27 March 2007
By Asia Baltzley
Smells were coming from the Middelburg Square. Strong smells. Good smells. They seeped out of the food stalls and mixed together in the air becoming one huge delicious smell. I breathed in deeply, sucking in all the goodness of it. It smelled heavenly.
I skipped after my mom, avoiding the menacing cracks in the cobblestone path below. Ever since my friends from school had told me that if you stepped on a crack you would break your mom’s back, I was extra careful where I stepped. I looked up to see the towering stone abbey, dark and mysterious with cruel looking stone gargoyles watching my every move from the roof.
“Asia!” I heard my mom call to me. I turned my head to see that my family was several steps ahead. This was pretty normal for me, but all the same I didn’t want to get lost, especially with the abbey looming over the Square like a dark shadow.
We walked up to a stand where someone was selling what looked like small waffles coated with syrup. The Dutch family we were staying with had told us about these “stroop wafels”. Their explanation had made my mouth water. Dad went up to the stand and, using the little Dutch he knew, managed to buy one for me, and one for my little sister, Maia, who had pretty blonde hair and big brown eyes, with a hint of green, most likely from our dad. My own hair was in between blonde and brown, and I had the pure dark chocolate eyes of my mother.
The stroop wafel’s golden syrup oozed down my hand, sticking like tree sap to my skin, tempting me to lick it off. I took a bite. It was sweet. Very sweet. And sticky. The rich syrup stuck to my teeth as I chewed. I ate it slowly, savouring every bite.
We explored Middelburg all day, hiking through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets until our feet grew sore and Maia started to complain. We stopped at a small ice cream store to lift our spirits and take a break from walking. There was no place to sit, as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the town was full of tourists and locals alike. So we continued along, ice creams already melting in our hands, to squeeze as much fun out of the day as we could.
I was almost done with my ice cream when we finally found an empty bench. My feet sighed with relief when I took a seat on my dad’s lap.
I looked around the quiet street. It was peaceful here, much more peaceful than my home back in Kyrgyzstan, where the roads lacked rules and drivers drove recklessly.
This is where I want to live when I grow up, I thought to myself.
That night I dreamt of stroop wafels and green apple ice cream.