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Dear Thursday: Belgium is Bitterese for Beer

So it took me three hours to get from the Belgium airport to my sister’s and my hotel room on Tuesday. I won’t tell you the full story, b/c it’s a saga best told with sweeping gestures and wide-eyed disbelief that thing after thing kept going wrong. But I will say this, it involved a too-heavy suitcase; train stations with shadily hidden town signage; a heavily-regretted decision not to take the extra time to exchange money or find an ATM at the airport; a consequential having to drag the too-heavy suitcase through cobblestoned streets (if you’ve ever had to do this, then you know it’s a complete, bad-physics, arms workout of a nightmare); a discovery that most Belgian train stops don’t have lifts; a dilapidated cab with a swollen, old driver, who commanded me to help him get my suitcase into the trunk in French; and the most unhelpful info kiosk I have ever happened across.

At times I thought of giving up. At times I got angry because I had let myself become so dependent on CH, that it no longer felt like I could handle even the tiniest bit of adversity on my own. At other times I was angry because my sister hadn’t “sent a car” for me or “something,” since she couldn’t meet me at the airport. But then I found myself thinking about Debra’s last “Notes from a Nester,” and realized that it wasn’t the situation I was most mad at, it was being out of my comfort zone for the first time in a very long while.

All in all, I finally got to the hotel, and the receptionist greeted me with a cheery, “Are you Mz. Carter’s sister?”

Apparently there are no other black people staying in the small hotel at the moment, so she knew who I was on sight. Then she handed me a key — yes, an actual key to get in our nice enough but tiny hotel room.

Coming to Belgium was a good thing.

Though, in a stunning act of betrayal, my sister, prior to my arrival, reversed her firm “beer is icky” stance, when she found a cherry-tinted beer [pictured above] that she instantly fell in love with. Also, she has decided to ignore the fact that she is lactose intolerant and eat cheese and chocolate. I am basically Adam to her Cain and alone in not being able to drink, and eat cheese or deli meat — which they also do very well here.

Still it’s kind of worth it for funny moments like this:

When we went out with her Belgian counterparts, one of the two Ludiwicks asked what I was drinking:

Me: Do they have a no alcohol beer?

L (horrorstruck): Why ever? No you must drink real beer.

Me: I can’t.

L:  The beer here is very good.

Me: No, it’s not that. I’m pregnant.

L: Oh. Then how about a very light beer? They have this. A very light beer.

Me: Um, no. Do they have juice here?

I’m not sure what Belgian woman do when they’re pregnant, but a lot of our hosts (all men) spent the night vocally feeling sorry for me and my Apple-Cherry juice followed by a lemon Fanta.

More from the travel log later. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the lovely-looking sampler that many of the Belgians ordered 3 or 4 racks of. Can you feel my bitterness when you look at this?