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I have a map fetish

On Sara’s training schedule today was a 50 minutes run. With her running speed, I calculated she would be able to run 7,5 kilometers. So before we went out, I opened my AllTrails app and drew a route on the map. And just now, I created a map for our visit to Maastricht tomorrow. See, the thing is, I have a map fetish.

I always had. When I was travelling in Australia from the summer of 1999 to the summer of 2000 – 5 years before Google launched Google Maps – I was always looking at maps. How to get from A to B, where I could go, how a state or a city was shaped.

Maps fascinate me

I don’t know why, but maps fascinate me. Borders fascinate me. Have you ever looked at the map of Africa, with all its crazy straight borders? Suddenly you understand why there are so many conflicts. You can’t sit behind a drawing table and put a straight line on a map to decide the border between two countries. You have to know the local situation. Maybe that’s why I like Imagine by Jack Johnson so much. (Yes, I know it’s not the original.)

The funny thing is, people still draw lines on maps, without local knowledge. Maybe not between countries, but on a small scale, they do. I remember working for a newspaper in and around Dordrecht. We were joined together with another newspaper in one of the many reorganizations of those days. Some smart-ass in an office, far away in Amsterdam, decided where the border between our newspaper and the one in the state next to us was going to be. He drew a perfect straight line on his map, cutting a municipality in two.

Five towns would get the local news, because they belonged to our newspaper. Two towns wouldn’t get the local news, because they no longer belonged to our newspaper and the other newspaper decided that, for 2 towns only, it wasn’t worth printing the news.

We tried to get the decision undone, but couldn’t. The smart-ass in Amsterdam was perfectly happy with the borders on his map, and said that the people in those towns probably wouldn’t mind missing local news. Which is kind of a strange thing to say, if you work for a company that produces … local papers.

No sense of direction

But I’m going off topic. This blog post was about my map fetish. Maybe I love maps, because I always get lost. I have no sense of direction. I rely on Sara for that. However, give me a map and I can find my way. Maps give me a feeling of safety. Or maybe I have a map fetish because I always loved travelling. I wanted to see the world. Maps showed me the way.

Now as a runner I like to study the profile of a race. I like to see where I will be running. I like the anticipation. The fun you can have, even months of weeks before a race.

However the map of Maastricht I have for a whole another reason. I don’t like crowds. It’s Christmas holiday. Maastricht can get crowded. So tomorrow’s map is to get us from shop to shop as quickly as possible. That way, we we can relax in the sauna and be ready for Thursday’s run. Of which – of course – I’ve downloaded the map.

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