Last night I left for Schiphol Airport. Just by train and not by two redundant planes like last time.

The moment you get to the train station at Schiphol, you imagine yourself in another world. Hardly anyone speaks Dutch. People smoke on the bus. I blend in with the crowd.

I was waiting for a while in the terrible cold with my summer coat on. Because it took so long you get talking to people. One man lived in Norway and had to change buses. He could speak good English. Another man had missed his flight to Mexico. I asked if he spoke Spanish, but no, he only has to be in Mexico City for 8 hours for a work trip.

Arriving at the hotel, you are used to speaking English. You hear around you Polish, German, and more languages that I can't recognize. It is a kind of babylonian confusion of speech.

At breakfast you marvel because you can still speak Dutch. You just don't expect it anymore. I don't ask, "Do you speak Dutch?" but "Do you speak Dutch." I meet Dutch people. I tell them that I am on my way to Panama. Then the waiter who is listening in starts speaking in Spanish. He is from Colombia and has worked in Roermond. How small the world is.

On the way to Schiphol Airport I talk to complete strangers and I was almost on the verge of going with them to Cape Town, but Panama is where my heart is.

Even at Schiphol, people still speak mixed. Fortunately, the people at KLM are still happily Dutch and you can talk to them.

I also speak several languages, and the advantage of English and Spanish is that they are world languages, so you can get by very well. Everyone is willing to listen. It feels like a kind of Pentecost.

P.s. apologies for the selfies. It's not always possible to take a good picture, or it's cold, or you have to walk through.

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