Ten kilometers behind me, forty-eight to go. Roads in the Utrecht region went through the never-ending pastures, where cows were silently, unconcernedly browsing. No shepherd minding his sheep, no farmer harvesting the fruits of the Earth. The last person I talked with was the grungy receptionist of that creepy hostel in Den Bosch.
Earlier that morning, I checked the weather forecasts. Rain was supposed to start by the time I should have reached Utrecht. Although, it followed through since the moment I left the outskirts of Den Bosch.
The bags on the backseat became heavier and heavier. The water was coming from every direction, both from the cloudy sky above and the muddy puddles underneath the tires.
The weather worsened as I was riding. I stopped to uselessly wipe the water out of my glasses. Around me, a huge, flat green sweep, decorated with a few farms and a bunch of trees.
And there I felt the need to talk to someone. I felt the urge of human communication as I could feel the vital need of drinking water while walking on the desert dunes. In that moment, I understood that we are not made to be alone. We are meant to be a herd of roaming lions, not an army of lone wolves.
Twenty kilometers, thirty-eight to go. The rain never gave me a break. Things got worse when the wind started blowing against me. I took a break to drink some water. I parked my bike on a bridge. All I could see was waving trees and the green endlessness of pastures. All I could breath was the heavy moisture, the sweat of my forehead, and the unmistakable smell of farms. A sign at the side of the road was giving direction to the closest town. Fifteen kilometers left.
Thirty-five kilometers, twenty-three to go. I was completely wet when the rain finally decided to stop pouring. A tall tower was standing in front of me. A small arch underneath the tower made the way to the center of a small town named Culemborg. The Markt square was full of closed stores. No trace of human being. Just me, my bike, and my wet bags.
I was starving. The pouring rain and the strong wind reduced me to a hardly breathing piece of flesh.
I stopped on a side of the square, searched for some snacks in the bags, but found nothing.
«You are not from here, are you?» someone yelled at me from behind.
I turned around and I saw a blonde, tall girl. She was wearing a black apron – with a writing on it saying Brasserie Het Kasteeltje – and the best of her smiles.
«No, I’m not. I’m on a bike trip around Netherlands.»
«Oh, so you must be hungry» she told me while showing me the way to the bar. «We’ve just opened.»
«You’ve read my mind.»
The clouds opened wide, the wind stopped, and a ray of light suddenly lightened the whole square.
This piece featured in the Amsterdam Writing Workshop about Travel Writing held on both 19th and 20th of March.