Many moons ago, Efteling used to hand out cassette tapes (yes, it’s that long ago) which gave a tour of the Laaf Village. Of course, this isn’t available these days, but our friend Milena has translated the story which was told on these tapes.
Alaaf, Alaaf, thrice Alaaf!
For as far as I can remember, we, the people of Laaf have always welcomed our visitors in this manner. Thrice Alaaf. We welcome you, for you find yourself in front of the main entrance of our settlement, here in the Efteling. During your visit I will guide you on our journey through our history that started millions of years ago. On the card on the box you will find the route we shall take. While we walk towards the different houses I will tell you a thing or two about them. When you hear the music play such as this
Then you may stop the recording in order to examine the house in your own time.
But let me introduce myself. My name is grand master Lavi and I am responsible for the education of the Laaf. I work in our school, Het Leerhuys or in English The learning house, I’m sure I will be meeting you there in due time. Give us a wave will you? I thank you in advance. Right, now that we have gotten to know each other, let’s go through the gate together. Join me?
We built a wall around our settlement to make things easier for you as visitor but also to accentuate the fairy tale atmosphere of the Lavenlaar.
While you gaze around you, have a seat and I will tell you something of our history. Millions of years ago we lived very far from here, in the high north, far above the North Pole. Back then it wasn’t as cold, on the contrary. Nature spoiled us with all the good things the warm sun and generous earth could bestow upon us. It was a paradise. This existence went on until the day a terrible natural disaster befell us. Ice cold blizzards and stormy winds chased us across the land. Even the sun was miserable and mourned our despair. Us Laafs are very sensitive to cold, it is lethal to us. Or as we like to say ‘Wij leggen het grote lood’ or in your words ‘We kick the great bucket’. What were we to do, the ground was covered in ice as far as the eye could see. When no rescue was in sight, our Great Laaf, our ancient father came up with a luminous idea. He called us together and suggested we dig a deep hole in the earth. This was the only way to escape from the cold. And we did it! We dug and mined our way deep into the belly of the earth. It was a way to a new land but an unknown way to an uncertain future. All of this happened a long long time ago. And since that day we journeyed on and on, because we couldn’t find anywhere that met our needs. In fact the more we traversed the earth the more we confirmed that humans made a mess of the earth. Until here, deep under the surface we sensed warm human signals. And the closer we got to the surface the more those signals of friendship and love forced the sadness from our hearts. Then we knew for sure that we could finally celebrate our homecoming. Finally and driven by unbridled happiness we dug our way to the surface. We held a great celebration of course, Later on I will show you the pit we emerged from and also the ladder we used. These you will find in the Loof & Eerhuys or in English Praise & Honour house. If we look behind us at the main entrance, on our left we can see the snail monorail and to our right seemingly leaning against the main entrance, ‘ Het Vleugelhelmhuys’ or The wing helm house. It is also known as the Lonkhuys or Oglehouse.
It almost looks like an observation tower from a medieval settlement and the wonderful roof construction reminds one of a Chinese soldier’s helmet. But looks can be deceiving. There’s nothing military about this building, Nowhere and I do mean nowhere in the Lavelaar can you find such military influences. We cannot abide any misunderstanding on this matter. We love good humour, good food and drink. Our buildings are representative of spontaneous fantasy and the joy of life. This is how we live our life too. We use this building mostly for meetings and festivities but it also affords a lovely view.
But let me start at the beginning. The life of a Laaf starts in the Kraamhuys (our nursery), where the Laaf babies have been entrusted to Ancient Mother Lot by the Lyrebird. The Lyrebird performs a similar service to the Laaf people as the stork does to humans but we will speak more of them later in the tour.
Now as a teacher I consider it my responsibility to point out that our words may be a little different from what you are used to. For example we call our babies ‘Larfkes’ and their bellybuttons ‘Laveltje’. These variations from the Dutch language are important to us because they help us preserve our own character. While we walk towards Lot’s’Kraamhuys we will be passing The Vleugelhelmhuys and use the bridge to cross the Lavenlaak stream.
Let’s pause here for a moment and appreciate the sight and sound of the running water.
The Lavenlaak stream encompasses much more that you can see here. It is our private water supply. We discovered the source deep in the earth. This water contains two special, important qualities. It’s as soft as the downy fur of a lamb and it has the scent of a dewy morning on a summer holiday. That is why we use it to brew Lurk and Limoen in the ‘Brouwhuys’ our brewery. And for the manufacture of our pastries and pies in the Lariekoekhuys. Before we enter the nursery I should tell you that the Lyrebird in its diligence can go a bit too far. Sometimes he delivers three or four Larfkes at a time to Mother Lot. Then it can get quite busy at the otherwise peaceful nursery.
Because of this you may see three Larfkes indulging their gluttony at a time. But there is more to see at the nursery. You will also notice the presence of a very old Laaf. He has tentatively exposed his round belly. In this matter he is waiting to ‘Have his card punched’, my apologies there isn’t really a good translation for the name of this procedure.
In any case the procedure is necessary in order to start a new Laaf life. Us Laafs do not die when we get older. We kick the bucket but this isn’t a bad thing. When our time comes we go to the nursery, Mother Lot taps our belly button and our life starts again from the very beginning. Oh yes, now you are about to enter the nursery I should tell you that the image on the wall is a depiction of our Ancient Father Laaf.
I will speak to you once you have admired the nursery
We have broken the ice, you’ve visited your first house. Only I forgot to tell you that Ancient mother Lot is the only woman among the Laaf. But while I tell you that story you can set yourself down on this ancient tree trunk we brought back with us from the high north and enjoy the beautiful garden.
So Ancient mother Lot is the only woman in our society. Some people think this is a little singular, and act a bit opprobrious. Others make inappropriate jokes. This is not justified however because mother Lot is goodness itself. You saw for yourself how her face is filled with warmth and kind tenderness. And only those who know her deepest secret would notice the soft mist of sorrow in her eyes. Brought about by a deep sadness locked deep within her and which will never leave her. This is because sometimes she spends her thoughts with her deceased husband. He is the only one who, when the cold overcame us, kicked the great bucket and passed away. What pains her the most is that dear ancient father Laaf froze to death in the ice while he was searching for her. Everyone had already gone down below into the warm earth and he did not realise his wife was among them. With our last ounce of strength we rescued his body from the ice and carried him off with us on our journey. And after we made a large golden statue in his image, we said our tearful goodbyes. We took the golden statue with us everywhere we went. Once we settled here we erected it in the Loof & Eerhuys which we will visit at some point.
Now we shall go left through the little gate on the way to Lal’s Brewery. In order to better understand our joy of life we installed fun house mirrors.
Let’s not simply walk past these but appreciate the way the mirrors give us an opportunity to gain new insight into ourselves. Look and feel how pausing here you will gradually feel a Laaf like lust overtake you. Here you are given a veritable suitcase full of travel imagination so that you are better prepared to continue our cultural discovery tour.
Let’s continue to Lal’s Brewery and I will tell you everything about this very important building.
Here at Lal’s Brewery you will see a monumental funnel, which draws the water greedily from the Lavenlaak stream and sends it inside in order to be used in the preparation of our famous drinks, Lurk and Limoen. This funnel is a prime example of Laaf ingenuity and we are very proud of the result. At the same time is one of our playful signals that prickle the imagination. The mirrors did the same when you looked at then did they not? In our brewery, worthy of its name, you will see how Lal himself controls the Lurk & Limoen with great care.
I don’t have to tell you that all everything involved with the production process is pure. You may be familiar with the process: washing, pressing, fermentation, bottling and preserving. For those who favour the regional or abbey type beer we produce the unsurpassed Lurk. And for those who prefer a non alcoholic beverage to quench their thirst, we produce Limoen: A golden, fruity beverage. I won’t divulge anything about the recipe. Not for secrecy but because knowing tends to offend the taste, at least in our opinion. Shall we enter?
Now let’s attend the core, the central point, the veritable beating heart of our settlement. The Loof & Eerhuys. In order to get there we must walk under the Leunhuys (leaning house).
The house came about due to a silly whim of Lorre Loet’s, He is our um…rag-and-bone man. He decided that there should be a building, just a building that had no purpose.
And yet when we pause here right in the middle underneath the Leunhuys and look up, we can see all the way at the top, underneath the ridge of the roof, a large birds nest.
This is the residency of the Lyrebird, our stork remember? Unfortunately he is almost never home during the day and so the chance is minimal that you will get to spot him. You have a much better chance of spotting him high up in the sky above the Laaf village.
You would recognise him immediately by his great soft wing strokes and by his belly that has all the colours of the rainbow. On top of his head he wears a crystal aureole and in his beak he holds a light blue leaf of the Lavious tree with great dignity which has the shape of a pram. When he flies low enough you can hear him hum Laaf nursery rhymes without pause. Graceful and controlled, the show horse of the golden sun chariot. In this manner he glides his precious charge to the nursery. When you see him the bells will be ringing because a new Laaf will be born.
Once you have passed under this house and glance backwards you may see brother Lektriek working on the electrics.
While we continue our walk, keeping an eye on the sky, we continue on under the left wall, mind your head, the gate is designed for Laaf people and come to the Loof & Eerhuys.
I cannot sufficiently describe what this building means to us Laaf. It contains everything that matters to our future and our past. On the right you will find the pit that we emerged from when first we came to the Efteling. It is our ancient well our umbilical cord, with an irrevocable past. If you listen at this well you can still hear Laaf’s digging their way here.
The golden effigy of our father Laaf is erected in the other half of the building. We erected it here in order to invite you visitors to transfer a little bit of your human warmth to him. You can do this with your hands, you’ll soon see how, When you do something very mystical happens. The warm glow of your heart will descend and underneath his feet a blazing glow can be distinguished. Father Laaf’s effigy expresses his joy and mutters grateful noises. In this way you give to him some of the warm he lacked that fateful night in the North Pole when he passed away. We made this statue because we could no longer stand Ancient mother Lot’s terrible grief. Fortunately we had just discovered the method for crafting with gold. We also just discovered that gold did not rust and shone more than the other metals. When work on the statue was completed we saw that peace had come over mother lot and that it had calmed the grief. She was delighted with the result. This is why we carries the statue with us all this time and finally put it up here in the Loof & Eerhuys. Please do donate some of your warmth. Mother Lot and all the Laafs thank you.
Did you get something out of the experience? I myself enjoy teaching in the spirit of Father Laaf. This prevents a lot of problems. In the same spirit the Laaf uses the Lurk & Limoen house and we shall head there now.
To get there lets go through Lijn’s Zweefhuys (Lijn’s floating house’ Lijn is our best ropescraftsman. He built this house in order to prove that he makes the best and strongest ropes in the world.
The Lurk & Limoen house was our village inn. Humans were also welcome to take part in our spirits and take home a free glass as a memento. Unfortunately the house has suffered some structural issues and is under construction at the moment. If you listen at the door you will hear Laaf labourers hard at work trying to restore the building to its former glory.
Our next stop is the Lavelhouse. If you pay close attention to the shape of the house you can see that it looks rather like a well filled round belly with an extra large belly button. The building is owned by Lorre Loet. Out of all the Laafs he loves nature the most, and that is no small feat. He is always looking for things people carelessly throw away. He says the earth has become one great big dumping ground, covered in trash and car graveyards. You don’t have to share his pessimism but he does deserve a lot of respect for how he combats this. Lorre Loet is not just an environmentalist, he is a genius at reusing second hand materials. Most of our machines and devices were collected by him and recycled and reused. In recognition of what he has accomplished he is shown high esteem by his fellow Laafs. When we pass him in the street we remove our hat to show our reverence. Won’t you do the same if you should see him?
Behind the Lavelhouse it becomes my turn. We will finally arrive at the Leer house and I can introduce you to my workspace.
The Leer house enjoys the protection of the wise owl. He is therefore of course prominent above the entrance. Our school is an open house. You can see all the way to the other side while at the same time it isn’t easy to see things clearly. This has a symbolic meaning. It takes hard work to gain knowledge and curiosity is key. So press your nose against the window, don’t be shy. Don’t forget to give us a wave. While you are doing that, no doubt you have noticed how the bell is sounded rather often. Be sure I will be hearing it as well but I will be pretending as though I can’t. It’s one of my students who is ringing the bell in hopes of tricking me into an early recess. Children’s are such rascals no matter where you go. Regardless it is my responsibility to make sure that the studying will continue and duty takes precedence. As you can surely tell by my appearance I am not someone who tends to let people get away with things. But my beloved strength is supported by the spirit of Father Laaf and with his spirit I try to shape free and wise Laafs. After all a child’s education is a serious matter.
The next house we visit is a place of amusement. Understand, I don’t abhor amusement. Only it is well known that such institutions speak to one’s imagination. I assume you understand my position, but after the school there is of course a difference is quantity. The Glijhuys (Slide house) for this is the house I am referring to. Enjoys an unremitting interest from young and old. Justified of course because it is an ingenious building. It belongs in a playground but thanks to input from excellent architects it has grown into a perfect pearl. You simply must go inside and once you are in you may as well slide out. I would like to confess to you in the strictest of confidence that I myself take part in my free time. When there’s no one around of course. After the Slide house we walk to the Lariekoek house.
The Lariekoek house is just as delicious as the Glijhouse only for very different reasons. Isn’t it adorable? It is a dream made solid of a romantic artist and the outside is a reflection of what can be found of the inside.
Here the brothers Luym bake the most delicious cookies and tarts in the world. Lariekoek, Lifferlafjes , Lefferbekjes they all taste so good. Yes I must confess it is one of our weaknesses. We love to indulge on sweet things. The temptation is all the greater because we know that it has all been made using the very finest of flours. Additionally the sweets are processed in such a way that there is no danger of tooth decay. The freely admitted, lavish feasting on these sweets gives rise to burps. This in turn gave rise to the following Laaf idiom. ‘Every Laaf that burps, harvest praise. If he burps well, he will also be acclaimed. ‘. I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Please do go and have a look inside because all this talk is making me awfully hungry. See you soon.
Now let’s get of here because didn’t it make your mouth water? Fortunately we are coming to the Lachhuys the laughing house which should help us to realign our senses. It is like our umbilical cord. Laughing is the perfect way to forget any and all misery. Is there anything more charming than a laughing child? When laughing even the truth sounds attractive. This is why we built this particular house especially for you as signal sender, Tell me true, is there a better place in the entire world to take a picture then from the window of this building?
Of course it also provides a nice contrast to the Leedhuys which is situated across from here. There is no need for us to enter the Leedhuys but it is good to take note of its location so that you can get there quickly in case of an emergency. Leedhuys translates to ‘House of Pain’ but I assure you it is a place of healing not just for us Laafs but for you dear visitors as well. If ever any harm befalls you and you should need to come to this house, you have my word that you will come out of the house with a smile.
The cone shaped building surrounded by flower pots, situated behind the Leedhuys is the end of our joint journey. Why it looks the way that it does is something you will need to find out for yourselves. Inside you can listen to our story once again accompanied by fine and moving images. I won’t be joining you in the Loerhuys (looking house) for that is what the building is called. I’m sure you will understand that I do not wish to say my goodbyes to you with tears down my face, it might leave you with a bad impression of this lovely walk. This is why I must take my leave of you here and now. Hear with your ears and listen with your heart.
Once you have finished admiring the Loerhuys why not go for a ride on the Snail monorail and appreciate the village from a unique vantage point. If you do don’t forget to tip your hat to Lorre Loet
Until next time. And don’t forget. If you see the Lyrebird the bells will ring! Farewell!