I'm really struggling with the acts of terrorism that took place in Brussels Belgium this week. It hit really close to home for me. In some ways this has hit me even more than 9/11 here in the US. I've spent a lot of time in Belgium. In 2001 I accepted a job in Belgium. I'd like to say it worked out well, but it was suppose to be a year long job and I came home after 2 months. It wasn't the right time in my life for me to handle such the culture shock that I experienced. Living alone. . . in a small town, so the language barrier was huge. . . I had a friend from college that had been there for year but it was the opposite of helpful ("I had to figure it out, you can to"). He was the connection that got me the job but unfortunately he wasn't much of a friend when I was there. In the end I came home 7 days before the 9/11 attacks on NY. Sometimes I think I'd have stayed longer if I hadn't made it home before those attacks. I'd have been scared to fly I'm sure!
While my American friend sucked, I did make some friends while I was there. One those friends was Lieve. We are still friends. I visited her in 2006 when a friend and I flew to Germany for a horse inspection. We stopped in Belgium first. My husband (then fiance) and I went to Lieve's wedding (to David) in the fall of 2010. They came to our wedding in April 2011. We met them in Vegas in Aug 2013. I (alone) visited them last year when I was in London for work. I met my goddaughter for the first time! That just so happens to be a year ago this week. I left for London on March 21st last year. I have no idea what I'd think/do if this attack had happened while I was there. First of all I flew out of the Brussels airport. I wonder how I'd even get home if I were there right now? I've been in that airport many times as you can see. The first was when I flew to Belgium for an interview for that job I mentioned above. I left the states on Thursday and returned on Sunday for a Friday interview. Talk about jet lag! My first time ever to fly across the pond and what a quick trip that was!
My friends live about an hour from Brussels. Belgium is a very small country but a very divided country. Hugely divided based on language - Dutch/Flemish in the North and French in the South. They are safe. Lieve's cousin works at the airport but she was late to work the day of the attacks. I keep thinking "I was there". I was there in that departure hall many times, checking in to fly home. I think that's why it hits me a bit more then 9/11 did.
Another reason it's been weighing heavily on my mind is that there is a large chance my work will want to send me to London again this summer/fall. Timing is always a question. This time for 2 weeks instead of 1. And I would want to go visit my friends, just like I did last year. Last year I took the train from London to Brussels. I'm already pondering if I have the guts to go this year. Not necessarily to be in Belgium, but to fly out of Brussels. Everyone is a sitting duck in terms of terrorism. You never know what will happen. Belgium is really a hot spot for the Islamic terrorists right now. I've read a few articles (bad idea!). And honestly part of me wonders if I should even go to London. Not sure I'd have a choice. Flying scares me (post 9/11). I don't really worry about the plane malfunctioning, I worry about it exploding over the ocean.
My heart is so heavy for Belgium right now. For the airport that is destroyed and not open yet. For the families and loved ones of those killed. I imagine we should be thankful the death toll was relatively low. My heart is heavy for the whole world because these terrorist are gaining speed and this isn't going to end any time soon. I'm just sad.
But to lighten things up I will share a few photos from my time in Belgium. When I lived there I didn't have a digital camera, so everything is print and I haven't scanned anything in. So none of these are from that time unfortunately.
I don't have any personal pics from Brussels. I toured the city when I lived there(my printed photos are stashed somewhere) and haven't toured it in any capacity since then. Just visited the airport. However, in 2010, 2 friends from college came to visit me and my American friend that were in Belgium. We toured Brussels and we searched high and low for Manneken Pis. I call him the little peeing boy. He's a tiny little statue and they dress him up sometimes. We walked in circles for a long time looking for him. It's easy to walk in circles in Europe where the blocks aren't square. I'm sure we passed him several times not having any clue how really tiny he was. I stole this photo from facebook cause I laughed out loud when I saw it. You don't have to know Dutch to read this!
|Me in Antwerp in 2010|
Belgium claims they invented the French Fry. And they have "Frituur" stands and shops everywhere. You eat fries with mayonnaise and it's fantastic!
Brugge is one of my favorite cities in Belgium. Some call it the Venice of the North. While we were there in 2010 we took a boat ride through the canals. I took this photo of a dog in the window. A few weeks after we returned home I was watching TV and I believe fast forwarding through the commercials when what do I see? This SAME dog. I rewound it. I called my husband into the room to see. . . it was a Godiva chocolate commercial. I've never been able to find it online. But I saw the commercial several times. I appeared to be filmed in Brugge and sure enough - same dog, same window. I got the biggest kick out of it.
|You can't share photos of Belgium without a chocolate photo!|
While were there in 2010 we went to an amusement park in the Netherlands called the Efteling. While not in Belgium, this is one of the only photos I have of all four of us. L-R: David, Lieve, me, my husband.
The most recent photo is from last year. . . we went to Keukenhof in the Netherlands. . . a tulip park. And this is me and my adorable goddaughter, Kato.
Again, my heart is just so heavy right now. I really hope the powers that need to come together and put a halt to the terrorism. Surely we have enough smart people in the intelligence industry to spy on these people and figure out their plans. We need to do something. I've been reading about the open borders in the European Union and the problems Belgium has with border control. Maybe the borders need to be closed. That sounds drastic, but you have to protect yourself and your country. We have to make it harder for the terrorist to move about in Europe.
There's not much more to say I suppose. . . thanks for listening.