About a mile from the highway here, across a narrow canal and flat grazing land dotted with sleeping cows, a Dutch passenger train sits stranded in a lovely green meadow.
It is a strange, incongruous sight; like a science-fiction movie about the day time stopped. Indeed, the train's bright yellow-and-blue striped paint job gives it the look of a stranded space ship.
But what makes this scene most eerie is that inside the four cars of that Dutch train, armed South Moluccan terriorists have held 54 or 55 hostages for 13 days. They are demanding the release of South Moluccan prisoners and a plane in which to leave the country.
For a mile in all directions, troops and armored personnel carriers block all road, another sharp contrast with the peaceful, picture-book countryside of nothern Holland.
Out from under most of the army helmets streams the long hair that has earned the Dutch military the "hair force" epithet among the more traditional armies of the West.
That this tense life-and-death drama is taking place in Holland itself contributes to the contrasts one sees here.
Holland is probably the most liberal and open-minded country in Western Europe, with a long tradition of defending the rights of the underdog. Yet Holland for centuries was also the center of a large colonial empire and it is that past that has caught up with the Dutch in recent years as young South Moluccans have taken to terrorism to vent their anger and frustration.
The young gunmen on the train are children of some 12,000 South Moluccan families that migrated to the Netherlands 25 years ago after Indonesia took control of their pacific island home.
Since then, the community here has grown to 40,000 people and a small minority of the Moluccan youths resent their parents' lives here as "wooden-shoe Dutch" and they are grasping, frequently at gun point, for anything that will dramatize their lack of identity, homeland, culture and language.
Through binoculars, the train looks dark and dead, tilted slightly where it was stopped rounding a bend. Newspapers with a peephole cut in them, cover the driver's window.
Hanging from the side windows of the passenger cars are blankets and clothing put out for airing or drying.
Three or four times a day, two Dutch railroad men wheel a small wooden cart about a mile down the tracks with food, water and supplies. They come back with bags of garbage.
Thus far, no one has been injured, according to the authorities. A woman among the captives who is five months pregnant is said by authorites here to be in good condition.
The identity of the people on the train has not been disclosed, and there is still uncertainty about whether there are 54 or 55 hostages. The identity of a few of them may not be known by Dutch officials.
There is plenty of room on the train, which has both first-and second-class compartments and seats for 260 passengers. This should allow the hostages room to stretch out for sleeping. There is also a small dining section in one car.
Little is known publicly about what is going on in the train. There were reports, impossible to verify under tight security conditions here, that Dutch commandos had placed tiny listening devices under the cars at night.
Though power to the train's motors is cut, railmen say there is probably still some electrical power for lighting in the train's batteries.
At Night, looking through light intensification devices that some television cameras areeqqipped with, one can see the flickering of candles inside, still another touch of other-worldliness.