Amsterdam Agent Orange

Operation Agent Orange is not coming along nicely.

There is a line of communications so tenuous, so elusive and slippery, that I had to get on by bike yesterday and ride plain across town to the Oostern (which might mean eastern) bit where there’s a camping site, Gary, and the key.

I leave the understated sophistication of Vleigenbos Camping and head out, making a quick stop in Dam to see what this American ‘street performer’’s (get the two quotes there?) street performance looks like. It was here, standing at the corner of Dam that I felt my urban tension drop a couple of notches. I walk around and a leisurely pace, taking in the people and the acts. I sit on a bench and watch the world go by, waiting to see if I spot a 700 dollar red Indian head piece. And there is it.

I am inclined to return to the peaceful tranquillity of the north but there’s a step I need to take. There’s energy needs to be put into Agent Orange.

I head off easterly, stop at a windmill to take some pictures and eventually arrive and Camping Zeerburg on some such. It’s a younger, slightly grubbier crowd. I search for a tepee and Gary, and that link that seems to be slipping away from my hands right before my eyes. I’d written it down twice. Both times lost.

There’s a sense of security in that link, there’s a sense of the irreplaceable, it all should have been so easy but it’s turning out to be more difficult than I thought.

Empty handed I head back. There’s one last chance for this to work but it’s out of my hands now.

I stop at what might be Rembrandt Plaaz but probably isn’t and take in the world from Reefer Cafe. I carry onto to Central, the coffee shop, and the little pub next door that ain’t more than three steps from safety of Centraal station and my ride home. I counted them last night. Three steps and the fourth you’re out. But my struggle with Amsterdam has cooled, I felt it doing so earlier today at Dam. I’m not afraid anymore, but this is not peace, this is an uneasy truce.

This morning mushrooms surfaces. He tells me it’s his business. He climbs one point six thousand meters up into the Alps in August and September to collect them. Then does the round of festivals. I think about going back – departure is fast approaching. The holiday is coming to an end. I have several options for getting back but none of them practical. It’s a case of the least worse option.

I don’t want to go back. I want to climb one point six thousand meters in the Alps.

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