This Saturday Sinterklass and his Zwarte Pieten helpers arrived in Holland. The arrival is known as the Sinterklaas Intocht. Once they arrive they start the two week preparation for December 5th when they give out presents to all the good boys and girls.
Since I was in town when Sinterklass arrived I had the opportunity to take a few photos. I found the perfect snapshot taking location. Since they were going to be arriving by boat I was standing on the rivers edge at the entrance to town where it was less busy. The boat would have to pass right by me in order to reach its destination and the thousands of hyper children that awaited it.
A short while after I arrived I saw the boat approaching in the distance. I started to take photos as it sailed closer and closer while the Zwarte Pieten danced about in what almost looked like a strange re-enactment of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean.
As the boat sailed past me I continued to snap away. Then, I suddenly saw him, the bearded white one, the pope hat wearing one, the one who should never be called Santa Claus unless you want to invoke the rage of the Dutch people, none other then Sinterklass himself. He was standing on the deck of his ship and he was actually waving to me.
This was great for two reasons. Number one, he was waving and not pointing at me while screaming to the Zwarte Pieten, “Get him boys! He’s been naughty this year!” Number two, I was about to get a great Sinterklass photo for this blog.
I quickly took up my camera and zoomed right in. It was going to be the kind of detailed photograph that would allow me to see what he had for breakfast by identifying the crumbs in his beard. I was just a fraction of a second away from pushing that button and capturing Sinterklass’s image in the photographic medium when disaster struck. The batteries in my camera suddenly died!
I started cursing, using the kind of language that might have had the Zwarte Pieten chasing after me with twigs if they had not been just out of hearing range. I was about to go home, beaten, crushed and a failure but then I was gripped by determination. I was not going to give up that easily. I would be victorious. There was still time to get that mug shot.
I searched for the nearest place I could find that sold batteries and restored my photographic equipment to fully working order.
I sprinted back to the river as fast as I could. I knew I could cut Sinterklass off by taking one of the other alleyways that would bring me out farther down the river. As I reached the end of the alleyway I could hear the excited cheers of children. I had made it and was about to see Sinterklass’s boat again. However, I only saw the back end of Sinterklass’s boat as it disappeared behind some buildings.
I was too late and even worse; the bridge I needed to cross to get ahead of the boat again was up so the boat could pass through. I was cut off from the main land but I still had another chance.
I knew of an alley way farther down that gave a view out onto the river. I dodged and dived my way through the crowd to my secret photo snapping location. This time I arrived just before the boat. There was nothing that would stop me getting that photo this time. At least that would have been the case if someone had not blocked off the end of the alleyway with wooden boards. Since I did not have an axe with me I had to watch as the masts of the boat passed by.
I had come so far. It would have been insanity to give up at this point. I knew I had one last chance, the boats final destination, the dock where Sinterklass was going to disembark. Once again I rushed through the streets and alleyways that would bring me farther along the river.
When I arrived I realized that I was still cut off from a good view point. This time by a large group of Pepernoot hungry children and their parents. It was only my English sense of politeness that stopped me from pushing a few children into the river so I could claim my prize.
My chance to get a photo of Sinterklass on his boat was lost. However, I could still get a mug shot of him during the parade around town. The crowd was too big to get through so I had to go around it. After some more running through streets and hidden alleyways I finally found a good spot over looking the parades route, just behind a group of children whose heads I could easily see over on account of me being a grown up and all. Finally victory would be mine. Nothing would make me give up my spot so I waited.
And waited some more…
Then suddenly, out of no where the man himself was standing in front of me. He was so close that I could almost reach out and touch him. He had his back to me but my heart leaped with joy and I felt butter flies in my stomach as I turned my camera on.
Then I realized it was a child dressed as Sinterklass, sitting on his mother’s shoulders. I felt kind of stupid.
Finally the parade started and I began to snap photos. First to pass by were Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook. I don’t think the Captain Hook costume was very authentic, not because it was actually a girl in costume but because she was clearly in possession of both her own hands. That did not really show much dedication to playing the part really.
Then I spotted him, the great white beardy one, riding his horse. He was just behind Harry Potter.
Maybe Harry Potter was acting as his magical body guard or the students of Hogwarts had be rounded up for performing naughty magic and were being paraded around town as an example to other children before being dragged off to Spain in a sack by Zwarte Piet.
As Sinterklass got closer I started to snap photo after photo. I was not able to get the quality photo that I had had the chance to get earlier but I still considered myself the winner. I allowed myself a small victory cheer which made several children look at me in confusion but I did not care. I finally had the photo I had been working so hard to get.
I now realize that if Sinterklass had seen me at every location where I tried to sneak a photo of him he might have become worried and thought I was some kind of strange obsessive stalker who never got over the fact that Sinterklass did not give him the fire truck toy he wanted as a child. I guess I will know if there is a restraining order in my clog on the 5th of December.