When I arrived in the Netherlands, I rented a small apartment in the house of a Dutch woman. I had many expectations about how life in this faraway country would be, especially arriving in one of the coldest months of the year. One thing I would miss from Colombia was its coffee. I knew Dutch people like coffee too, but also tea. And I was sure there would be a greater variety of teas than of coffees.
As soon as I arrived at my new apartment, the lady offered me a Dutch coffee as a way to welcome me. Two things caught my attention. First, the kitchen was located in front of the window that looks out onto the main street. In Colombia, the kitchen is always at the back of the house and usually in a place where visitors cannot see it easily. The second thing that I noticed was a strange pot on a table close to the stove. It was a blue-and-white china pot decorated with typical Dutch windmills and clogs. On the top it had an open space and many other smaller holes surrounding it. I wondered what that object could be.... ‘Of course, it is a teapot,’ I thought. I imagined you could put the tea bags through the small holes of the pot and then fill it with hot water from the top.
Some months later when the spring arrived, I discovered that it was a tulip vase. I still smile each time I see one full of tulips.
Clara Peña-Venegas, Colombia, PhD student Crop Systems Analysis Group