The next day is just as great and again the marathoners are out. This time it's walkers. Thousands upon thousands of them, like Mao's Long March. But this march is voluntary; the Dutch are just naturally socialistic I guess. They're marching by now as I watch them from my sand crest at Oostkapelle beach. Many wear caps and have blue-and-white striped flags sticking out of their packs. It is a seemingly endless line; the flow of people has been going continuously for hours.
|Marathon walker, Breezand|
I decided I would stick around for another day. I phoned my host in the generically named Burgh to postpone my arrival a day. Only one of Franziska's daughters was at home, a teenager who atypically did not speak any English. I told her in fractured Dutch I would stay another night. Packed a lunch--Franziska had generously left me a fifth slice of brown bread--and took off.
I had a look at the nearer beach of Breezand. The walkers were amassing there. I never asked where they were coming from, but it must have been a great distance.
|North coast of Walcheren|
I then headed back to Oostkapelle beach. This route, paralleling the coast alongside farm fields and swamp, was literally jammed with cyclists: a regular bicycle thruway. Traffic slowed behind a sort of cycling carriage, pedaled by three people in the front. I thought, yes, cycling is so popular in Holland because it's flat. But how hard would it be in hillier places to construct ramps of a maximum incline, considering the billions that are customarily blown on highway projects?
Despite the traffic, it was a lovely alternative to yesterday's cobblestoned route and before long the trail joined the woodsy stretch I'd already traversed. By the time I got to Oostkapelle beach, a bit after noon, the place was extremely crowded with bicycles and cars, and the marathon walkers were streaming across the finish line.
Unfortunately Bram was back. He came into my trailer repeatedly, did his walk-around, glared at me with a glint in his eye and exited. I made up my mind to complain to Franziska about it. But when I knocked on her door to pay for the night, I didn't have the heart. This is a woman with seven or eight kids, a farm to run and a demented husband who will probably die soon. Yet she maintains a cheerful, positive exterior. Still, it must scare off repeat guests, which is probably why the trailer was available.