Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vacations are Splendid Places. And the Dutch are Terribly Tall.

Mr Tabubil and I have just returned from three weeks holiday – a week in Holland, so that I might see a bit of his country and meet his family, and two weeks alone together in Italy. 

Holland began in Madrid, where we changed planes for Amsterdam after our flight north from Santiago. Queuing up to board our next flight, I looked at the passengers all around me, and had a moment
            “Mr Tabubil!”  I hissed. “They’re all blonde!  And so tall – they’re practically brushing the roof of the plane!”
            When we landed in Amsterdam, Holland kept on coming.  It was something of a shock – Mr Tabubil had warned me, many times, but I hadn’t really taken it in. We were met at the airport by his aunt Anneke and his uncle Pieter and their two teenage sons.  Together they did something that I’d always thought would be impossible: they made my six-foot, strong-boned husband look petite.
            Mr Tabubil has dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins, and all of them – even the young boy who has just crossed through puberty and is only now beginning to grow - are at least a foot taller than he is. 
            Pieter is somewhat above normal height.  Just enough to be imposing.  Anneke brushes the ceiling when she stretches up to smile, and their two sons are the height of small skyscrapers.  Dinner-time in their house is rather like sharing a meal with two well-behaved Labrador Retriever puppies.  Anneke and Pieter prepare acres of substantial and nutritious food, and the boys inhaled the lot. I had the feeling that if we turned our backs for even ten seconds, we’d turn around again and even the place settings on the table would be gone. And they’d be back in their seats, not a hair on their heads ruffled nor a smear of tomato sauce or gravy out of place.
            After dinner, the two of the excuse themselves from the table and head for the bread bin and pull out a fresh loaf and start a second supper. 
            “We go through a whole loaf every day” Anneke said – half rueful, but mostly proud.
            It’s no joke feeding two growing boys of that magnitude.  The first night I was in their house I dreamed that Anneke had taken me by the hand and showed me the emergency freezer – piled high with frozen pizzas, in case the boys became hungry and stopped growing in the night.

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