Sunday, June 14, 2009

Touring the Beemster polder

A few weeks ago Arjan (on left in the photo), IFOR's Accountant and a friend of mine, took three of us volunteers from the office in his car for a tour of an area in 'Noord Holland' where he grew up. We stopped first along the way to show Pauline and Aktuigun, two young interns that were here from Africa and Asia for six weeks to work with our WPP program, several large windmills on the polders (low areas surrounded by dikes and pumped dry of water). Then we went on to visit three nearby, historic, small towns (de Rijp, Graft, and Volendam) and de Beemster polder.

De Beemster polder is well-known world-wide and is where all that famously exported Gouda cheese is produced, the cheese sometimes displayed in food-stores in the shape of large, yellow wheels. While in the area, we also met Arjan's parents, who live in the village of MiddenBeemster. Wonderful people, kind and thoughtful, they were so welcoming and had much to tell us about their lives in the village. Arjan's mother had prepared a delicious Dutch lunch for us, native Dutch treats, and gave us some gifts. It was an experience I won't soon forget, a peaceful, sunny afternoon with gentle people of the Beemster Polder.

After our visit we went on to spent some time touring in Volendam, a very special fishing "dorp" (village) with an even more interesting history. It seems that everyone who is born in Volendam stays in Volendam their entire lives! Generations go back for centuries and the people of Volendam continue to wear their traditional clothing and shoes to this day. Later, we ended our tour with visiting more friends, John Schot (IFOR's Director) and his wife Irene, at their home in Alkmaar, where we were served dinner by Irene, thus having another "heel lekker" Dutch meal and much more enjoyable conversation.


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