Countdown has seriously started for our flights back home... 4 weeks and 4 days and we will be making that oh-so-familiar trip home... probably downing a cocktail or two hoping to shorten the journey by a few sets of 40 winks!
Another addition to our group of friends occurred this week: Annemie and Hans (landlords/work colleague/friend of Tom's since he was in highschool) have had their first child, Lisa. So many a 'suikerboon' was eaten and enjoyed - and maybe they will even be home for the election on Sunday - probably won't be a repeat performance of the elections from last year (if you remember, ended up with me and tom drowning our hallway with our stomach contents...)
I am not sure if I ever mentioned the suikerbonen tradition yet...
Not that the mother has enough to worry about... but when a child is born, it is tradition to hand out little packages of suikerbonen (translation = sugar bean - sugar coated chocolate) to all visitors, family, work etc. BUT - the colours are very important (they must match the geboortenkaart/birthcard), along with the design of the packages they come in! It can be seen as 'stingey' if you only give white suikerbonen in a cheap-arse basket...
My first experience with the suikerbonen came when I had first started working in Belgium. When I first started, I replaced one of the girls (Inge) on maternity leave (incidently, she has already had her 2nd...) and shortly after she gave birth, a lovely little wooden box was delivered to work with the name and birth date of her son burned into it, and it was filled with black and white sugar beans. BUT - they look remarkably like pebbles (especially when they are neutral colours!) so I thought it was slightly odd, but took one and put it in my bag to take home. LUCKY nobody saw me do this, because I later found out they were to eat (after I had informed everyone that the little pebbles from Inge had arrived...)
I need to learn to write down all of the subtle cultural differences before I forget them though, otherwise they blend into day to day life and I don't want to forget them!
P.S. - Big elections this weekend - if you are at all politically minded, and at all interested in a more-than-two-party-preferred system...click here!