A Weird Night in Bloemendaal

Bloemendaal is one of the wealthiest communities in the Netherlands. Its streets are windy and lined with houses that are attached several million Euro price-tags. You can tell it’s a ritzy place because, among other things, the people who live here actually have front yards. It’s also the home of an amazing amphitheater called De Caprerabloemendaal.

De Caprerabloemendaal is located in a wooded park and it looks like something out of Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The stage, lined by tall trees, is separated from the audience by a marshy lake filled with lillypads. Further adding to the fantasy element, the drinks and food at the bar in the back are actually reasonably priced.

Marie and I headed to the amphitheater to see Iron & Wine back in August. Upon taking the stage, Samuel Beam lowered his sunglasses and surveyed the mini-swamp in front of him. “Looks like they cleaned the pool,” he remarked. “In case any of y’all are in the mood for a swim.” Surveying the foreboding forest behind him, Beam quipped, “I’ve never played at a venue like this. I’m expecting Jason to pop out of there any second with a big ax.”

Once the show ended and after darkness had fallen over Bloemendaal, we began the thirty minute hike back to the train station. Along the way, I heard someone yelling behind us. “BIKE, COMING THROUGH,” a black-clad teenager began shouting in Dutch. Before I could move, I felt a slap across the back of my head. The little brat had hit me for daring to set foot in a bike lane (along a stretch of road without a sidewalk). I was immediately incensed but what could I do? By the time I could come up with a snappy retort, he was gone in the night.

Moments later, we took a turn into a neighborhood. Outside a gated house, Marie stopped to take a sip from her water bottle. Then, from nowhere, a man appeared on a bicycle. Although it was well past dark, his eyes were obscured by sunglasses. Just about every inch of him was covered in Gore-Tex. He looked like Sammy Hagar after a few months spent locked in a Weight Watchers clinic.  In his right hand was a silver device that resembled the silver neuralyzers from the Men in Black movies.

“I’m filming you right now,” he sputtered. Apparently, his doohikie was actually a camera…or least for the ostensibly purpose of harassing us he was pretending it was a camera. “You’re not allowed to take photos of the houses here.” Much like I do whenever I encounter a hypocritical Sammy Hagar lookalike after dark, I kept walking and ignored him. He followed us and Marie began talking to him in Dutch. Apparently, he was some sort of neighborhood watchman. The man continued badgering us as we continued our way towards the station.

I couldn’t help myself. Operating under the assumption that this bloke was some sort of local businessman who likes to spend his evenings pestering pedestrians, my mind searched for a quip. As he turned to leave I spat “sieg heil” at him. Was this the most mature thing in the world to do? Of course not. Was I asking to spend a night in jail on a trumped-up charge for messing with a dude who was no doubt buddies with all four cops on the local politie force? Probably.

He ignored me as he headed back up a hill with a grunt. After missing our train due to this encounter, we caught a cab and got out of town as fast as we could.

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