38-29-52: Measuring Up the North

The Haagse air was brisk and swift. Outfitted with wool socks, long underwear, several layers of clothing and a peacoat, I was ready—to cross the street. Never before had such a short, perfunctory errand (the Albert Heijn is literally across the street from my building) demanded so much bundling. Then again, never before had I cast four-meter long shadows at noon.

Before crossing, I admired how tall I would appear in a two-dimensional world and pondered the tragic irony that the sun’s midday rays, barely bolting over a row of houses, gave the air warmth and suppleness. Optical illusions of the North.

I grew up in a town called Sonoma in California’s wine country; it sits right above 38˚ north latitude. Sonoma gets a furious wet season followed by a long, hot dry season.


As a college student I was fascinated by the prospect of living abroad and I reckoned my languages would nudge me toward Latin America or Spain. It took a few more years than I had originally guessed, but last year I found myself overseas in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

It was quickly apparent that I had moved from a clime with two seasons, wet and dry, to an island that has but one: Spring. It hardly rains and boasts an average year-round temperature of almost 22 ˚C/72 ˚F . Las Palmas owes its meteorological distinctions to its position just under the 29th parallel. Not surprisingly, many Dutch holiday there; so much so that you can find hagelslag, frikandel and satésaus.

The Hague

I never thought I would live in The Hague. The Netherlands, along with the rest of northern Europe, never crossed my mind as potential places of residence. But I have experienced nearly four months of 52˚ N and I am finally penetrating through the sheen of coming to a new city. What once merely sparkled in novelty now speaks volumes. Anonymity is turning into acquaintence, clamor into consonance. I even have my own cobbler.

There is something about this city that resonates within me. I love the fog snuggling into the streets and alleys. The marine air swirling about smells familiar and the rain keeps the city clean. I love that The Hague has much to offer and accepts with open arms what I bring to the table. I feel supremely comfortable within the clutches of this city, not minding that its jacket is wet from the rain and smells suspiciously of broodje haring; it just feels good to be embraced.

Sonoma                     38°17′20″N 122°27′32″W
Las Palmas de G.C. 28°9′N 15°25′W
The Hague                52°5′N 4°19′E


  1. Nice to see you’re happy. Just came back from your place in Den Haag. It’s warm and cozy but one thing was missing: you! I also like the city. If Marta and I are going to live in Holland, we will definitely consider ‘s-Gravenhage.

    • Our place is nice and cozy–read, small. Hehe, I am glad you were able to visit with Amaia and the kitties. It would be so cool if you and Martita lived here! But, I feel that your hearts are set on…Asia is it now? Where ever you end up, it will be extraordinary!

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