Enter… the waterworks

Today is Saturday. That means I survived the week. The week I had been dreading, since it was my first full week of training.

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For your information we train 6 hours a day. We start at 6am with 1 hour (usually a little more) of Taiji.

You can find a video of me practicing Taiji on http://www.facebook.com/blondeclueless

Right after we have breakfast, this usually takes only 15 minutes and then everybody rushes to their rooms to get ready for the day. At 8.30 am there’s line up. We have to line up in our group and shout our number so the Shifu knows we’re all there. Then we start warm up. We run for 10-15 minutes around the court yard, then we gather to do warm up stretching. One student takes the lead and the rest follows. After that the training starts. Usually we form three lines and run back and forth doing power basics: punches, kicks, blocks, … This is a combination of cardio, technique and strength training. This takes approximately 1,5 hours. Then there’s a 30 minute break and then there’s another 1,5 hours of training.

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Rrrrreally enjoying this chicken and veggies. Two times a day. Every day.

At 12 we have lunch and then we have time to rest until 2.30 pm. Then we have to line up again, shout our number, go for a run in the street up to the big tree (this is a very tiring run) and then training starts. On Mondays we have Sanda (Chinese Kickboxing), on Tuesdays we have power training, on Wednesdays we have Sanda again, on Thursdays we have power stretch (this feels soooooooo good afterwards) and on Friday -as you know- we have the mountain run.

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Me after my first mountain run.

And of course every afternoon there is Qigong (I spelt it wrong the other time) which involves standing with your knees bent and toes pointed to the inside while keeping your elbows horizontal with the ground and slowly moving your fingers towards and away from each other for the total duration of 40 minutes. This goes on until 5.30 pm, then it’s dinner time. And at 6.30pm we have 45 minutes of Mandarin. But this is only from Monday to Wednesday and this is an optional class. You don’t have to go, you can also use that time to train your forms or just rest and unwind. It depends on what you want out of this academy but I make sure I go to Mandarin every time. The class isn’t always well structured but I bet some of the stuff we learn will stick to my memory and will be of use one day. It would feel as if I’m slacking off if I wouldn’t go, so I kind of force myself to go. By the time I leave the class room it’s about 7.30 pm, time to take a shower, make my nightly walk to the hot water tank to make sure I have cold drinking water in the morning, and go to bed.

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Usually I go to bed between 8 and 9 pm to get up at 5.20am to make it in time for Taiji and then the day starts all over again.

So this is my routine for the following month. Well, three weeks actually, since there’s already one week past.

You: “So how did it go Evvy? Are you a Shaolin master yet?”

Me: “Err… no…

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…that usually takes decades… (dumb ass…)”

But I did learn a lot this week! I already know 5 steps of Taiji. Only 19 more to go! I finished my 5 steps of Kung Fu which means I can go on to the next form. And I learned the cheer the students do at the end of each day in front of the head master. Basically we line up and scream something like Yi Ha-Ha HA-HA! I don’t think it really means something but it comes with a very energetic routine and it feels really good to do it. Like Maori… but in China…. If that makes sense….

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I’ve always wanted to be a cheerleader.

So that’s the good part.

The week also had a couple of bad turns. On Monday everything went well. As far as I can remember… On Tuesday I had a first bad day. The day before we had been kicking punching bags during Sanda. You really have to kick hard with the upper part of your foot. I put in everything I had, but the next day that inner thigh muscle felt a little sore.

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I thought a bit of stretching would help that problem right out of the way and continued training as usual. But training didn’t go well at all. We had to do a lot of high kicks while jumping in the air. Super hero kicks, we call them.

The muscle really hurt and by the second training of the morning, I was trying to make it go away by stretching it out again but I pulled the muscle even more and all of a sudden it was like somebody threw a glass of water in my eyes. My eyes started welling up. I bit my hoodie and I secretly started crying with my face half hidden in my sweater. All emotions came out: “Why the fuck did I come here? I should be making something out of my life instead of fiddling around. I should do a decent job, make money and start a family. I SHOULD PAY BILLS INSTEAD OF KILL BILLS!” I was really putting depressed thoughts in my head. One of the new students who had just arrived that day was standing beside me and noticed I was crying during stretching. I must have freaked her out on her first day already.

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Soon another person noticed and before I knew it the translator rushed in to ask what was wrong, followed by… my Shifu Gao. Damn it, the master was so proud of me last week and now he sees me crying, I could have just sunk through the training hall floor of embarrassment. He gave me a disappointed look…

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… and told me to keep the positive vibe in the group.

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“It’s not because it hurts, you’re not getting stronger. Don’t give up”, the translator translated. Of course I wasn’t planning on giving up. I love these trainings. It’s just so annoying that my mind wants to do all these stuff and my body is restricting me. Shut up legs! Let me kick ass!

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Please?

I sucked it up and after lunch I lied down on my bed with a hot water bottle wedged between my legs. I was told to keep the muscle warm. And to use tiger balm. For every injury a student encounters they advice to use tiger balm. Sprained an ankle? Use tiger balm. Pulled a neck muscle? Use tiger balm. Lost an arm? Use tiger balm.

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That afternoon on my wooden bed I was feeling low. I had let myself down and I had let the Shifu down. I didn’t want to be that person with an injury. Cause it feels like your making up excuses not to train. And I really want to train! I’m only here for a month. I don’t want to slack off. My thoughts were so tiring they had put me to sleep.

After resting, I felt a little to a lot better. I even did the run to the big tree at a proper pace so I was very pleased with myself. The afternoon training went… okay. We had power training. It was quite confronting. Turns out I cannot do decent sit ups, I do crunches. And after doing at least 50 push ups that class I didn’t have any strength left and couldn’t even bend my arms anymore. While nobody else seemed to be struggling with it… I kind of felt like the weak link. I hated it.

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But I remembered what Gao said: to keep the positive spirit. So I kept smiling and cheering other people on. And that actually made me feel good as well.

The next day I was bursting with energy. I had a great Taiji, an amazing oat meal breakfast (I provide it myself, I’m not really in the mood for rice with boiled eggs in the morning since we already have rice and eggs at lunch and rice and eggs for dinner) then we had acrobatics. I still need to work on some stuff though. I mean, how can I not be able to do a decent head roll?

It is all I ever did when I was in high school. I was really good at it. What happened??? And also my kick ups need to improve. The afternoon training was a lot of fun. We had a really intense Sanda practice. This time without too much kicks so I didn’t have to use my sore muscle that much. It was mostly punching. I really enjoyed that training and afterwards we did a full on sparring. I was sweating like crazy and felt really re-energized. Afterwards I had an amazing Qigong session and some good dinner. And after my shower I had some time to catch up with my friend Obim near the hot water tank and called it a night at 9pm.

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We took a group picture that day! That’s Obim sitting right next to me! 

The next day however…. luck turned on me again. Not only did I re-pull (if that’s even a thing) that sore muscle again, I also pulled the same muscle on the other side. We were doing kicks again and after a while I couldn’t lift my legs anymore. It was like the groin area had turned into stone and I couldn’t enable myself to do any more kicks. I tiptoed to the side of the training hall experiencing a lot of pain. I stayed there for the rest of the class, explaining myself (AGAIN) to the Shifu. After class we lined up and the Shifu reviewed the training. He congratulated the group on an excellent training. I felt bummed out. The group did so well and I wasn’t part of it. They did EXCELLENT while I had to stand on the side and watch while I so badly wanted to train. I didn’t feel part of the group at all. After class I hopped back to my room. I was only planning to rest there for 15 minutes, just in time for the next class. But when I took the first step to go up the third floor, I just realized I couldn’t. Every step I took the pain got worse and worse. One of the new students, who happened to be around, had to support me to get me up the stairs and all of a sudden I broke down in tears again. It’s really weird. I usually try not to cry in public but I just couldn’t hold it in. From the moment that pain shoots into your groin that glass of water gets thrown into your face again and your eyes automatically well up. I even made the ‘boe-hoe’ sound at one point.

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My inner voice was really telling me to shut up and be strong but it took ages for me to get up those stairs. Soon another student ran in to support me on the other side and as soon as I arrived at my level there was somebody there to give me a pain killer. When I entered my room, my room mate Gloria fixed me up with a hot water bottle and before I knew it somebody had made me an appointment with the massage master, someone brought over more pain killers and hot patches and as soon as Adaline -the nicest and cutest girl from Sweden- heard what had happened she rushed in to ask me if I was okay and gave me an egg muffin.

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I was really touched by so much kindheartedness from my team mates. There were already 3 people standing in my room but soon 3 more arrived asking how I was doing. Gloria’s son, who is staying here for two years, even went downstairs to get me lunch. I was thanking them for helping me so much.

“That’s what we do. We take care of each other. We are the only family we have here.”

Me worrying earlier I wasn’t part of the group was completely unnecessary. I am part of the group. And I looked forward to rejoining them and get back to training as soon as possible.

But first I had to face the massage master again.

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The one that almost crippled me one week earlier during massage class when I volunteered to be the test dummy. He has more power in his index finger than I have in my entire body. When he touches you a little bit you already feel it a whooooole lot! I got one of the translators to explain to him what was wrong with me and the following hour I was pinching my eyes into little horizontal stripes, grinding my teeth, enduring the pain in his chamber of torture. He rubbed my groin area (this sounds awful) for a full hour. My Shifu -who had came to visit- even curled over me at one point asking me if I was in a lot of pain. No, I believe his exact words were:

Shifu: “Really pain, Evelien? Really pain?”

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Me: “Yes Shifu. (horizontal striped eyes) Really pain.”

He looked so cute when he asked me. Like an actual 23 year old, not the tough master he can be during practice. And I was kind of flattered he knew my name.

After that I skipped afternoon training (I was allowed to), rubbed some tiger balm on my inner thighs (delicate area, watch out with that!) and typed a big chunk of this blog post.

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Afterwards I went to Qigong, since it’s got healing powers (or so I hear) and it’s really good for the blood flow. You’re not supposed to be distracted by thoughts when you do Qigong. You’re supposed to be focussed only on your body. But my mind strays away constantly.

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Me doing Qigong in the back.

That session I thought about the week. How it didn’t really go how I planned it to be, but how I still managed to experience a lot of good things and make a lot of progress. I realized how quickly you can put negative thoughts in your head once you hit a low like that. How I -at one point- asked myself why I couldn’t just settle with a normal life instead. But, honestly, I would’t wanna miss this opportunity for the world. I really enjoy being here and challenging myself like this. I’m only 27, I still have enough time to take on a serious life, if I ever end up taking on a serious life. Maybe I will keep finding new ways to improve, challenge myself, while providing an income, taking care of myself and eventually maybe a family. I don’t need a 9-5 or a solid, routine lifestyle back home just to feel like I’m living a normal life. What’s a normal life anyway? Maybe everyone is leading an abnormal life but we just figure it’s normal since everybody else is doing it. If I decide to stay in this school for months, maybe years, I could have a normal life as well. I could get a job as an English teacher during the weekends, earn money, keep training and eventually maybe move indefinitely to China to continue my life here. There is no end to the possibilities of how you can live your life. As long as you do it with passion and not just follow others because of the sake of being a sheep.

 That reminds me of our group motto the Shifu asked us to come up with:

Are we sheep??

No!!

GAO-lins, GAO-lins!!!

Up to a pain free week!

Well a little can’t hurt… No pain, no gain!

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XO

Talking of pain: I just had a Chinese massage an hour ago in Mu Ping.

After almost breaking your back and neck they lit cups on fire and place them on your back. Now my backside looks like a pepperoni pizza. But -apparently- it’s good for your body and blood flow.

On the way to Mu Ping we couldn’t fit inside the little bus so some of us had to sit in the middle on little chairs (you can literally fit one butt cheek on there) and locals were taking pictures of us.

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A big thank you to my roomie Céline for providing me with a lot of pictures that came of use in this post. And for being such an awesome room mate ❤

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(Caution: This post may contain inappropriate language. Do not read if you a) are underaged b) allergic to explicit content c) have put me onto this world)

I have a problem.

A big problem. HUGE!

Ever since I arrived in tropical North Queensland I’ve been having these needs… urges… DESIRES!

This humid weather makes we wanna crave hot, sticky, sweaty S-E-X!

I said it! My loins are burning and I don’t know what to do.

(Mom and dad this is your final warning: STOP READING!)

I went to the woods the other day and even the mushrooms started looking like penises…

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To be honest, it has been a while since I’ve had S-EGGS. I just try to keep my ‘magic number’ as low as possible. Being able to count my bed partners with MAXIMUM both hands.

You: “Well Ev, can’t you just….you know… take care of your own…thing? You’re a self made woman aren’t you?”

Well I have done enough, somebody can do something for me for a change! I want to feel the weight of someone on top of me. I really want to go on a date, I really want to feel butterflies in my stomach and I really really REALLY want to zig a zig AH!

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You: “Then what’s the problem? Grab that guy over there by the barbecue or find your fuck on Tinder!”

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Language please???

Well I don’t like casual sex. Sex can never be casual for me. There has to be a spark. Both physically and mentally, otherwise it’s just not enjoyable but downright awkward. Especially the morning after.

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(…)

And I know, I KNOW, I can’t order Mister Right like a Dominos pizza to still my appetite…

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I don’t have one in the oven just yet, DUMBinos. Where dafuq did you learn how to spell anyways. Evelyn is an Anglo-Saxon name!

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Ahh the perfect night: a sunset, a pizza and swiping left.

Or ahm… I honestly have to say: I accidentally swiped right the other night and went on my first ever Tinder date.

You: “You mean your first Tinder date in Australia?”

First ever in Australia, Belgium, Tikkiwakka, EVERYWHERE!

Sure I’ve had matches, but I have never dated one.

That night I went out, I wasn’t looking for segz (…)

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(…) I just figured a conversation, a drink and maybe some kissing would do me good already.

I met up with a good looking guy that seemed very nice. At first glance of course, since that’s all you get on Tinder. And he was! We had a wonderful time at Noosa beach, had a drink, we even went for a nightly swim in the ocean. So yes, I did succeed in getting undressed on the first date. Well. I still had my undies on of course.

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We had a good laugh, but the chemistry wasn’t all there. So we said goodbye with a kiss on the cheek and me and my Moke were off to ‘Single Central’ again.

After almost three months, I guess it is normal I’m starting to feel hormones buzzing. A respected friend asked me the other day through Whatsapp if I got laid already. Apparently people were expecting me to go all out here in Oz. Or maybe even find my true match. I bet they were putting their money on the butcher. Or some hot surf dude. Well everything is still possible, guys. So let’s higher those bets.

(But I call 50 per cent on the profits.)

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XO

Or wait!

I was supposed to send this out last week. But due to the circumstances in Brussels, I kind of didn’t want to share it. I was devastated and didn’t want to bother you guys with silly things like my brooding hormones. I had accepted the fact that the only thing I would go down on in Australia was the Great Barrier Reef.

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(Too bad of the post war waste. There was still dead Jap floating in the Pacific…)

But then…an alternative ending popped up. In Port Douglas. A nice little harbor town one hour north from Cairns. Also nicknamed Port D or ‘Port Dick’. I didn’t know this until I arrived there and heard it was ‘known’ for their collection of fine… meats. I checked in at a super dope hostel. The main difference with all of the other hostels I stayed at, was that this one attracted older and more mature backpackers. Most of the people were actually staying there for months. Mainly because of the cheap rent. But also because of the chill atmosphere. I felt right at ease. But was still very much doing my own thing. That first night I was working on my laptop. Doing some writing, bookings and sending out some emails. In other words: being really responsible.

Until an unknown voice addressed itself to me:

“What the fuck are you doing?”

The person who asked was Stef. Stef fills up minibars in a fancy resort a few K’s away. Originally from Sydney but moved to Port D about a month ago. We started talking and hit it off right away. The next day we hung out some more. Watched the sunset in the harbor, held a little pool party together and on my last night we went for a nice dinner at Chilli’s. When we returned to the hostel it happened. We kissed. Three days before I would leave Australia I finally got my Australian kiss. Although it was very French… The softest lips and tongue I have ever felt. It only lasted for about 30 seconds, but it was just what I needed. Nothing more happened, we just went back to our mixed dorm and I lied on top that night. I had the upper bunk, I mean. The next morning Stef had already left. Stacking up minibars from 5 am. I left a note to say thank you and took my rental car back to Cairns to slowly say goodbye to Australia.

Many memories will shoot through my head the next days. But I’m sure one will stick out. That night I kissed a girl. And kind of liked it.

XO

(This post is dedicated to my dear Belgian friend SVH, who will surely enjoy this turn of events)

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The mirrors are coming *

(* caution: this is a long one)

A friend recently stated: “The first month of traveling on your own, you’re going to be like a sponge. You’re gonna soak in every experience and get loads of energy from it. The second month you’re going to feel the first signs of homesickness. The third month the mirror comes. And you will be confronted with yourself in an often not so pleasant way.”

I think I have jumped straight to the mirror phase.

I must say, I have been avoiding mirrors until now. Or better: mirrors have been avoiding me. At the farm there was one little one in the bathroom. You could just see your face and a little bit of your neck and chest if you stood on your toes right. On the way to Melbourne the only mirror I had was the little make up mirror in the passengers seat of Pierre’s car. Sometimes even the rear-view mirror would do to put in my contacts or throw on a little bit of mascara. When we would go shower in public rest areas, or just pull over to go to the toilet, I always found it odd there weren’t any mirrors there. It’s weird, but the first day I was in the Tasmanian mountains with Helmut, he asked me to accompany him on a roadtrip to Hobart. To pick up a new wardrobe closet. And a full length mirror…

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It had just spent my first night in the woods. It was lovely. I woke up with the most amazing view from the caravan and saw the wallabies grazing on the lawn. My day started wonderfully.

“Haa, there you are finally”, Helmut shouted when I entered the house with my toiletries piled up in my arms. We would spend 6 hours in the car together that day. I reckoned that should give us some time to get to know each other. And maybe he could already hammer some wisdom into me. “We gotta get going if we want to make it to Hobart in time. Come, have breakfast.”

Me: “Err, I was thinking of having a shower first…”

Helmut: “A shaaaauwwer? (very German) Why do you need a shaaaaaauwer for?”

Me: “To wash my hair…And all…”

Helmut: “Don’t even think about using a hair dryer, i’m running this place on solar power.”

(Me rolling over the floor with laughter. Followed by an uncomfortable staring competition)

Helmut: “Well I ain’t laughing. Yesterday Maryam tried it and I had to tell her to never do that again. The voltage is way too high. You can wash your hair tomorrow and let it dry during the day. Come, sit down, I’m making you breakfast and I want you to follow closely.”

What I witnessed next was chemist lab level. Helmut dug up two big empty breakfast bowls, put some chia seeds in there and poured it over with hot water. While he was letting it sink in, he dived up heaps of giant white plastic pots. One with some green alkalizing powder, some with what supposed to be ‘pea powder from Belgium’ (never heard of this), another with beetroot powder, another with garlic powder, spirulina, raisins, almonds, …

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He poured it over with the oats he had boiled on the stove, added a big spoon of greek yoghurt, some berries and a nice teaspoon of Leatherwood honey. That was not only a 20 dollar breakfast sitting there. That was also enough food to get you through the entire week!

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Helmut: “Eat.”

I took a first spoon and I was… delighted. This felt like a great, healthy start to our day of bonding.

Helmut: “Alright, pack up your gear, we’re heading to Hobart.”

Once we were in the car, an old Mazda pick up truck which was rambling and shaking from every angle, I decided to give it to him straight up.

Me: “So seriously Helmut, why did you give me such a hard time coming here?”

Helmut: “Well because of the things I told you yesterday. I thought you were a glamour girl. But from the moment I started talking to you, I soon found out we would get along.”

“So tell me what do you wanna know?”

Me: “Pardon?”

Helmut: “Well most of you young females want to come live with an old guy like me because they wanna learn stuff. So tell me, what do you wanna know?”

Me: “Err…”

Helmut: “Well, I will give you a piece of advice to start with. From now on you will live by the four agreements, alright?”

1) Be impeccable with your word;

2) Don’t take anything personally;

3) Don’t make assumptions;

4) Always do your best.

And I’ll throw in a fifth one in for you: Change your posture, it’s horrible!

Me: “Pardon??”

Helmut: “You hunch. It’s from being curled up over your computer (he means my phone) all the time. Sit up straight. Your back will thank me later.”

The landscapes flew by. From the green meadows, to the nice coastlines leading up to the harbor of Hobart two and a half hours later. Not one minute we spent not talking. Me and Helmut were on the way to bonding alright. We spent the entire time laughing, talking about life and filling each other in on our history and background. Turns out Helmut has had a very turbulent life so far. He got married 3 times and he could have died about 8 times. He ended up in a ditch with his Subaru, almost died in two motorcycle accidents, a skydive almost ended up on the wrong side of the tunnel, … And when he talks about his grandchildren he’s just miles away from that grumpy Tasmanian Devil he likes people to believe he is.

Once I found out he has kids and grandchildren, I wasn’t afraid of him eating me anymore.

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(Weird shizzle: Helmut gave me the exact same jumper after cleaning out his old wardrobe closet. Yikes! What a coincidence!)

On the way back we stopped for ice cream. The shop was owned by a Belgian woman. It was the first time I spoke Dutch in a long time. It sounded funny. She kind of gave me a weird look once she found out I was living with a 73 year old guy who wasn’t my grandpa, nor any other family member. But I guess I better get used to that. The next day we went hiking in Freycinet National Park and I met Susan. A nice, fit looking lady. I couldn’t believe she was 50. She was tighter than me! Turns out she joined the army a few years ago. And she was very sporty as a kid as well. Muscle memory. Mine suffers from early dementia, by the look of it.

Susan tagged along with us that day. She came all the way from Launceston to accompany us on our hike. I reckoned she was an old friend of Helmuts. Later I found out she actually was a woman he met through an internet dating website and me and Maryam were actually witnessing their first date! That’s why Helmut was in such a fit mood that day. And why he was peacocking so much.

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You should see him go up that Mount Amos. I must say, that mountain was tough! A very steep climb over and through big boulders. No paths. No rails. Pure on muscle power. And -in Helmut’s case- a walking stick. But then again, he got up there seemingly effortless. I was impressed.

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The way down was a little less impressing. We just had lunch on top of the mountain, made some photos and sailed down in a too confident mood. Me and Helmut kind of evoked the reckless kid in each other. And we were marching down the mountain, acting stupid. While we were taking the steep walk down, Helmut suddenly slipped away, landing on his bum, sliding down faster than my eyes could follow. I panicked, since the rocks were so steep and slippery and dived in behind him to stop him. As I did, I slipped as well, smacked hard on my back and tailbone and slid down with him to -only meters later- be stopped by a big branch that was sticking out of the rocks. Helmut and I looked at each other with big eyes welling up with tears of laughter. He was mostly laughing with me and my lousy attempt to save his ass. Mine was hurting pretty bad that night, while he didn’t have a scratch on him. Lucky bastard with his nine lives…

The next two days at the house were gloomy. The weather had changed and the sun didn’t come out at all. It was raining. Instead of seeing actual showers, it looked like the landscapes were vaporizing, sweating. Mist surrounded the house and the temperature dropped. We even had to fire up the fire place. The first day I came down with a cold. I had experienced a thermo crash of about 20 degrees coming from Melbourne to Tasmania. My throat was sore, my nose stuffed. I wasn’t feeling it at all that day. In the afternoon I disappeared into the caravan and slept for more than three hours. I had a bite to eat and slept for another 9 hours.

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View from the house

The day after we were again locked up inside. The breathtaking view of the coastline from the house was nowhere to be seen. Helmut put on a little Neil Young, after he found out I liked it, and Maryam and I started baking cakes with everything we could find in the cupboard. The place smelt of carrot cake and chocolate fudge, mixed together with the odor of burnt cake mixture dripping on the base of the oven due to the lack of self raising flower. After one hour the cakes looked worse for wear. Maryam’s one was way too liquid and mine way too salty. I accidentally pinched in one teaspoon of salt instead of half a spoon. That does make a difference, alright. But they turned out looking amazing after we tweaked it a little and let them rest for another 30 minutes. They made a pretty good lunch the day after when the sun came back full power. Finally. First thing we did was hit the beach. White sandy beaches, turquoise clear water, … I felt in tropical heaven. Nobody told me Tasmania is such paradise!

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Bay of Fires

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Afterwards Helmut drove us up to one of the biggest waterfalls in Tassie. I took in the moment and decided I had made the most of my time in Tasmania. I could return to the mainland.

You: “Wait, whut? Didn’t you say you wanted to learn all about life and pick Helmut’s brain?”

Well, while spending six days with Helmut (and Maryam) I did learn a lot… But I didn’t get the answers I was hoping for. Truth is, I’ve put way too much expectation on Helmut’s shoulders. I was looking for an oracle. Someone to explain me all about life in layman’s terms since I’m looking so much for answers, directions, guidelines, … . I pictured Helmut to be the right fit. A big German dictator, who would hammer an iron clad Law of Life into my brain. But that was wishful thinking.

That sunny beach day I encountered my first big mirror. I got out of bed that morning, very much excited about the sun making her long awaited return. During breakfast Maryam started talking about Iran, her home country. About the history, and how far her people have come. How far she has come as a person. And how rare her travel is for a woman from her background. Coming from a country where women only possess half the rights of men. To top that her mother is really ill so she’s juggling quite a lot of emotional things here. But she never ceases to keep enjoying life. I very much admire that in her. And at the same time she makes me feel uncomfortable because my struggles that are such big and powerful obstacles in my head -mostly caused by lovesickness- seem very trivial compared to her. I’m healthy, my loved ones are fine, I have loving friends and I’m doing great by myself… I shouldn’t have a care in the world.

My attention was drawn to a saying that was hanging on Helmut’s wall.

Faith of consciousness is freedom,

Faith of feeling is weakness,

Faith of body is stupidity.

Love of consciousness evokes the same in response,

Love of feeling evokes the opposite,

Love of body depends only on type and polarity.

Hope of consciousness is strength,

Hope of feeling is slavery,

Hope of body is disease.

I understood the words without really understanding them so I turned to Helmut for a little help. Layman’s terms, remember.

At first he started hammering the fact that all life is non-permanent and that we all DIE. There’s nothing we can do about it, DIE we will. Since nothing is permanent, we all must suffer. Since every enjoyable thing in life is ending. BUT, the ‘good news’ is, that too shall pass. Since nothing is permanent…

Then he started explaining that all feelings like love are mostly driven by lust and believing to find a soulmate is basically weak and stupid.

That’s where my mirror broke.

My eyes welled up. I reckon Helmut noticed, since he invited me outside to take the washing out and hang it up to dry. I was walking in front of him.

Helmut: “Why the tears?”

I turned around, stared into the big blue eyes with which he had looked three women in the eye when saying ‘I do’, and broke down. “If love doesn’t exist then what’s the point of living anyway?” (snif, snif)

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He gave me a big bear hug and I cried on his shoulder for a firm minute. It was a cleanse. And a realization:

I don’t have to agree with Helmut. It’s not because he has experienced a couple of rough rides in ‘the love & relationship department’ that the same goes for me. I am a person that is very much looking for love. If I can’t give and receive love in this life, then there’s no point for me. No matter how many heartbreaks I suffer -and I had my fair share- I will never stop hoping. I will never stop having faith. In myself, relationships or life in general. That depressed girl in Melbourne got something right. She IS worth of finding someone and being loved. Don’t let any nonbeliever or cynic ever change that thought, girl!

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From there on everything fell into place: I shouldn’t rely on others to spell everything out for me. I am responsible for my own lessons, my own happiness and the best way of getting the answers I’m looking for is by experiencing and discovering by myself. I suddenly remembered a beautiful sentence Susan randomly flickered at me while hiking down Mount Amos.

“Go travel, the best way of finding yourself is losing yourself.”

The next day I packed my bag, booked a ticket to Brisbane and flew out there like the wind. Helmut probably didn’t get much of a Helpx out of me, but hopefully I kicked some wisdom into that cranium too. To go easy on the judgement.

I don’t know if it were Helmut’s poor washing skills but my jumper felt smaller that day. “You must have grown, he laughed.” I guess I must have. I felt so much more confident after that little breakdown I suffered. I realized I have a lot of power inside me. And a very strong will. I just need to start trusting my gut more -it has never let me down so far- and not follow guidelines or recipes so much. I didn’t follow any recipe while I was baking that chocolate cake and guess what? I like my life very much like how that cake tasted. With a pinch too much of salt.

Let’s hit the road, blondie. It’s gonna be me and you from now on. Whatever mirrors we encounter on our way, we will try to conquer them together. In an ergonomically correct way, of course: with a straight back. But if we want to get rid of some subordinate feelings, let’s start with losing some of that excess baggage first. I decided to bring some of the clothes I had been dragging with me to the second hand shop. There were some great memories attached to some of those shirts and trousers, but the fact that my backpack felt lighter, already brought me so much more joy and freedom. Good tip: the first thing every self-made traveler should do is to learn how to live without comfort zones. (And Lonely Planets, DON’T BRING THEM.) You’ll be surprised how damn comfortable that actually feels.

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Goodbye caravan I called ‘home’ for a week!

XO

PS: This => Picture 2016-03-04 om 03.39.12

brought me so much pleasure today: to read that my views are booming! Thank you for reading the blog and for relating to it. I’m currently waiting on my plane to Brisbane. I had lunch in a café and the guy at the counter had to charge me 4 dollars less due to a mistake with the cash register. “You’re winning today”, he laughed. Damn right! Two hours earlier I bought an orange juice at a local truck stop. I took a sip and spat it right back out again, to notice the date has expired with over a week. I went back in and asked (politely) if I could have a new one. I got double the size! That morning I had made breakfast for Helmut and Maryam. Something my mom always used to make on the first day of school: ‘Winning bread’, we call it. Because it’s old bread you ‘win’ by creating a new dish with it instead of throwing it out. I guess I set the tone right there. So thanks for reading! I hope you guys keep enjoying it!

Good bye Port Willunga

First week has passed and it’s time to say good bye to the host family in Port Willunga. I’ve had a wonderful stay with Goedele, Nairn, baby Finn and Weimaraner Lucy. I could easily stay here for another month, but it’s about time I find a job and work for my food and accommodation. Since today’s Australia Day we decided to take the barbie out and have our final lunch together.

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willunga.jpgI’m really going to miss this lovely family. My bike and pink helmet. Maccas (McDonalds) where I spent quite some time on the internet and of course this wonderful beach. Yup this is definitely a place I will never forget.

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BTW: Yesterday we went snorkeling in port Noarlunga. I jumped off the jetty (about 5 meters high) into the deep blue. It was only later I found out there was a 7 meter large shark spotted around Adelaide’s coast just last week. Gulp.

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XO

The great and powerful OZ!

First stop of my great adventure: Australia!

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As you know or may not know I left for Australia on monday January 18th. My happiest Blue Monday to date.

After a flight of almost 20 hours, I arrived safely in Adelaide around 10 pm. I found a place to stay with my best friend’s niece where I currently have a room and a bath room all to myself. Heaven. Today I went to have lunch at Rosey’s with some fellow Belgians and went for a bike ride to Willunga Beach. Pink helmet included.

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Not only locals say it’s the most beautiful beach in the world

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Cheers!

XO

Murphy’s law

The days before you leave on a big trip, you will have to accept Murphy’s law. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. In one day my cell phone, sim card and tooth broke.

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Thank God I could fix an appointment with a dentist 48 hours before my departure. Thank you Joris Wilmaers for giving me a ‘holiday smile’ again. And for giving me a contact number from your friend in Hong Kong.

XO