<most of this piece was originally written several months ago>
After 17 days at sea, spatial dimensions changed completely upon arriving on land. From observing a near endless ocean from our cramped boat, I was thrown into a bustling French-Caribbean marina. My occupations changed completely too. From a neatly organized 2 hour watch system on board our ship, to the continuous chaos of traveling in an unknown foreign country. Guadalupe was strange as well: technically speaking it is France, the big shops (Carrefour, Intermarche etc.) are French too, but it is in the middle of the Caribbean, thousands of miles away from Europe.
Amidst these changes, I sensed that the end of my trip was approaching. I therefore seized the opportunity to experiment with a new “lifestyle”. Different accommodation, different food, different thoughts.
I ended up spending the majority of my nights in the Carribean (Guadeloupe, Dominica and Curacao) sleeping under the stars in a hammock. Mostly on secluded beaches, sometimes on mountains surrounded by impenetrable forest. I stopped eating fish and meat, not out of any particular strong belief or conviction, but because the combination of my personal health, animal health and ecology felt good. And last, but not least, I started having different thoughts.
Sleeping outside in a hammock in the Caribbean might seem the logical thing to do to some, and totally crazy to others. At the start of the first night it felt crazy to me too. “what if a big black guy with a machete turns up and chops my head off”. And how sure was I that there weren’t any dangerous animals? (especially after walking past a living 2+ meter long boa constructor in the forest). Fortunately these feelings subsided quickly and I immensely appreciated every part of living outside: cooking simple meals, preparing the hammock, and seeing uncountable numbers of stars as the last thing before I closed my eyes. The even better best parts of sleeping outside were the slow halting of animal sounds at night and literally waking up next to the beach. Early morning yoga and exercises at the beach followed by snorkeling or just a regular swim in the ocean didn’t hurt either.
If this reads like I’ve been traveling to long or heard one rendition of “Rastaman vibrations” to many, please rest assured. Despite having traveled a bit over 20 months, my analytical mindset hasn’t been replaced by hippie bliss, but has been extended (or should I say “completed”?) by something that feels new and familiar at the same time.
Once I return home I’ll see what sticks. I will look for a solid roof and walls. I most likely will eat meat once in a while. And surely my ambitions, projects and fully loaded calendar will get the best of me from time to time. Will all be lost then? Definitely not. A way of living contently with less “stuff” has been deeply ingrained in my lifestyle.