Back to university for a while – the first of february I subscribe myself as a student, and already the third I pass my first exam. But my feet keep itching, especially now, when it’s Carnaval time again! So near the end of the month I go to Frank’s place in Bemelen again; to celebrate with the crazy people from last year, the other people Frank recruited and of course the tens of thousands souls who are partying in Maastricht!
(Credit for all the carnaval pictures goes to Jonas from Brasil.)
When I meet our group in the crowded city center there’s a Brazilian wrapped up in a big green Brazilian flag, a clown with an enormous amount of hair, a doctor, a lawyer, a peaceful Che Gueverra with a rose sticking out of his gun, two medieval knights and Frank with a very colourful painted face as one of them. I join them for the next three days and nights, and emerge myself in the partying. We dance, visit colourful day parades, flashy night parades and dance some more. We visit a Germany in an identity crisis and have lunch with the free candy which is thrown around and then dance, drink some beer, walk polonaise, make new friends, see Darth Vader, visit Belgium for a snowfight in the night, wait four hours before the Bulgarian soup is ready and just do a lot of crazy stuff with is so normal at Carnaval.
I don’t party a lot, but with the right people there’s just no stopping… already after the first short night I really don’t feel like getting up, after the second I’m confident that Carnaval is over for me, and after the third, well, there’s no third night, we just get home one hour before I’ve to take the train to Groningen. A teacher of mine planned a compulsory college at eleven in the morning – it’s slightly incovenient, especially as the Carnaval continues for another day, but in the north of Holland they’ve just never realised the value of a good catholic party.
Here in the south it’s a different world – ordinary life stops, and there’s only celebration. Together with Che, who has to go to Utrecht, I get in the train. All over the coupÆ’Ã†â€™â€šÂ© there are wildly dressed people stretched out along the benches and deeply asleep. We need about five seconds to join them. In five seconds more we already have to wake up because we’re in Utrecht. Suddenly the world is invaded by businessmen and women in black suits carrying attachÆ’Ã†â€™â€šÂ© cases. Even my own clothes have changed, and somehow it even feels strange without the long blond hair and the Heidi costume.
Carnaval is good to uncompress – get rid of your workers clothes, expectations and duty, and just act naturally. Whatever crazy stuff you do in the street is okay, there’s nobody looking twice. I often feel together we’ve created an atmosphere in our society where people are kept compressed and unable to fully express themselves. I wonder how well it’s possible to live in this society – a society which differs a lot in it’s standards from my own. Very often I’ve had to defend my choices; to live a general minimalistic live and without television, radio or a computer at home just does seem to extreme to some people. To give up my whole future, by cancelling the rent and selling my belongings and just setting of into the world to explore myself is way beyond reason. Sometimes people just accept it if you live different as them, sometimes people are interested in the motivations and reasons behind it, but there also those who just don’t dig it. I do try very hard to live my life by my choices, but it’s much, much easier when you have people around who are on the same level.
At least as an hitchhiker I don’t feel like an endangered species anymore. I’ve many friends for who hitchhiking is just as easy as taking the bus, and a couple of people I’ve even gotten to know because we happened to be hitching in the same direction after a party. Generally speaking though, I don’t feel as comfortable in my own country as in some other places I’ve been to. Now, with less and less ties to Holland this leaves me out to explore different places. Searching for something new which will tie me to a particular place. Which is, in the end, not about a place, but about people, because people are much more important to me than any place can ever be.