Hiking report

Hiking from Nierenhof to Langenberg!

On March 11, 2017, we did our third hike, which I documented here. At that time, I was amazed to see that the weather was better than the weather forecast. Last week and today, the same thing happened. No rain, despite rain predicted. I’m starting to understand that that’s what’s to expect in spring here. The upward trend of the temperature is still persisting. We’ve been trying to keep up our moral during the winter. And that’s what you probably saw in my posts. But to be true, we now really enjoy being outside.

As I am going to Berlin for one week from tomorrow, we hiked this time on Saturday. That might have been partially the reason why there were only about 25 people this time (although in the article about Ratingen a year ago, I was thrilled to see mind boggling 22 people).

So here we are again, Velbert. I cannot stop saying how much we appreciate the train line that connects Wuppertal and Essen, which allows us to visit this Velbert region, because this is one of my two favorite hiking regions (together with Hagen) in this rather flat region around Düsseldorf. In the meantime, I can say all the train stops along this line starting from Wuppertal Vohwinkel.

I started posting the trail ahead of the hike some time ago and now the hikes are fully guided by other people, particularly by Cláudia, Nikolas, Julian and Thomas, although Julian and Nikolas were not there today. As a matter of fact, just by posting the event on couch surfing and creating a WhatsApp group in the previous evening, I can now travel to the hiking location for free, and have a free guide. And for some reason people are still grateful to me. A perfect example of how feudalism works.

Today, after quite some sessions, I found out that Farhaz from US actually spoke Kurdish. As I already said last week, Kurdish has different branches. Ayaz from Syria of course speaks Syrian Kurdish, but Farhaz spoke that of Iraq. Apparently that of Iraq is much closer to Persian. He taught me several expressions. Probably I’ll be able to speak decent Kurdish if I continue talking with Kurdish people on the hikes. I can hardly believe that such an opportunity emerged. I still vividly remember how much I was amazed by the photos posted on national geographic, and how much I dreamed of going there to see it myself. Now, quite unexpectedly, I’m making a step closer to my dream.

Farhaz, on the other hand, seemed rather excited about the fact that I was interested in Kurdish. The fact is, despite my huge interest in the Kurdish language and culture, no one else really seems to be interested here. That’s the problem of Willkommenskultur, which is strongly related to the problem that I illustrated in the article of three weeks ago. In particular, while here we try to integrate foreigners into the local culture, we barely show any interest in their culture. But the basis of real integration is cultural exchange. It doesn’t work if we just impose our culture on them. Indeed, we cannot force the locals here to start being interested in foreign cultures. So in this sense, what I’m saying doesn’t give a realistic solution. I’m just deploring the contradiction and the dilemma of being in the society which isn’t intrinsically capable of solving fundamental problems.

So I won’t start saying I’m proud of myself. Yet, even if the mere fact that I’m interested in the Kurdish culture is just a piece of luck, I am still happy that I was different. I am truly glad that Kurdish people join us, because I’m myself interested in them.

On the other hand, I sometimes feel horrible about the fact, that there’s huge interest in the Japanese culture in many countries, but there aren’t enough Japanese people around. For most of the people here, I am the only one Japanese they know. So I’m used to encountering people excited about meeting a Japanese for the first time. Again, I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but in this ugly unbalanced world, I should probably still be aware of my luck, that people show interest just because of my country of origin.

By the way, I’m also glad that Elham is willing to teach me Persian on the way, since it doesn’t happen particularly often with the Persian people, maybe because they are not used to meeting people who are seriously studying Persian.

There was very little civilization today from the beginning. And we were going again the Neanderlandsteig, which was just as beautiful as everywhere else. Towards the middle of the hike, it went slowly upwards, until we had a break at Bergerhof, which is apparently a famous farm with restaurant. Famous, probably due to the open farm which is directly connected to the restaurant. While we were eating there, there were quite some animals passing by. Funny to see a dog in panic when a chicken passed by.

The way back to Langenberg was hillier than I had expected, but a good mixture of various landscapes, even though we had already left the original Neanderlandsteig. The total distance of 15 km, which is fairly long for a winter hike, did not weigh so much on us as I had feared.

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