edam (founded in the 14th century!) in north holland is picturesque beyond anything you can imagine. you'll want to spread out your quilt under a weeping willow tree beside a canal and eat some cheese.
it was curiously empty on the day we arrived. we wandered around for over an hour before we started seeing other peeps. there were people working in their gardens, cats sunning themselves, and cafes with outdoor tables that were only half-full. i wandered into a museum slash tourist information center and saw a brochure with a boat. a boat?! holy hell!
"can i rent one of those?" i asked pointing to the brochure.
i zipped out of the tourist office and headed straight to melinda with the good news. she looked dubious about my boating skills, but as she's a good sport, agreed to come along for the ride.
just think of it! me piloting a boat through edam's canal filled center!
we made our way to the boat man's house. he very patiently explained how to maneuver the boat. he started out by telling me about steering and gas and braking and what to do if the boat stalled. but soon he could see that i would need more in depth tutoring so he climbed in and then the real fun began. for me i mean, not for him. try as i might i just could not follow his directions. uh oh. melinda was getting worried. i could tell because she opened the bag of chocolates she had just bought for her daughter and started eating them.
i was concentrating really hard and melinda told me later i had a v. nervous expression on my face. i think i told her not to speak. which, now that i think about it was probably better than what i told her once we were out on the canal. "lay down and don't get up because you're in the way and i can't see to steer!" i may have said this in a bossy voice with a bit of a panicked tone.
the lesson continued. i could tell the nice man usually doesn't take more than 5 minutes to get peeps out on the water. but i've never been on a boat with a motor before. that you have to twist to accelerate and turn a rudder to go in the opposite direction than the one you want. never!
he had me practice going up the canal a bit. i was an utter failure, but remained resolute in my mission. boat man let me know that i didn't HAVE to go on. i could just abort the mission. "oh no, i'll figure it out!" in between bites of chocolate, melinda mentioned something about him just taking us up the canal himself, but he was watching an infant and couldn't. finally he got out of the boat and gave me a long look and a laminated map. i told him not to worry, but that if we didn't return in an hour could he please come looking for us. he suggested we call if we ran into trouble. "we don't have a phone," melinda and i both replied in unison. i don't remember what he said after that, but in a few minutes there i was…on my own and managing just fine.
the hand attached to the arm you can't see in the picture below is tightly grasping the rudder/gas.
there's poor melinda trying to sit up again. "permission to sit up captain?" she said when she wanted to take a picture.
"permission granted! but hurry it up and lay back down!"
somehow i followed the map, made several wide turns, jumped down in the boat bottom when we went under a LOW bridge while still steering, and managed to get us parked on the side of the canal. i did all that. it really happened. last week.
promise me that if you go to edam you will rent one of these boats and glide down the canals. it is extremely fun and you will feel like a sea-faring genius when you finally get back to the starting place. and the truth is, if a chimp like me can do it, so can you! it's not nearly as difficult or complicated as i make it seem. plus it's lots of fun to wave at people in their gardens as you go by.