June 3-10, 2000
This conveniently located suburb of Charleroi is where I'd spend my nights during my week of touring Belgium.
The hills around here are mostly man made as a by product of the coal mines. All the dust unsuitable to sell were dumped in massive piles that now have a decent cover of young trees and plans growing on them.
Most of the mines have closed down. It's actually cheaper to import coal and even middle grade stone from Asia. The extremely low end stone market still lives here (since it's not worth the shipping cost to bring it in) and the other extreme, the high end quality stone that is hard to find. Knowing this, not all the Belgian block in Belgium is Belgium.
The great couple I stayed with Olivier and Letitia are friends I made while back in America. Olivier is Vincent's, my ex-housemate, brother and had visited a few times. Each time he sees me, my dreams of travel are in a different form of development. At first, pondering the ideals of Europe, the second time, planning the great adventure, thirdly leaving work and moving out, then finally actually on the road!
They also have dreams of extended travel and the plans are just starting to move into motion. Perhaps me next visit with them will be in Bulgaria next year! It appears that Olivier and Letitia also have cravings for the mind expanding experiences of picking up and dropping yourself into a new world. Some people take drugs, some people travel.
By now I don't think I'm continuing and extending my travel because I want to, but because I have to. I see the idea of relocating abroad becoming a consuming passion in Olivier as it once became a near obsession that led to extensive anticipation and planning for departure. I still anticipate my next country before I've left the last.
Don't get me wrong, I do miss the people and camping at home; however, if I never left, I would live in envy of all the others who have set foot in far out places. For a traveler, home is where you've come from, never where you're going.