With fingers brittle from coldness and ears frosted by wind, my thoughts turned to the place I’d be spending the morning: Lombok.
Imagining the warmth of the hot Indonesian sun on my face and the taste of chilies, coconut, garlic and lime on my tongue, I was momentarily transported to the tropics.
But I was only playing dank, winter mind-games with myself.
I was actually headed to a neighborhood of Utrecht called ‘Lombok.’ A place that I suppose acquired its name from the Indonesian island, as this Dutch neighborhood was established shortly after the ‘1894 Dutch Intervention’ which brought tropical Lombok under the control of the Dutch East India Company.
While I actually found little hint of Indonesia in Utrecht’s Lombok, I did find lots of shops owned and operated by folks of Middle Eastern origin selling heaps of gorgeous, fresh and inexpensive produce.
I bought bags of fruits and vegetables, ogled the spices and dry goods, filled my belly with a spinach and cheese börek, and was happily required to use Dutch to buy beef from a halal butcher who spoke no English.
In short: It was sort-of, kind-of like a mini-holiday abroad without the sun, sea or sand.
In truth: I’m clinging to anything that will help me make it through the bleakness of my first Dutch winter. See my posts glorifying snert or beaming about cycling through the rain for further evidence.