graffiti, which can be found on every flat surface created by the government as well as on farmers’ sheds. It is only natural that young people would feel the need to express their creativity and individuality, and there is no better way to do that than to spray paint your name on things in the exact same style as New York gang members in 1975*. Why they would spray paint farmers’ sheds I cannot say, but it probably has to do with bicycle-riding punks having to wait long periods for trains.
* Perhaps there is still a connection between Harlem and Haarlem.
Look for part 2 soon!
One thought on “Postcards from the Netherlands, part 1 of 3”
Well done. caught myself laughing. you have such a wonderful conversation style when you write. congratulations.