When traveling I often meet people that are beautiful (on the inside I mean).
Then there’s the type that’s hard to figure.
And then there’s the somewhat bizarre variety.
I’ve got a picture of the somewhat bizarre variety that I’ve been itching to publish.
But I might not ever do so as one of the people in the photograph can be identified.
It’s a picture of a group of nudist bathers at a remote lake in a remote part of Germany.
Clearly, conservative New Zealand got to me and I found the complete nakedness and banal conversations between strangers very surreal.
I didn’t join in stripping of my undies.
It all seemed like a scene in a movie and the final impression was rather comical.
It could have been a mikey take of the Germans by the ‚Pythons‘.
It wasn’t the nakedness that was bizarre, I’ve seen this kind of behaviour before in other countries.
It was a small collection of mixed-age Germans that kept singing ‚Hallelujah‘.
Across the lake drifted religious chants by this group of completely naked people who were waving their arms at the sun.
And that I have a picture of.
It appeared that to all the other naked Germans around the lake it all seemed very normal.
What God was thinking I don’t know.
Today I am confused.
Last night I dreamt I was in Asia.
Not sure where exactly I was, but it was one of those vivid dreams that remain clear after waking up.
Perhaps it had to do with the stiflingly hot temperatures last night and the muggy weather.
The expected thunderstorm never arrived and the mosquitoes stayed frantic.
Luckily we had the good sense to invest into a mosquitoe net some time ago and the mossies never got to us.
But this morning, for a moment, I didn’t know where I was.
I felt the same sensations I remember from my travels in the equatorial east.
Somehow I didn’t expect to feel like this in Germany and remain surprised at the variety and ever changing environment in this country.
The forecast for today is 30 degrees celcius, followed by thunderstorms during the night.
I assume it will be quite a show.
I’m in the western Muensterland.
The land is flat or gently rolling.
Holland is just a stone’s throw away and it shows.
It’s not all little white hats and wooden clogs but it’s not too different either.
It’s Germany of course but the dutch influence is quite pronounced.
Everything is neat and tidy – in contrast to the Harz region – and bicycles are everywhere.
The cycle culture is unique and very different from New Zealand.
Everyone is cycle proud, cars take a lower priority.
No mountain bikes here. None of this shoot-down-the-mountain-come-hell-or-high water to get an adrenalin rush.
Not too many herds of road racing cyclists either.
Rather groups of families and friends, instead of business men frantically discussing the next deal wearing lycra shorts.
Here the cycling is genteel and gentlemanly and graceful.
I’m reminded of the penny farthing and times gone by.
The sitting position is upright, the pace seems distinctly slow motion, and the predominant type of bike is akin to what my grandmother used to ride.
The wheels on the bikes are enormous and a whole industry exists supplying add-ons and travel equipment.
These are high-tech bikes of course, designed to eat up and spit out the miles.
Accordingly the Muensterlaenders spend a lot of time traveling on their bikes to enjoy the countryside on specifically chosen and constructed cycle routes.
I have joint the crowd – although there is no crowd – and have been getting around on a borrowed bike.
I’ve been noticing a lot more of my new environment than if I was sitting in a car.
At first I missed my mountain bike and it’s gritty attitude and knobbly tires.
Now I enjoy this new style of cycling and the relaxing pace and meditative rolling through the countryside I find very refreshing.