Markets and More Eating (Amsterdam, Day 2!)

If the Albert Cuyp Market was a field, i was a plow.

I’ve never been surrounded by so many sumptuous and tempting things to try – from the wafels to the hot chocolate to the small bucket of olives i purchased. Plus, as a mayo-loving french-fries eater whose allergic to ketchup, i just adored the frites stand that sold paper cones stuffed with fries slathered in mayo. And the cheese, sweet Holy Mary the cheese! The displays were utterly intoxicating.

(Note the bicycle!)

(Note the bicycle!)

We’d decided, for our second day, to set aside the whole morning to explore the oldest street market in the Netherlands: the Albert Cuyp Market. Lining the block were some of the most eclectic stalls i’d ever beheld (including my experiences in pre-burned-down Owino Market in Kampala). There was an entire pharmacy spread wide under a tent and in the cold, more lingerie shoppes than i could count, a plethora of places to purchase scarves and the like, and a few stalls reserved for Amsterdam-themed souvenirs. Interspersed between the flower stalls (oh, the tulips!) and garter belts were the main attraction: street food.

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(Van Gogh had followed us, even here!)

(Van Gogh had followed us, even here!)

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It was as good as it looked!

It was as good as it looked!

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Making the famous frites!

Making the famous frites!

frites!

Frites!

I love street markets – the chaos, the food, the cool vintage things you can find, the food, and the experience of feeling like a local. As much as i may love doing silly tourist-y thing (see me in a large wooden shoe, below) i always try to find at least on thing per travel destination that gives me some sense of what it would be like to live there. Naturally, we were not the only tourists strolling about the market. But tourists were in a serious minority here, amongst the clamor of Dutch-speaking voices selling flowers and toothpaste and lingerie. I’d easily say this was one of my most-favorite things we did in Amsterdam!

Having sufficiently eaten our way through the market, we made our way over the Dam Square for more sightseeing. At the sight of THE LARGEST SHOE i have ever seen, there was a lot of squealing and leaping in to take pictures. So much for trying to blend in!

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About a block or so up from Dam Square is the (in)famous Red Light District. We chortled our way through all the funny little shops and such surrounding the red-lamped alleyways, but they definitely are not the reason i’d wanted to go to the city. And the whole district is clearly geared for people visiting the city, not the residents themselves. The gift shops are certainly amusing to visit, but once i’d cracked up at enough genitalia plastered on velvet hats (et cetera) i’d had my fill. Definitely would not say this was the family-friendly place to go on a holiday to the city, but as two young women walking around in the middle of the afternoon we felt pretty safe and took the whole thing in with a sense of humor.

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This is not the Red Light District, but it IS a picture of a red lit sign at night, so it metaphorically serves a purpose!

This is not the Red Light District, but it IS a picture of a red lit sign at night, so it metaphorically serves a purpose!

By then it was high time we ate, again. Utilizing a combination of my Lonely Planet guidebook and the MOST EXCELLENT TripAdvisor City Guide App, we arrived at the quirky and chic van Kerkwijk. With whitewashed, wood paneled walls and candles adorning the tables, we knew this promised to be a unique place to dine.

Turned out there’s no written menu at van Kerkwijk, so our gracious waitress just plopped right down at our table and talked us through the extensive list of their eclectic combinations. When asked what was a truly Dutch thing to try, she explained that the port-city-nature of Amsterdam meant all Dutch food was really a mash-up of European and Indonesian cuisine. We asked for an appetizer that involved bread and cheese, so she brought out a bleu cheese paté-type-thing that was incredible. For our entrées, Abby had steak with strawberry cream and goat cheese, and i had Indonesian chicken. We split a salad and (of course!) frites with glorified mayo.

The incredible cheese-and-bread combination!

The incredible cheese-and-bread combination!

It was an exquisite capping off to two days and three nights of fabulous dining. But, alas, the next morning we were whisked off to the airport leaving behind Amsterdam’s canals and bike lanes for a flight home to Edinburgh.

Though we’d only had an all-too-short time in Amsterdam, i was utterly entranced. It is a beautiful place (even in the cold!) and i am ever grateful for the opportunities i had to visit.

current jam: ‘day that i die’ zac brown band.

best thing: productivity. back to dale martin, for now.

of interest: i’ve added a new page at the top of the screen! it’s still a work in a progress, but have a look if you like!

Lizzie’s First International Clinic Visit

Now if that’s not a captivating (albeit it worrying) title, I’ll retire as an amateur blogger and swear off all creative fiction from now until the end of time.

Or, not.

Now, dear reader, I have a confession to make to you all. This admittance is one I hesitate to publish if only because it is terribly unfortunately true, and in this miserable actuality I wonder as I type if it is a good idea to tell the wide world at all.

But, in the interest of being as honest and open as possible about my life abroad I shall now tell you my secret: I have an entirely irrational fear of one single thing (which soon shall be divulged).

Now, I feel as though I have some healthy fears and worries in my life; I worry about my family and friends falling ill or dying. I am not fond of snakes or other kinds of creepy-crawly things, but with a brother who for some time wanted to be a Herpatoligist I was forced to (mostly) overcome that fear. Yet both of these things I think are reasonable- and more importantly, they are rational. I can trace said worries to sources in my past or mind.

My phobia, then, is not one of heights or bald people or belly buttons or feet. I am not afraid of the ocean, or motorcycles, or skydiving. Having performed in front of audiences of nearly 1000 people I have no stage fright or concern about being judged; making impromptu speeches in front of important people (which I have also done) makes me a little nervous- but if it didn’t, I might be a little too egocentric. Nothing of normal fear factor value truly phases me. I have an exceedingly high tolerance for pain and truly can say that marching up to strangers to ask for directions or numbers or whateveryouplease doesn’t phase me in the slightest.

Which is why I am increasingly frustrated, hurt, and mostly annoyed at my one inconsolable and completely irrational fear.

I am cripplingly afraid of needles, doctor’s offices, and anyone in a white lab coat. Or even one clad in scrubs sewed from colorful prints depicting adorable kittens or fish or smiling reptilia.

Believe me, dear reader, if I could get over this, I truly would. Yes, having taken theatre as long as I have certainly has endowed me with something of a melodramatic personality (although that could be the other way around…) and yes, as I child I was known to fake drowning or through tantrums over my beanie babies. I have grown some (no more temper issues 95% of the time) and learned that crying wolf is bad when you are actually drowning (learned that the hard way).

But I take no delight in the hysterics that occur in the clinics and emergency rooms and doctors offices that have been forced to endure my poor phobia-ridden self. It is no fun to be so afraid of something for no tangible reason, trust me. Now, as I have told you this secret, I must tell you another: this is not the first time I have admitted said fear. And, this being another unfortunate fact, I know exactly how you are reacting right now.

Generally I prefer not to assume how someone else responds to things or to make such a brash statement as to say that I know what you are thinking. But in this instance, you fall into one of four categories. Yes, dear reader, you do. Forgive the assumption, but having had this irrational fear my entire life and, under varying amounts of diress had to admit such a burden as this phobia, I have experienced the same four reactions over and over again…which I shall now outline for you:

The Four Responses to Lizzie’s Admittance of he Cripplingly Irrational Fear of You-Know-Whats and You-Know Whos (Which are most certainly applicable to all manner of utterances to irrational fears)

Response #1: The Jerk

You, my friend, are the jerk. For as soon as I confess- in an act of trust and hope that you will respect my irrational fear- you decide to launch into a harrowing tale of this ENORMOUS NEEDLE that you once had to endure plunged into your skin in TOTAL AGONY. Thanks, bitch, for really helping me out. I just told you I was terrified of said instruments- way to make my fear worse AND to completely disregard (a) the trust I had in you to tell you said fear and (b) my feelings and fears in the matter. I don’t care how bad it was; I don’t want to hear it. Often, the Jerk’s descriptive and disgusting tale will instigate and dialogue of swapping medical horror stories, always to my chagrin. People love to share their gross medical endeavors. That’s fine and good- just be sure to NOT do it around folks like me.

Response #2: The Concerned Disbeliever

You, dear one, instantly reply with: “Where is that rooted? Have you tried therapy?” Unsure of whether or not what I’m saying is, in fact, real and dually certain it is actually a rational and cure-able worry, you insist that were I to flush money down the drain of Freud-alikes I could conquer my phobia. Therapists are lovely and I wholly respect their profession and admit that I am grateful, if not for myself but for others, for their existence. But to spend hundreds of dollars on a fear I shouldn’t have? No thanks. I’d rather go to Uganda.

Response #3: The Genuine Non-empathizer But Otherwise Kind Soul

You are my favorite. Because, in your infinite wisdom, realize that when I say IRRATIONAL I am being authentic and true to the dictionary definition of the term, and when I say FEAR I genuinely mean terrified out of my wits. So you simpy nod and say “that sucks” and we move on. Ten gold stars to you!

Response #4: The Emphatic Empathizer

You are also my favorite responder because you, lovely one of my soul, totally understand. You nod emphatically, sharing with me the same or deeply similar dark secret. We stand in solidarity- each knowing intimately well the other’s strife; how much of a burden and weariness it is to carry with us such painful fear of you-know-whats or toes or large moustaches or arachnids. I am with you my friend.

And now that I have divulged to you the responder that you are, I ask only this if you fall into the first two categories: PLEASE LISTEN. Don’t share your horror stories, don’t try to play doctor (pun!) to me, just keep that to yourself. Truly, I do the same for you.

But for the tale that is instigated by the title:

*Fair warning to ye faint of heart, this tale ranks at about a 3 on a scale of 10 for gross-ness. No detail, but if you’re like me, turn back now!

As you now know in excruciating detail, I don’t like needles. The doctor/clinic fear is a subsequent response to the aforementioned phobia. But still, as more often than not a needle is involved in a visit to the d-office, the fears have become one in the same. So when it came time for me to visit a clinic, I was really not happy.

Remember in this post when I described the exhilaration and fear of riding a boda-boda? Yeah, well, I got what was coming to me. While dismounting said motorcycle, my right leg brushed the muffler of the vehicle. It was literally a second long of a touch, but it was enough to give me a pretty serious palm-sized burn on my leg.

Being one who can tolerate high amounts of pain (by the way, boys, you have nothing on women. Trust me on this- you’re total wimps at the end of the day. Try enduring blistering muscular agony once a month for a week for the better part of your life and see how much that paper cut hurts now.) I made not a peep. I mentioned it to Thera but otherwise slathered it up in Neosporin, popped some IBUprofen, and hoped for the best. But by day three, it had turned yellow and hurt like hell. So I decided it was time to see what the doc had to say about it.

It was a MONUMENTAL decision to do such a thing, as you now can understand more fully. The biggest “grown-up” moment I had in college was when I went to health center to get my flu shot sans-Mom. Laugh and judge all you want; moving out and starting over was less scary than that. And I even had a friend come to hold my hand, which brought what normally would be uncontrollable sobbing down to a few whimpers. Serious progress, people.

But I was in pain and LORD KNOWS I do not want anything serious while abroad. Less so because of being away and more so because my Mom wouldn’t be here to hold my hand. So to the clinic I went, friends with me. We walked into the small building down the block from the flat, and I was warmly welcomed and brought to a small room by a nun-nurse. She took one look at my leg and sighed deeply, muttering her profuse apologies for the pain she knew I had to be in.

And then began the hydrogen peroxide bathing of my leg.

If you are so fortunate to never have endured such a cleansing, be grateful. Picture bleach for skin; acid being dumped on an open wound. Worse than salt. Yeah, I wish I was exaggerating.

So I sat there, my bandana in my mouth but otherwise calm and in a state of non-sobbing. She cleaned for five minutes and then generously applied some antiseptic. Reaching over to grasp my hand, she told me it was infected and I need antibiotics right away. Grateful for her kindness and firmness and no-needles, I nodded. She walked and I hobbled out into the “lobby” area and she handed my a package of penicillin, with instructions scribbled on the envelope.

But the best part was this: the entire walk-in appointment and prescription cost me 6,000 Ugandan shillings, or a little less than three American dollars. I was floored; as painful as the cleaning was, she was very kind and efficient. I have no traveling insurance or fancy plan; Uganda is not a socialist country; health care and medication was just that readily available. Thus, while I was miserable throughout the whole process, I consider it a double-success: I did not panic, cry, or otherwise make a scene even though I endured the process solo AND the care that was given to me was of the utmost quality and incredibly efficient.

So there, American ideas that other countries can’t take care of themselves.

And, to quell your worrying (Mom) my leg is healing. It’s still painful, and still pretty grody to look at, but the medicine mixed with hearty amounts of saltwater soaking is cleaning it out well. And truly, if this is why I had to go to the clinic, then I am exceedingly grateful.

Thanks for sticking with my through the diatribe, friends. A happier post to ensue soon!

current jam: “don’t worry, be happy”

best thing in my life right now: antibiotics.

pages read: 0, but I finished The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. It was most marvelous; I shall post a book review post soon of the three books I have now completed. Currently I’m in The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.C. King (thanks for the loan, Austin!). One pirate novel to another, folks. Yo-Ho!

marriage proposals: 0

fantas consumed: 4