Before I embark on my big adventure I’d like to take a second to look back on 2015. A year where I took a leap of faith (literally by diving 27,5 meters vertically down a slide at speeds up to 60 miles per hour at Dubai’s most legendary water park) and my life took some unexpected but very exciting turns. 2015 was a year of metamorphosis. I turned blonde. What a shocker. I got transformed into a fairy at Tomorrowland, became a survival chick in Slovenia, got in touch with my inner gay icon in Ibiza and continued channeling my inner geek at comic cons. It was the year where I became the person I will enjoy to be the rest of my life. However, I doubt I will stay a blonde.
Change was in the air that 31st January of 2014. Me and my best friend Cedric kick started the New Year on a beach in Dubai. He lived there at that time and since I didn’t see him that often and I had just come out of a break up, Dubai seemed the best place to start the new year fresh. Little did I know he was going to be the most important person to me that year. A few days later he moved to Antwerp after he got an impromptu job offer. We were like Bonnie & Clyde and embarked on one hell of a ride. We partied all over the world and infiltrated the underground gay scene. Yes, I stood amongst quite a lot of bare chests in 2015. Especially by the end of the year when I went to Thailand to cover my final story: 48 hours on the set of Temptation Island. In Belgian news stands soon!
But my most remarkable and inspiring encounter was with a cave man in Mokri Potok, Slovenia. Where I was sent to meet up with Angelo, a guy who traded his everyday life to live and survive in the Slovenian bush with his dog Lana and other forest creatures. Even though I only stayed with him for a week, I got infected by his freedom, his way of thinking, openly and without prejudice. Without fear. Having faith in what will happen. Or not happen.
A few weeks before my departure to Oz I met up with him in Belgium. He had just gotten some fresh ink at the local tattoo parlor and was preparing himself to survive in more extreme environments. While we were enjoying our drinks in a densely populated bar in the city, we were both in the woods. He with his heart. Me with my thoughts. At that time I was fretting over my future, stuffing my face with comforting carbs and basically freaking out over what I was going to do with my life. I just knew something had to happen. The further away from home, the better.
“What did you want to become when you were a kid?”, Angelo asked.
Me: “Ahm… an R&B singer?”
Angelo looked at me while raising his left eye brow. You should know Angelo is a wild man. He has a full, pitch dark beard, his wild manes he keeps up in a messy man bun and he carries an interesting cologne of wet dog and camp fire.
Angelo: “Okay…Try to visualize what your dreams were when you were younger, when every possibility laid before you and every door was an open one.”
Me: “I wanted to see the world… And have long hair.”
Angelo: “Voila! There you have it, this is why you’re restless.”
Me: “Because I don’t have long hair?”
Angelo: “Because you feel you’ve been neglecting some of your childhood dreams. Then what are you waiting for? For love to come knock on your door and take away all your dreams? For you to hatch out a few kids and end up divorced five years later? The doctor to tell you you have cancer? For you to become an old lady with a stick and huge glasses?”
Me: “Hey, don’t mock my glasses!”
Angelo: “I’m just saying you don’t have anything keeping you here. Except for excuses.”
Me: “But where do I start? I don’t even have enough money to travel to far away countries. I don’t even own a backpack. (on the edge of hysterical) I have never opened a travel guide in my life!”
Angelo: “Then write your own. When you visited me in Slovenia I noticed you were not there completely. Physically yes, but your head was somewhere else. It was only when I read your story in the newspaper I understood your head was processing every little detail and my mind was blown. You can write, kid. Use that talent. You have a voice that people want to hear.”
I shook my head. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? Me? A clueless girl from Belgium.
Me: “There are so many people who write travel stories, great travel stories, I can never transcend that…”
Angelo: “Well you just said you don’t read them so you will be unique in whatever you do. Stop looking at the problems and try looking at the possibilities. Right now you’re at the foot of the mountain and it looks like the Kilimanjaro to you. It’s only when you’re at the top of that mountain, you will see that it’s just a little hill.” Angelo would make a convincing graphic novel charachter. “Think about all the amazing encounters you will experience, the lessons you will learn, the skills you will acquire. You will see, when you want something really bad you will become a magnet. You will start to attract things where you’ve been dreaming about for a very long time.”
Then and there I knew Angelo was right. Then and there I knew it was time to take matters into my own hands. One week later I booked my trip. One month later I’m typing this while I’m sitting in seat 43K, going 559 miles per hour with a bit of turbulence. I guess this is what my life will be like the following months. Fast, occasionally rocky. But hopefully with a smooth landing.
(Find the PDF’s on my encounter with cave man in the menu. Sorry it’s in Dutch.)