In The Netherlands we have a TV-program called ‘Farmer seeks woman’. It is a reality soap in where male farmers, often with a below average IQ or EQ, but often both, enter a process to find a woman. It is not difficult to understand that these type of farmers attract a certain type of women. And that is understandable because these people have to fit together. For many Dutch people, this program is the optimal form of entertainment, while others avoid the program at all cost. But whatever your opinion is, the program shows that we still have a lot of yokels in The Netherlands.
Now to Poland, and specifically to the Bialowieza National Park, just a stone throw away from the Belarussian border. We pitched our tent on a small nature camp site in the back garden of a local family in a village with the same name as the park. We share the grass field with a handful of other nature lovers that made it all this way to this remote spot to enjoy the special national park. Bialowieza NP is Europe’s last lowland primeval forest and is also home to the continent’s largest land mammal, the European Bison, which can only be seen here. But in the late afternoon, the peaceful atmosphere is heavily interrupted by a group of 16 Dutchmen, consisting of both males and females. Dutch people are in Europe infamous for their noisy behavior during holidays, but this group breaks all records. It doesn’t take long before the whole camping knows that they are farmers. But no normal farmers … they are bio farmers, as they call themselves. They travelled all the way to the eastern part of Poland for a study trip. But even with this new and more sophisticated name, they still have all the characteristics of the farmers in the reality soap ‘farmer seeks woman’. Both men and women.
But one of the first remarks they make is hopeful. They notice that the camp site is a quiet place. Are they really smarter than the first impression suggested? But all hopes disappear immediately when farmer John yells that they will empty the camping with their behavior as soon as possible. They park their campervan and pitch five tents with a lot of noise. “We are going to party all night; we can sleep tomorrow” is what farmer Pete shouts to the others. Farmer John and farmer Pete are the real party animals of the group and their jokes and remarks are hailed by the others, motivating them to make even more gags. The group immediately reminds us of a group teenagers, who just got out under mother’s wings and are on their first holiday without their parents. The members of this ‘study trip’ definitely do not know each other long, because they are still in the process of struggling for their place within the group. Everybody is doing their utmost best to be the funniest person, the most caring person, the toughest person or the most charming person. And this all happened under the eyes of the astonished other camping guests.
But at eight in the evening, the quietness appears again. The farmers are hungry and they decide to go to the village for a bite. As soon as they left the camp ground, the other guests relax a little bit. Astonished by what they just experienced, they start talking to each other. A gay couple immediately concludes that they will have a long night without sleep, while a Polish family with children looks at us flabbergasted. You see them think: are you from the same country? At around midnight, the group comes back, and as soon as they got out the cars, the noise is back. The alcohol made farmer John and farmer Pete even louder than before. The easily recognizable sound of the South Holland province dialect (province in where Rotterdam is located) blasts over the camp site. It takes around half an hour before the owner of the camp site comes to tell the farmers that they must be quiet. Most of the female farmers understand the remark and disappear in their tents, but most men, including talkative farmers John and Pete, are not sleepy yet.
It isn’t very different the following evening. The group comes back to the camp ground after dinner and starts immediately making a lot of noise. All the other campsite guests are already at sleep, because most of them planned an early morning trip to the national park. But the farmer’s group has little understanding. However, some women realize that their behavior is asocial and try to convince the men to be less loud by saying ‘ssstttt’ once in a while. But it is not enough. The camping owner appears again and summons the group to be silent and asks them to leave the camp site the next morning. And that is what happened. But before they left, it looked like they felt that they crossed a line. “Maybe we should be a little bit quieter next time” is what farmer Pete realizes himself. So maybe they had a useful learning experience during their study trip to rural Poland. Let’s hope so, especially for their future fellow camping guests.