We’ve just returned from a few weeks in Europe. This time, we were in Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, England, and of course, the Netherlands. The highlight was a visit to a castle, a 45-minute drive outside Prague, with our daughter and her family.
Our daughter has been living in Prague for six years now. She’s enjoying the country more and more, and often goes somewhere nice on the weekend. I never knew there are 1,800 castles in the Czech Republic. We visited three of them. The last of those was particularly interesting. There were three guided tours to choose from. Ours took two hours to complete.
We learned that the first stone was laid in 1300, and it hasn’t been calm since then. The castle is set on top of a hill and surrounded by forest. At the end of the 19th century, it was inhabited by a weapon collector. An interesting detail for us was that his wife loved roses. And this was still visible throughout: there was a rose café, a rose shop and a huge rose garden dating from the late 19th century. Even in those days, the rose was already indispensable. There were quite a few portraits of this lady and in all of them, she was depicted holding one or more roses.
London was another eyeopener. We only spent two days there, but during that time, we met just one White British person. It was the dental technician who installed my wife’s dental bridge. All the other Londoners had different backgrounds, with roots in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. The dental technician was the only person in favour of leaving the EU. Everybody else wanted to remain. Personally, I still believe that Brexit will never happen.
We had a wonderful time, but as always, we were longing to return to Kenya after three to four weeks. It’s always great to be back. If you’re in the wrong line for passport control, you just get it stamped with a smile and a joke. If there’s a long queue for suitcase scanning, you just walk past it, come up with some sort of excuse, and you’re let through. The Kenyans don’t make a fuss, they don’t insist, they just want to get on with things.
Last Monday, in Nairobi, I got a call from the wife of a good friend of mine. She’d crashed her car and was stuck by the side of the road. Would I be able to come over and help? Sure. When I arrived, there were four of us. Two Kenyans who had seen the accident happen, the local GP and me. Luckily, the woman wasn’t hurt. The ambulance just took her to hospital for a checkup, the car was removed, the police thanked for their help and everything was sorted within an hour. That makes Kenya so great: with good will and individual initiatives, almost anything is possible.
Simon van der Burg,
Here you can read the previous blog of Simon