Mais c’est du progrès

I am in Utrecht, which is in the low country of Utrecht. (This is a Low Country, but is not Holland.) It is Wednesday and my paper is not until Friday. That gives me the rest of today and most of tomorrow to finish — perhaps even to e-mail to myself and print. Perhaps create a web page to project. N’importe quoi. Also, it is possible to walk to the new university from where I am staying. I should be there by 5 PM tomorrow, and I should be back again by 8 in the morning, although I can be a little late.

I am having severe Internet trouble and should download many things before I leave this café, just in case. I should find a cybercafé open after 6 PM and I should remember that Coffee and Company on Nachtergaalstraat opens at 7.30 AM. I will not be able to see this post without connectivity, of course, and I am only writing things down so as to better memorize them.

I will go to Cornelis Coffee Food and a Room on Maliestraat 16, perpendicular to Maliebaan above Nachtegaalstraat (charming, and apparently in an old Spanish grocery store, reminds me of Café Cenote in Austin, but only open until 17 o’clock). Other places are Sector 3 (Twijnstraat 9, open until 18) and Broei (Oosterkade 24, open until 22).

If I had downloaded a map of this town to my phone, I would be able to walk around via GPS. I am so used to going to Latin America and having the phone, the Internet and the credit cards work as a matter of course, that I forget that in Europe, the first world, they may not. I am staying in an Air BnB on the Maliebaan, a suburban street laid in 1636, and I see a hotel I approve of on a sidestreet: the Malie Hotel.

Everything here is non-exotic if you have been to the Eastern part of the United States or the upper Midwest. The people look very American, and the national cuisine appears to be ours: sandwiches, meat, potatoes. I feel like a foreigner because I do not speak the language, although I believe I would assimilate it quickly if people would speak it to me. They do not realize this and speak to me in near-native English.

Things people do here that they do not do in the United States as much are sit outside in public with a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, and smoke. (Smoking is also very popular in New York City, I realized when I was there the other day for the first time since the 1990s, and I felt as though I were in the 20th century.)


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