Column Ilja: Bus 352

It’s chaotic. Time to go home to my parents in Drenthe.

Bus 352 from Wageningen bus terminal to Arnhem Central Station is almost full when I hop on. Hastily, I make my way to the last free spot, a seat right over the bus’s wheels, where the floor is elevated. My knees press against the backrest of the person in front of me. The man seated next to me sits with his legs apart, head back and mouth wide. Across the aisle, two boys crack open a beer.

The intercom crackles. ‘Are there passengers who need to disembark in Renkum?’ the bus driver asks, sounding weary. A woman raises her hand hesitantly. The driver sighs on the intercom. ‘Pity, we could have skipped Renkum otherwise’, he says. ‘We have a twenty-minute delay; the next bus is right behind us.’

In the time just before the elections, the country always seems to be at its most chaotic. Random strikes, protests and roadblocks. Against all expectations, there is a bus today, but the question remains if, and if so, how I am to get home. Due to its delay, the bus has taken on twice its usual number of passengers. Everyone is squeezed together in their warm winter clothes, and the windows are steamed up.

I don’t visit home for my home villagers’ political views but for the environment

As I travel north, the landscape changes. The political landscape. From Wageningen’s calm, progressive sound to the chaotic noise of the farmers’ movement in my village, which considers itself the last bastion of resistance against the government. And the physical landscape changes: the forests of the Veluwe make way for the sprawling fields of Drenthe.

I don’t visit home for my home villagers’ political views but for the environment. The landscape at home calms me. The wet heath, meadows and hedges and the cultural environment of my grandparents, great grandparents and all the generations that came before them. Spring has come at the sheepfold, where newborn lambs hop through the straw. It’s cold and grey outside, and we hike outside with wet noses. In this village, there is no bus in the weekends.

Ilja Bouwknegt is 24, a bachelor’s student of Forest and Nature Management, and an active member of the study association WSBV Sylvatica. She sometimes does bat research at night.

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