Friday, 24 January 2014

Laura Dekker at Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck - Part 3
Photo: Silke M.-Polnik

On October 6, 2013, Laura gave a presentation about her circumnavigation at Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck “Kabelmetal” in Windeck-Schladern (Germany).

Please enjoy!

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After short greetings in the hallway we moved over to the living room where a big, flat and gift-wrapped box that Silke and Christoph had brought was opened to reveal its secret : a pirateship Guppy cake from their local bakery with Guppy written in sugar icing. Laura was very happy about it. Christoph also gave Laura a book. Sadly, we can’t remember the title but it was something about sailing.

_ "Maybe we’d like to try the cake", Laura suggested.

_ "We’d love to!"

The table was soon set and a few minutes later the five of us were sitting gemuetlich (cozily) in my dining room. If someone had said to me in late August 2009, when I read about Laura’s story in the Rhein-Sieg-Anzeiger newspaper during breakfast that she would be sitting at my table four years later, I’d have called him a weirdo. But that’s exactly what happened on this October 6. We did not cut into pirateship-Guppy-cake but choose to go for Silke’s tasty apple cake. Laura preferred hot chocolate over black tea; I did not have any peppermint tea that Daniel had asked me to brew for Laura. However, she obviously enjoyed Silke’s apple cake. We talked about this and that, about sailing and about how many meters of anchor chain one has to let out when dropping anchor, about the translations that West North and I did for Laura (Daniel had no clue about that and I noticed that Laura didn’t appreciate when I told) and about some other things. Daniel had never tried a Crème brûlée, even though they had celebrated Laura’s 18th birthday in France.

_ "Reminds me of Christmas", Daniel said as I caramelized the sugar with a gas torch. Laura tried a few spoons. Obviously she liked it.

_ "Did you cook it?” she asked.

_ "Sure did!"

We would have liked to spend more time with Laura and Daniel and entertain more important subjects, but Laura and Daniel had to go for a brief visit with relatives. And the long case clock (Daniel: “That clock reminds me to Big Ben” due to it's deep tone) in my dining room indicated that it was less than an hour until our scheduled meeting with the moderator at the hall. Sounds incredible, but it’s true: Daniel, whom Laura met on a bus on the other side of the world in New Zealand, has some relatives living in my neighboring village.

_ "How long have you lived here?" Laura asked me getting inside the GUPPY-mobile.

_ "My whole life, my family has lived here for more than one hundred years." I said. Laura looked at me in disbelief.

_ "See you later!" she said and off they went.

One hour later, at about 16.45 Silke, Christoph and I arrived at the Kabelmetal hall. On the left side of the stage the speaker’s desk was set up. A large screen stood at the center rear of the stage. On a lower podium in front of the stage a leather sofa was in place for the interview. Mr Orthaus and Laura had already discussed the course of the event. “She’s really an easy going person”, he had said to me. Indeed, she is.

Except for us there were only a few people in the auditorium and two little girls that kept asking Laura for autographs. Could this be the kids of my Facebook friend Sascha? Indeed. They had done the three hours long journey by car just to see Laura. An other fan had travelled by train from Holland to Windeck-Schladern.

On each chair in the auditory we placed one copy of the postcards that I had brought back from Hamburg the week before. Next we had to organize the sale of the book. We quickly set up a table to the lower right side of the stage and decorated it with a few books and the poster that was given to me in Hamburg. While I was still busy with fixing the poster to the table, I noticed from the corner of my eye a dog entering the hall – it was Spot, Laura’s dog, and the man that he towed behind him was Laura’s father, Dick Dekker. He was followed by Riek and Dick Dekker senior, Laura’s grandparents from Holland. They had come all the way from Woerden near Utrecht to attend Laura’s presentation. I don’t know if Laura was really surprised by their visit. I had knowned of their presence a few days earlier, but Dick Dekker had asked me not to disclose anything to Laura. At least Spot was happy to be with Laura again andexpressed his joy uproariously. Sadly, Laura’s sister Kim couldn’t be with us because she had to attend school early the next morning – and as we know the Dutch officials have no mercy when it’s about attending school. While I was still busy with preparing the table for the book sale, Laura’s grandmother stepped closer to me and told me in German that she’s Laura’s grandmother - “I know” was all I replied and that was obviously confusing to her, and that she had not seen the German version of Laura’s book before. A few minutes later I saw Laura in a conversation with her grandmother who obviously was asking Laura about me as she pointed in my direction, and uttered an “Oh!”. I can’t tell if this “Oh!” was meant as a positive or a negative. While Laura was sipping her peppermint tea, Dick Dekker asked me in German whether I did advertising for the event. A weird question, really since…I have to say that I answered him coolly as we haven’t had only friendly correspondence in the past.

When trying to connect Laura’s computer with the video projector it turned out that despite the five millions of Euros that were invested in rebuilding the hall, that money hadn’t been enough to buy an adaptor to plug-in an Apple laptop. Happily, Daniel’s relatives in the neighboring village had an adaptor that fitted. Just before the start of the event the question arose if there should be a break after the first half of Laura’s presentation.That eventually was found to be unnecessary. Laura handed a poster to me that I fixed to the entrance door to the hall. I later learned that it was the very same poster that Laura had photographed for her September 22 weblog. Daniel and I agreed that I would sell the books I had from the book store in Waldbröl and that he would sell the books Laura had purchased from the Delius Klasing publishing house. To be done after Laura’s presentation.
The clock showed a few minutes past 18.00 and to my surprise and to my pleasure almost all of the 90 seats in the auditorium were taken. Laura’s family were seated on the left side in front of the stage and Laura was waiting to be called as she sat on her father’s lap. Then the show was on!

Moderator Jürgen Orthaus began with a brief introduction about his work at Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck. Then he introduced Laura and they both took their seats on the sofa. When the applause from the audience faded, he asked Laura the first question : „Why is Laura Dekker giving her only public presentation in Europe in Windeck?“ - you will remember that question from the beginning of this account. I have to admit that I felt pretty touched by Laura’s answer, however I was brought back to reality when Mr Orthaus suddenly held the microphone in front of my nose asking me how the connection to Laura had come to be. Well, summing up four years in one or two sentences is rather difficult if not impossible, so I kept to some platitudes and simply asserted that Laura is worth being supported.

_ "Some time ago it was said that a circumnavigation is not that difficult: Sail southbound until the butter starts melting and then simply turn left. But that’s not how it is, is it?” said Mr Orthaus to lead back into Laura’s circumnavigation.

_ "You can try doing it like that too, however that’s not how I did it."

_"Then please tell us how you did." And then it was Laura’s turn to tell us.

-To be continued-

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