AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.~ Hervé Guibert
Planning the day trips
Continued from… Taking Isaac home
Everyone was up early the next morning, except for Isaac. He appeared downstairs about two hours after the others. He looked better than the night before.
“Did you sleep well?” Annie asked.
“Like a baby. I’m sorry that I’m up so late. I should be ashamed,” Isaac said.
“Not at all. You needed the sleep. And we’re staying home today, so please, don’t be sorry,” Annie soothed. “Want something to drink?”
“A cup of coffee, but I can make it myself,” Isaac suggested.
“Don’t worry, I want another cup. Jacques, how about you?” she asked her husband, but he declined.
“How about breakfast?” Annie asked her friend.
Isaac jumped up.
“Oh, I almost forgot!” he said and disappeared through the door of the living room. They heard him run up the steps. Moments later, he was back. Annie shrieked when she saw what he held in his hands.
“Ouma rusks,” she chuckled, “oh you won’t believe how long ago it is I had one of those? You’re a darling! Wait, let me get us some coffee,” she said and quickly disappeared into the kitchen, only to appear with two big mugs of coffee several minutes later. Her husband just shook his head, watching both Annie and Isaac dipping the rusks in their coffee
“Mmmm,” Annie hummed in utter satisfaction, “oh Jacques, you should really try one of these. It’s like heaven.”
“No thanks,” he said, totally unfamiliar to this concept.
“Jacques, this is a traditional South African snack and this is the way you eat it. It’s just too hard to eat without dipping it. These here, the buttermilk rusks, are the best there is, but you do get different variants of it,” Annie explained. Jacques only smiled at her. This was not the first time that he was introduced to some South African habit or tradition.
“By the way, where are the children?” Isaac asked.
“Both in school. They will be home later this afternoon,” Annie explained.
“Ah yes, of course, I forgot they have to go to school.”
“Speaking of the kids,” Annie continued, “Jacques and I made a rough planning of the places we want to take you. Because of school, the kids won’t join us every day, and some days it will be only you and me, as Jacques has to work too. I took a leave of absence for the next three weeks. Next week we’ll make a trip on the Spido, and on Sunday, we’ll go to Madurodam. The kids and my mom will join us.”
“Oh I would love to see your mother again,” Isaac said, “she’s so nice.”
“My mom will join us as much as possible,” Annie smiled.
“But what is the Spido and… uh,” Isaac pulled the piece of paper on which Annie and Jacques had jotted down the planning towards him, “… Madurodam?”
Annie and Jacques take turns to share some information with Isaac.
“We also want to go to the Rotterdam Zoo and the big market,” Jacques said.
“And a day-trip to Amsterdam, and we want to take you Kijkduin to eat poffertjes, and we just have to go to the boulevard in Scheveningen!”
Annie could hardly contain her enthusiasm. She can’t wait to show Isaac all her favorite places.
“Sounds great, but what are we going to eat in Scheveningen?” Isaac asked with a puzzled face.
“Oh no,” Annie laughed, “in Kijkduin. We’re going poffertjes.”
“It’s a Dutch treat. They look like tiny pancakes, but they are much sweeter,” Jacques explained, “and traditionally you eat it with butter and powdered sugar.”
“I’m going to need a holiday when I get back to South Africa,” Isaac laughed when he looked at the planning again. “I see we are going to have a busy time.”
“Just remember, Isaac,” Annie warned, “we can deviate from the planning whenever we want to. If you don’t feel well, we’ll just stay home, so you can rest.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Isaac laughed and waved away Annie’s concern.
That afternoon Annie, Jacques and Isaac went to the store to shop for that evening’s dinner. Isaac marveled at how much smaller the supermarket was compared to the hypermarkets in South Africa, where you can buy anything from bread to meat to furniture and garden appliances. Isaac ended up at the cash register with a cinnamon flavored candy and a packet of stroopwafels.
“I don’t really know what this is,” Isaac said, pointing at the stroopwafels, “but it sounds nice.”
“The name actually says exactly what it is,” Annie explained, “if you translate it directly, it’s syrup waffles. It’s two thin waffles with caramel-like syrup in the middle.”
That evening over dinner, they talked about their plans. The kids were disappointed that they couldn’t go along on all trips, but understood that Isaac wanted to see as much as possible of the country in the three weeks that he would be with them.
Everyone was still tired from the evening before. They enjoyed a peaceful evening in front of the television. Isaac laughed a couple of times when he caught onto some Dutch words during the evening news.
The kids went to bed much earlier than the night before, and the three adults followed just before midnight.
Both Annie and Isaac slept in the next morning. It was Saturday and the two late nights before had taken their toll. Jacques – who was always up very early, no matter what time he went to bed – was already back from the shops. He brought back several fresh products for breakfast, and snacks since friends of them would be visiting that evening.
Annie was downstairs first. She looked rested. She made a cup of tea, and since she was hungry, glanced in the bags, discovering the fresh bread, but she decided to wait for Isaac to come downstairs. Other plastic bags in the far corner of the counter drew her attention, and when she looked inside, she discovered many bottles of pills. At first, she was confused, but then realized it was Isaac’s. The number of pill bottles saddened her, reminding her of Isaac’s fight for life.
What should have been a late breakfast, turned out to be a lunch. Isaac felt ashamed that he only appeared downstairs roundabout noon. Both Annie and Jacques assured him that they didn’t mind. Annie’s children joined the adults at the table.
“You will meet some friends of ours tonight,” Annie said while they were eating.
“Oh, that’s nice,” Isaac politely reacted.
“Actually, Jacques has known them for years, as he and Joe have been colleagues for almost 25 years. Myra is Joe’s wife and they have an adult daughter, Sylvana. They’re nice people and excited to meet you,” Annie explained.
“As if I am so special,” Isaac said cynical, but he was smiling.
“Well, I think you are!” Annie said sternly, but she too was smiling.
To be continued… Meeting friends and seeing places
Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay