The Dutch context, reflections of a Latin American

Holland is still the benchmark for several events in the technology sector, but before diving into some issues on which I itch to write, like the lasts times about my trips, I want to drop some conscious prose because it awaits me long hours in the return flight, it costs more because the rotation of the earth betrays the plane. Also because up there I can not write because sleep does not know whether to come or go when you’re half way, while in Amsterdam is 5 pm; in Houston is 10 o’clock in the morning, plus the unbelievable irony of having left to 10 am when in the target was 3 in the morning. Tremendous confusion of raw data for the GPS we all carry within us.

I will leave this article with more than a dual purpose, although with the generality of informing because I assume there will be from this side who barely know Dutch: that there is the Hague where judge our international troubles, that their culture keeps unmistakable icons as wooden shoes and its windmills. Other more fans of history barely know that Ruud Gullit played in a Clockwork Orange and more than one has heard their habit by tolerance, wrong told by Exchange students who bring like souvenirs at least three reasons why they would go there to do his master’s degree:

clip_image001 For the fine museums including the Heineken Museum of beer, a drink that is consumed like water, including medical recommendation of 8 glasses a day for health.
clip_image002 For the night lighting spectacle, including red for brothels with the girls in the windows, an activity that is lawful. Suggests a campaign of the tourist office that if you went to Holland and not consume what they produce, it’s better not tell you were there.
clip_image003 By the good taste of a coffee, very common throughout Amsterdam, where they serve a coffee with a pique of marijuana that is also consumed in a lawful manner.

But to have an idea of the Dutch context occupies more than a tour by the historic Mills, flowering plantations of tulips or the now also spectacular planting of wind mills which are everywhere. So not to sin of simplistic, I note that this is just my perception from a particular point of view; at half of the coffee… if you do not agree everyone can goes there and checks it on their own.

The newspapers are right there, so that the one who’s near will take a look at the headlines, and despite that nothing should frighten them, iterate over the Berlusconi scandal. They say that the three x of the official flag could mean their tolerance for life forms, which obviously clash with our context but we are aware that irresponsible parenthood, corruption and social inequality are actions of our environment almost accepted as legitimate, they also consider as this when they refer to us.

However, although with an almost religious way tout not racism, not necessarily they practice this in the cultural context. They do care little about sexual orientation their son, but it will be better not getting together with Moroccans after school. So it’s likely to hear phrases like:

-I am not racist, but I am afraid the Poles and I can’t stand the Moroccans…

-Children, we are not racist, but we do not accept them because they cause damage to our society…

clip_image004And this is what we are as human beings. So different as the UTM zone changes, our prototype changes regarding how it should work the family, social relations or the spirit for excellence are diverse. Surely more than once I have been seen as affected because of enjoying my children as the Mesoamerican lifestyle, most now that for the first time I’ve shown to a non Spanish-speaking audience.

Perhaps in what we differ most is in family affection demonstration, their family relations are cold, not because it is bad, but because it is a different environment. Some of this we see also in some of our countries, but are not the generality. The second master or need of making some money maintain them disinterested on children born, here it gives us regret our 26 year-old daughter get married, there it is a hurry to go away fast.

-You know my best advice daughter: use a condom; I am not interested in your affairs, provided that you will not bring here a monkey before the title.

As I said at the beginning, you don’t see in a short trip of four days when you barely have time to go for a walk in a park (which are a taste of course), but where outside ducks swimming in cold water you only see brown leaves falling from trees and elderly walking a stylized dog, bored in the solitude and the retirement fund…

There are no children; if they had been, they do not matter now because they do just return us the message. So take care of the dog, because surely will be the only heir.

It’s clear that loyalty standards are fair at their style. If your son worked in a restaurant and his boss does not pay him because has problems and will go bankrupt, for 80 Euros you don’t take it to court, but you go to eat at the restaurant with your family and do not pay the man… arguing that you will make in a few months, when the boss pay your child. Also the children return loyalty, almost the same but not in equivalent sense; our concept of asylum is elderly abandoned in our Hispanic cities, trying to sell crafts through mesh which is facing the public way, they are the same, with the difference that has a life of attention with the money State must return them by quoting while they contributed to the society… questionable for us, but preferable when we remember that many of our long-lived are consumed in complicated diseases, alone, taking care of grandchildren and without the conditions we cannot give them.

I do pause to clarify that I am not prejudiced with the Dutch, or with our Hispanic customs. I only put examples for the difference in context.

But friendship at the warmth of good coffee is pleasant; meet again in Leidseplein a couple of compatriots adapted to that environment after 18 years is interesting. Even as they embrace that culture accept that they would not return this country’s #% @ # 9 … (crime), by the same European custom of just reading the headlines, and more if our media lack suffers education and lives of news tabloid about organized crime and violation of human rights, coupled with the few efforts of our politicians of #% @ # 9 … (not all but most) to make things sustainable or at least give a better image when are ambassadors there.

In the background are like us, human. Admirable for the order they have in the adherence to rules that has taken them years to build, as the road system of Amsterdam, with a subway complex network, private vehicles, routes for cyclists, trains and inland waterway. Their concerns are the same like ours, but with different evidences: there anyone presumed of a giant truck that in some extremes is known as the third testicle. No, they use a compact car, for adults the boat (in decline) and in boom the scooter: although the indispensable is the bicycle. The price does not matter, but indeed with a piece of lock that is worth more than the bike itself, if you do not want to be stolen and end up lying in a canal.


Society is fairer in many ways, but with everything, are like us, they do not lose the falsehood: you hate poles because associated them with crime, but you accept that your nephew get you for 15 Euros headphones for iPhone which is worth 60 in the store. They could even applaud his cunning and tolerate him not confess the source as part of his privacy.

There is no blatant theft, but it is so fine that they can remove you the wallet in a neatly planned rubbing. So you do not complaint because it is an accidental loss, at the end, with drug trafficking and organized crime we are like shouting in heaven. There you can walk hours with your iPad in hand and in general people wouldn’t do harm to you, because the time and the law has made them mature. Tricks are on another level; they fear the law because they know that urinate on the street can cost them 200 Euros, but once they fall prisoners can make difficult life to the police in a single night. For example, ask for water every 5 minutes to the guard, if he denies he could be imprisoned a month; when the guard is already tired you tell him that you want to urinate, if the guard does not rush you urinate inside and he will not only now have to defend a negligence charge but also clean the filth. And when you’re on the Court, which is the next day…

-Judge, I am an honest citizen, I do not hurt anyone, I regret having committed this failure but I’m not willing to pay 200 Euros, because I think it would be more useful 32 hours of my time serving people in need in a hospital .

So that’s why, years, fines and institutional discipline make people respect the law. Although you also see someone driving a bicycle with one hand and talking the phone with the other, or a girl with her dog in the front basket that if only she makes a wrong move and dog’s tail tangled in the spokes of the front wheel both will get milled in the middle of traffic chaos.

Thus we are human, different. This it is the impression I have of them, on the street everything goes quickly, the train, the subway, the taxi, the years, all.


Except in a cafe, where time mysteriously stops. No one has the urgency to end the conversation. No one has. To the extent that I’ve been able to take a coffee, a strange egg sandwich, write my article and just when I was leaving the waiter saw my identifier, after making a couple of forced attempts could pronounce it and interpret it.

-Gofuma, Geofoma, Geofumadas!

And he invited me another cup of coffee, courtesy of the house.

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