Dear friends and loved ones,

I have survived the rain. It turned out to be the heaviest rainfall in the last 850 years. From Sittard I walked roads-turned-rivers to Bingelrade. I knew a hot shower awaited me there so it was worth the effort. As I walked through the fields gushing with water I wanted to cry. I was grateful to be welcomed somewhere, but I missed home. My parents, their fireplace and my former parents in law, whose door was always open to me. But the tears just would not come, not yet.

I was welcomed by Marita, who offered to wash my clothes, an offer I could not turn down. I took a warm shower and started to feel human again. The Dutch soccer team had to play so we stayed up late to get up early the next morning. At 7.30 I worked my way through the hilly landscape of southern Limburg towards Brunssum, where I bought some cards to send home a couple of souvenirs I bought back in Kevelaer. The route took me through Heerlen and Kerkrade, so I had a couple more km of tarmac to go. I cursed my GPS for not having the option of showing the most scenic route, but just the shortest and fastest. Leaving Kerkrade behind I walked into Germany, the country I will be in for the next couple of weeks.

I found the E8 way marking and set out for Aachen. The German fields are no different from the Dutch, but waking east finally made me feel I was on my way, for real this time. Aachen proved to be a student city vibrating with life. I felt at home, but at the same time quite out of place with my pack and pole. Once again the wish all was different came up. I had no one here, no one was waiting, telling me where to go, what to do. So I went to the dome, light a candle and said a little prayer. I still don’t know for whom.

The next day I woke up by the sound of chainsaws and decided to move out quickly. I followed the E8 again and was glad to do so. No tarmac, just forest and fields. The rain had made it all the more green. Rivers were flowing and birds were bathing, butterflies happy to fly again and deers playing hide and seek. I crossed tracks again with the Camino and bumped into a private funded chapel. I light a candle again and walked away. But after 100 metre or so, I could not walk anymore. Tears came, just one from each eye, but I felt relieved. This guy, walking alone for 10 days with nothing on him, no home, no work, nothing to bind him, started to realize what freedom he has. I this feeling grows the coming weeks.

I walked to Simonskall that night to wait for two friends to spend my first day of rest with. We drove to a camping in Heimbach and spend the next day driving through the Eifel, ending up in Monschau. In Heimbach that evening we found all bars closed and ended up in a hotel to watch the last match of the Dutch team in the world cup.