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BttF 2: Strange things do happen in Rotterdam & Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot by Yansie Rolston

January 29th, 2020

Recently, we went to Rotterdam for another Black to the Future 2.0 study visit. Read the blogs below to find out more about our learning journey.

By Yansie Rolston

Strange things do happen in Rotterdam

There’s a lot of work to accomplish but downtime must not be undervalued so off we go - Destination Rotterdam World Museum
We get off the tram, but as it moves we realise that he is still on Board,
He phones – “I will get off at the next stop”
We are at a bridge waiting for him, we notice that it is called Erasmus Bridge after the humanist whose legacy made the programmes possible – Erasmus
We chat, pose, and take photos while we wait for him
He returns, and away we all go to the Museum

The receptionist says “tickets cost €10 each and it shuts in 45 minutes
What? No, she can’t be serious – no group discount or reduced fee for late entry
We debate our options, pay €10 or peruse the gift shop or or have a drink in the café?
The security officer overhears, empathy prevails
“It is closing early today for a private exhibition”
She says handing us the leaflet “Identities – Contemporary Caribbean Perspectives”
“We are exploring black youth work in Rotterdam” We tell her
Where are you from she asks. “Jamaica” says someone on the team
“What the ras, wha yuh family name? I ah Wynter with a Y” the officer reacts beaming
The team member replies “We may be related,I’ll ask my dad”
They call names of families in Jamaica that they know in common.
The officer tells us to relax in the café – and off she goes

10 minutes later she returns with Quinsy
It turns out that another team member knows Quinsy Gario– one of the main exhibitors and an activist against Zwarte Piet aka Black Pete
So Quinsy invites us to the private function – did I mention that it was a cocktail reception with wine and champagne, poetry readings, discussions, story-telling and viewing of a most spectacularly wonderful exhibition?

There is a hand on my shoulder and a voice calls my name, I turn around. It’s a friend and former colleague from London who I had not seen in over a year
“What are you doing here I ask” turns out that she moved to Rotterdam a few months ago.
We are pose for the obligatory selfie title it “look who I found in Rotterdam” and send it off to our respective families.
Out of nowhere someone approaches another team member, and it turns out they first met on a project in Kenya but had not seen each other since then.

The evening has been absolutely awesome and as we are making our way to the tram a bike whizzes past and the rider shouts “Hi Yansie”. I didn’t get to see who it was but what a strange evening it has been.

Eating Out in Rotterdam: Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

The weather is cold – It is not brisk, just bitterly cold with occasional drizzles of ice water dripping out of the sky, but the thought of delicious Surinamese food is enough to take some of the chills away and warms the cockles of the heart.

We leave the hotel making a sharp turn left and we amble along. Conversation rich, talking about this and that – from politics to the history of Rotterdam to the weather, slowing down to admire the huge number of bikes in the showroom, and to quickly gaze up at the sky at night.

‘Wait wait’ someone says ‘that the wrong direction’. We make an about-turn, and without skipping a beat the casual strolls, small talk and sky-gazing continues.

‘Wait, wait I’m not sure we are going the right way’ but this time the voice is ignored as we place one foot in front of the other, chatting and laughing as wemove along. We get to the bus stop and realise that it is almost in front of our hotel but no one is bothered by the unnecessary walking we did.

The bus soon comes. Is everyone aboard? Actually no, some had chosen to continue walking left and will make their own way to the restaurant.Off the bus, across the streetwe single file into RoopEam Roti Centre. Ahh, the enticing smell of curry hits your nostrils, and the heat from the kitchen hugs you like a favourite blanket – cosy and warm.

The menu has choices upon choices, there is rice, rolled roti or open roti with vegetables or salted cod or goat or chicken. Some of us experiment and choose things we are not familiar with. The waiter adds a large helping of spicy chilli sauce to each plate and almost with the first bite the sweats start, tongues hanging out, large slurps from the cold drinks can be heard, noses start running. The person sitting next to me laments that the food is spicybutcontinues to spoon the spicy chilli sauce as his face turns an ever brightening shade of red. “I’m hot hothot” he says as he finished his meal”.

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