Day 12

This morning we were up at 8 am in the barracks, I had a really bad hangover, ate breakfast and began our day. The bus drove us 12 km away from our campsite to drop us off and let us ride the remaining 20 km to Westerbork. We rode through the country into town where we got lost and rode around in a circle, this is also the place I got hit by Amber, she may be small but she rammed my leg with her bike and bruised it top to bottom. Jidde lead us around in circles till Mariette had finally had enough and took control, we continued biking through the town and back out into the country again. After that we found ourselves biking through a forest which was NOT the terrain for cycling, it was loose dirt, basically an accident waiting to happen. After finishing the uphill struggle we found out that we had biked past the lunch crew (???) since we refused to bike back through the forest to meet them, they came to us. After about 1 hour of waiting group 2 finally showed up. We got lunch and the pipe band started to show up. I was a ball of excitement, Brenda was coming as my stand-in mom and I was so excited to see her and the rest of the Chatham pipe band. Our reunion was nice, good to see some familiar faces, after that we rode over to the actual camp where we had a guided tour. I resent our tour guide, I feel that she didn’t tell the story of Westerbork the way she should have, she talked about it like it was a great place to live. It was this that made me think of what freedom means to me in this situation, sure this wasn’t a death camp but people were removed from there homes and brought here and weren’t allowed to leave. Which is what freedom means to me, the right to leave. Which can be broken down into the right to not be taken from your home and not being shot for trying to leave. In a change of tone Christaan puts his hand up to stop the guide mid-tour to say “this isn’t a question, but we have been to Anne Frank’s memorial in Bergen-Belsen” which was returned by a confused expression on the guides face and everyone else palming our foreheads. On our tour it started pouring rain, and instead of taking up under the shelter, the guided continued as if nothing had happened. I am going home with more the memories from this trip probably pneumonia as well. The rain cleared up pretty quickly and we proceeded to our ceremony, which was a big one. We had three pipe bands there together to play for it, Frank Graham and various other veterans including his son and Bert Reynolds. This made it very special, it was also my day to lay a wreath which was a real honour to do in front of so many people. Our ceremony was held at the back of the camp at the railroad tracks, representing the transport by train from Westerbork to Auschwitz. After our silent walk to the front of the camp we biked back to the museum, looked around and packed up, After returning to the camp I took a 30 minute nap and got ready. Tonight was going to be a big night… last year they had a huge party in house 78B, so this year the party was renamed 78B in honour. we had supper and slowly but surely started drinking again, for the first bit we played a few drinking games ride the bus/ pyramid and flip cup. Then once the clock struck 11the party began: Tijn (a past cyclist) had come up with another past cyclist for the night to DJ for the party. The tables were moved and the dancing commenced, it was one big circle of girls singing and dancing whatever Tijn played. Through the night I feel like I had many awkward encounters with people I am not super close with, for instance trying to get Christaan who refuses to dance to try and dance was an epic fail, talking to Jidde was a bust because he thinks I’m an idiot so conversations with him are like he is talking to a child. But I had alot of fun with my girlzzz (Kristen, Allison, Ellen, and Hannah) who literally make my nights amazing. Oh and my new best friend Tom is always fun to drink with because he is as awkward as I am so when he gets drinking we both get dancing and it is just a real party. I finally made it to bed at 4 am after falling asleep on the couch with Ellen. It was an amazing night that has brought us all closer and made some lasting memories.

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