We are in…Belgium

roly sign

In Belgium the north is called Flanders and the people speak Dutch, the south or Wallonia speaks French, and a small part in the east speaks German.


Before arriving to Belgium, we had a carefree spirit about everything.  We didn’t even know we were going to land in Belgium until about 3 days before we left.  We were so busy enjoying Paris that I didn’t do any research on where we were going.  I was just thankful to God/the Universe, that the two weeks we needed somewhere to go, was fulfilled by a workaway host.  Workaway is how we are able to afford a year in Europe.  We volunteer 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, in exchange for free room and board.

So when we were on the train to Brussels from Paris (2 hours delayed due to an accident involving a person on the tracks) and the gentleman checking our tickets said, “You are going to Charleroi?  Good luck with that!  It is very dangerous.”  Behind him his buddy was laughing and smiling.  We had no clue if it was a joke with his friend or if we needed to heed the warning.  Well, that was all I needed to take me out of the moment and shift me right into my head.

What was I thinking? We don’t even know what language they speak in Belgium.  I don’t even know if Michele, our workaway host, is a male or female.  Stephane in France ended up being a man.  What if the place we are staying is in the ghetto.  I didn’t even research the place we are going?  What were you thinking!?!  It is going to be dark by the time we arrive now.  We have no car, no cell phone.  We need a cell phone.  What if it is terrible when we get off the train?  I bet there will not be any taxis.  We couldn’t even buy a ticket at the train station in Paris to where we are going because it is such a small town.  And so the incessant thoughts continued for hours.  I completely forgot all my yogic training, all my meditation techniques, all my prayers, and was working myself into a panic.

It didn’t help when we switched trains to Charleroi that the hour trip started out standing room only.  There were not any seats anywhere.  I finally spotted at least one seat in the  coach over.  I opened the door between the two coaches and the platforms between the two trains had gaps on the sides so you could see the ground racing by, the platforms were wildly shifting up and down, left and right.  I remembered my prayers then, “Oh my God, oh my God.” As I took a deep breath in and anxiously crossed to the next coach.  The good news was there were actually two seats across from each other.  Success!

The feeling didn’t last long, when a group of teenagers began getting rowdy behind me.  At least Jon could see them and kept glancing over periodically.  This is the problem with not understanding a language.  You have no idea if you need to be on alert or not, which pretty much means you are on alert with everything.  We had no idea if the teenagers were making jokes about their day at school or were talking about the tourist they just robbed!

To top it all off, I had apparently found us seats in first class (not that you would have noticed).  So with about 10 minutes left in our journey, when our tickets were checked, the lady said we had to get up and move back to second class.  That about did me in!

The internal mental chatter just kept getting worse and worse.  Until my dear husband finally looked over and said, “It will be fine, just wait, it will probably be adorable.”  He knew I was worried because I hadn’t said a single word in about an hour, although I put up a good facade, he can see straight through it.

It was then I realized I had been holding my breath, and finally took an inhale and exhale.  It occurred to me just 3 days ago, I was elated at how beautifully God had given us a place to stay for exactly the time we needed.  I was in awe of how, if you ask, you shall receive.  And in that moment I told myself, it would not have worked out so perfectly, with obvious divine intervention, for us to land in a dangerous place.  So I calmed myself down a little bit.

When we finally arrived at our stop in Mariembourg, there were definitely no taxis.  Only an outside platform with a single bench.  It looked more like a bus stop.  When we wheeled our luggage to the small parking lot, Michele, a man, was there to greet us.  Michele’s vehicle was a two passenger jeep, so Jon had to jump in the back with the fishing nets and rusty tools. We drove through muddy roads, through a forest with patches of fog, to get to an even smaller village, which would have completely freaked me out if Jon hadn’t been there.  It was a scene out of a horror movie…the young couple get in a jeep and are taken into the woods…ok just let your imagination run wild- mine was.

We  safely got to Michele’s home and ended up sitting in his cozy den talking for an hour or so, which calmed my nerves a bit more.  We indeed had a very kind gentleman for a host.

So we are here in rural Belgium.  As Michele said, “Dis is very different from Pari.  You sleep tonight, no noise here, no noise.”

We indeed are no longer in Paris.  But our first night did bring much better sleep, especially knowing we have a nice host.


I have to tell you I was debating on sharing this with everyone, assuming most of you just want to hear about the places we are going.  But this is more than just an adventure around Europe.  This is a spiritual journey.  So I figured I should share even when it is not all as magical as Paris…  

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