The death of a rat

Lore and I just moved in together to a new house. I don’t intend to go into all the details right now, just know that two of my best guy friends will be living with us as well, but they’re not in town yet. So for the last two days, Lore and I have been moving all of our stuff in, cleaning the dust off the floor and furniture, and discovering all the corners of the house.

We don’t have internet installed yet, so I decided to go work at the Uni’s library today. I had a coffee with Lore early in the morning and then took off. I met some of my class friends and I gladly discussed my views on Ethics (which should be turning to my first essay assignment of this term). A couple of hours went by, I felt like I was working very slowly just ’cause we had so many things to catch up with and I was feeling particularly chatty. Finally, I was left all by myself, with this huge disposition to read about Virtue Ethics while wearing my Batman t-shirt.

A minute later, my phone started ringing. It was Lore, so I picked it up. “Hey Lore, what’s up?”. I could hardly make sense of what she was babbling between all the screaming and crying. I started freaking out.

— Lore, where are you?
— In the house!
— What’s wrong?
— There’s a huge rat, it’s been wandering around in the living room. I don’t know what to do!
— Okay, so what are you doing right now?
— I’m standing on the couch!
— Okay, try to go lock yourself in your room, I will be there in 15 minutes.

There was something in her voice that made me want to fix the situation, you know? My brain switched to work-it-out mode. I quickly picked all my stuff, put my jacket on and ran to my bike. Then I thought “Wait, maybe I should call someone. Maybe there’s a guy who can help me deal with this rat so I don’t have to, right?” But then I realised I can’t keep calling boys to save my life. Not anymore, I should be self-sufficient. So my inner-dialogue continued: “No way. Lore and I will deal with this rat. We will fix this situation.” Then I cheated a little bit and called mom, because of course, she has a lot more experience with rats in houses. I think I woke her up, it was 6 AM in Mexico. “Mom, there’s a rat in the house, what am I supposed to do?” She told me to get a cat, or a dog to scare the rat off. She told me I could use a broom or call a rat exterminator. After getting some ideas, I thanked her and started biking immediately, all velocity, listening to some badass music thinking “I’m going to scare the hell out of this rat, I’m a strong independent student!”

I started to get closer and closer to the house and started realising I had no idea how I was going to react to a fucking rat. What if it wasn’t a cute rat? What if it was super aggressive, huge, black rat? “I can’t think like this, I have to be strong, I have to save the day”. I finally got home and got off my bike. Someone yelled my name from the street. I turned to look. It was Erik, Lore’s friend. I guessed she called him as well, and he rushed to the house to help her out. I felt a little bit disappointed, I wasn’t going to be saving the day after all. But I have to accept I also felt somewhat relieved and I let Erik now that.

I unlocked the front door, Lore was still standing on the couch. She was a nervous wreck. We both tried to calm her down. Erik grabbed a broom and started looking for the rat. I had no idea where the rat was, so I decided to stand on a chair. Erik found the rat and chased her with the broom, I saw her running from the living room to under the kitchen drawers. Lore wasn’t lying, she was fucking humongous. Twenty centimeters at least and really, really fat. I started screaming while standing on the chair, completely freaking out. (This is the girl who was going to save the day, right?). When the rat was cornered in the kitchen, I ran to join Lore on the couch. I thanked the Universe Erik was there. After a couple of minutes, I was able to hold my self together and help Erik from over the kitchen table, trying to spot the rat under the drawers. We waited for several minutes, we started chatting about different rat species and wondering how long she had been living there before we arrived at the new house. We started coming up with ideas to scare her off the house. 

After a while, the rat sneaked a peek from under the kitchen drawers. I caught a glimpse of her just standing there. She wasn’t a horrible rat. It was just a grey, fat rat with a cute little face and tiny hands. She was scared and being super cautious. I felt for her. I didn’t want to harm her after all. Sure, I was scared of her and it’s not proper nor responsible to live in the same house as a rat, but I didn’t want to cause her pain. I secretly named her Sandy.

Sandy went back under the drawers. Lore had been calling the rental agency, they were trying to get someone to help us get rid of her. Seems like all the professional rat exterminators were calling it a day and the agency couldn’t get any immediate help. They finally got someone from the Municipality to drop by and do something about it. Two minutes later, we saw through the window a van parking just outside our house. Lore opened the door. A tall, Dutch man in his 50s walked in. He was wearing all black and had a pair of big black boots on. He seemed really tough, the type of guy who could grab a rat by the neck and throw it five-hundred meters away and go home as if nothing had happened. He started talking to us in dutch, but since none of us know Dutch, we just stood there pointing at the hole Sandy was in.

We watched him as he put these huge rat traps in the kitchen with some substance that apparently attracts rats rather quickly. I caught a glimpse of everybody else’s face. Erik wasn’t happy, Lore and I weren’t either. We knew Sandy’s life was in danger. The guy left and we just sat there for 10 minutes talking about how we didn’t like the idea of Sandy getting hurt, but sadly, we didn’t do anything about it. I started realising how awful it would be to hear her fall in one of the traps, she wasn’t going to die immediately, she was going to be in severe pain for a few minutes before passing out. A slow, painful death. And she had done nothing wrong, she was born an innocent rat. Poor Sandy.

The sound of the trap going off stopped my thoughts. I knew that was the end of her. I closed my eyes, then I started to hear Sandy trying to escape so I covered my ears. Lore did the same. Erik kindly asked us to go around the block, take a walk, while he waited for Sandy to die and clean the mess in the kitchen. He was really supportive and I hope he knows how grateful we were by his presence.

We grabbed our coats and went walking around the new neighbourhood. (Pretty neighbourhood, by the way). Lore asked me “why do you think we feel so bad about rats being in pain?” I told her about this hedonist view I had been reading in my Ethics class, of how it’s morally wrong to inflict pain on humans, or any living being. For the record, I think most arguments on hedonism are full of shit, but they do have a good point, to cause or just be aware of someone else’s pain or suffering, and do nothing about it just feels totally wrong in the gut. It feels wrong with both humans and rats.

I’m still a bit upset about Sandy. At least we’re not freaking out over the couch anymore, and we’re still the owners of our own kitchen. I wish I could at least have a picture of her to commemorate her passing and show her to the occasional reader. All I have for now is this little rat-art memorial I put together for her. 

This goes to Sandy, the cute fat rat we superseded in the new house.

Bike + Phobia of supermarkets

Okay, I haven’t been posting. I’ve been up and down emotionally more than I will ever be able to describe in a blog post, I’ve known around 70 people in this last week and I already have a TON of ancient greek philosophy to read. But I wanted to share some highlights.

Highlight #1 – Buying a Bike.

I learned how to ride a bike a month ago. Yes, you read it well. I had lived happily for 25 years without the need of using any bike, but of course, that’s not very practical in the Netherlands. For real, this Dutch guy, Quinten, just told me they have around 2-3 bikes per person in the Netherlands. Now, I haven’t really cross-checked that information, so you may want to google that before repeating it. Truth is, there’s a ridiculous amount of bikes around here.

And I actually practiced a couple of times in a park in Mexico before my trip to Enschede but this is nothing like riding in a park. Dutch bikers are a thing to admire, you have the tiniest lane for riding the bike between cars and people walking by, you sometimes have to share lanes with motorcycles, there are traffic lights for biking, you have to keep right in case another biker wants to go faster on your left. It-is-scary.

I thought of getting a bike Lore had but then it turned out I was too short for it (there’s not a lot of Dutch adults 1,49 meters tall). Some people told me I could have managed to get on that big bike, but c’mon, if I’m going to suck at riding bikes I want to suck in a bike that fits me. So I got this cute little bike I feel very comfortable with, and I’ve been riding it for about 5 days. The 3rd day we were riding in a group from the river to the city center and Angela, my new Greek friend, told me she thought I was really brave for taking my bike to the street even though I had just learned how to do it. I felt very accomplished and immediately realised I was an asshole to myself for trying to let everyone know that I suck so much at biking and somehow make it up for the time it would take me to get used to it.

But it’s done now, achievement unlocked: I can move by bike.

Highlight #2 – Going to the supermarket

Going to the supermarket in the Netherlands for the first time was surprisingly even scarier than riding the bike. I was depressed, sitting in my room. I had lost all appetite and knew I had absolutely nothing to eat in the fridge. I had to drag myself out of my room and walk across the street feeling I was going to die inside the supermarket, and I’m not even kidding. My brain has this real weird way of processing things when I have fear, I don’t know why I thought “I’m going to the supermarket and I’m not coming out”. It’s basically the result of not knowing dutch and realizing I won’t understand what’s on the labels (though I prepared myself by translating Carbs, Koolhydraten, Fats, Vetten and Protein, Eiwitten). I did not work on a list but I figured everything I would get would be something that wouldn’t require a lot of time and effort to prepare, that would not rot within a couple of days, and that I could eat for at least a week.

Here’s the complete list of things I got.

  • 2 Tomatoes – €0,50
  • A mix of lettuces – €1,12
  • 3 apples – €1,24
  • 3 bananas – €0,92
  • Sliced bread (multi-grain) – €0,99
  • Around 7 slices of ham – €1,56
  • Around 7 slices of Gouda cheese – €2,43
  • 6 Eggs – €1,29
  • Olive oil – €2,49
  • About 400 grams of chicken breast – €4,09
  • Peanut butter – €0,99
  • Mayo – €0,89
  • Pickles – €0,69
  • What I thought was yogurt but it turned out to be fat from cottage cheese (?) – €0,69
  • 1 pan – €16,49

For a great total of €36,38! Not too bad, huh? And the best part is I didn’t die at the supermarket. I did, however, fucked up in the weighing-the-fruit system because that’s something the Mexican cashiers do during the check-out. But my cashier had to stand up, go to the fruit area and weigh my tomatoes, apples, and bananas. I promised I would do so myself the next time. That fat from cheese wasn’t very kind in my stomach either, but I’m pretty sure I’ll survive. This is a picture of my latest creation in the kitchen. And you oughta know I now consider Dutch pickles to be the best pickles in Planet Earth.

And that’s it for Today because I should be reading Plato’s Symposium!

Day 2 in Enschede

Today really made it up for the big trip and Jet Lag from yesterday. I went for to the campus for the first time and got to know the people I will be studying with. Ana from Ukraine and Alice from the U.S. are enrolled in my same master programme. I also met a guy from Finland but I forgot to ask his name. From the same faculty, I met Dutch people, Indonesians, a guy from Monterrey! (hey!), Spain, Denmark, Italy, Greece, and Germany. Everywhere basically, and they were all so nice. And Ana said one thing that really stuck with me; “we all come from such different countries, but we don’t have a hard time getting along ‘cause we all grew up with the internet” She’s totally right, and I really liked them all, it made me really happy being able to talk to them.

I went back home and talked to my roommates, they’re mostly German but there’s also one Romanian. I drank warm beer, it tasted pretty good even though it’s the cheapest beer in town and I’m used to deadly cold beer.   I tasted some of the red wine their parents do, that shit was strong! They’re all really funny, I get along with them pretty well. I also brought some Mezcal from Mexico and we’re trying it on Saturday. Perhaps things aren’t that bad at all, perhaps I’ll get used to this place.

For sure I’ll be getting more sleep today ‘cause I’m also a little bit tipsy. I’m also quite aware this blog can get boring pretty quickly and I’m not making an effort to post cool pictures. I’ll get to that part soon, promise. Thank you for reading though, peace out.

1 day until The Netherlands

Basically having a panic attack.

70% of this week was working my ass off to get my bank accounts in order before I leave the country, pick the clothes I want to wear for the next year and put ‘em in a bag. Learning to cut my hair, saying goodbye to my best friends and the guy I liked, throwing away stuff, saying goodbye to the band.

The other 30% I’ve been procrastinating, reading stupid stuff online, watching the Janis Joplin’s Little Girl Blue documentary, going out for a drink. I never gave myself the time to realize how fucking scared I am, I just wasn’t centered, I’m so nervous. It just hit me because I’m putting the last things in my bag, today’s both the band’s New E.P. Release party and my Farewell party. It’s done, I’ve done it. I’ve managed to escape from this city. Will it be better? Will it suck? Will it crack me or will it make me a better person? Wiser, more determined. Will I really find a path for my career or will I just discover somewhere else I don’t fit in?

By now, you should’ve probably noticed I’m ridiculously emotional. And now I’m all broken down to tears because I’m afraid, but then I’m also in awe of what I’m capable of doing. So just let it sink in, take it as it comes, open your eyes, just carpe diem. I’ll keep writing so you might find out how all this ends.

Getting my Dutch Visa

Well, I’m back from Mexico City where I had my appointment with the Netherlands’ embassy today. It was a fucking odyssey trying to get there on time because the city is HUGE and traffic jam in the weekdays is just ridiculous. So my aunt, which has been living in the city for about half a year, offers to take me there. Awesome, we don’t really know the whole city so we use Google Maps, right? Turns out there’s a pretty decent road within a couple of miles you can take with very few minutes of delay, so we get on our way. We drove between steep hills for about 15 minutes and my aunt was crazy scared and then we finally get to the long expected nice road – yay!? No.

My aunt seemed to forget you have to have some sort of pre-paid card in your car to drive through that specific road (it’s called a tag, and now I know the road was the second floor of Mexico’s city Peripheral Ring). And by this time we’re totally past our alternative exits to get to the embassy. It’s getting pretty late and my aunt feels super bad. We start to think I’m not gonna get my visa, but I can’t NOT get my visa because I already quit my job. Plus, I really want to go and study my master. Are people from the Netherlands always on time? Will they get offended if I’m late? I don’t really want to find out. So we decide to call an Uber which will obviously have that prepaid tag and I’ll take that road and I’ll get my visa and I’ll get my master degree.

The Uber arrives within two minutes, I jump to this other car, wave my aunt goodbye and I’m on my way again. I’m a little bit more relaxed, everything’s going pretty smooth and we’re a few minutes from there. I’ve got everything I need with me, right?. Except for… my papers!? I forgot my papers on my aunt’s car! I try calling her a hundred times, the call finally gets through. “Aunt, I forgot my papers in your car” I can tell from her voice she’s about to faint, she tells me she’ll try to make it as soon as possible but I should make an appearance in the embassy and explain the situation.

I’m just walking to the embassy, I cannot help but laugh at myself. These things just keep happening to me. I have no idea how I’ve managed to keep myself alive for 25 years. Seriously. 

Everything went pretty well at the embassy, they waited for me, I gave them all the papers needed and now my passport is traveling to Washington to get my visa stuck on there. Meanwhile, I’m back in my hometown and I’ll be trying to close any pending item at my job, pack everything up, plan a couple of farewell parties and get ready for my trip.

Here’s a rainbow I spotted on the flight from Mexico city today. It doesn’t really have any meaning other than the spectrum of light caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion, but it kinda reminds me I don’t have to be perfect to get things going. 

I found a house!

I’m glad to announce I finally found a house and roommates in my new town, Enschede. I just skyped with them and they’re so cool I cannot even understand why they thought I would fit in with them. We talked about what I was going to study, what the philosophy of science and technology is, what I like to do in my free time, we talked about Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. We talked about beer and the fact that I’m still learning how to ride a bike.

They told me they were going to discuss and let me know in a week if I was accepted. But they came back to me 20 minutes after, basically saying I was welcomed to their house. I’m so excited I started jumping. I’ll be honest, the house itself isn’t too fancy, but it’s full of good vibes and everyone’s personality and our own personal bar! I can’t wait to get there and meet my roommates in person. I can’t wait to hang my favorite pictures on the wall and use the bar. Achievement unlocked. I got a house!