The second half – by Emma

June 6, 2024

We had a nice bike ride today! From Kerkstraat in ‘s Hertogenbosch, we biked to Dordrecht. We passed a lot of farm animals, including sheep, cows, and some cats. Some sheep early on said “baa”, which I believe is sheep dutch for “good morning.”

We stayed in two groups for biking and three people took the train. Our groups stopped at different times, so we had some snack exchanges when we passed each other! We all seem to be getting stronger and getting a better handle on things. 

We got to the stayokay (which was right off the bike path) and ate some hagenslag/bread/Nutella/other snacks outside. 

We then met Jaap, who works with the water authorities, in one of the stayokay meeting rooms and he gave us an insightful presentation about the water management authorities. The presentation focused on governance and flood adaptive strategies. One highlight was a challenge posed by Jaap to the group about beavers. Beavers have been reintroduced in the Netherlands recently, and have since grown exponentially and are difficult to control. The beavers dig holes in the dikes, which requires damage control measures. With the highly engineered water management system in the Netherlands, it’s difficult to cooperate with ecosystem engineers like beavers. In comparison, in Vermont, we rely on beaver dam storage for water quality and purification.

Following Jaap’s presentation, we biked into Dordrecht and Jaap took us on a tour focused on flood management in the city. We observed different ways that buildings have been constructed to minimize flooding in homes and businesses and ways the water authority works to keep those within the dike ring from being flooded during storms. For example, one side of the canal had buildings with steps, and one did not. Jaap explained that the houses with steps were built by wealthy people to give them a bit more height to avoid floods. When originally built hundreds of years ago (and through to today) these spaces were used as houses, whereas, originally, the other side of the street (where there was no in the entryways) was often used for storage.

Japp treated us to appetizers and drinks on the water, which was very kind and delicious! We then went to dinner in town.

Finally, we biked back to the StayOkay to end our day. I believe we biked about 73 kilometers today, but i am not entirely sure. We are all quite tired and ready for some sleep.

I feel as though every day of this trip is my new favorite day, and this tradition held today. I am exhausted and I am having the time of my life.

To my parents and Katie, if you’re reading this, I love you and I will see you soon!

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