'Welcome home' says KLM's stewardess in Dutch through the speakers. The words are enough to break the unreality and set us down with two legs. Tears roll on Zoë's face. 'It's not that I'm not happy, but it's not that I'm really happy' she tries to understand her own feeling. "It's a combination, I believe." It is the reality that we fly above our own country, it is the reality that we are at home. It happened to us and that is reality. The strange thing is, above all, the unbelief, the inability to understand that this happened to us. Time dragged us into a time machine. The decisions have been taken almost unseen. It seemed like fiction.
"It took us two damn years to arrive in Colombia, and now we are back home in a day," Zoë says, overwhelmed by her feelings. "You probably have not forgotten your own proverb," says Olivier. 'It's about the journey, not about the destiny' he continues. "Yes, and?" Zoë says as she dries her tears. "Well, it is still our journey, so there is nothing broken, damaged or unrepairable, we still aren’t at our final destination. It is just part of our crazy adventure, our journey 'explains Olivier. Zoë closes her eyes with satisfaction. 'Welcome home' she repeats for herself. Then we touch the Dutch soil with a soft landing. After two years and a month we are back home. For a while at least.
We both come out of the toilet laughing. 'I didn’t know where to throw the toilet paper, there was no trash bin' Zoë starts. "I had that too! How crazy that we can just flush it in the toilet here’ confirms Olivier. "And I was shocked when the toilet automatically flushed," he continues laughing. "Well, I did not know how to wash my hands, that stupid automatic tap just started when I pulled my hands under it, and then stopped again when I put them under." We walk to the backpacks, which are there immediately, but have to wait a little longer for our bikes. Yesterday evening we were standing with our bikes in front of the airline's desk in Medellin and the lady told us that they don’t bicycles. Three phone calls with the insurance and finally an amount of 150 euros per bike later, we were allowed to take them. We got our flight just in time. There is a little bit of stress, but we can breathe a sigh of relief when we see our heroes, the bikes, on the luggage claim. With a big smile we roll our loaded cart through the doors of the arrival hall.
We hug the family with a big hug and it feels like we have seen each other last week. Of course we have seen our parents twice during the trip and spoke to them weekly, maybe daily via whatsapp, but it is unusual simply to see everyone again. We are cheerfully satisfied. The first two days we stay in Neerpelt, Belgium, with the parents of Olivier. Then we go to Breda, the parents of Zoë. If we load the car with our bikes and put our first steps in the Netherlands, although the parking lot of Schiphol, it is Zoë who starts to jump around. She sees Dutch licence plates everywhere, luxury cars everywhere and she hears the Dutch radio. They are all stimuli that feel far away and thus 'stand out'. Olivier on the other hand gets into the car as yesterday, barely notices the differences and doesn’t feel a 'unique' excitement. "Hey, do not you think that's weird? Do not you miss that excitement then? "Zoë asks incomprehensibly. "No, actually it is nice, so ordinary, so normally normal at home," Olivier says satisfied.
While Olivier continues an ordinary discussion as if he has been home for a month, Zoë is still pointing around and interrupts occasionally with 'Wow how beautiful the autumn', 'God incredible that structure in the highways',' I didn’t know that there are so many foreigners driving through the Netherlands', 'you have to see all these people cycling here'. And as soon as we arrive in Neerpelt, 'wow, what are the villages beautiful?', 'Every house here looks historic', ‘it’s so nice and green', 'everyone stops for cyclists, you have to imagine'. As soon as we walk in at Olivier's home, Zoë shouts ‘find the changes!’, and immediately begins to point to a new chair or a painting that has been given a different place '. Olivier opens the refrigerator and says 'not much has changed in two years'. His two brothers come home and soon we are just eating Belgian fries. Although Olivier now jumps like a monster on top of the box. Long ago, those Belgian fries.
Zoë keeps on having in a mixed feeling. Sleeping in a bed with soft duvets is a great pleasure that Olivier also enjoys by saying 'Ah that bed is nice'. While Zoë has already rolled through the down three times. The extraordinary pleasure comes when taking the first shower. For two years we have been under a different shower every day, if there was a shower at all. With danger of electric shocks and dancing in an awkward position between the toilet and the wash basin. On her toes to touch as little floor as possible and with the clothes folded tactically not to drop a piece on the ground. Every shower she turned the knobs, hoping for water, hoping for water without a smell and hoping for water that got warm. Sometimes there was a stroke of luck between them and the water stayed hot enough to wash her hair. It wasn’t that bad, she was used to it. Now Zoë walks into the large bathroom, turns around dancing and throws her clothes on the floor. Singing, she steps into the shower and lets the warm water flow over her body. She gets quiet, so good!
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