Yesterday afternoon I met up with Ryan again and we walked in a different direction then I had gone before. The city can change so quickly. It was good to escape the tourists in the center and just walk and look. I had my first waffle, so good! Later, Kathleen acted as a guide to our wondering and showed us the Moroccan and Turkish neighborhood. I felt like I was in Morocco, for a few blocks it literally feels like you have left Belgium. There is still a mix of globalization and tradition here; there is an oddly placed Catholic church in the middle of the neighborhood. There were venders selling everything from colorful costumes and robes to luggage to pastries and fish. Arabic music is piped into the streets and everywhere you turn there is a new smell and a new face. I’m glad Kathleen took us here, and she told us to go back in the spring when the sun really transports you out of Brussels. The city can change from block to block, and even the 8 different provinces are subdivided by culture and wealth. All of these people somehow live in peace within this truly international metropolis. But even in this strange neighborhood with beggars, curry, and languages I cannot begin to understand I still felt like I was accepted and part of it all.
This morning Kathleen took us to market with her. Every Sunday block after block of stalls are set up selling everything from switchblades to kiwis. There were coat, sweaters, boots, every kind of olive, cheese, meat, fruit, or vegetable. All cramped into this space surrounding a large metro station. Kathleen carries a little trolley on wheels and bought produce for us. Lauren, Pryia and I just wondered through the market smelling and looking at everything. You feel lost in a sea of people with far too many distractions. I loved most of it, but was hungry and overwhelmed by the end. I definitely want to go back, it is something that anyone who comes to Brussels on a Sunday should see. The market goes on and on; just when you think you’ve reached the end it turns a corner and crosses a street and there are even more blocks of stalls. It’s a good place to go if you are looking for something specific, otherwise you can get lost in the madness of it all.
Classes start tomorrow. I’m very ready to see what school will be like here. I think I’m prepared and know what to expect; but this is Brussels. Nothing is what it seems or what you expect Kathleen says. For instance there is a well-kept brick building across the street from us that is very inconspicuous, but it is actually houses asylum seekers. Hopefully all will go well and this next week will show me what my routine will be like and introduce me to more people. All is well for now and I am learning so much already.
Peace and Love,