We arrived home safe and sound on Monday night and aside from stronger than expected jet lag (I'm still getting up at 5AM then collapsing in bed by 9pm,) things are good. We're heading out for walks every day, Cindy's putting our house back together and I'm either lining up meetings and visits with people or generally worrying. Back to normal all around.
But one thing has been happening consistently that is taking a while to get used to again. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who we pass on the street says "hi" or "good morning" to us. Every single person.
On Wednesday I was walking alone down Argyle Road at 7:30AM, when the only other person on the street passed me with a hearty "Good Morning!" I was shaken awake and found my manners in reply at the last possible moment before I could be classed as rude.
I've slowly had my manners worked out of me in Europe. Even when we were cycling in Holland and would pass another cyclist, they wouldn't even make eye contact. Not even if we were the first person they passed in 10 minutes.
Way back in March, our host in Evora, Portugal told us about a trip she took to Calgary. She asked if it was our "costume" in Canada to say hello to strangers on the street, because that's what everyone did to her in Calgary. I've been thinking a lot this week about Maria as I get used to our customs again.
We've also had several people replace "Good Morning" with "Welcome Back" which has been very disconcerting. I mean, when I recognize the person it's one thing, but this morning two men passed us in the park and said "Welcome Back" and I had no idea who they were. But one fellow said he was following this blog so knew we were home.
As we continued the walk, I muttered something about how I was surprised that people I don't know well were reading this blog. At which point Cindy hit me and said I just needed to stop worrying and keep writing. She does that a lot.
I started this blog for one person. Our friend Deborah asked if I'd be writing about the trip and I thought it would be fun to send dispatches home. But I never imagined so many people would be following along. Thanks for reading and commenting and emailing and everything else.
And thanks, Deborah. We'll come visit soon.
I'll keep writing, here, there and everywhere. I'll keep you posted.
PS. I just realized Cindy filmed that crazy hand-crank Dutch bike ferry I told you about. Here it is...