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Yearly Archives: 2011
When the word spread that I was heading for Europe, family and friends assumed I was returning home for good. When I explained my plan for Was to stay several weeks and continue traveling, it instilled surprise and fear in the people I love.‘Isn’t about a year since you’ve left?’
True, I left on the 12th of October 2010. ‘won’t you have difficulties getting used to normal life once you return?’
Maybe, I will be very well rested though. I think that when I stop traveling life will be fine. ‘don’t you miss your friends and family?’
… ‘where are you going next?’
Good question. I’ll probably leave Europe around the beginning of November. By then I will have made up my mind. ‘wow, you must be very rich’
I got rich by wanting very little (Thorreau) So yes, I will continue traveling. For how long I don’t know. As some of my travel naivety has worn off, leaving Europe will be tougher this time. However, my curiosity for new people and places is still there. Which will keep me on the road for the foreseeable time.
It seems an eternity ago, at the beginning of my trip, somewhere on the coast in Southern India. Two very different Brits recommended me the same band. I dutifully noted the name in my ‘to listen to’ list and didn’t think much of it for some time.Once I downloaded the album (which isn’t easy in India), I didn’t like it: to much folk and they sounded like every other pub band. So I completely forgot about their music. Until a month or two ago. During one of my lengthy motorbike rides I gave Mumford & Sons a good listen and completely fell in love with their first album ‘sigh no more’. Why? I can only describe it as follows: sometimes when you listen to music you want meet the creators because they must be interesting and passionate people. The music is amazing and their lyrics put philosophers to shame. Try it and listen at least two times.
It has been a long time since I was this lost. The previous time it was different: a massive mountain in Argentina, fog, snow ice and rapidly changing weather. And I wasn’t alone.This time it was on a small island called ‘Bunaken’ of the coast of Sulawesi. Despite it’s ridiculously small size, I managed to walk for hours without a clue of where to go. Even more humiliating: it was on the way back from a snorkeling trip. Calling the surroundings ‘jungle’ would be an overstatement, as it were mostly deserted coconut plantations. I hardly met anybody and the few persons I did encounter didn’t seem to have a clue that any major tourism resorts on their tiny island. My frustration with the situation only increased the scorching temperature and my water bottle was nearly empty. And then, there he was: an intelligent looking man, early 40’s, the perfect guy to ask directions. Just like his fellow island dwellers I was ‘only ten minutes away in roughly that direction’. I didn’t buy his story, but bought him instead. The ridiculous sum of 2,5 euro for supposedly a 10 minutes walk. I was delighted though. When we where well on our way, he got a call on his mobile phone. Even with my limited knowledge of Indonesian I could make out ‘foreigner, walking many hours, go to resort’ and he mentioned the price. He had to explain it three times to the woman on the other side of the line. She didn’t believe that a foreigner could get lost on the island, let alone pay such a sum. He gave up explaining and passed the phone to me. Within 3 seconds she knew that the foreigner her husband mentioned really existed. I did my best in confirming the story, ensuring my savior wouldn’t get into trouble at home. When I arrived ‘home’ a lone turned around plate was waiting in the communal dining area. The story of the ‘lost foreigner’ quickly spread amongst the resort staff (thanks to my savior). This ensured a big smile from the waitress when she delivered my long longed for food.
It had been over a week since I drove my motor.Tthe sun was shining; the coastal road was flanked by palm trees on one side and a deep blue to bright green sea. Still I was sad.I only realized this morning that I will soon leave Asia. What once seemed an eternity into the future, has now become a 2 week deadline I need to make. So many things to do: see a park or two, dive in Bunaken, sell my motorbike… I’ve met great people recently: from Wana tribesmen to an amazing guide in Toradja. The tourists were eclectic: from a Lebanese ‘gypsy’ who had been traveling for 11 years to a Dutch 62 year old IT consultant, Italian documentary film makers and a Bosnian aid worker who establishes child abuse protection centers in Cambodia and Sierra Leone. So why leave to the country of Burgers and Bush? Because I’ve got a festival to go to? Because I’ve bought a plane ticket? Help!
The morning was perfect. Despite an entertainment filled night, I woke up early and in a perfect condition. I walked down the steps of my little bungalow onto the pristine white sand of the amazing beach. To my own surprise decided to do some yoga, something I hadn’t done in a long time. A bit stiff at first, but quickly stretching further than ever before. Helped by both the stunning ocean view and by being the first person awake, I continued with a short, but deep meditation. The first in a long long time.Flexible and relaxed I decided to go for a morning swim and avoid the ‘breakfast crowd. As It was low tide I had to be careful not to cut myself on the coral, but I made it to the deeper part unscratched. I turned to swim on my back to see the early morning sun rise behind the mountain. The ocean was flat like a mirror and I couldn’t hear any sound but the distant splashes of fishes jumping out of the water. A raging burn in my neck and shoulders. I looked around and couldn’t see anything, but I noticed that I wasn’t bleeding. I swam away as quickly as I could. And then I truly started to feel the pain. It was intenser than anything I’ve felt in years. I knew I could stand on solid ground just 20 meters away, but suddenly that seemed very far. I started to swim back to the coast. The diagnosis at the beach was quick: a jellyfish. No, I didn’t manage to pee on my neck and neither did anybody else. The pain remained intense, most likely due to my sunburned skin the jellyfish managed to strike. After an hour the pain subsided and the perfect morning continued in my hammock.