Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Dark City

We are farther from the sun.

And yet, thanks to the heat sink that is the Atlantic Ocean, the weather isn’t a lot colder than Chicago when we left. But here we are, 8am, and the sun has yet to make its full appearance. Throw on top of that the fact that the proximity to said heat sink makes this overcast country a gray, gray place.

I doubt that our jet lag is helped by it being so dark. It’s sure not hurt.

But it’s an immensely pedestrian friendly city, and the fact that everyone we’ve encountered has some grasp of English means that there’s a little beacon of communication under practically every circumstance. We’re perfecting our blank looks right now, followed by, “English?” Then the spectacularly linguistically gifted Dutch laugh, apologize, and repeat the question to us in English before pontificating on the early Modern significance of Moby Dick. The Enlightenment does not seem to have ever left this country.

It’s also worth noting that for a city with as many streetlights as this one, I’ve not been in many that are as dark. They cast light less than they do hold it tightly to themselves, little tethered willow-the-wisps.

But where education and bike-friendly go forward, something must fall behind – in this case, safety and accessibility. We walked along a canal last night on the way to Tagfish – one of many long stretches without a rail. Where there are rails, they seem to exist for the sole purpose of providing a place for you to padlock your bike. Folks are serious about their bike padlocks here.

If by chance you need help getting in a building or to a bathroom and you’ve got mobility issues, good luck to you. The staircase to the 1st floor of the flat we’re staying in is straight and narrow. It really gets dicey on the flight from the 1st to the 2nd, where the engineers have made no accommodation for the tread of the winders. If my sister-in-law gets drunk and tackles these steps, we’ll later be investigating the Dutch public health care system. In this way, too, we seem to be in the Enlightenment, historical-period-wise.

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