We were supposed to be hiking.
More specifically, we were supposed to lead a 20km hike of the Boucle Noir loop on Saturday for the hiking club I convinced Joe we needed to start last fall.
The route would have taken us around Charleroi, the largest city in Wallonia and the third largest city in Belgium. Joe’s done the loop already and promised that even though it lacks natural beauty, the hike is an interesting study of an industrial city that has seen better days. But heavy rains for most of last week threatened a miserable time because they’d leave the path super muddy even if they did let up. So we made the call late Friday night to offer a raincheck to the couple of folks who had RSVPed.
Saturday morning surprised us with an updated forecast calling for relatively clear skies and brisk but not terribly chilly weather. We briefly debated the merits of spending the day cleaning the house before deciding that a spontaneous trip to Antwerp would be way more fun than scrubbing sinks. And because “the more the merrier” doesn’t apply to all things but definitely applies to last-minute mini road trips, we extended an invite to a guy from the embassy community who we’ve been meaning to get to know better.
Before I get any further, now would probably be a good time to let you know that I don’t really like Plan Bs. It’s not that I’m not good at them — when you’re the daughter of a single mother who happens to be a pastor in mostly poor churches, you get pretty good at figuring out how to just “make it work” and you’re always contingency planning for when the inevitable will happen. I learned from a pro; I’ve seen my mom move our family on 24 hours notice in the middle of January because an ailing parsonage furnace finally crapped out and I’ve bought a substitute hamster on Maundy Thursday because the busiest week of the liturgical year simply wasn’t the time to have the “death talk” with my little brother. In fact, it wouldn’t be entirely far-fetched to claim that I have a varsity letter in figuring out Plans B - Z. But a lifetime of having to play logistics calculus in my head has left me longing for things to go according to plan most days. (Easier said than done in this line of life…)
All that said… as much as I don’t like Plan Bs, I have to admit that sometimes they turn out pretty OK.
We had a brilliantly relaxing day wandering Antwerp. The weather was perfect, the crowds were relatively light and we had more than just a few laughs as our new friend regaled us with big fish stories from life in the field.
Maybe contingencies aren’t always the worst.