Cate's blog

A peek into my life for my friends all over the world!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter in Schiermonnikoog

Making the most of a 4 day weekend due to Easter, me and some of my closest friends here in the Netherlands rented a house in Schiermonnikoog, Friesland. Schiermonnikoog is the smallest island in the Netherlands, it's located all the way in the north of the country and it's only 12kms long, it's also the less densely populated in the Netherlands- quite something considering that this is a rather highly densely populated country- having had to reclaim land to the sea!

In order to get to Schiermonnikoog we had to drive a little over 2 hours all the way to the north, passing through the "Afsluitdijk" and there we left the cars in a parking just next to the Ferry station. Then we took a 45 minute ride in the Ferry to the island. Once there we took a 5 minute bus ride to the centre of the town.

We arrived to one of the main hotels where we got our hotel keys...and guess what we had to wak about 2 minutes to get to our house! We were "down town"- if you want to call it that way. The town is so tiny and so cute...I felt like being in some kind of fairy tale... it brought me back to my childhood when I used to read tales and they had some pictures...because the houses looked all like that. It was so hard to think that people lived like that, as you will see in the photos.

The first evening we had a little surprise party for Eline as she had had her birthday only 2 days earlier while being on a business trip in India. So we brought a cake, some decorations and a gift. We had a very nice dinner and we spent most of the evening playing the "name game"- which is a combination of charades and some other game that involved guessing famous people. We had a really nice time.

On Saturday we decided to discover the island so after a a nice brunch we headed into town where we bought some local pastries in the bakery and then we had a really nice and VERY fresh walk towards the beach. It was SO windy!!!! When we got to the shore it was almost impossible to hear anything else but the wind...and it was so cold! Lets say that when we went back home a couple of hours later we all discover the real use of a hot chocolate.

That evening we decided to try the Schiermonnikoog cuisine and we headed to a really nice restaurante where we had some delicious dinner. Then we went back home to proceed with our "name game" and some about 11pm we decided to "hit the town". We went to THE pub which was really funny because it appeared like the whole town was there....the spread of ages was rather big and funny enough we found out that our waiter from earlier that day was dating the girl that sold us postcards earlier that morning ;-) After a drink in the pub we decided to go to the "disco"...which was literally 2 houses away from ours. We were the first ones there and an hour later the music was in full swing and we had really quite some fun dancing around with the locals. Of course towards 3am, when everybody had already gone back home and it was only Joost and me being the die hards and we heard the DJ congratulating a guy who had just turned 16....we kind of felt a little old and we decided to call it a night. Not without first buying "from the wall" (that's a typical Dutch thing where they place very greasy snacks in some kind of wall vending machine) a kroket and a "Kaas souffle"- actually I just found this in You Tube and it might give you a better understanding.

The next morning it was Easter Sunday and we woke up to the surprise that the heating was not was snowing outside so as you can imagine, it was FREEZING!!! And you can see that we had our Easter brunch with our jackets and even hats, while someone came over to fix it- because that also meant we didn' thave hot water. Thank God that was fixed afterwards. We shared a really nice brunch full of nice delicious things and lots of chocolate eggs and see the Easter bunny came to visit us the night before and we even had an egg hunt in the living room. It was all rather festive ;-)

Later that day we split into 2 groups: Laurent, Nayeli, Eline and Joost decided to go for a walk and Geert Jan, Fee, Italo and me decided to rent bikes and explore the island. For this we rented Tandem bikes and we did cycle quite a lot and went to different parts of the island. Unfortunately after about an hour it started snowing and we decided to stop until the snow would stop (click here for a video)...however after over 20 mins waiting, the snow was only getting heavier, so we decided to cycle back. Trust me, cycling with a snow storm and lots of wind is not fun. The snow was coming from our left and it kept poking my left eye, so I ended up closing my left eye and looking only through the right....the snow turned into hale and we were almost turning into ice cubes. We only had to do about 4.5kms...but God were they hard. When we got back home I had a really hot shower...but it was unbelievable how cold I was, my legs were just red and still cold. Afterwards we had hot chocolate and we sat in the living room with the heating to the max, with lots of clothes and just waiting for our bodies to warm. It took a couple of hours but we managed. Now looking was kind of fun.

Later that night we had a really nice dinner and then we continues with our Name Game. We really became addicted...we played guys against girls, Latins against Europeans, singles against couples, random teams. Whatever the teams we just had a blast and a big laugh.

On Monday after clearning the house we went for a last walk in which the weather changed about every 5 minutes from snow, hale to sun...but it was still nice. At 4pm we headed towards the Ferry and then we drove back to Amsterdam.

All in all a really great weekend, with a great bunch of people (I have wonderful friends here, thank you guys for being how you are!), in a really nice place. Always nice to discover new places!

And as usual, below the photos. If you click on them you will launch Picasa for a bigger version of them!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Carnival in Oosterhout

During the first weekend of February I had the chance to experience my second carnival while living in the Netherlands: Carnival in Oosterhout. Oosterhout is a small town in the South of the Netherlands that is close to Breda. And it is the home town of my friend Joost.

For the ones who don’t know, carnival is a festivity linked to Christianity. It finished with “Mardi Gras”or Fat Tuesday, which was the last day where meat was allowed to be eaten before Lent. Lent is the 40 day period where traditionally Christians were not allowed to held parties and were not allowed to have meat; the forty days of Lent serve to commemorate the Passion of Jesus.

Several of you might think that because I come from Latin America we must have some kind of carnival like in Brazil (I have been asked that several times)…let me disappoint you but no, we don’t have such tradition. There are some carnivals within Peru, that date back several centuries, but I'm not familiar with them. However, in Lima we do have a “particular” tradition: every Sunday during the month of February water fights are allowed between men and women. It’s usually among younger people and normally you should agree with your friends to”play carnival” and you can have waterballoon fights, watergun fights….then it’s quite nice. Then again…that’s what it’s meant to happen but there are unfortunate incidents when guys you don’t know decide they can suddenly throw water to you when you are nicely dressed up during the week on your way to work…and you have to be thankful if the water is clean :-s
So it’s definitely something totally different. And of course also bare in mind that February is the warmest month over there!

I have celebrated carnival in 2 other countries: Italy (back in 96 in a beautiful town in Sicily named Taormina where I watched a really beautiful parade) and also in the USA (back in 05 when I went to visit Antonella and went to the “infamous” Mardi Gras party…where guys are supposed to give you bead necklaces in exchange for kisses…over there there’s not flashing of tits as in New Orleans!). Back in 2001 when I was living in Brussels I went to the south of the Netherlands, in Maastricht for their famous carnival…and that’s about it for me and carnivals.
Then 2 years ago, Joost invited me to Oosterhout and I had the time of my life dressed as a lioness ;-) and then this year Italo and me were invited.

We were told that the town had been partying since Friday evening and the celebrations would go on until Wednesday. So all shops are closed and in general the town is all festive. What I found nice about this is the “tradition” feeling. For a start EVERYBODY was wearing a costume…and not just a mask or a cape…people had some serious outfits on regardless of age. You could see kids and over 80 year old grannies all dressed up and partying.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and after a nice dinner at Joost’s place with his parents, his sister (Inge) and some friends we got ready and off we went into town. Italo, Joost and me had spent about an hour that morning in a costume store in Amsterdam trying to decide what costume to get…and we decided to wear matching costumes: so we were the Devils for this carnival ;-) We bought some nice horns that had batteries and that lit up, a nice trident and a very interesting tail. The guys went for the red shirt and jeans approach…I tried to go for the “sexy devil” look and added a red boa, net stalkings and some long black gloves which lasted about half an hour… We definitely were not wearing the most elaborate costumes, but after our make up (nice devil beard for the guys and some serious sparkly eye shadow and a passion red lipstick for me) we definitely blended in with the crowd!

That night was the busiest one I was told…and indeed the bars were really crowded. We left our coats in the first bar and then we did some bar hoping…which on a temperature of below 0 degrees, net stalkings and bare arms was not good for my health. Once in the bars the music was unbelievable. The music was really festive, and some had really nonesense lyrics…but it was carnival music, funny and it had some kind of tradition so it was just perfect. You can listen to what I mean by actually viewing a video by clicking here.

On Sunday at 1pm we went to one of Joost’s friends’ b’day. Her parents live in a house right in the centre of the town where the parade was going to make its way through. When we arrived the party was already in full mode: people were already seriously drinking beer and dancing all around the house. We joined the party, watched the parade and at around 4pm we joined Joost’s parents, sister, neighbors and friends in a bar…that place was UNBELIEVABLY crowded…music was loud, beers were drunk at a really fast pace…and themost amazing: teenagers, toddlers, young people, parents and grand parents were all partying together...

We partied until about 6pm when we went back to Joost’s parents place, we changed, had dinner and made our way back to Amsterdam.

It was a really really nice weekend, it was very good for my Dutch language skills and something that I definitely want to do again.

Thank you very much Joostje for the invitation and thanks to you and your family for being such great hosts ;-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mancora and New Year's

Mancora is a small town by the sea which is about 1200kms north of Lima, rather close to Ecuador. Back in October of 2006 Antonella, my sister and Gus (her now husband) got married there. A little over 100 guests experienced an amazing ceremony and an amazing celebration afterwards. Several of us stayed in Las Arenas, a really nice, cozy hotel over there.

Earlier last year Anto and me decided that since we were both going to be spending new year's together in Peru we should do it "in style" after some chats we agreed that we should do it in Las Arenas. We both talked with our friends and somehow some initial plans were put together. We talked with Las Arena's manager and we booked 15 out of the 19 bungalows in the hotel.

Towards the last 3 months of 2007 Anto and me were rather busy with this organisation. All done virtually...after all, that's how we had organised her wedding too. Anto from the States, me from the Netherlands...we exchanged several back and forth e-mails with our friends in Peru, our friends abroad, Lima, Mancora...It was quite some organiation and logistics, but we LOVED every single moment of it. Negotiating rates, tax free deals, new year's party, food, tickets... However all our efforts were totally worth it: New Year's 08 has been one of the best celebrations I've ever been to.

We were 30 persons, we flew from 7 different countries (US, Netherlands, Austria, UK, Argentina, Spain and Peru)and we had a blast. Not everybody knew everybody but once there....just spending all the time together: in the pool, at the beach, by the fire at night, having dinner in town, playing games, dancing, drinking...we just had so much fun together. I'm not sure if it's Mancora, or the holiday atmosphere or we were just the right combination of people, but the whole time there felt a little magical.

There's so many things to talk about...but of course I would bore you with all the details...I'll just choose some of the most memorables:

Our second night when we borrowed some iPOD speakers and somehow we were all in total party mood and we danced and danced and danced. Peruvians teaching foreigners...not only dancing the current dance hits, but us remembering the songs that were popular when we were little kids. Oh it was so much fun!

Or how my European friends, Italo, Javi, Moni and me celebrated the European new year's at 18:00. At that time, which was 12:00 CET we all jumped into the pool and wished each other a happy new year, we danced, we had some cocktails, we fooled around. It was just so nice!!!

Or going into town to surf ;-) ok some did I just got rather tired and worked on my tan. And going into town to buy beautiful beachy souvenirs (nice jewellery), buying booze for the evenings...having dinner.

Or just the chilling out by the fire in the evenings. How everybody was with "la chispa". How we chatted and laughed and laughed and teased and just had fun with each other. It's somehow very hard to put into words those 5 days. So you can check out the embedded photos just below (you can click on them and the Picasa window will be launched).

And of course finally New Year's eve. The decoration and the set up was unbelievable beautiful. Several round tables with yellow, red and orange table clothes. All decoreated with beautiful candles and grapes. A nice round bar, a beautiful fire and overseeing the sea and the swimming pool. A great sound system...what else could we ask for?

There must have been around 70 persons in the party...which meant that we were almost 50% of the party people...and of course it was us who totally ruled the dance floor ;-) We had organised some party hats that we took with us in a big suitcase and definitely brought some extra colour to the party.

We had a really yummy buffet at around 11pm and then following the Peruvian tradition we had some "aguadito" (some veggie soup which is great when having had alcohol) at 3:30am and then at 5:00am we had some cebiche (another Peruvian tradition- spicy marinated fish in lime).

We danced and danced and danced...some people were thrown into the swimming pool, other people voluntarily jumped into the pool naked ;-)...some people were carrying each other...there was some strip tease, some lap dancing.

Do I need to go on or you get it that the party was amazing? By 7am when only some of us were still up we decided to finish the party in the pool. All fully clothed and just having you see, I started partying at 6pm to celebrate the European new year's and then I ended up in the swimming pool at 7am...not bad, I was partying for about 14 hours...I hope this is an indication of the amount of energy I'll have for the new year! ;-)

Right now, Anto and me have already been approached by different people for the coming new year...they want to make it an annual event. What can we say...we are definitely thinking about it! And it will involve warmth and stay tuned!

Below...New Year's party photos...enjoy.

My holidays in Peru

First of all Happy New Year to everybody! I hope you all had a great celebration and that 2008 is already bringing you several good things ;-)
As I promised on my last post, this year I want to make sure that I keep updating my blog so you know a little more of what I've been doing. And sticking to my promise I need to tell you about my 3 and a half holidays back in Peru.

I arrived back to Amsterdam last Monday afternoon after a very short, direct and uneventful KLM it felt weird that after such a short flight I was suddenly away from Lima and back into my daily reality.

However the next morning, cycling to the bus stop to get to work: the cold, the bike, the darkness and the rain brought me totally back to reality. The several layers of clothes and the boots after having been wearing very light stuff and sandals....were an even bigger reminder.

Usually, I get a little depressed on my first week when I get back to the Netherlands after having been "home". However I think that this time it really helped that Italo arrived only the next day (for the ones that don't know Italo is one of my best friends from university who moved to Europe a year ago and he is currently my flatmate). Having someone who was feeling the same as me, someone who had been in the same places that I had been, someone with whom to talk and remember...did me the world of good! That, and also the THOUSANDS (I'm not kidding) of photos from those 3 and a half weeks. Antonella (my youngest sister who was also there) and me are both photo each one of us with our cameras took so many photos. And of many of our friends did the same and we managed to compile several of them. So since I've arrived I've been looking over and over again to all the fun and the amazing things we did during our holidays. And actually that's what's taken me so long to write this post: sorting out the photos and choosing just SOME is not an easy job.

Let me summarise my holidays for you (I'll write down with more details the different activities in later posts).

I one sentence: It was AMAZING! This has been the longest time that I haven't been back in Peru (1 year and 2 months) so towards the end I was counting the days and the hours! And it has been a mixture of family time, time with friends, visiting my own country and also being a host. Why's that? Because besides me, Antonella and her husband (Gus) getting there we had some friends joining us!

All the way from Amsterdam, Eline and Joost joined us on the 24th and 27th respectively. And Martin a German friend of mine who used to live in Amsterdam and who now lives in Vienna also joined. As you can imagine having friends over is an amazing experience. You can show them a little about your own countries, your own was just so great to have them. Besides them we also had 2 more guests: Murphy and Jason from Aspen. If you have read my early posts on this blog (about March and April last year) you must remember the names. Both of them had come to Peru for Anto and Gus' wedding and then they were really great hosts during my holidays in Aspen. So they decided to come again and join us for the fun!

And when I say FUN...I'm really not kidding! It appears that we had the right combination of people...but between all the activities I think this has been the month when I have slept the least in my life (without counting exam time at university!) and also the month when I have seen dawn more often (also without counting me seeing dawn from my desk at work during the winter!).

The first days were dedicated to the family. I arrived on Thursday 20th of Dec and Antonella and Gus on the 21st. After a wild party in "Gotica" in Larco Mar on Saturday we spent most of our time until Christmas with the family. We had a really amazing Sunday BBQ, a great Christmas eve and Christmas day. We have eaten a lot, enjoyed each other and true to our tradition we have sang SOOOO many Christmas (and not so Christmasy) songs. This has been the first Christmas after 9 years that gathers all of we totally enjoyed it.

Right after Christmas (already on the 25th in the evening) a group of us went to the airport to pick up Murphy...and we made our way straight to the Marriott casino...where Gus, Anto and me remembered our Roulette addiction in Vegas back in March last year ;-). It was a very good evening for the women (we all won something)...not so much for the men who lost. But all this to tell you that from then onwards the serious fun began.

On the 28 at 4 in the morning a large group of us made our way to Piura and from there we drove 3 hours to our beautiful location for new year's: Mancora. Antonella and me had been organising this trip for about 9 months and I have to say that we have been SO happy with the results. We combined a total of 30 of our friends: Peruvians living in Peru, Peruvians living abroad, Americans and Europeans. We had 15 of the 19 bungalows of Las Arenas de Mancora so you can imagine how much fun we had. On the 31st we had an unbelievable fun New Year's party. I think one of the bests I've ever had. The setting was so beautiful, the people were just in the party mood, the food was delicious, music was great, warm weather, people dressed up and ready to was just wonderful!

I'm going to leave this post here and I will make use of the saying: "one image says more than thousands words" and I will have you look at the slide show below. I have managed to condense those thousands of photos in only 158...that summarise a little all my holidays in Peru (as they are done in Picasa you can double click on it and it will take you to a bigger page).

I will try to write different "chapters" with the different events, activities, people and anecdotes of my holidays to give you a better understanding of these AMAZING past days. Enjoy the photos :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry X-mas and a Wonderful 2008!

Almost half a year went through and I haven't updated my blog...shame on me. I guess that as a new year resolution I'll have to ensure that that doesn't happen anymore.

I promise that I'll have plenty to write (not that I didn't have to the past months, it just happen...or actually, it just didn't happen) :-s

On Thursday 20th I'll be going to my beautiful country, Peru. I'll be going back after over a year (I have broken a record!). Where I'll be spending Christmas with my WHOLE family after 9 years (whenever I was back, Antonella was in Aspen)! And we even have an extra member this year, my brother in law: Gus :) I'm really looking forward to it.

Plus, 2 Dutch friends will also be coming to Peru: Joost and Eline. And also my good German friend Martin. And as if this wasn't already good enough we'll be spending 5 beautiful days in Mancora, 1200kms to the north of Lima in the coast, in this beautiful beach where Antonella and Gus got married last year. There will be 33 of us...between Antonella's and my friends: this includes Peruvians living abroad, Peruvians living in Lima and foreigners (besides my friends, Murphy and Jason will be coming back to Peru directly from Aspen).
I can HARDLY wait to be there!

I'm going to leave it here though...and I will tell you all about it next year. And I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful X-mas and a GREAT 2008! Thank you for your friendship during 2007. I hope that we keep it in the year to come and if geographical distance have kept us apart I hope we can meet soon.

All the very best to you and your family.

Much much love and best wishes! Cate

Friday, August 17, 2007

Earthquake in Peru

Yesterday very early in the morning I got a call: in the evening, Peruvian time (while I was sleeping in Europe) there had been a 7.9 Earthquake in my country, in MY home city. You can't imagine the feeling. I was told immediately that it hadn't been very big in Lima, that everything was under control and that my friends had communicated with my parents over Internet and that they were ok. However, the pressure I felt in my heart, the punch I felt in my stomach...I cannot explain it.

I immediately ran towards the phone and dialled my parent's home number and my dad answered the phone. The moment I heard his voice I started crying, tears rolling down my eyes. Everything was ok. And over that phone line I felt the physical distance, the huge ocean that divides me from my family and my Peruvian friends. I also immediately felt relief. However, I'm not sure if you can actually understand this but instead of feeling good about the fact that I didn't have to be there in such a tough time, I actually felt that I wanted to be there. In fact, I still want to be there. At the moment the after shocks are still going on, and over 300 small tremours have been taking place, a couple of them reaching almost 6 degrees intensity this morning.

Lima, the capital city has been lucky and it's been plenty of chaos and people are still scared. However in Ica, 250 kms south of Lima the disaster is massive. So far there there have been 510 deaths and 1500 injured. With over 17,000 destroyed houses, complete families are now homeless resulting in a staggering 85,000 people that have been affected by this disaster. The towns of Pisco and Chincha in Ica have been severely effected with devastation to more that 70% of the area.

As usual, the ones who suffer the most are the poorest people. This is that even though I'm far away I wanted to let you know that there are several initiatives to help out the victims of the earthquake and you can help out. I found out that the "Asociacion Peru-Holanda" is currently receiving monetary donations in their account:

Asociacion Peru-Holanda (
ABN Amro
Mention: For victims of Earthquake

If you wish to contribute please do so, if you are in another country contact the Peruvian consulate in your country and they should have a bank account where you can make a contribution. For a list of all the Peruvian consulates in the world click here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank to all the ones that have phoned, e-mailed or SMS me since yesterday asking about my family. You can't imagine what that means to me. Thank God my family and friends are all doing good, even though they are still very scared. Several of my friends work in the business area and you can imagine that having to go down by the stairs on a shaking building from the floor 19 is not funny. Fortunatly most of Lima buildings are built for this kind of situations so they stay put, but it's obviously not a nice experience to be there.

Lets hope that things calm down and that the support can reach the victims in Ica soon.


For the people in Peru, please read below how can you help:

Las guias scouts tienen otra alternativa:

Pueden donar bolsas ya hechas para los niños damnificados pues no sólo no tienen casas, ahora no tienen nada.
¿qué meter en esas bolsas?

. 1 cartita escrita por sus hijos/sobrinos o por ustedes mismos, dándoles ánimo
. 1 cuento
. 1 polo
. 1 juguete
. 1 peluche
. golosinas empacadas
. y todo lo que se les ocurra.

Estaremos recibiendo además de esto, todo tipo de donaciones (ropa, frazadas, comida no perecible, agua, medicinas), inclusive apoyo para el transporte de las mismas... si las empresas en las que trabajan quieren apoyar y no saben a través de quien enviar la ayuda llámennos.

Todo esto lo entregaremos un grupo de Guías y estará bajo nuestra supervisión para evitar la viveza de gente inescrupulosa.
La idea es congregar a los niños por intermedio de las Guías de las localidades más afectadas y nosotras personalmente entregarle a cada niño la bolsa y a sus familias el resto de donaciones.

Si alguien puede hacer de nexo entre varias personas y quiere que se recojan las cosas de sus oficinas o de sus casas avísenme.

El centro de acopio es:

Calle Zaragoza 131, Urb. La Castellana Surco (paralela cdra 2 Av. Paseo la Castellana a 2 cuadras del óvalo de Higuereta)
Telf: 271-0334

Mil gracias a todos.

Mariana Arias-Ponce Sparrow
Jefa de Recaudación de Fondos del Consejo de Lima
Guías Scouts
cel: 9963-4713

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back to Brussels

The 25th of this month it will be 7 years that I'm living in Europe. It has gone by so fast that sometimes is really weird to believe, but then I remember 7 different summers, winters, birthdays...and so many trips back home....that then it's a little more obvious to believe.

And who would believe it all started in Brussels. I went there to work for a year fulltime for AIESEC, a student organisation that I belonged to when I was at university. I lived in Brussels for a whole a mixture of student and early job life. Looking back now, it was an amazing year! After I left Brussels I used to visit it rather often as I still had some friends living there and also due to the convenient fact that it takes less than 3 hours by train and that it's really unexpensive.

However, you know how things are, eventually the trips started to be more spaced between each other and eventually I realised that the last time I had been there was in June 2004 when I went to Canon Belgium for a business meeting. Luckily earlier this year I found in MSN a really good friend of mine, Queenie, and we decided we had to change that. So we planned for me to come over and to visit her.

I arrived on Friday 6th of July to Brussels north station a little over 20:00 as I took a train straight after work and Queenie went to pick me up. We drove into town and went for some dinner. First reminder: Belgian cuisine is exquisite and the value for money it's so good compared to Amsterdam! So we had a delicious meal with some wine in a nice terrace and by the time we were done we walked to the Grande Place.

The Grande Place is the main square of Brussels. No matter how many times I've been to that square- which is almost impossible to count as I've been there many many times- that place always takes my breath away! The richness of the architecture, the composition of the different buildings, the's just so beautiful. We went there because while we were having dinner I remembered that during the summer just before dark they have a beautiful light who with music, which we went to see and that I filmed a little bit and you can see here.

A trip down Memory Lane

On Saturday morning Queenie and Roel (her boyfriend) had to go to a funeral so I decided that I would use my morning to go into town. I didn't realise that this would be an AMAZING opportunity. All the times when I've been back to Brussels I always did it visiting friends, or actually bringing friends over so they could see Brussels. I had never gone back on my own, after I left on July 2001, to go around the places where I used to go during the year I lived there.
I went to most of the touristic places where tourists would walk...but I actually made an effort to take the same route that I used to do while I was living there. You see, while I was living in Brussels I almost never left the centre. I lived in the centre, I worked in the centre, I hanged out in the be honest with you, I really didn't need to use public transport because I could walk anywhere!

So I went back to la "Rue de L'enseignement" which is the street were I used to live in and I made my way to the office walking a little over 10 minutes in "la Rue Royale". I took my time and remembered things...the places where I used to go, the places where I used to buy the bread, where I had breakfast, lunch, where I did my laundry, where I used to buy books.

I walked through the Botanical gardens which were really close to where I used to work...I went to the Royal Palace (only a couple of blocks away from where I used to live) and just followed a nice route into town passing through monuments, museums, nice buildings. And I would stop, remember things, take photos and move on.

I guess I remembered anecdotes, stories, people that had been there with me and in general the life I had with the guys that were my family while I was there: Luz (Venezuela), Jeff (Belgian), Paulo (Portuguese) and also Marta (Colombia/Canada) and Chayo (Peru). I remembered the trainees we took care of: Marcus (New Zealand), Nairo (Colombia), Andrea (Italy), Juan Carlos (Colombia) and so many more. Below just a handful of photos from my year in Belgium (00-01)...

It was just a great weekend!
I of course remembered how delicious the Belgian waffles are, how many different types of delicious "chocolateries" can be found, the beautiful lace sold in all the souvenir shops, the different types of beers....
We even went to Antwerpt towards the end of Saturday afternoon (Queenie, Roel and me)....Queenie and me chatted the WHOLE weekend. We had so much to catch up on. We had nice walks, nice food, nice Belgian beers ;-). It was just SO nice!
If you want to see photos of my weekend (mainly me taking photos of all the places that I missed so much) click here.

On Sunday, after a really delicious brunch and a nice chat, Queenie and Roel took me to North Station where I took my train back to Amsterdam.
It was wonderful to catch up with Queenie, it was amazing to see Brussels again...but even more the whole experience of going back, remembering, made me think how much I've changed. It reminded me of Caterina 7 years ago, and Caterina now...

Do I miss Peru? Yes. Do I miss my family? oh YES. Do I miss my friends? Yes to that too....would I go back? Just not yet....I do like Amsterdam and my life here, for the moment....I'm in Europe to stay! ;-)