A special friend

With determination and considerable speed, a cyclist with a red shirt is approaching us from at the edge of the parking lot. He comes for us; we are alone here. A young blond boy of less than 18 with a hipster bun on his head and an open face steps off his bike while we are seated on the platform.

In French he explains that he is a Boy Scout and that he had to cycle here and fill a best friends book. If we want to become friends … Since his pronunciation suggests that he is Flemish he is quite relieved to find out that we want to be both his friends and that he can ask questions in Dutch.

Firstly there is a whole story about the journey he has made to get here, how he had to find his bike, got lost on the Belgium national park Hoge Venen and that there are no cycle paths there, so he had to walk for miles with an empty water bottle. Fortunately, he has been able to fill that again, so he declines our offer for a refreshment. Then he shows us is an empty notebook and a pen and, yes, we are his first friends. Apart from the fact that he is seaking five new friends, one of them should be found at the highest point in the Hoge Venen (here Koos is the likely candidate), an old woman – I sacrifice myself, a child and 2 other qualifications that we do not meet. We suggest that Mickey also becomes his friend, but cats are excluded…

I get deja vue’s back to the time that our kids in groups 3 and 4 (age 6, 7) dragged a friend’s book with them, but that was of a different order. Who wanted and did not want to be in your book, or even, who you did and didn’t want in the book (and every combination of these options) was of vital importance. We are just his friends and full of enthusiasm he asks us about our favorite colour, place of residence and age. Fortunately we can offer some suggestions about favorite music and films so that we can forge a warm bond. He himself does not have a TV at home, nor does he have Netflix, but he does know Farmer wants a wife. He thinks our camper is really cool (“een echt coole camion”). His disarming way of being and making contact makes me want to be a friend for life with Joran from Hoegaarden. He finally makes a selfie to prove that we are real friends.

For a moment he looks back and waves at us, but then he leaves with the same determination with which he arrived. He has to cycle another 40 kilometers and make 3 new friends.

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