My friends all know it: I don’t have a TV. The last time I lived it a house with a TV was when I shared a house as a student. Without much thought, I then never had the need to buy a TV anymore. I even developed a strong dislike of TV. Sitting in a room with a TV, I can’t resist watching it. When I ask people to change chairs, so my back is turned towards the TV, I typically blame it on the “untrained eye”, having lost the habit of blocking the noise and fast moving images. It’s worse than that: I fear I secretly enjoy watching TV.
In conversations people occasionally refer to TV programs. When I mention not owning a TV, they mostly turn silent for a second or two. I then help them by saying “it’s not because of religious reasons“. Releived, they’ll invariably claim to “rarely watch it” and if they watch, then “only quality programs“. Most of them claim that they couldn’t do without a TV, the dishonest ones claim that they don’t want to.
A family member recently gifted me a newspaper subscription to NRC Next. It was the most horrible gift I ever received. I used to love the NRC Handelsblad. As a kid, I used to read it cover-to-cover, including it’s bulky weekend edition. Now, unable to throw the NRC Next away unread, my mornings started by reading it’s uninteresting articles. When I went on holiday, I purposely didn’t pauze the subscription.
This week I gave up on the rest of the news. It has been a slow process. Admittedly, I used to have a well stocked Google Reader. With high volume RSS feeds like TechCrunch, Mashable and nu.nl. I got rid of the IT news first, then the generic news. Unfortunately, I found myself visiting the sites of nu.nl and NRC.nl multiple times a day. Installing StayFocusd (Chrome) helped a bit, but my urge for news proved to be stronger then myself. So now, I’ve hopefully found a solution. A maximum of 5 minutes of news per day, a subscription to De Correspondent. And that’s it.
I wonder what’s next.
One night, a couple of days ago, I arrived home late. Upon entering the hallway I heard a sound from upstairs. My blood froze in my veins: burglars!
Read the full story here: https://gijsbos.com/its-payback-timeDutch actresses
Macedonian guy bonding with a Latvian kid.
Gay Columbia -Dutch gay couple talking to au pair girl from Peru. Next to Italian couple.
Indian family from Germany
Nice overview picture on the Amsterdam canals
Read more stories here: www.gijsbos.com
Mostly my “fuck it, let’s do it” decisions don’t turn out to be great. As mostly there’s a very good reason why I’ve been doubting so long. This time, it turned out great.Today was one of the first warm summer days in a a long overdue summer in Amsterdam. I was enjoying some quality time in the beautiful Vondelpark when suddenly an idea dawned upon me. Loads of if’s and but’s followed quickly. Fortunately, all thoughts were superseded by a “fuck it, let’s do it”. The big idea was actually quite simple: let’s take my boat and offer people free rides through the canal. The trip would be totally free and there would be only one condition for entering the boat: you can’t leave the boat without finding other people to take your spot on the boat. Pretty happy with the idea, I set sail for the center for Amsterdam, convinced I’d have a full boat within minutes. Upon approaching the first spot that I had deemed to be great, my doubts got the best of me. Many many excuses came up for not asking people: these people looked to boring, that couple is very much in love, that group is to old, a girl alone would think it was a pickup trick etc. I sailed past loads of people puffing next to the canals on this sunny day without asking a single one to join me for a free boat trip. Once I had sailed past the center and entered a quiet spot, I reviewed what was happening. Was I scared to be turned down? Wasn’t it a good idea anymore? Just when I thought I was going to park the boat and return home, I saw one elderly guy and two girls in their twenties. I shouted to them from my boat “You speak English? You want a free canal tour? It’s really free!”. The girls looked at each other and shaked their heads. The guy was sitting on a bench and jumped up and indicated “yes, I’m joining”. The girls looked surprised when he jumped on board. Suddenly, the prospect of free canal tour didn’t seem so crazy anymore. They turned out to be Spanish and said they would maybe call me later. The guy was scruffy looking and a Macedonian living in Northern Germany. He was in his late fifties and had a big belly that obviously came from a lifetime of drinking beer. However, I felt strengthened by my “success” and started asking other people too. 10 minutes later and after a lot of rejections richer, I again started wondering if I had made the right decision and how I could get rid of the Macedonian guy (who seemed quite content with his spot on the boat). Then things slowly turned out for the better. A young German couple hopped on board. In front of the Hermitage Museum we picked up two friendly Dutch theatre actresses, a group of heritage students from somewhere east of Berlin (they came from Columbia, New York, and The Netherlands). 2 olderly couples from Northern California. Minutes later a Dutch-Latvian family with kids joined us. We then picked up a Dutch-Spanish couple whose boat plans for the day had been cancelled. We dropped of the Americans and Latvians near central station. They were replaced by a big Indian family (8 people) living in Germany who we picked up near the “Nemo” museum. Later in the Jordaan we were joined by a random guy of whom I know nothing except that he was reading a book about writing scripts for theatre and TV. We kidnapped a Peruvian au pair from a bench (who started singing with the Colombian guy). And we finally picked up a group of lazy young Italians in front of the Anne Frank Museum. Needless to say that we had an amazing time together on this sunny day. Inevitably people asked why I was giving them this free trip. I repeated the story nearly a dozen times: “I’ve just come from a long trip around the world. During this trip people have been extremely kind to me. This is my way of paying them back.”
It had been a long time coming. My original plan was as follows: fly from Madrid to Gran Canaria, join a (to be found) sailing yacht that participates in the ARC rally, arrive on the other side of the Atlantic ocean by the 20th of December, spend Christmas in the Caribbean.
I arrived safely and happily at the other side of the Atlantic ocean on the 10th of March. A near three months difference. Finding a suitable boat departing from Cape Verde proved to be surprisingly easy, despite that “everybody” warned that the season would be over. A friend and I had the chance to be able to be picky and select the nicest yacht out of 3 without making any boat-searching effort. Two German gentlemen, my friend and I were the entire crew for the crossing of the Atlantic ocean in an 11 meter sailing boat.
The captain had never crossed the Atlantic ocean either, so everybody was tense and nobody knew what and how much we needed to buy. As a safety measure we decided to “overstock” a bit on food. Thijs weer hectic, and the day after carnival I literally had to run towards the ship in order to be on time for our departure.
I guess it took several days to realize what I was doing. The first two days we still saw land and other boats, but then it became quiet. Just the ocean, the sky and the four of us. Once a day we were joined by a single bird, we saw dolphins and a whale, loads of flying fish, but nothing else that indicated that the world around still existed. This lasted for 13 out of 17 days: total Zen.
We were four persons and had 2 hour shifts. This means that you’ve got to steer the boat for 2 hours and then have a 6 hours break and that for the entire day. After sunset we rotated the shifts so once every 4 days you’d have only one shift in the dark.
Experienced sailors warned me that crossing the Atlantic ocean can be boring. In addition, my iPad (also my eBook reader) ran out of batteries during the second day. Without possibilities to recharge (nor printed books) I feared for the worst boredom ever. Fortunately we had a great time, despite/because the ship was “dry” (no alcohol on board), except for one bottle of wine when we were half way. We sailed by hand, meaning no autopilot and only used paper maps (with GPS). The night shifts were especially amazing: full moon, up to 6 meter high waves and alone at the rudder with the rest of the crew asleep. For the entire trip we had the wind exactly from behind, which to the inexperienced ear might sound like a good situation, but this means that you have to watch continuously for dangerous jibes, which is tiring and exciting at the same time. Fortunately, I didn’t get seasick, which was a big relief, as the trip would have been very long otherwise.
Inevitably, during each of my shifts, I’d have at least one of them: a “freak” wave. Coming out of nowhere, a gigantic wave would pick up our tiny boat and do with it as it pleased. It served as a reminder that the ocean, and not me was in charge of what was happening.
I have some experience in steering small open boats (none, with the ship size we were sailing), so I especially enjoyed the sportive sailing parts with stronger winds and high waves. Facing backwards, trying to steer as little as possible and anticipate the waves and wind was my favorite part.
Those of you who are familiar with my cooking skills might be surprised that I participated actively in the cooking (no, not just doing the dishes). It is surprisingly difficult to cook on the ocean and more than once we had to pick our almost ready dinner from the floor.
Crossing the Atlantic in a sailing yacht proved to be one of the highlights of my trip. Highly recommend for anybody with an interest in sailing or a ‘different’ kind of holiday. The cost? 75 euros for the entire 17 days trip (food, fuel, etc. included). Just do it.