‘I have everything here: nature, culture and new love’

Esther Huijsman (46) has never had a strong travel urge. But the day after her 25th birthday, she left her family in Reeuwijk for a life in Germany. In 2021, she started a special tourist stay here with her new German partner: two shepherd carts. “I still consciously enjoy the beautiful surroundings here every day. I would like to share that with others. ”


The Huijsman family has strong roots in Reeuwijk. Esther’s mother, uncles, aunts, cousins, almost all still live nearby. The bright yellow cranes from grandfather’s crane company Nederhoff are indispensable in the region. But in 2000, her husband was offered two jobs at once: one in England and one in Germany. “That’s how foreign countries came my way,” says Esther.

It was difficult for the couple to choose which offer to accept. They decided to sleep on it overnight. “The next day we would call our preference at the same time, by feeling rather than by reason. We held our breath and talked down: ‘one, two, three … Germany!'” Esther laughs. “In fact, we both thought. , that the other would say ‘England’. “But it became Germany. They set off for Rodenbach, a village near Hanau in the state of Hesse.

Fives for German

Esther could get used to in Germany. She taught English and worked in childcare. To be allowed to stand in front of the class again, she had to speak perfect German. “In high school I had fives for German, so there was still some work to do. When a career test once said that I was linguistic, my mother responded: ‘Otherwise we did not add much!’ ”Laughs Esther.

However, the test was not wrong. Esther received her Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom and now even occasionally teaches German at the primary school where she works. “Sometimes I can explain German grammar better than my colleagues because I do not do it out of emotion, but know the rules of the cases and still see the rows in my head.”


Esther had three children, and the family became a small, Dutch enclave in Germany: outdoors in German life, indoors with Dutch customs. “Our children have therefore become a real mish-mash. For example, we celebrate Sinterklaas at home, while the Germans have more at Christmas. And we speak Dutch, but the children have a German accent. ”

Another example is strict rules. “When a German crosses the road, he waits for green at the crossing. Crossing red when no one is approaching calls my kids ‘Dutch green’. And to cross diagonally is ‘mother’s crossing’. ”

New love

In 2018, Esther divorced her husband. She dated a few other men, but she did not really find a new love. Until she met Johannes Schatz from Karlstein am Main. “I had just finished dating and wanted a quiet summer for myself, but a friend convinced me to go with him and another friend to a party. “He’s not looking for anyone either, and then you’re with two men, so safe from other hunters,” he said. We gathered with his friend and John opened the door. “Wow,” I thought at once. “

Later it turned out that the mutual friend John had already shown a photo of Esther and that he also liked her. But both thought the other was not looking! “It was a long evening of talking and yet gentle flirting,” Esther blinks.

Twenty years after her arrival in Germany, Esther’s relationship with Johannes resulted in another, deeper integration into German culture. “I got a real German family, and also saw a Bavarian. People who are generally a bit more conservative than in my state of Hesse. “Conversely, Johannes got a whole Dutch family.” It got a little too much during lockdowns. Fortunately, we will find out in the end. ”

Glare like a shepherd

Johannes has been a ‘master baker’ in the village of Karlstein am Main for decades, but before that he wanted to be a shepherd. He even received a shepherd’s staff for his first communion. Now he was still walking around with the desire to own a ‘Schäferwagen’, a small motorhome that the shepherds used to travel through nature with their sheep. “At first he wanted to use it to sell rolls from the bakery for events, but such a car was too expensive for that,” says Esther. “When he later suggested camping, I thought, can we not ‘glare’ in a Schäferwagen?”

Thus, the game was on the wagon. In the autumn of 2020, two Schäferwagen, custom-made and following an authentic example, were ordered to rent out and travel with. John’s old shepherd’s staff was placed outside on one of the wagons and Esther’s daughter made a website and drew the logo. In the summer of 2021, ‘Schätzi’s Schäferwagenhotel am See’ was launched on a campsite by the lake, with of course a delicious bread service from Johannes’ bakery. “Inside it smells of fresh wood, and outside you have a beautiful view of the water and the hills from the picnic tables. The location is so cool, I feel completely at home here. ”

Never leave

Due to corona and a poorly timed back operation, Esther has not been in Reeuwijk for three years. She would like to visit her family again, as does her friend Trudie Schrier, whom she still knows from the basketball club CKV Reeuwijk, and with whom she recently came in contact again. But moving back to Holland? She does not think about that. “I have everything here: I can go out in nature on a walk along the vineyards, ride a mountain bike through the forest or paddleboard on the Main. I can enjoy some culture at the museums in Frankfurt or visit Seligenstadt’s half-timbered houses. Or I just sit in the sun on the beach by our lake. ”

Esther sniffs again at the fresh mountain air. “I still enjoy living in such beautiful surroundings every day.”

More information about Schaeferwagen: www.schaeferwagenamsee.de

by Key Tengeler

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