EXCLUSIVE! Star reporter Lois Lane sits down with the debased Evelien Delgouffe: “My book is good… to light my coffin”

Whatever happened to that talented girl that blew us all away in 2016 by traveling the world in search of that little thing called happiness. From Toronto to Tokio people could follow her every step on her widely acclaimed blog ‘Backpackersguidefortheblondeandtheclueless.com’ with weekly posts, updates and harvested wisdom. But after she moved to Berlin, things got quiet around Evelien Delgouffe. And now, my esteemed colleague seems to have completely disappeared from the radar.

Friday 25th of May, a true story written by Lois Lane.
Text by: Lois Lane
Written by: Lois Lane
In case you forgot who wrote this text: Lois Lane 

LOIS CLARK THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN

A tragic life story, is what people call it. Evelien’s lasts words on her blog date from November 2017 with that subversive, 5000 words too long read about Star Wars. Already then people whispered that Evelien was spiraling down to ‘coo coo ville’, potentially even leaning over to the dark side.

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One of her lasts pictures in Berlin. Clearly spiraling out of control.

Her peers in Asse, where she was born, haven’t heard from her. And also her parents have no clue where their daughter is. “That’s Evelien, she always disappears when she’s fed up with things.”

Does she still live in Berlin? Is she currently battling a heroin addiction? Did she suffer a small heart attack on her bike in Ibiza like that other promising Berlinoise Nico?

nico

After months of research I -Lois Lane- suddenly found a trace that had lead me from Asse (Belgium) to Gatineau (Canada) over Tooperang (Australia) and eventually Germany. Evelien is still alive. And yes, she is still living in Berlin. But it’s not where she was last seen. The upscale neighborhood where she first moved to has been replaced by one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city… Evelien Delgouffe currently lives in a crack house in Neukölln which she shares with a handful of trippy drag queens, one one-legged pirate, the songwriter of ’99 Luftballons’ and other creatures from the underground. And I don’t mean the Velvet Underground. There’s something rotten in Berlin and it’s much worse than the pop art bananas of Andy Warhol…

(FYI: I, Lois Lane, am still top banana) 

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On a Tuesday afternoon I meet Evelien in her humble abode. It took me a while to convince her to do this interview, but then she said she would do anything for a quick look at her Instagram account, since that was her favorite pastime before she hit rock bottom.

“I’ve lost 12 followers”, she grunts. “I thought I had become a legend by now… But I guess I am officially a hasbeen…”

Lois: “Could you tell us what has happened to you, Evelien?”

Evelien: “What difference does it make…”

Lois: “People want to know if you’re alright and if they can help.”

Evelien: “People huh? People can fuck right off. I’m done with people.”

She removes some pieces of cardboard from the floor to dig up a rusty tin box and opens it. As far as my knowledge goes, there seems to be something inside that looks like a crack pipe… Or possibly a shriveled baby carrot… She takes out a ready-rolled cigarette and a package of matches and places the cigarette in the left corner of her mouth. She grabs a piece of paper and lights it with a match. The paper bursts into flames, which she then uses to light her cigarette. After one second all that’s left of the piece of paper is chunks of dark grey ashes on the floor.

Later I, Lois Lane, would learn she used a page of her own book to light that cigarette.

Evelien: “I also re-use the pages sometimes to make LSD. Or whenever I’m out of toilet paper. Or when I want to cut (…)”

“You see that guy over there with the needle in his arm? That’s Yuri… He composed ’99 Luftballons’ in the late eighties on those little kids’ pianos. He was only 4 years old at that time.”

yuri

“He thought it would become his golden ticket to showbusiness, but he never got any acclaim for it. He ended on the street. Broke and creatively sodomized. He can’t stand the song ever since and goes crazy every time he hears it.”

Lois: “Maybe we shouldn’t mention it too loud then…”

Evelien: “Don’t worry, he has ripped out his ear canal 20 years ago…”

Lois: (Gulp)

Evelien: “You’re wasting your time here Miss Lane. I’m sure there’s better stories to stick your perky nose into.”

Lois: “I am not the only one who wonders how a talented young woman like you has ended up in a crack house like this. You were a promising writer. Remember your birthday last year? You were so proud to have finished your very first book. Your debut as an author.”

Evelien: “My book… My book is good to light cigarettes… and one day my coffin.”

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Lois: “But why?” 

Evelien: “It’s not the city Lois, it’s life. Life swallows you up. You learn from your mistakes only to make them over and over again. I don’t have time to sit down with you and smell your expensive perfume. I was once like you. Always dressed to the nines, as if I came straight from the hairdresser every day. But I have quit that life a long time ago Lois. Never will I be remembered for my immaculate beauty. Forever will I be remembered for my failure and my rotting body and brain. Now get out of here and never come back.”

When I walked out of the room, Evelien called my name. I turned around and she said:

Evelien: “Lois, you have always been a better reporter than me. Please take my place. You have my blessing.”

And that’s the last I, and thus the rest of the world, heard of Evelien Delgouffe.

In case you forgot: My name is Lois Lane. The only real reporter out there. 

red newspaper

Me: “That TRAMP!”

That Lois Lane is out to ruin me! Ever since I started out as a journalist in 2011 she has been trying to sabotage my career. First by sleeping with Superman and now by creating fake stories. This is nothing more than a disgusting smear campaign!

I call together a press conference!

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To my dear readers, followers, friends and family: I know I have been absent from this blog but that’s only because I have been very busy being REALLY REALLY HAPPY.

  • I am not living in a crack house with the author of ’99 Luftballons’,
  • I am not lighting cigarettes with pages of my book. (Although I did think about it once…),
  • I am still very much working as a freelance journalist/copywriter so if you want the best content, it is still ME you should contract and not that shade throwing palmtree of a Lois Lane. She’s just bitter because she got fired from ‘The Daily Planet’ after they found out she was earning money on the side as a stripper.

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This is why I declare ‘Backpackersguidefortheblondeandtheclueless’ officially as re-opened for business. I will not promise I will blog every week like I used to, but expect more frequent updates from my side with fresh memes, gifs, puns and adventures!

Auf wienerschnitzel boys and gurls!

Stay tuned for more jaw dropping, straw missing, air sipping content to come!

XO

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BLONDE & B R O K E in Berlin: how to tackle food cost?

How to survive on a budget in one of the coolest cities on the planet? 

Find out in the following bit!

So as you know I am now free living and freelancing in Berlin. I am not near the point where I make shit loads of money YET (especially if you have read what happened to me in the previous post) so that’s why I have to tackle my money business in a clever way.

(…) Me going to Ibiza for 4 days probably wasn’t the cleverest of ideas but I considered it more to be an investment since I had the time of my life with people I love and care for. Bonus points for mental health yo! 

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The traveling threesome ❤

But this cannot mean I can go on a Spree. No matter how close I live to this river (…)

The truth is: Good things in life don’t come for free so I have to really think about what I spend and if that correlates with what I get out of it.

For instance: I could stop eating. That way I don’t have to spend money.

True. But there is no point in not taking care of my body as I don’t want to get sick as I don’t want to spend money on doctors and medical bills. Hm, do I even have insurance, I wonder?

So I have made some calculations and I have estimated myself a 15 euro allowance per day to spend on ‘surviving’ (rent not included). With this I can anticipate in basic needs. Food and beverages come first. That should be more than enough right?

Rrrright… But when I need toiletries, laundry soap or tickets for public transportation this also has to come from the same allowance which means I have to do some creative shifting here and there.

Especially in case I would want to buy shoes or clothes. LUCKILY I stopped buying that shit ages ago! I don’t feel like spending money (considering the previous mentioned correlation theory) on things I don’t really need. I’m usually ahead of fashion any ways (:-p) so I much rather put my money where my mouth is.

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Okay, so how to tackle food cost in Berlin? Actually it’s pretty darn easy…

  • EXPLORE DISCOUNT PARADISE
    Germany is ‘Die Heimat’ of Lidl and Aldi. So if you want to hit the jackpot involving discount shopping: you’re in the right place. Next to those you also have Penny, Netto, Kaiser’s and Kaufland. I suggest you visit them all and see where you can nibble some extra cents of certain products. Believe you me, it’s the ‘LIDL’ things that count!
  • RECYCLE YOUR BOTTLES 
    This one is a little trick to actually earn money. When you buy plastic bottles in the shop you can collect them in a machine and get 0,25 euro back per bottle. Glass bottles are worth 0,08 euro a pop. So be wise and recycle yo! It’s good for the environment and for your wallet. But for the sake of ‘Nächstenliebe‘: when you find empty  bottles or cans in the street or in the metro, leave them for the homeless so they can have a little pocket money too.
    bottles
  • MAKE FRIENDS WHO INVITE YOU FOR DINNER
    It’s always advised to make friends. Especially when they have a kitchen and a big fridge. Dinner parties are pleasant, cozy and budget friendly.

    moss

    You can bring a cheap bottle of wine if you feel like returning a favor. These days even a nice bottle of biological Italian wine from the BIOMARKT costs only 2,90 euros.
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    It’s even nicer when you cook together with a bunch of people! This way you can have a gorgeous round of cooking and split the costs all together.

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    Cooking with honey, I mean, Hany

    Big meals are much cheaper than cooking for 1. Life for a single gal not only comes with a price, it’s also pricey!

  • GO TO THE MARKET
    huling
    Why would you want to pay 3 euros for 1 avocado when you can pay 3 euros for a bunch of avocados? Der Genter Wochenmarkt (U-bahn Leopoldplatz) is an insider tip for your fruit and veggie fix. It has been a well kept secret for over 80 years now. Be prepared for some old fashioned market trader shouting as well as a big crowd of customers. You can find everything here from a new zipper to a vitamin boost. You can have a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice for 1 euro. Only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

 

 

 

  • FAST 
    Coming back to the ‘not eating part’ here. Actually that’s not a bad idea at all. I have done some research on the matter and there is compelling evidence that skipping one meal a day actually improves physical and mental health. There is a whole nutritional war going on right now aiming to bring down the breakfast lobby. It’s all just a bunch of marketing from Captain Oats and Tony The Tiger. I feel most energetic and productive in the morning when my body solely runs on black coffee. I have a whole storage cabinet of fat cells for my body to tap into, so I’m sure I won’t starve from skipping one meal a day.
  • DOWNLOAD ‘TOO-GOOD-TO-GO’ unnamed
    This is absa-fucking-lutely brilliant. It’s an app – you can download it in the German iTunes Store for free – where restaurants offer leftovers at a ridiculously low price. It’s a great way to cut down food cost as well as food waste and to be more sustainable in regards to the planet. Basically this app is doing everyone involved a HUGE favor.
  • EAT OUT
    This may sound a little contradictory but in most cases going out for dinner can be cheaper than buying ingredients and cooking a meal for 1. Compared to Antwerp, Berlin is much cheaper to eat out. You can easily find a big healthy meal between 4 to 7 euros. And there are so many healthy choices including a lot of vegan options. Vegan cuisine is big in Berlin. I get my vegan fix at VEGO in LychenerstraBe (Prenzlauer Berg). In this neighborhood there is a wide array of restaurants -especially Asian- who offer alternative vegan or vegetarian dishes. For vegan cocktails you must go to ‘Chaostheorie’ in SchliemannstraBe and on the corner with LettestraBe you have to swing by ‘Wohnzimmerbar’ for the vegan soup of the day or a nice soy latte. Creative, cute and cozy! My favorite work spot to date! Speaking of dates….

    (Left: vegan burgers at VEGO; Right: cozy outings at Wohnzimmerbar)

  • GO ON A DATE !
    If chivalry isn’t dead, you will be golden with this one. Meet a guy for drinks, have a nice talk and maybe go for a little bite to eat, charm him with your magical charming wand and before you know it he picks up the tab and you don’t have to spend one nickel. It happened to me twice already, and I wasn’t even doing it on purpose. Every time I went out, the guy picked up the tab. It was twice at Kreuzburger though… which usually doesn’t cost more than 5 or 6 euros. Tofu burgers cost a little bit more than meat ones :-p
  • LAST BUT NOT LEAST: ALWAYS KEEP EYES AND EARS OPEN
    A good insider tip might just be one station away…bestplace-berlin-amen-01

If you stick to these basic ‘budget hacks’ you will hardly burn through your daily allowance. When this is the case I like to treat myself to a yummy coffee somewhere… Preferably with a little side order of brain food.

There is always money for a little comic relief. 
“Swallow me whole”, that’s exactly what that vegan bowl at ‘the Commonground’ said to me later that night! 

If you want to check all of this out for yourself: there is currently an amazing offer to come to Berlin practically for FREE!

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3 days in a 4 star hotel including breakfast (that damn breakfast lobby) for only €49,50! @vakantiepiraten.nl

Come and live FREE with ME next to the SPREE!

It is such a GREAT city!! ❤ ❤ ❤

XO

G-spot

(***Caution: just like the main image of this posts suggests, this read isn’t too elaborate in words nor content.)

So you might remember a little …

You: “Ahm Evvy, don’t we get an hello first?”

Me: “Err.. yeah… sure…. (…)”

Me: “Hello everybody!”

hello

You: “Hi Evelien!”

troy-mcclure

Me: “You might remember me from blog entries such as ‘Should the world turn Vegan: Yay or Nay?’, ‘Bitch don’t kill my vibe’ and ‘G I R L B O S S‘.

Well today, I’m going to elaborate on that last one in line since I am officially …

A Girl-BOSS!

That’s right I have found my G-spot.

That blog entry (click to read) was a wake up call and forced me to look at my inevitable future entrepreneurship. But I was completely clueless. How to deal with entrepreneurship anyway?

growingup

So I decided to take advice from the most notorious entrepreneur and current Pimp King of the United States:

donaldtrump

Mr. Donald TRUMP errybody!

hermione sarcasm

What did this goof.. -err ‘good’- man teach us about lady business?

That’s right: grab ‘m by the … <fill in the blank>… BINGO!

So that’s what I did. I grabbed my lady balls and sucked them up (…) I went in and applied for a full time independency. From employers, men, this WORLD!

I am an Independent Woman part 1.

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Well, I need to pay a significant amount of taxes and social contributions in order to maintain that freedom (…)

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As from now I will be offering my writing skills to the world and its wide web.

You can cont(r)act me for all kind of writings as well as editing, storytelling, translations, advertising, articles, travel stories, columns, ghost writing, crossword puzzles … In Dutch AND in English!

Basically everything that requires the use of letters and words to bring YOUR message across.

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This new life will enable me to expand my horizons and embrace my freedom whilst writing, traveling and kicking ass. The only things I need are a laptop, an internet connection, my two brain halves and an equal amount of hands. I can basically do this from all over the world.

THAT IS WHY:

I have currently set up office in BERLIN, GERMANY, where I will be available 24/7 !

THAT’S LONGER HOURS THAN YOUR FAVORITE SPÄTI ! (which means night shop in German)

I think I always knew this would be the next step for me. A year ago I sent my future self a letter from China with a clear message:

As if I was my own Doc, sending my own Marty McFly a letter from the past!

backtofut

So are you in desperate need of words? Then don’t be afraid to drop me a line through any of the following platforms:

www.facebook.com/blondeclueless

www.facebook.com/evelien.delgouffe

www.instagram.com/eveliendelgouffe

evelien.delgouffe@hotmail.com 

www.linkedin.com/in/eveliendelgouffe

OR MY BRAND NEW WEBSITE:

www.eveliendelgouffe.com !

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Let’s connect and find each other’s G-spots!

donaldtrump

***

=> NEXT time on the blog: I will tell you about HOW I ended up in Berlin and which OBSTACLES I had to overcome to get here. It’s gonna be W I L D!

XO

The self ridiculing act of nomad bashing

Hi all!

You: “Errr…?”

Me: “Ahm… what? Do I have something on my face?”

You: “Why do you start your blog entry with an hello? Usually you just talk away. About your life. Or god forbid… your sex life. Ugh.”

Me: Well today I would like to change things up. And maybe start a dialogue…”

I can’t help but feeling there is a little bit of underlying tension going on these days. Not between you and me, per se. But more frequently I discover some kind of mockery against nomads, backpackers and everybody who chooses the great outdoors to gain some personal perspective.

Since this blog is called ‘backpackersguide…blablabla’ I feel I need to take a stand and address the non captivated/exploited, happy-go-lucky elephant in the room. And try to analyze what’s going on.

There are two obvious camps here:

* People who are drawn by adventure, who temporarily run away from obligations to live in the here and now and diss on people who rot away in their comfort zones.

* People who steer away from adventure and diss on the people who recklessly throw away all securities and comfort zones in the idle hope they will find all life’s answers by swimming with sharks, taking a selfie on top of Machu Picchu or eating a fried scorpion at some random Chinese farmer’s market.

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(I plead guilty)

Well, let’s just settle this friendly battle here and now, why won’t we.

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Let’s draw a little background sketch. We (20-30 year olds) are the generation that’s been handed too many choices. Our parents were children of parents who had survived the war. They had a harsh upbringing. In a bid to turn things around they decided a different approach for their own offspring. The velvet glove. Let’s just be motivational towards our kids. Let them become whatever they want to become. Let’s bring them up with a sense of freedom. Some analysts would say this prevented some serious quakes on the puberty scale. Why would we start a riot if everything is allowed and negotiable? It didn’t eliminate it; it just postponed it. To a much more difficult timing later on.

Enter the quarter life crisis.

whoami

I am…. (feel free to pick one for yourself)

a) who my parents made me to be (=realist, acceptance, no crisis here)
b) everything opposite my parents made me to be (=the rebel)
c) better than everyone (=the jerk)
d) a loser (=negative thinker)
e) Egon Ewin Kisch (=dead)

Of course the problem is not good or bad parenting. The initial problem is still the fact that there are too many choices. And the fact they eventually lead to choice stress. The way we react to that would enable some older generations to call us: spoiled narcissistic brats with no sense of reality.

But it’s just hard these days to really say:

Screenshot from I Want It That Way

We pick a road but from the minute the scenery doesn’t appeal to us any more, we bail and try another road. Because we can. Because we should. And because we want to. Or think we want to. Because -actually- we really don’t know. We just assume. Because -let’s face it- there’s too much choice.

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So what seems to be a choice a lot of youngsters take these days? Right, the high road.

Due to the pressure of (social) media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, …) and the ad hoc commercial strategy of the travel industry using internet cookies and tailor made stalker advertisements to their power it looks like the only evident way to get rid of your stress is to step on a plane and travel to a galaxy far far away.  noseviaja

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Where else are you going to get the opportunity to do a shallow water scarf dance?

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Get the most out of your opposable thumbs?

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Or cosy up to a complete stranger?

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Woops, this one is not supposed to be in here

Of course not everyone dares to take the high road. Because they

  • are scared
  • financially in a pickle
  • scared
  • scared
  • scared

The list with reasons is endless.

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So some of them -in fact- rot away in their comfort zones. And forever regret not making exciting life choices. Walking around like little time bombs. Others find a way to get over/around it and end up appreciating what they got and eventually lose the need to jump from one continent to another.

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“I don’t need to go to Asia to solve my life problems, thank you”, someone slingshotted at me recently.

That’s fair. If you really mean it. That means you’re much more likely to solve your problems one on one. Or maybe don’t have any problems to begin with.
… For now. Let’s just see what midlife brings.

I can’t help but feeling when people say it like that, they take the diss out of people who do need it. It has become a phenomenon to ridicule the act of traveling the globe to get to know oneself. I call it nomad bashing. Backpacker bullying. Globetrotter battering. Wanderlust shaming.

Well, don’t blame us for having a sense of curiosity.

… Or for having better stories than you.

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In reality those people are just shifting the blame, changing the conversation, greatly hoping one day a scientist with a PhD will stand up and tell them:

‘You were right, you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world. It’s not going to help you. I have the proof!’

sheldon

So the bullies can go on and say: ‘Told you so’

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I don’t know

Our stories could be the closest you’ll get to a little adventure.

Too bad you don’t see it that way.

It must be hard living a life with bad eye sight, no cojones and a synthetic identity.

It might just be you are trying a little too hard to conform to a closed system, pushing a synthetic identity onto yourself which enables you to avoid looking if the chosen identity matches your own deeper wishes and competences. You choose to be unsupportive towards other ideas to protect yourself against potential doubt about the irreversible road you took.

So, who’s dealing with the real crisis here, Sherlock?

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Not to be worried though.

“A crisis is no such thing as an inevitable disaster, but must be seen as a necessary turning point, a critical time when the development in one way or another should continue and opportunities for growth, recovery and further differentiation will be mobilized.

An identity crisis, like any crisis, is an initially negative perception of emotional experience, but mostly an inevitable obstacle to achieve further development.

In that turbulent phase lies ample opportunity for growth.”
(Erik Erikson)

“Real winners are those who dare to lose everything” * 
(Evelien Delgouffe)

I hear the Maldives are on sale.

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Great travel agency by the way. It’s the one I used for my awesome adventure. If you want to I can tell you ALL about it some time.

XO

* (Not to be taken literally by heavy gamblers with debts the size of the Grand Canyon.)

… Although I do hear the Canyon looks great this time of year.

Grand Canyon National Park

Less hating. More hiking.

Safe travels!

paperbag

XO

 

Korsakov

picture-2016-09-07-om-11-36-12Korsakoff’s syndrome , also known as Korsakoff’s disease, is a persistent memory disorder which is primarily caused by vitamin B1 deficiency, usually due to too little varied food by chronic alcohol abuse . It is characterized by disorientation, especially in time , disorders, in particular short-term memory and confabulation.

In layman’s terms: The severe memory loss you develop when overindulging on alcohol.

The time has come you guys. Ever since I came back from my travels I’ve been going home every night smelling of stale beer and sweat. Dazed and confused.

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Tired. Falling asleep on my couch watching Comedy Central. Or worse: Spike TV.

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I’ve hit rock bottom alright.

I spend most of my days in the bar.

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200_s

You: “Gee Evvy how did it come this far? I never considered you to be an alcoholic.”

Me: “Me? Oh I don’t drink. I just stick to water, coffee, ginger juice and brownies. Plain brownies. Not the ones Martha Stewart baked in prison.”

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You: “But I don’t get it, then why do you say you go home smelling of beer? All dazed and confused?”

Me: “Because I work in a bar dummy. You’re currently looking at the new barmaid of Korsakov. The coolest -and most ‘colorful’- bar in town. It attracts some interesting specimens I can tell you that. And ‘men’ in general.”

Owner: “Gee, ever since I hired you the café is filled with guys. It’s like they’ve never seen a female bartender before.”

korsakov

First barmaid in history. All rights reserved.

It’s like that time when Buffy left Sunnydale to live in that shitty apartment, making ends meet by working as a waitress and changing her name into Anne!

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“I have to write this down”

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(Guys acting like they’ve never seen a female bar tender before)

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Ooh, that’s a strong look. Maybe I should try it out today.

Relax. It’s all temporary. And it’s all for a good cause.

You: “Oh you’re donating your earnings to charity?”

Me: “Err, no. I’m saving up for a new challenge.”

You: “A boob job???”

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Me: “No perv, my tits are fine. I did the pencil test…”saggy-boobs

Although it is a great idea for my tip jar…

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No, I’m very comfortable in my skin and feel very blessed to be walking around in this goddess body Mother Nature bestowed on me. And it’s nice to see I am still very much in control of my mind and bodily functions.

…Which is more than I can say for some of the customers.

Weird dude: “Hey Anne could you pour me another Duvel. It’s only my sixth one today.”

Me: “My name is Evelien.”

“And its only 11.30 am…”

Weird dude: “Well I’ve been awake for almost six hours. I went to bed at 4.30 and got up at 6. It’s okay I usually drink 18 Duvels a day.”

Meliver

Weird dude: “So you’re still in school?”

Me: “Err; no.”

Weird dude: “Then why do you work here? “

Me: “Because I want to.”

Weird dude: “Waw, you’re weird.”

I just got called weird by the weirdest guy on this planet :

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Weird dude: “What’s your name again?”

Me: (…)

Korsakoff’s syndrome. Told ya.

You: “Well the weird guy does have a point there, Ev. Why do you work there? You got excellent qualifications, you graduated with distinction, your IQ is above average, one year ago you were the perfect ivory to will.i.am’s ebony…

william

…Not to be rude or anything but you can do way better than this.”

Me: “Look, don’t feel bad for me guys, I choose to work here. It keeps me grounded. It pays the bills and it gives me time to gain some perspective, look at things from a different point of view, put my priorities in order and think of all the things I want to achieve before I’m 30 and after. I’m coming up for air. And it’s actually working out really well for me.

I’ve been feeling super energized. For the first time in a long time I feel like I can finally breathe again. I’m not on my case anymore. I’m working, making money, contributing to society. And I’ve actually been creating a lot of cool stuff.

You: “So tell us about that new challenge you’re saving up for?”

Me: “Well it’s still a secret but I can say it’s a physical challenge. But my body is far from fit yet.”

You: “You finally realized you belong in the porn industry?”

Me: “Yuk no! Why has this always have to be about S-E-X??”

You: “Slaying vampires?”

Me: “I wish! Been wanting to do that since I was 10.”

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You: “Oh I know! You’re going back to China?”

Me: “Unfortunately no, even though I dream about my Shifu commanding me to do Russian push ups every night…<3”

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The first ever original pic of my Shifu on the blog. His Chi is mostly in his hair.

He would so much enjoy using that staff to punish drunken customers. Not that I dislike alcohol or people how drink or anything.

I do -very rarely- enjoy a shot of tequila after a hard shift. With a side of …. UH OH

LEMON!

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But I do steer away from the alcohol demon as much as I can. I’ve seen what it does to people. And it’s not pretty.

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And of course Beyoncé is so drunk in love she can’t even spell right.

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Or remember she took a shit in the kitchen.

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What I’ve realized over my short career of bartending, is that there’s always a reason to drink. Some drink to celebrate. Some drink to make something happen. Others -and they’re quite the majority unfortunately- drink to forget.

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 To forget their dad abandoned them when they were a kid. To forget their girlfriend left them for some other dude. To forget they have financial trouble. A dead end job. To forget the prison they’re living in.

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And who can blame them? It is tempting to lighten the burden with bourbon.

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But reality is: life has got us all by the throat. Everybody is looking for their cup of happiness. But maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to find if we wouldn’t raise the bar on ourselves that much.

It’s like in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. We go looking for the perfect cup. With emeralds and gold, …. the whole shebang. But it’s the simplest cup which carries the purest happiness.

My glass is filled to the rim these days. With my own (non alcoholic) brew. Now, it’s only a first draft so things can still curdle, but I discovered the perfect way to perfect acceptance and happiness is to sometimes just stand still. Nakedly exposed, for everyone to take a good look at you. And you allowing them. Without fear of failure.

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I’ve realized: If you want to succeed in life, you shouldn’t be afraid to fail.

Not being scared to occasionally fall on your face is the way to put life check mate.

Life is a game of chess, I’ve said it before. And I will say it again.

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There’s nothing wrong with standing still or even taking a few steps back if it helps you to jump further in the long run.

For now, I decided for myself: I don’t have to be achieving 24/7.

I choose to underachieve.

And it feels great. Incredibly liberating even! It definitely beats trying to be someone you’re not or desperately achieving someone else’s crazy high standards and feeling miserable over it.

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Hi, I’m a temporary voluntary underachiever.

Nobody is perfect and still we demand ourselves to be a perfect 10 every day. In order to be acknowledged. By ourselves. And by our surroundings. To be something other than just a brick in the wall. A plant. Or maybe a pretty flower.

Well in order to become that. To rise above your feeding ground. You have to let the seed grow. And all that requires is three basic ingredients. Air. Patience. And water*.

*Nope, sorry, no alcohol.

And for what it’s worth. This is a quote I found on the toilet wall in the bar:

“If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, then it never was.”

If this doesn’t sober you up for the better, I don’t know what will.

Cheers!

ron-burgundy-l-6enrck

XO

KABLEWY! Blonde/Clueless has it’s own business cards! What do you think guys? Isn’t this kick you in the nuts damn right fantastic?!

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chrispratt

🙂

Fire

(! Caution: this read could cause altitude sickness. And could contain traces of drugs, nuts and nudity.)

I touch the fire and it freezes me.
I look into it and it’s black. 

Why can’t I feel?
My skin should crack and peel.
I want the fire back.

(-Once More, with Feeling
episode 7, season 6, 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer-)

People: “How do you do it? I’m already working my 6th consecutive Sunday in order to pay my bills. Damn girl, you’re living the life. How silly are we.”

People: “So you’ve traveled half the globe, went directly to the Tour de France and are now living the bohemian life in Ibiza. What’s next on the agenda, Ev?”

Me: “Worrying. Potentially with the outlook of living in a box for a while.”
People: “Sure. Since you live such a hard life party . LOL”.

Reality catches up on you like an FBI agent wanting you to comply to the rules everybody has to comply to.

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And it seems it’s time to go back to every day life.

That cruel, pitiless place that is nothing like the colorful sketch we see in romantic comedies or read about in novels.

It looks like I will stay in Antwerp for some time to come, to recalculate and find a temporary job to pass time. And top up my finances. (Since tax payers don’t pay for sabbaticals anymore.)

Money makes the world go round. And makes me go around that world. And since I’m not a gay dancer receiving 500 euro tips from Arabic bobos in Ibiza night clubs, I have to find a real job and walk the line for a while. The production line.

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It didn’t help splurging all my ‘Tour de France’ money in Ibiza. But that’s all part of living in the moment and leaving the worrying for after.

Err…Yeah, I didn’t really succeed in doing that last part either.

The idea sounds simple. Just living in the moment, sand between my toes, sun bathing, shutting down the hard drive, recharging the batteries, hakuna matata.

But, the truth is, I have always been a terrible in the moment liver…

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Due to some serious binge-traveling I knew I would be left with a financial and possibly emotional hangover. It was immanent. The thought was everywhere I went. While I was standing on the dance floor. While I was sitting on the back of the scooter clinging on to my best friend Cedric like grabbing on to life. While I was lying on the beach… Everywhere I looked I saw people enjoying a hard earned holiday. When I flew over me, I saw escapism. Topless escapism.

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Somebody who escaped everyday life in order to live in a dream bubble for a while -with unsupported breasts!- but soon that bubble would explode like Cinderella’s carriage that would turn back into an ugly pumpkin. And she would be left in the gutter. With one shoe. And saggy tits.

My head was under attack with these thoughts. At first I thought I was just PMS-ing.

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But it was something much worse.

I got hit by melancholy.

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Wiki: Melancholy or nostalgia is a state of mind that tends towards depression and is characterized by a sad look on the past or an unfulfilled desire.

Somebody else puts it this way:

I think the eternal melancholy of grown ups is: the desire for deep tenderness. Tenderness that goes so deep there is no worldly problem that can come between that. Giving everything. Receiving everything. Always receiving. It sounds immature but I think the base of melancholy is the lack of maturity. The desire for eternal protection.”

(Goosebumps, ammiright?)

It’s about 15 years ago I first came in contact with the word ‘melancholy’. (…) During an episode of Dawson’s Creek.

1997 The cast of "Dawson's Creek." From left to right: Katie Holmes (Joey Potter), James Van Der Bee

I was too busy with the superficial love story and was just waiting for Joey and Pacey to finally kiss that I didn’t really give a lot of attention to Dawson’s obvious teenage depression. I just thought he was a big nag really.

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Only now: it seems I’ve come down with the Dawson syndrome myself. THE WORST PMS EVER!

According to the internet:
Melancholic
people are emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic introverts.

No shit! I am emotionally sensitive and a big time perfectionist. Otherwise I wouldn’t have given up ‘the perfect job’, ‘the perfect relationship’ for some more meaningful life I know is just out there somewhere.
Reality is my biggest (fr)enemy. I want my dreams to be reality. But reality doesn’t domesticate that easy. And the introvert part? Well I don’t like people that much so I live in my own head a lot. Thinking, dreaming, worrying, … Worry if I will ever make it in this life. If I will find a balance between providing for a future while not forgetting to live and breathe and enjoy the ride.

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You: “Then why didn’t you just stay a newspaper journalist with a stable life and a fix income. Do you know how much people would kill to be what you were?”

Well I couldn’t.
Exactly one year ago, Angelo started a fire in me.

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Deep in the Slovenian woods he taught me there is more to life than working your head off, paying bills and being a slave to society. “If you don’t like where you’re at in life, change the decor. If you don’t like the road that’s laid out for you, pave your own. If you don’t like the future that’s ahead of you. Draw a new one. The secret of leading a rich life is to let go. And find wealth in less.”

I was spoilt to land a job like that at such a young age. My golden ticket was handed to me, just like that. But I felt I was achieving for someone else. I was not living for me. So I went to confront, challenge and comfort myself. Comfort myself with the thought I stayed true to my gut. And dared to be me. Free. Instead of trying to be someone I was not. Caged.

But that morning in Ibiza. I was mourning.

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The fire Angelo ignited was slowly dying. Like somebody took a piss on it.

It was only later I discovered the new moon had poisoned me…

You: ??

Apparently there was a new moon rising. And apparently ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, ets.) take control during a new moon. New moon night is a golden opportunity for the ghosts to cause distress to man. It’s only since meeting Helmut in Tasmania and studying some Chinese philosophy in China I started to pay attention to the moon. And it being a carrier of human emotions.

My thoughts churning: “I’m alone. Alone with my responsibilities. And I’m tired. I’ve traveled so far. I have gained. And I have lost. Was it all worth it? I would love to be carried on a meandering river. Like baby Moses. Knowing I will reach a destination. Instead of taking this thorny road*.”

* Remembering a passage in ‘The Art of Learning’, a book I was reading, by Josh Waitzkin:

“To walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather. Or we can make sandals.”  (Indian parable)
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Make sandals. Got it. 

Some people admire me for making the decision. Throwing away securities to dig deeper, find a deeper meaning, savoring life to the fullest.

But that morning in bed, I couldn’t help but ask myself:

Is it nobel to live according to your ideals? Or is it just dumb, self-destructive and naive?

Is this the time I wake up, lose my innocence and change into the pessimist everybody else has already become?

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error

I mean how stubborn can you keep holding on to something?

I just wanted to crawl into a big sweater. One that fits my knees, curl up and whisper: “Life be gentle on me. Don’t drown me. In regret, financial debt or other heart ache. Life be gentle on me. Don’t drown me. In regret, financial debt or other heart ache. Life be gentle on me. Don’t …”

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Argentinian summer love*: “Hey Ev, wanna watch the meteor shower tonight?”
(*For those who don’t know, I had an Argentinian summer love in Ibiza. See previous post!)

Me: “M…meteor shower? Yeah, sounds great.”

“…Do I have to wear a bra?”

Argentinian summer love: “Err..no…”

That night at dinner, I turned to the Argentinian for a piece of advice. Since he studied Psychology.

Yes…:

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And sexually…

Anyway.

He’s a big realist. The opposite of the big dreamy drama queen I can be. And a Fire sign. Exactly what I needed.

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To him, life is just life. You don’t have to have it together always. You just have to always live. (…) And if you fail to do so, take some drugs, it will lift your spirits right up and get rid of your anxiety.

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Me: “Err, that’s not really my cup of tea. I mean, I thought about taking a pill in Ibiza, like that Mike Posner song suggests, but I changed my mind. I don’t do drugs. I’ll just stick to this bottle of wine.”

Argentinian: “Alcohol is potentially the worst drug out there. It’s just because it’s accepted and drugs aren’t that people think it’s okay. Coke is a natural plant. In the 19th century cocaine was to be considered a panacea for everything from headaches to indigestion to aches and pains. For instance, it helps against altitude sickness. I chewed some coca leaves while I was climbing Machu Picchu.”

Me: “Uhu.”

Argentinian: “A lot of brilliant scientist and geniuses established their best work under the influence of drugs. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was an avid cocaine fan. The guy who discovered the double helix structure of DNA was under influence of LSD. Same goes for Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and The Beatles.”

“You think you’re healthy cause you don’t take drugs? There are enough bad chemicals in food and pharmacies. Society has each and every one of us medicated and drugged. And it’s often worse than we think. Relax, I’m not saying we should all shoot heroin.”

Me thinking: “I’d rather have you shoot me with your loaded gun.”

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Argentinian: “I’ve seen you worrying. You’re absent. You live in your mind too much. Let me just tell you: the future is not here yet. No matter what you choose, there are no bad choices. Whether you choose to leave or stay, it is going to be good.”

Me: “Okay cut the psychobabble bullshit, Freud. Let’s watch the stars and touch each other!”

I don’t know if it was the wine or the meteor chemistry above our heads but I was slowly starting to come… alive again. One scooter ride later we were on the roof of our Spanish hacienda. It was pitch dark. Only the sky was lit in an emerald glow and every 5 meters street lights were stitching the sky deck to the earth. While the bright celestial fire balls were bravely sliding down the atmosphere, something changed inside me. I felt a flow. -No, not my period.- I was feng shui-ing again. The bad demons of the new moon had left the building and I was released from evil spirits. (…) And pants.

That night on the roof, …

I got the fire back.

XO

People: “Gee Ev, you talk so openly about your intimate… thoughts. Aren’t you ever embarrassed to show yourself this naked? Or afraid of what your parents might say?”

Me: “Err no, my parents raised me this way and I don’t take myself seriously. At all. I am a free spirit. I’m breaking down my barriers, releasing my inhibitions. And spreading the word of self-love, self-development, self-reflection and self-deprecation.

 

 

When life gives you lemons…

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be creative.

 

Same goes for watermelons.

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Let’s just all embrace our blonde/cluelessness together! 

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Peace out.

 

The power of Chi

As you could read in my previous post, life in this academy can be quite confronting. You get confronted with your limits, your incapabilities, your doubts and your fears. But the thing I’ve been experiencing most problems with. Is how confronting my age has suddenly become.

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A lot of these kids here are around 21, there are even some 17-18-19 year olds of which I thought they were actually my age.

When I was that age, enrolling in a martial arts school in a far away country to train 40 hours a week was the furthest thing on my mind. I was too busy being a book worm, studying and providing for my future. I was very career minded. Very serious, actually. And very insecure. I was always worried about what other people would think of me. I was always trying to fit in and if somebody would say a mean thing about me, that would bother me for days.

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With age, I learned not to care about that anymore. That’s one of the few positive sides of aging.

However. Some comments do still affect me. They don’t hurt me. They just fucking piss me off. For instance, when my article on HLN.be got published about traveling without a plan and living life to the fullest, I couldn’t help but check how people were reacting to it. Most of the comments were good. But, of course, there were also some bad comments. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. And you don’t have to agree with me and my way of living. Different people, different ideas. It’s just the way some people pin you down instantly as a selfish brat that probably hasn’t got any sick relatives to take care of, and shouldn’t expect any help from others when she is in trouble, is just so narrow minded that it drives me claustrophobically insane. If someone would say this to my face I would fucking rip theirs off.

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First of all: No, I don’t have a sick relative to take care of. Lucky me! And lucky relatives of mine! That we’re all healthy and perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves.

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Seconds: I don’t believe people should need other people or that people should put their lives on hold for others. Of course if my mother or father was sick, I would take care of them. But I wouldn’t stop living. The day before I left, someone close to me got really upset about me leaving because she needed me to be there because she was having a baby soon… I couldn’t believe anyone could demand me to stay for the sake of her choosing to reproduce. That just didn’t fit in my head. I’m sorry but I’m not gonna neglect myself because of others. This is my life and I choose how I live it.

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But then again, I’m not super human either. So I do ask myself that question occasionally:

AM I BEING SELFISH?

The way it began for me: I really needed to leave my everyday routine and live completely in the moment. I believe people who choose to do so, don’t have to feel bad about that. For example Maryam, who I met in Tasmania, her mother back in Iran was really sick but that didn’t prevent her from traveling around Australia. And her mother didn’t blame her. Is she selfish? No way. It’s not like she was getting wasted every night, partying away. She was there dealing with her own personal struggles and challenges while dealing with her mother’s sickness. People need to understand that going away to travel for longer periods of time isn’t about lying on a deck of a cruise ship, sipping frozen strawberry margaritas and doing nothing. No, that’s holidaying. Traveling is embarking on a journey to gain important life lessons from it. And that usually doesn’t always go as expected, or doesn’t necessarily have to be a better life than the one you had at home. It’s all about experiencing, learning, to seek confrontation with yourself and others. Surviving basically.

To do that on your own requires braveness, independence and creativity. People blame us travelers for taking the easy way out, running away from responsibilities, but honestly if I really wanted to have an easy life I would have just stayed at home, curled up in my comfort zone. My life isn’t easier. It has simplified, yes. Cause I took all the bad Chi out, and only keep the good Chi.

You: “Sorry Evvy, but what is Chi exact-ly?”

Me: Ahaa! Very good question, You-san!

Chi (or Qi) is the fundamental life force that flows through all and everything. It basically differentiates a living human being from a corpse.

(again)

timeli2

A strong life force makes a human being totally alive, alert and present while a weak force results in sluggishness and fatigue. You can increase and develop your Chi to overcome illness, become more vibrant and enhance mental capacity.

That’s what Taiji and Qigong are all about. If I would only find a way to shut up my mind while I stand there frozen for 40 minutes with my eyes closed and knees bent, while trying to find a magnetic sensation between my fingertips.

Xiguon

Basically you should think about your body, your blood flow, … Or birds. Birds are always good. It should bring you into an elevated state of being. If you achieve in doing that, Godzilla could drop in the school yard and you wouldn’t even move a muscle.

th (6)

“Shit, they’re doing Qigong. There goes my terrifying entrance.”

Or how coach Ariel likes to put it: “No matter what happens, no matter how much it hurts, do not open your eyes, do not drop your arms, do not straighten your legs, just focus on your laogong* points.”

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That basically means if someone would stand next to you and burn your face with a Bunsen burner, or fire gun shots at you, you are not supposed to move. Yeah, it’s advanced. ***

(*** BTW coach Ariel did an awesome thing this week. He broke a brick with his bare hand while holding an egg inside his palm. Guess what?? The egg didn’t break! The egg was real alright, he showed us after. Right before his palm magically gave birth to an unidentified living sentinel thing with sharp teeth!)

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… Okay that last part I made up…

I think this whole Chinese philosophy thing is super interesting, though. But sometimes it’s a lot to process. Especially when the lessons are in Chinese, and the school translator isn’t doing a very good job getting the point across. I was following a Taoism class the other day and I just couldn’t understand everything the master was explaining us. I was #dafuq’ing all over the place.

dafuq

During that class we were supposed to learn about Feng Shui. But at the end the only thing I actually remembered was that it means Wind – Water. I decided to run over to Amanda, the weirdest of translators, always wearing the most colorful and funny outfits, and ask her the obvious question:

Me: “Amanda, what in da funk is the difference between Chi and Feng Shui?”

She stared at me with her beady eyes, not really understanding how I had just came out of a one hour Taoism class about Feng Shui still asking that question.

Amanda: “Well, Feng Shui is all about harmony around you. Your home, the trees, the buildings around you, … They have to be aligned so that the wind/water can flow without blockages. While Chi is the energy inside your body. If someone has a weak voice, for example, then that person has weak Chi. If a person has a strong voice than that person has a strong Chi. Got it?

(Mind = blown)

Wow, Amanda had just provided me with an interesting insight there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this academy so far -besides spider man crawls, walking push ups and Russian push ups- it’s definitely how to speak loudly and raise my voice.

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My whole life I’ve been too much of an introvert to do that properly. And sometimes I just swallowed words or I would begin a sentence loudly and end it softly. Mumbling. When we train I yell it out like crazy. My punch doesn’t come out without a loud and clear : TSE HA! They taught me that the first day. To scream and shout, to do your movements with power. The Shifu is always screaming: ‘Louder! More Power!’ And when we do laps around the school yard we always count as loud as we can. Like soldiers.

Leader: ‘Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi  … (group echo: Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi Er, Yi)
Leader: Yi Er, San Si (group echo: Yi Er, San Si)
Leader: Yi, Er, Saaaaan Si! (group echo: Yi, Er, Saaaaan Si!

I guess that means I have a strong Chi! Thanks Amanda! You made it a lot more clear! Now go back to being weird!

With her clearing up that question, I could finally answer that other question for myself.

AM I BEING SELFISH?

No! Of course not!! If this traveling and experiencing new things is doing all this good to me, then why should I be ashamed of living for me? It took me a while to come up with an antonym for selfish, until I finally got it: if I’m doing this for anything, it’s out of SELF LOVE. And subsequently the love I have for others. The most important people in my life. Cause when I am a stronger Evelien, they’ll gain from it too. If I’m not happy with the way things are going in my life, how can you expect I will be of any beneficence in your life? My Feng Shui would fuck up your Feng Shui, and then we would both end up with bad Chi, shitting that bad Chi on other people, creating a bad Chi-chaos that would eventually bring this whole world to an end.

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Now THAT! would be selfish.

There are no blockages in my system, I can love others much more than I ever could before. I can literally empower others with my Chi. And I will, once I return. You better be ready!

So bottom line:

Screw you guys, Imma do whatever the fuck I want. It’s good for you. It’s good for me. It is the power of Chi. 

Chi you later!

XO

Nourishing my Chi. Out of self love. Of course. Every Saturday I go to the bakery in Mu Ping and treat myself to a nice pineapple pie. It iz zie best! ❤

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Investing in the future

(Caution 1: this is an even longer read than the previous one)
(Caution 2: this may contain nudity)

At least once a week I’m having an off day. A day where nothing excites me and I’m stressing over my budget, my time left in this country and the traveling choices I have made and am about to make. It’s usually a Monday, Tuesday or -in this case- a Wednesday. I just came back from walking the Story Bridge (1000 steps and 80 meters above the Brisbane river (it is enough to kill you, people have tried it)). I had imagined it to be a James Bond kind of adventure with lots of adrenalin, action and stunts since the description on the website was already very exhilarating, but if my heart rate would have gone any slower, I swear I could have fallen asleep then and there.

I had stepped into a tourist trap. One that had cost me 79 dollars. I didn’t even get one decent photo out of it AND I got insulted since the guy at the counter gave me an XL overall. I mean WTF??

Money is definitely on my mind here in Oz. Everything is just so damn expensive. Your accommodation (a dorm you usually share with minimum 6 people) costs at least 30 bucks a night and then you still have to pay for food, public transport, a coffee on the road, postcards and stamps, data for your phone, washing powder, and the occasional recreational activity such as renting a bike or hiring a kayak. Traveling is all a matter of keeping yourself active and entertained. And usually that doesn’t come for free.

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When I look at my billing history I get these crazy premenopause like hot flashes. Then I continue cursing myself for not traveling just a fraction more money conscious. For having that big bowl of amazing bircher muesli in that cute little coffee place instead of using that money to buy a large bag of muesli and some yoghurt of which you can eat an entire week.

It’s a tough balancing act. I don’t want to hold myself back too much either. I still want to enjoy myself. And I am already sleeping in hostels to keep my budget down, not because I like them. I don’t want anything to do with them or the people that live in them. I don’t participate in any of the social happenings, happy hours or bingo nights. I much rather have a picnic in the park by myself. (I have an interesting story on that later, hold on!)

I don’t know why but wherever I go, I like sticking out like a sore thumb. My curiosity always makes me end up in weird places.

Instructor (who very much looked like Daniel Craig): “You’re a tourist? Why the fuck do you want to come to a boxing class at 7 in the morning with a bunch of sweaty men?”

Me: “Errr…”

Honestly, I don’t know why. ‘Why’, is a question I can’t answer. Sometimes my feet just take me places, and my head just follows.

Well, that boxing class was one of the best memories I have about Melbourne. That and the rooftop cinema. People often have the feeling they have to do all these ‘AMAZING, EXCLUSIVE, TEMPORARILY LOWERED IN PRICE, NOT TO BE MISSED’ sightseeing tours to make their trip worth wile. Of course everybody is free to travel differently. But for me, it’s like white bread. It just doesn’t still my appetite. I like to do trivial every day stuff while traveling -‘TrivialTraveling’, damn it that would have made a great name for the blog!- I think it’s the best way to the local heart.

As you know I don’t follow any tour guides or Lonely Planets while I am on this trip. I just walk around -mostly for hours on end since my coordination isn’t all too good- and eventually something will attract my eye and curiosity. Thus happened the first day in Brisbane. I was walking around town -since the hostel wouldn’t let me check in before 2pm- and ended up on the wrong side of Boundary Street. I was looking for the graffiti wall with the infamous angel wings (I do follow the Instagram accounts of some Australian cities, to see what some of the highlights are) but instead of turning right, I went left. It was a fiercely hot day and when I realized the neighborhood started to decommercialize since all of a sudden there had stopped being coffee bars on every corner. I paused at a white house whilst trying to connect to Google Maps. As I’m waiting for the navigation to show me where I messed up, I look up and see that I’m actually standing in front of a Greek Orthodox church. On the right side of the door there’s a sign saying ‘all welcome’. See, that’s asking for trouble. They were pretty much begging for a clueless blonde to enter.

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The next morning I decided to roll out of bed early, put on my Sunday dress and head to church. While I was walking -it was a firm 45min walk- I thought I’d better come up with a fake background story. Something about my grandmother (God rest her soul) having Greek roots or something. Just in case anyone would come up to me and ask why the hell I am attending a Greek Orthodox mass. In Greek. (..)

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But then again, who will come up to me and talk to me anyway? It’s a church, people are there to be with God. Not to start socializing with a 20 something girl.

Boy, was I wrong…

Two minutes almost every soul in there knew my name. The ‘master of ceremony’ (don’t know what else to call him) even introduced me right at the beginning of the mass. I felt like the honorary guest. Even though guest speaker Elias travelled all the way from Greece on his leather sandals to give an elaborate speech on how the Greek Orthodox church community had helped so many people in Greece when the country was dealing with the financial crisis and the refugee crisis (…) Sincerely sorry to have stolen your thunder there, Elias.

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It surprisingly took me about half an hour to ask myself the question: ‘what the hell am I doing here’.

The master of ceremony’s name was Peter. He was Australian and did the guiding in English. He was also the keyboard player, singer, occasional preacher, … and the loving husband of Heather, who was honored to sit next to me since she thought I was wearing such a pretty dress. My 4 dollar Op Shop find sure is getting compliments over here. She was completely fond of me once she found out me and her mother (God rest her soul) share the same name. I didn’t get the feeling Heather was overly religious. I thought of her more as the supporting wife to a man living his life in honor of God. A wife who had settled for second place.

(Peter enthusiastically telling a story about his early life being full of sin) :

“I was in a horrible place in my twenties. But thanks to the love and power of God, I turned that around and traveled further than I could have ever traveled. Now I am looking for my next journey and that is (childishly points his index finger towards the ceiling) all the way up there!” (chuckles)

I glared over to Heather to see what her feelings were on this subject. But she was glazing at her song book like she had just suffered a minor stroke.

After one hour and 15 minutes the mass was nearing the end. But first there was -of course- the sharing of the bread. In catholic churches usually only the priest is the one lucky enough to have a sip of that church wine. Here, they started handing out tiny glasses to everybody. And it wasn’t just cheap wine, it was port! Delicious port!

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Pic of port!

There was also a saucer with actual bread (non of that cardboard stuff we get). Someone could have thrown in some Tzatziki and we could have had a party in there! After the service everybody kind of wanted me to stick around but I decided to carry on with my day. The fact that they accepted me like they did, without asking WHY I attended, filled my heart with warmth for the rest of the day…

When I came back in the hostel that afternoon -I was sharing a female dorm with three other backpackers- they had all left. Even the Claudia Schiffer lookalike from Germany, who was supposed to stay another 2 weeks. She was so kind of leaving her leftover beer nuts near my bed as a sober goodbye gift.

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I was touched by the gesture since backpackers usually don’t share food. Everybody stores their stuff in the common kitchen. You have to put your name on your bags otherwise things will either get stolen or chucked out. The Claudia Schiffer lookalike from Germany had it happen to her the other day. Her bag with all her cutlery, containers, food, cereal, … was suddenly nowhere to be found. Of course that was a big drama. Backpackers who live on really small budgets hang on to those bags as if their lives depended on them. The other day I bought myself some groceries and labeled it -as instructed- with my name, departure date and room number. Instead of putting ‘Ev, Eve or Evelien’ on the bag, I decided to go for ‘Big Al’. A strong butcher’s name. I reckoned no one would want to steal food from a guy who sounds like a man with a big appetite. And a small temper.

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As I sat on my bed in an empty dorm, I checked the tan line the silver ring on my left middle finger had left. It reminded me of a little thing happening at the end of the mass when Peter dug up a giant silver coin out of his pants pocket and handed it over to Elias as a donation. Apparently it was worth a four digit number.

Peter: “The price of silver is going up, people. If I would advise anyone to do an investment. Buy silver.”

I started thinking about what Peter said. About investing in the future. And I thought:

“I’m running a pretty decent investment right here. Me.”

You interrupting: OH I see, because you’re GOLD, right? Spandau ballet? Nice one!

Me: Err, not really….

I started out as a penny stock. A pink sheet. But slowly my share is climbing up every day.

Leo

So yeah, I spend a lot of money, sometimes a little too much, on this journey. But maybe it’s not all money down the drain… Maybe ‘you’ is the only asset worth taking a (financial) risk for.

You: But what if your share crashes? What if you end up with nothing?

Well I always say: if things really go south, you can always consider a career as a topless barmaid.

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(WOOPS! You weren’t supposed to see that)

It’s a bullshit safety net, I know. But it’s just my way to say to myself I won’t end up starving in a ditch so easily. No stress. By the way it is impossible to end up with nothing cause even the tiniest failure, or the dumbest mishap, is a lesson. And every lesson is an enrichment.

The only thing you will have to be aware of, and look out for, is projectile fear vomiting.

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Projectile what?

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People will try to put you off track by projecting their fear and prejudice on your perfectly fear and prejudice-free projection screen. Remember what I said at the beginning of this read? People asking you the ‘why are you here, or why do you do that’ – question. That question didn’t go down well for me at the beginning. I found it offensive. And I don’t like to explain myself. Sometimes you just feel the need to do something and that is your reason. Final.

For example: People are constantly asking me if I’m traveling alone.

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When I confirm that I am traveling solo (I only say I am to other women, when a murder/rapist type man asks me, I usually tell him my boyfriend is meeting me somewhere) they always give me the weird surprised look.

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… followed by : ‘Ooh, aren’t you scared?’

Maybe I should just tell people I’m here for investment business. That’ll shut them up.

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Is it sooooo weird to travel by yourself? Let’s rephrase the question. Why do people choose to not travel by themselves?? And now I’m back at explaining why you should see this as an investment: It is the best thing one can do to:

a) acquire a bunch of new skills,
b) surpass a lot of boundaries and
c) evolve fast and get to know oneself extremely well in a short period of time
( and if you’re into that => d) meet a lot of new people)

Everyday you are putting yourself in a new situation, you are I faced with new challenges and you have to be inventive and creative to deal with those situations on the spot. If you don’t take the initiative. No one will. The fact that I am the only one responsible for having a bed to sleep in, for putting food in my body and for getting from A to B just gives me an incredibly rewarding feeling. Never underestimate the power of a sense of achievement. It will make you feel like you can conquer the world. Or climb a bridge. But even a foetus could have done that walk.

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Hang on to those umbilical cords, guys!

That weird surprised reaction people give, will probably stick on me for some time to come. For instance every time I go to have lunch or dinner and the waitress asks me if I want to wait for my company to arrive…

But why would I need someone to take care of me anyway? Or accompany me? We are all individuals here. We are all responsible for ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you travel with 10 people or just one, ‘you’ is never a group. ‘You’ is just you and if you don’t learn how to live, travel and function by yourself then I pity the man or woman who you end up sharing your life with. Always check in with yourself first before you check in into a relationship. If you cannot think for yourself, act for yourself, speak for yourself or even eat by yourself… you are basically back to being a toddler and you will never know what you’re actually capable of. And you are capable of great things, believe me.

I guess a lot of people shy away from walking unknown paths by themselves… Because deep inside, they’re scared of them. Scared of the risks. Scared of the mirrors, …  So they set up their tent at base camp.

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I SAID BASE CAMP YOU STUPID TWAT!

They set up in base camp. Steer away from the climb, telling themselves the view is already pretty nice from down here. Well if you climb that mountain -and you don’t have to go all the way to the top- you will gain new perspectives, see new vistas and your point of ‘view/you’ will receive much more depth. I thought I already knew everything about me and who I am but everyday I keep learning about myself. It is silly to think you know who you are. Since we are constantly adapting to new situations, changes, struggles and challenges on the way, we never stop evolving. We are CCC’s. Constantly Changing Creatures. Sure, you know which wood you’re made of. What your fundaments are. But there are constantly things changing around us. The forces of nature. Maybe we need more than one lifetime to really understand who we are.

But in case reincarnation is just a myth and we only have one I strongly advise everyone to go on a big solo journey once. It doesn’t have to be a year, it doesn’t have to be six months, even a couple of weeks is enough. It will make you gain perspective and will basically teach you how to live life in your best capable way. Since traveling is very much like living: It is limited in time, you cannot do or see everything you’d like and you will have to go some day.

Consider it to be a spin off of the big television show called ‘Your Life’. A story existing on its own. How the story line of the main tv show will be influenced, isn’t important yet. Some overpaid executive producer will deal with that later. Just try living in the moment. You cannot see in the future. You can only look in the past and it will be a lot worse when you look back and regret the things you didn’t do. The moments you didn’t fully appreciated. Those are never coming back.

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You: “Yeah yeah, easy for you to say, you’re still young. I’m old, I can’t do jack.”

Me: “Well tomorrow you will be even older and you will regret you didn’t take the one opportunity you were actually close to achieving something out of the ordinary.”

Thus….

Invest. Invest. Invest. Step outside boxes, try to think differently, force yourself to do new things. Start slow. Start the day with brushing your teeth first and then have coffee. Or maybe don’t do that, that’s gnarly. I am just trying to find a way to make my point clear here. Don’t do the exact same thing every day. Challenge yourself. Try looking at things from different point of view, don’t put yourself or others in a box. Lose the judgement. Live free. Don’t look down on other people. Don’t look down on yourself. Don’t think too much of yourself either. The reason why angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly. Never forget that.

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Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
You’re indestructible, always believe in, ‘cos you are

GOLD

XO

You: “Hey, wait! What about that interesting story you had for us?”

Oh yeah. I was sitting in the park in Brisbane the other night and I didn’t realize until later but apparently I was sitting in some animal poo. When I strolled back to the hostel I suddenly started craving ice cream. I stopped at the 7 Eleven and bought myself a mini cup of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate brownie fudge. When I walked over to the hostel and wedged the cup between my arm and body to grab my key to activate the elevator door, I entered and saw in the mirror I had a brown stain on my jeans. I wiped it off with my finger, since I thought the cup must have leaked, … and licked it clean. I bet you can guess the end of that story… That’ll teach me to have ice cream past 10 pm…

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!

The Tasmanian cannibal

“Aaah the glamour girl from Belgium.”

He walked up to me from behind his truck with what only could be discribed as the grin of a male chauvinist pig around his mouth. I looked far from my glamourous self that day. I had just spent two hours on a bus on a Friday afternoon with a bunch of noisy school kids who were traveling home for the weekend. I had 20 kilos strapped to my back, another 7 around my left shoulder and another 5 cutting off the blood stream of my right wrist. My head was surrounded with bits of dry blonde locks, waving around in the wind like radiants around the sun. My face, however, must have looked like a sunny side down. I was knackered. My back broken. I just wanted to call it a night as soon as possible. And it was only 6pm.

“Glamour girl?” I molded my face in a cemented smile while walking up to him. Not giving away I was already kind of offended.

You see, before I got there I was already building myself up.  I was expecting this encounter to be a bit rough at the beginning. So I already prepared myself for some prejudice. I just couldn’t believe that a guy who’s had so man lessons in life, who is all about zen and spirituality, would just judge me that quickly. I mean, isn’t that the first thing they teach you? To NOT judge a book by its cover?

“You are full of judgement already, Helmut? That’s not a very good attitude”, I candidly smiled at him while -seemingly effortless- whipping the bag off my shoulders. It wasn’t effortless, my back was burning with pain!

“Ha-ha”, he laughed strongly. “I was expecting you to have a suitcase on wheels with a big iPad strapped on to it. How man pictures have you put online today? About 7?”

He was right. I had gone a little over my everyday 5 limit… So he looked at my online activities again… He already did this when I was in Melbourne, I discovered. That’s where I received an email from him, asking me to reconsider staying at his place. Since he reckoned it wouldn’t be something for me. I don’t know based on what he made that assumption, but it had something to do with my online presence, that’s a fact. He just thought I was another shallow girl, not worth of his time or effort.

It was about a 20 minute drive from the center of St Mary’s to his place. We drove up a narrow road, very steep and full of rocks. His 4×4 had its work cut out getting up there. It was a bumpy ride too.

“See that patch of stretched land there? That’s where I’m gonna bury you. I got all kinds of helpers burried there. Hahaha.”

I suddenly felt a weird feeling creeping up on me. Could it be that while he was doing a background check on me on the internet, he accidentally find my blog and read it?? The blog where I portrayed him as the cannibal of Tasmania, saying how much I feared he was going to eat my liver for dinner?? Bugger! Maybe I brought him to ideas. Maybe he is going to get really mad at me about the things I wrote and kill me very slowly in his slow cooker…

As we drove up his eternal driveway I realized there was no way in the world I would ever get away from this place by myself. Like if I really needed to, in an emergency situation. Since I was so tired, I accepted my faith there and then. I surrendered. I’ve had some nice views so far. I can go in peace.

Suddenly we climbed up to another piece of stretched land. There were wild wallabies having a picnic on the grass and I recognized the solar panels from the pictures, surrounding his house. Next to it was the caravan. My new home.

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“You will have to share it with an Iranian girl, alright. She’s a backpacker as well and has probably cooked us a nice dinner by now.”

I don’t know what I was more relieved about. That there was another backpacker, still very much alive, or that there was already dinner prepared for that night. Meaning I wouldn’t end up on a plate just yet.

I enteren the caravan to put my things in there first. There were two beds made, cute little colorful drapes on the windows and some cupboards to store my things. To my own surprise, this place looked lovely. And far better than the passenger seat of Pierre’s car I stayed in before. Even better than the hostels I was in. I quickly droppen off my things and followed Helmut to the main house up the hill. He built it himself with the hand of some handy helpers. The place is stunning. From the dinner table you have the most amazing view on the mountains and the ocean. With high windows stretching all the way along the kitchen. This is a million dollar view. And the place smelt amazing. Maryam was in the kitchen preparing chia chocolate cake and some Iranian dish for dinner. She came up to me all smiling. She just arrived 3 days ago and was already feeling very much at home. I don’t know if it’s because she’s Iranian but she very much looks like Kim Kardashian without the plastic surgery and all that. Big brown eyes, narrow nose, full lips. And a great personality to match. I wanted to hate her already. But I couldn’t. She was too sweet! I started asking her all about her travels. She left Iran to backpack through Australia by herself. She has been doing Helpx, crashing on people’s couches hitchhiking her way around,… traveling very low budget and VERY courageous. I mean, I couldn’t just ring up to someone’s house asking them to let me sleep on their couch without being rape that same day. At least not in these short shorts I’m wearing. Good thinking, Ev. Put some clothes on will ya!

She was telling me all about her travels and I was a little overwhelmed. Her aura filled up the room. She oozed confident and was very much in control of her journey, budget and further life goals. I felt like a complete clums compared to her. Turns out she became Instagram famous overnight in her country. Inspiring people to travel in a different way. There I was coming from a country that’s unimpressed with about everything. A country that has seen and done everything before and is not impressed until you travel to Mars or -even better- discover an entirely new planet. An Iranian  magazine even reached out to her to keep a travel diary. And here I am, Mrs Big Newspaper Reporter from Belgium, not even getting a centimeter of writing space in the paper I’ve been working for since 5 years. I mean GEE!

Yes Maryam was very much living my dream. But instead of feeling jealous or annoyed, I found a way to turn  that around. I just thought to myself, well that’s great for Maryam but I have a different approach and that’s what makes my journey unique. Or something like that. But I do like listening to her stories. She has experienced some great rides.

That night we had dinner together, enjoying the lovely view. Helmut started asking all about me and I tried my best to give him a good impression. But he was just…very German.

Me: “So Helmut, I had quite the convincing to do, why were you so hard on me?”

Helmut: “Well I wasn’t looking for a Helpx girl, I was looking for a strong man to help me with the fire wood.”

(…)

Me: “Uhu…And what about Maryam then?”

Helmut: “Well she was different, I reached out to her myself after reading her bio.”

Me: “You reached out to her? …B…b…but why didn’t you do that with me??” (FEELING REALLY SORRY FOR MYSELF HERE)

Helmut: “Because I looked you up on the internet and I usually don’t do this with my Helpx but somehow I did it with you. And I saw this picture of you with this cycling guy (THE Jens Voigt) and I just thought: no way she’s coming up here. She will drive me NUTS! I was trying to send you off with an excuse, that there wasn’t any room and this trip wasn’t for you anyway but you kept insisting coming over. You are very persistent, I got that from the first email you sent me. If I didn’t find out I was the only host you reached out to in Tasmania, then I wouldn’t have let you come over here. But I tracked down your ‘mail outs’ and discovered you only sent one email. To me. So I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt. But if I don’t like you, you can scram. I’ve sent other helpers walking before.”

(Long uncomfortable silence)

When I tugged myself in that night, I took a deep breath and went through the day. I said good night to Maryam, put my sleeping mask on, tightened my hoodie and thought to myself: these next days ought to be interesting.

And they were.

To be continued.

XO

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