One thousand kilometres of Dutch landscape shows no sign of change.
Equipment: road bike: nine kilograms; tent, clothes and spare parts: eleven kilograms; two bottles of water: one point three kilograms.
Distance: One thousand one hundred and thirty-six kilometres travelled in 14 days.
Regions visited: all of them, except for Utrecht, Flevoland and the overseas islands.
Daily routine: Wake up, eat breakfast, dress up, disassemble the tent, load bags, ride, take a picture of those sheep, have lunch on the road, ride again, spell my name to the person in the reception, reassemble the tent, shower, wash clothes, venture to the closest town, buy food, have dinner, endure the curious stares of twenty Dutch families, inflate the sleeping mat, sleep. Start again.
Evidence collected: pictures, taken on the side of the road.
Flatness. Stand in almost any corner of this country, and you will see the same: a ditch, a cultivated plot, some farm animals, a row of trees in the distance, one or more engineering works, a church tower and a small town. Unifying everything, the flattest of horizons.
Omnipresence. There is always some element that locates our body in a cultivated land: be it a forest or the remotest point of the dunes, it will find a way of announcing itself in the distance. The impossibility of being far away makes it impossible to be alone.
Modesty. Even if there is no space for loneliness, there is a constant feeling of being lost. There are no distinctive traits, no recognisable accidents. The Dutch, with their reluctancy to stand out, have managed to infuse that modest spirit into their landscape.
One hundred pictures of Dutch landscapes taken during the trip were superimposed and merged into one single image. The result is a meta-landscape of the Netherlands, a purified and synthesised version of it.
Boredom. The most impressive thing about the Dutch landscape is how incredibly repetitive it can be, unapologetically. Its ability to hide, through engineering, the changes it has undergone in the last thousand years is remarkable. Is this good? Is it bad?
Blindness. Probably, all this experiment is nothing but nonsense to the average Dutch: that is because she or he can see and feel the nuances and subtleties I can’t. When I observe a flatland, I see nothing: fenlands, polders, peatlands, they all look the same. I guess this is because I was raised to confront the colossal geography of my homeland, Colombia. For me, nature always presents itself as a shot in the face.
Reading. The Dutch landscape asks for a meticulous beholder (and I’m not one): as in a painting by Bosch or Brueghel, the dramas of everyday life are small and meaningful details happening on a stable background. In this way, trees, streams or fields are the signs of a landscape that only makes sense when read as a book. Meaningless sensuality has been left behind some dike, and we all pray it will never flood this land.