The second day home, the unusual became usual already, we commonly wander around. It is incredibly how quick the body and soul are getting used to all the things. Two years ago, our basic life became ordinary, although a return to the prosperous lingers in the unconscious. Now we are home, we are like a bunch of spoiled kids, who lay aside their new gift carelessly. Habituation means that a reaction to a repeated stimulus will stay off after a while. A bird learns that it should not be afraid of a scarecrow. Zoë learns that she should not be afraid of a cold shower and Olivier learns that he should not be afraid that his Belgian fries will run away, at least in the next 2 months.
We just arrived in Belgium, and we are on our bikes again, on our way to Zoë’s parents in Breda. We have no public transport card, no car and luckily know how to ride a bike. Moreover, we are very curious how we experience the Benelux landscape. Will that be habituation? The sun is in the sky as we remember a real autumn sun. Dull, but warm enough for the fresh, cold wind. It’s the one that automatically puts a smile on your face. We packed the bikes with our belongings. We still live out of our suitcases. Eighty kilometers on the back of a dime is a gift for us. We have some wind against, but take it as a little bit of extra resistance. We jump on the bike and let us surprise. And, In contrast to the habituation of our old life, we are totally surprised by the natural wonders of our own countries.
It is great pleasure right from the start. We follow the cycling network and cycle along small backroads. We go from bike path to bike path and have the whole empire for us alone. No buzzing cars, only creaking leaves under the wheels. The crossroads lead us through the forest and along meadows. From narrow winding roads to unpaved forest paths. Our camera works hard. The negatives are full of falling autumn leaves, proud oaks and blooming fungus. Without a pardon, without stops, checks, passports or police, we can cross the border between our countries as often as we want. We have to laugh when we see a little pony in the fields. We can't remember the day we saw a short fat horse like this. We imagine an Argentinean cowboy on the back of the pony. When we look up, we hear a crow screaming for attention. It must have been in 2016 we have heard the last crow. We are amazed by the adventure that the Netherlands and Belgium offers us. "When I cycle here, I wonder why we really have to go that far," says Olivier. 'I was thinking exactly the same' Zoë answers. Why is that? she asks after.
After a silence and some brain cracking further we conclude that we are looking for a long-term adventure. An adventure that will teach us a lot. Discovering new cultures and disappearing in the wilderness is what appeals to us. Learning languages and discovering national borders. But we are shaken up. Our own country is not so bad at all. It is beautiful, it is blessed. And there is an incredible amount to discover. It is such a shame and crazy that we have never realized that before. That we have never felt and appreciated our own countries before.
Maybe we were too spoiled to see the pleasure? Or we always wanted more and better? Like, mountains and snow instead of cold and flat. "No, I think that after all those years of life, we became used to it," says Olivier. "Indeed, you’re right. There was no reaction to the repeated stimulus. In fact, there was no incentive at all." says Zoë. The forest, autumn, crows, mushrooms and ponies were very common before the trip. "So what did we learn from our return?" Says Olivier.
That we still make a lot of trips, on our own strength, including our own fine countries.
Most off all, we hope that we also encourage you to look around, to appreciate your own environment and to get out. On the bike, by foot, or with a step. Try to look trough the habituation and see your own country.