On Sunday afternoon, we met up with a some of Papa's university friends in Cuijk (about 25 minutes from Nijmegen) to wait for Sinterklaas. That's Sinterklaas, not Santa Claus. It doesn't matter that they call him St. Nikolas in the songs – everyone swears up and down to me that they are not the same. Sinterklaas, as you may remember, is a retired bishop of Turkey who lives in Spain and comes to the Netherlands by steam boat every November along with an extraordinary number of brightly dressed, dancing, comic friends – all of whom just happen to be black, as in black-face, afro wigs, red lipstick, lots of dancing. I'll just let that and my last post about Sinterklaas (three years ago!) speak for themselves.
It was a cold day, one of the first we've had this fall. There were plenty over the summer, but this was a cold fall day, so very different. They have a lot of fun with singing for Sinterklaas, singing louder, asking Piet where he is, and so forth. Three or four different boats came by before the real deal Sinterklaas steam boat arrived. There was heavy mist on Sunday, so the boats came out of the mist and disappeared back into it as they passed. It was exciting. Sinterklaas arrived officially in Dordrecht this year, but then visits a lot of cities in Holland. I love that he travels by boat. When he arrived, there was a lot of talk about weather and locks that he had to go through to get to Cuijk. The mayor was there, too!
Afterwards, we all went to a friend's house for hot cocoa, coffee, tea, pepernoten (hard spiced cookies – good stuff), and a lot of catching up. We haven't really seen all of these friends and all of the kids (so many!) together for a long time, so it was really nice. The holiday season has officially begun!