A few weeks ago Arjan, a Dutch friend that's been with IFOR for over 6 years, took three of us in his car for a tour of an area in Noord Holland where he grew up. We stopped along the way to show Pauline and Aktuigun, two WPP interns that were here for six weeks, some windmills and then walked around some older towns (de Rijp and Volendam) in de Beemster polder. The Beemster polder (dry lake) is where that famous cheese that you see in the shape of big, yellow wheels is produced.
We also met Arjan's wonderful parents (who live in de Beemster), his mom had prepared a traditional Dutch lunch and treats for us. We spent some extra time in Volendam, as this is a special "dorp" with an interesting history. Seems that most everyone that is born there stays there their entire lives. Generations go back for centuries, and the people of Volendam continue to wear traditional clothing and shoes.
Later we ended up at John (IFOR's Executive Director) and his wife Irene's house for dinner, another "lekkere" Dutch meal. John is the only IFOR staffer living in Alkmaar, so his and Irene's friendship has been a big plus for me. They arrived in Alkmaar about the same time as I, and since, we've spent days exploring bike paths, events in Alkmaar, and small towns like Egmond aan Zee on the North Sea.