When I decided to write a poem about night canoeing I perhaps slightly romanticized my vision of night canoeing. What I had intended to write was along the following lines:
With light paddles and smooth strokes,
amazement reigns among the foreign folks
My city is stunning in the night.
Dare I say, her beauty is thriving when lacking light.
Marked by amazement and a hint of gloom
we slid through the dark, guided by the moon.
The water glistens, our minds are set:
Utrecht by night, we’ll never forget!
But, as some of you may have experienced and more of you have heard of: it was not all serenity and relaxation. Therefore, I have decided to alter my poem accordingly, as I felt it should be more hard core realistic and a tad more melancholic.
They went with light paddles and smooth strokes,
but my canoe stayed a bit behind the other folks.
They moved like Ferrari’s on a German highway road,
while mine was sort of stuck, like an anchored boat.
The beer break came when it was highly needed
and with renewed energy all of us proceeded.
We all headed back with our ‘ship’,
and started the second part of our trip
Power is in numbers and weakness in division.
Splitting up in two groups was bad luck, not a decision.
Those ahead initially waited for the other group;
but those behind, got lost with their entire troupe.
Adventure is in the eye of the beholder
and with the strength of the arm and shoulder,
Nothing could ruin the fun,
and both groups went on.
The journey was continued by those ahead,
and they defied the low bridges and dryness with dread
The second group ended up huddled in a taxi ride,
And let out a sigh of relief when the bicycles were in sight!
Take home message to derive from all this?
Don’t panic when things go wrong and you feel amiss.
Allow your expectations and dreams to bend.
(As long as you reunite with your bicycle, in the end)
If there is anything I learned when I was abroad it is this: planning is valuable, but useless in a sense; my most incredible experiences and most cherished memories were what happened when I made the best of whatever unanticipated situation I was in.
So: be that anchored boat (in the midst of Ferrari’s); let yourself get lost (in a canoe, in the middle of the night, surrounded by strangers). And enjoy it intensely, ’cause it’ll probably never happen to you again!
By Erna / Ruby