Sunday, May 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Shannon

One of the best things about expat life (yes expat, as opposed to immigrant life) is often the other expats you meet along the way. They are travelers but that's not all, the baggage they carry is often their tales of lives well-lived; lives full of stories.

Last night Shannon and Gabe were celebrating Shannon's birthday and had invited a few people over for the night many months ago, giving their American friends time to fly in for it ... a lovely couple from San Diego really did.

We arrived with Alison and Andrew, the Canadians who had popped over to pick us Antwerpens up. We were immediately made welcome and our glasses were filled before we were whisked off for the first of the many interesting introductions made through the night.

I chatted with all kinds of people ... and here I stumble into a strange kind of silence, aware for the first time that some people might not want their interesting lives all over my blog without me first asking permission from them.

Perhaps it's permissable to say that I talked with three Turks who had spent 5 years living and working in Brussels, whose conversation ranged from their work that got them home regularly, their history ... that of Cyprus, the Armenians and Turkey's EU membership bid, and Sarma ... a dish that is much-loved and much-missed by this yabanci from Yeni Zelanda.

There was the British Brussels-based anthropologist whose life was book ... not just one story but many complex and interesting stories; a warm-hearted person who was a pleasure to meet and to talk with.

And there was the French teacher who had no problems with this mono-lingual Kiwi woman. He talked of linguistic philosophy (as I understood it), fascinating in that he knew the power of words. We talked of French/Euro politics and I listened, curious to know what a French man might have to say about the state of politics today.

I met Shannon's cat. I tasted some of the Latvian drink she had been gifted, stuck with the red wine and turned down the reportedly stunning Cuban Mojitos that were being made by one of the Turks - note, the same guy who whips up the difficult Sarma recipe with ease.

We left with the Canadians around 3am and drove out to their place in Everberg for the night; a small village near Brussels. By way of a thank you, we wandered off to check out the local bakery this morning ... pistolets and koffie koeken are one of the best ways to begin a Belgian day, even if that day does begin sometime around 11am.

The trip home was made via Tervuren but that's a whole other post with photographs of men in deckchairs under huge umbrellas on the edge a man-made riverbank catching fish that they have to release ...


Anonymous said...

Ha.. Well I cannot tell you how thrilled I still am that you and Gert did come to the party, and of course Alison and Andrew are super stars for that! Thanks guys!

You forgot to mention your hilarious description of the Dutch and their funny words... and how your tiny little mouth just doesn't want to say them...

Thank you for being a part of the evening, and I am very happy that you finally met some of the people that I have been telling you about... aren't they great?

Ahh... Belgium.


woman wandering said...

They were super stars, I started writing of it but it got complicated, so simplified it all.

Well ... my description of my linguistic problems versus the actual size of my mouth is MAYBE a post one day (by I doubt it)

Ahh ... Belgium lol yeah, but Gert was the only Belgian there! We were miniature league of nations eh wot.

It was a great night and yes, you have superb friends :)

Anonymous said...

Well, the thing is that a lot of them aren't my friends, they're just people that I have encountered.. and that's what I like about it.. I invited some people that I probably wouldn't be friends with, but I knew someone else would.. and I like that.. bringing people together in a foreign place..

Party # 2 will be in July I think = )

Of course, this time I will have a BYO party and BYO fun snacks. In other words, we'll supply the space, and the rest is open. What do you think?


woman wandering said...

BYO for sure ... lol, and perhaps I'll be allowed to work by then and can bring lots of red wine ;)

Maybe everyone should bring a dish or two from home ... where ever that might be.

You guys were great hosts and I loved your apartment!