Friday, 25 July 2008

This time I really wanted to tell you what a fantastic institution the Registrar's Office here in Curacao is, but I have now decided against it.

I have already been sort of evicted once, so I won't give them another reason just yet.

Instead, as I am in Amsterdam just now, I need to inform my fellow Germans (and all you others who might be interested) of what I have recently learned about our lovely neighbors, the Dutch.

Let me begin by saying that I think it is no secret that there is generally not a lot of love lost between the 2 countries, but that we exist in a somewhat peaceful co-existence. I had some rather violent encounters with Dutch people in the not too distant past, but it would take too long to narrate here what happened and I have come to the conclusion that the bunch we ran into at the time were just the sort of idiots of which there is no shortage in Germany either.

Growing up in Germany and in Bavaria at that you will normally form a certain picture in your mind about the Dutch. Some of that picture might among other things involve cheese, tulips, windmills, bicycles, rather odd shoes and hats as well as the color orange. I need to point out at this stage that we Germans are probably also pictured with rather funny clothes around the globe. Anyway, if you are of my generation and male the picture will most certainly involve Frank Rijkard spitting in Rudi Völler's hair as well as thousands of Dutch caravans blocking up German motorways in summer and thousands of Dutch registered cars with skis on the roof driving on our motorways like maniacs in winter. Blissfully, they seem to prefer certain Austrian ski resorts.

I think the huge number of caravans must be the most universal component of the picture in Germans' minds.

Now for decades I have lived under the impression that the picture they must have of us would involve Germans coming to invade once in a while, building the type of cars the Dutch would like to build themselves but can't and usually advance further somewhat undeservedly in international football tournaments.

If they are honest, they would also admit that they really do prefer German beer to their own brews, but who is to blame them for that, ey?

I realize that this might have been a tad naive, but quite frankly I had not given this all this much thought over the last 20 years or so.

As it turns out, I could not have been more wrong.

I don't remember exactly how this came up, but nevertheless and also very much to my surprise the thing that Germans are most associated with in Holland is ... are you ready ... DIGGING HOLES ON THE BEACH!

Yes, you read correctly. That is what we do apparently. And not only that. Once we have dug a hole, we proceed to sit in it.

When informed of this I obviously did think they were having me on....

Now please picture the following in your mind if you can:

It is a Sunday evening in Curacao and there is a well known beach bar with Happy Hour which is packed with hundreds of mostly somewhat inebriated people, most of them Dutch. In between the whole melee there is a pretty blond Dutch girl with a somewhat balding overweight German dwarf in tow asking people randomly what it is that Germans do. Without fail everyone that she asks without hesitation states Digging Holes.

Can you believe that? Even though I was there to witness it first hand, I still have trouble believing it.

Well, at least now I know and so do you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a shovel.

See you on the beach!

Friday, 25 July 2008 10:59:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
 Sunday, 13 July 2008

Well, believe it or not, but after 85 days of sleeping in hotel beds (I would be a Marriott Platinum member by now!) I am finally back in Curacao!Karl & Wolfi

I have left behind Frenchman's Reef and the US Virgin Islands on June 25 after five and a half weeks. I think I can honestly say I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly there. I would especially like to thank Chris and Mark in Finance who took the risk of having me and providing me with food & shelter. I hope I did make your lives a bit easier. I also need to thank Karl Magnusson, a fellow alumni from Cesar Ritz schools in Switzerland for providing all the interesting background information and most of the social element of the trip.

Santiago, Jan, Jeff, Karl & Candy at Shipwreck TavernEnough said. 

Being slightly retarded (lots of cheap alcohol, remember?) I managed to book my flight in a way that I would miss Germany's semi-final against Turkey at Euro 2008. Genius! Sometimes I really wonder...

Anyway, let's just say that American Airlines and the airport in St. Thomas provided some entertainment by itself. I would like to use this opportunity to compliment American Airlines on their baggage procedure in St. Thomas. As such, I was slightly scared. I only had one piece of checked luggage but it weighed far more than the allowed 25kgs. However, I had been tipped off so I will do the same to you now. Here is what you need to know about checking in luggage in St. Thomas:

When you check in, they will weigh your luggage. In my case it was 32kgs. They will then invite you to either reduce the weight or pay $50 for the first 10kgs.

What you do is that you take something out and put it in your bag pack or plastic bag or any other reasonably suited receptacle until you reach 25kgs. This will make the check-in person happy and they will put the luggage tag around it. Now the crucial point: They now hand your luggage back to you! You then proceed around the corner in the direction of Immigrations and Customs and obviously put all the stuff you have just taken out back into your bag. Brilliant!

It turned out that I had chosen a "lucky" ticket where they take you aside and do a complete check of everything you have and pat you down completely even though the scanner says you're clean. I'm glad to report that no more "In-Depth" examination was necessary... you know what I mean...Bedroom 2


Other than that, the whole trip was pretty uneventful. Well, maybe with the exception of landing in Aruba, where its always a bit windy. The rather attractive young lady in the seat in front of me clearly is no friend of flying and she proceeded to produce all sorts of interesting noises as the little plane was buffeted around on the final approach, very much to everyone's else delight in the cabin...  026

Anyway, I had 3 rather uneventful days in Aruba but was back in a very nice room with a BIG TV and a great view. Also, its always good to know that danger is not allowed in Aruba which gives you a good feeling of security.


And so, on Saturday morning, June 28, loaded with donuts (if you don't want to bring the wrath of the Curacao people on you, you better bring donuts!), I boarded a little Beechcraft plane and was back on my way to Curacao...



And so I'm back on the island as the first of the lost bunch. Just in time to see Germany lose the Euro 2008 final against Spain in a decidedly hostile environment. These Dutch folks stood like one man behind Spain and at times I was a bit worried at times with my Germany cap. Hemingways Obviously Spain deserved to win and there was always Happy Hour on the beach to alleviate the pain.Zanzibar 007

I'm also back at work, where nothing much has changed. It might even be a bit crazier than before. I have survived the first 2 weeks and will probably survive some more, even though a week ago I have lost my loyal and ever resourceful assistant to another department (sigh)....

Most people I think are glad to have me back, which is nice to know. It's also good to know that there is stuff that they can't do without me...

Other than that, the real life is back as well and I have to do my own laundry and ironing, go shopping and put gas in the car (ouch!).


So, with that I leave you for today. I'm back on the road again in 10 days to go home for a very short trip. Have a good one wherever you are.

Sunday, 13 July 2008 19:39:22 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
 Saturday, 05 July 2008

Willemstad, Curacao June 28 2008 - 11:55am: US & Dutch intelligence assets monitoring Venezuelan and Colombian air & passenger traffic report that a person fitting the description of a certain Wolfgang B from E in G (plus 10 pounds) has just set foot on Curacao again carrying large (yet legal) amounts of alcohol, tobacco, perfume, electronics as well as a big smile . Subsequent signals report that the suspect has since then been sighted at various "Hot-Spots' around the island at various levels of inebriation and dancing skills. When questioned, the local Anonymous Alcoholics group as well as the Conglomerate of Dutch Island Beauties (which for some reason seem to be partly the same individuals) expressed joy about the fact that they now don't have to provide sarcastic comments themselves anymore and that it (along with accelerating hair loss) can be left to a seasoned professional again. There was also widespread relief that the vacant smart ass position is now filled again.

 Group @ Zanzibar Yola & Wolfi  Shanuska & Wolfi 2

Saturday, 05 July 2008 22:41:25 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |