“Where may I drop you?”. The driver looks at us with a smile. Exactly on time the community bus is leaving the railway station of Deventer towards the village of Lettele.
January 2nd, 2018 was a clear day in the Netherlands. A great day to start the new year with walking, nice being outdoors. I set off with one of my best friends. By train to Deventer and changing for the bus there.
The community bus is a phenomenon. Volunteers drive small buses, with eight passenger seats, throughout the Netherlands. There must be several thousands of them, taking care of about 200 bus lines. They are united in local associations. The connections they service are considered ‘unprofitable’ for regular public transport. A good solution for local residents and visitors like us walkers.
The passenger pays the regular price simply through the OV Chip card. The vans and the operation costs are funded by public agencies. The drivers are on voluntary duty half a day, or one or two days a week. Men and women. Most of them are aged over forty, many are real seniors. What is their reward? One or two free, simple, trips a year with the association. But above all satisfaction: proof that you are doing something useful in the interest of the public. Plus: often a lot of fun!
A real village
Our driver, an enthusiastic in his fifties, talks about his life and what we see on the way. Of course we are waving after getting out. He drives to a village some kilometers further with two more passengers. On the street in Lettele, a woman wishes us happy new year. She is part of a group of villagers that cleans the streets, she explains. When work is done, a communal hot pea soup awaits them. This is a real village with church, shop, primary school, pub and village community center.
All afternoon we walk past meadows and streams, through small woods. Our shoes are a few times challenged by a mud puddle. Beautiful views, some wind. Five degrees Celcius. Part of the route is on asphalt or stone, but often our footpath is unpaved.
You always see something new, interesting. Occasionally we stand still to let it sink in. This is real enjoyment. And mindfulness in the open air.
In the late afternoon the sun disappears behind clouds. On the way we occasionally encounter a car, a farmer on his tractor, some walkers. In and around woods and the village of Diepenveen more people take a walk or walk the dog. At dusk our cadence leads us to into the city of Deventer, through a city park with special ponds and a beautiful water tower. On the historic Brink it is time for beer and a tasty meal. We have come to the end of this part of the Marskramerpad, offered and maintained by the Dutch organization Wandelnet. Run by whom? Again here: mainly by volunteers!
( 2 January 2018 )New tip, new tool