Welcome!! to the start of everything..

Dear reader,

Welcome to my travel blog!

It is march 2015 and my next adventure will start in the Netherlands, going by mountainbike towards Asia and probably further on around the world. Lots of adventures and new experiences awaiting me along the way. Curious to read and see what happens? Let’s keep in touch 😉

As a 21th century traveller one has to have a blog :p ok so it is mostly my own diary, to prevent myself from forgetting.. But im an open book and you are most welcome to read along!

Please feel free to comment, ask, and reply! I’m looking forward to it 🙂

Australia part 6: found home in Dignams creek?

*pictures will follow*

 

I arrived at Nicks property at Dignams Creek. And I might have found my home here.. Let me tell you why:

The first thing I noticed though was the immense amount of birds around! Isnt it amazing how reptilians grew feathers and wings and turned to the sky to defy the force of gravity that had held them for million of years?! Ill do that one day!

So many beautiful songs are surrounding us every day, so many beautiful coloured wings gracefully roaring around. Especially the call of the Lewin honeyeater blew my mind. I sang with them: ‘ I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven’ and I couldn’t stop smiling. Shardae and me were ready for long days of hard work improving the already beautiful lush gardens around, but Nick had other plans. Everytime we wanted to do something he insisted on some chill time, a cup of tea, hanging in the hammock under the choko, enjoying the beautiful grey and pink galahs coming to quench their thirst every afternoon around five, while we played and sang. The first morning us three and neighbor Nick (there are five guys on this road, four of them called Nick and Garth calling himself not-Nick, his nickname so to say ;)), we all went to the coast for a dive; Nick diving for abalony and Nick spearfishing with his new speargun. Shardae and I snorkeled the waters and had fun trying to make a fire without matches and lack of good kindling. When the boys got out of the water we decided to go home though and prepare the first of many feasts to come on the open fire outside. Boy, did we feast. Every meal was more amazing than the last, taking our time to enjoy it together, thanking mother earth for providing us with such abundance. Accompanied by homebrewed beers and the occasional homegrown weed joint, we feasted on homebred, grown, nurtured and slaughtered chooks. I killed two roosters with an axe, a nice clean chop ‘off with his head!’, a good life and a quick death without pain. The chook went into the witches hat to bleed out, before dipping it shortly in a hot water bath to make it easier to pluck the bird. Note to self: don’t kill them when malting, it’s a bit hard to pluck the new growth of feathers. Killing the roosters was not only appreciated at night roasted on the fire (nice and crispy after rubbing the skin with salt and oil or honey), but also the next morning when we got to sleep in a bit more 😉 Rooster testikels for breakfast, I would highly recommend, they are delicious! Sounds aweful doesn’t it? And that coming from a longtime vegetarian. My biggest reason though always was that I didn’t want to support this horrible industry where most meat comes from. Animals are treated very very very bad and the industry is the main reason for all the problems concerning climate change. I’m slowly changing my mind though and am now convinced that animals are a necessary part of any sustainable homestead, weeding and fertilizing the soil, building healthy top soil, even moving earth to maken leveled contours and of course providing products like meat, eggs, milk, skin etc. Thanks guys! Nicks place is full of foodpens and chooktractors, in a system where the chooks do all the work and we just have to feed them and move them around. And the place is incredibly lush and vital, everything looks so alive and healthy! Fresh food pumping out of the soil everywhere! A very good example of the good life 😀

 

Besides the eggs and meat from the chooks, we also feasted on pork from pigs Nick and Nick raised themselves. I got to shoot one with a .22 rifle, while they were all having breakfast. It was a perfect shot in the head between the eyes and ears. It was a bit The other pigs didn’t even look up from their feed while we dragged the bleeding pig out of the pen. Again, we gave it a hot bath before clearing the skin and pulling out the guts. We let it hang overnight to bleed and dry out before very amateuristically cutting it up in pieces and feasting on it the next days.

 

Another feast was the banana icecream we made everyday, because it was just so good, yummie J frozen bananas and figs or persimmons straight in the blender, drizzled with honey which turned into caramel because of the cold, and topped with some muscat liquor. Yoghurt, lemon juice, cocaonibs or other goodies to be added to taste 😉 So good!!! And superhealthy 😀

 

Okay, so we did do a little bit of work as well. At one point I was pruning Nicks fruit trees, Shardae was reparing the trailer and Nick was building a beehive, we were such a perfect family, it truly was heaven. We were there just a couple days, but it felt like we were there for weeks and we completely belonged. We had to go though. I arranged with Peter Gow, another teacher from the course to make some money painting his house, which he wanted to sell to go and buy a bigger property to build a permaculture sanctuary. That’s a good cause I wanted to work for and I was in need of some money, perfect! Peter was working during the days and I worked hard, listening to audiobooks and music while painting. We played guitar together at nights or watched the river cottage show which was filmed just around the corner, starring lots of local heroes I had met through Peter, through the crossing and on the farmers market. Peter showed me the local beach, passing hundreds of kangaroos, tracking down kangaroo tracks on the beach, finding aboriginal relics in the bush and failing to find pipis in the sand. We did go night fishing one day though, with the most beautiful sunset accompanying us, everybody was talking about it the next days! My first experience beachfishing we caught a salmon and two sharks within half an hour, unbelievable! The shovelnose shark I killed turned out to be pregnant with two babies though… I always thought sharks layed eggs, but apparently these didn’t. The babies were alive and I set them free back in the sea, not sure whether they would survive :/ This was it, I turned vegetarian again for a couple of days. Too much killing for me. Great though to kill everything I eat myself, it really gives me perspective and understanding what it takes. No mindless meat consumption. I have turned from being vegetarian into an ethical omnivore: I only eat meat when I think it is ethically justifiable. I reckon there could me a market for catching and eating meat like rabbits, which are a feral pest in Australia.

Incorporating animals in your system is something I missed talking about in my permaculture course, but am learning a lot about now. One of the gurus on this subject is Alan Savory (just like Joel Salatin) with his holistic management approach, which really appeals to me. I wont tell you about the details, unless you’re interested, but be inspired to look them up!

I talked about this and many other things with my new permaculture friends John Champagne, Robyn Rosenfeldt and Nico (a WWOOFer from Argentina) who took me along on a little roadtrip to Wollogong to visit a permaculture convergence at Silk Farm. It was good to see this little hub of busy people doing great things like Permablitzes, designing and building school gardens and community gardens, running worm farm businesses in the city etc. We talked a lot about social permaculture, where is the right hybrid balance between the capitalist world and our permaculture way of living, involving community development, decision making, and how to spread the word to the world! We talked about the Chikukwa project in Africa (http://www.thechikukwaproject.com/), which is an absolutely incredible permaculture project in Zimbabwe, where African villagers managed to turn their lives around. Where once the people of the Chikukwa villages suffered hunger, malnutrition and high rates of disease, this community has turned its fortunes around using permaculture farming techniques. Complementing these strategies for food security, they have built their community strength through locally controlled and initiated programs for permaculture training, conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, primary education and HIV management. Now they have a surplus of food and the people in these villages are healthy and proud of their achievements. Their degraded landscape has been turned into a lush paradise. A very inspiring story.

Another very inspiring story I stumbled upon is what’s going on in Bhutan, I cant believe I never heared of it before! The country is not only absolutely stunningly located in the Himalayas between Tibet and India, but its politics are a prime example for the world! The country didn’t just promise to stay carbon neutral for eternity, but is it actually carbon negative, that’s amazing, we can learn from that. Also it offers free education and healthcare to its citizens. The sale of tobacco products is banned and the country imposed forest and wildlife care through their constitution. It is a democracy and the king officially declared their gross national happiness to be more important than economic growth, when he realised that mere economic success did not necessarily translate into a content and happy society. Watch this TEDtalk by their beautiful prime minister and get inspired J: https://youtu.be/7Lc_dlVrg5M.

 

We stayed at Aaron’s place with his lovely wife Sue. Sue and Robyn are both super strong but beautifully warm independent but caring women, I was happy to spend some time with. These kind of women are rare to find and I appreciate their beings a lot. It boosts me on my development of who I want to be: just the perfect balance between femininity and masculinity. May we always be fragile and innocent, delicate and sweet, may your beauty shine like the jewel in the lotus.

 

Back in Moruya, I worked a couple more days at Peters and after the house finished I returned to Nick’s place, I had fallen in love and wanted to spend more time there. Living on a property like this in the bush surrounded by green forests and abundant wildlife, without a mortgage, a house build by your own hands from natural materials, gardens full of the highest quality of food you can wish for, electricity coming from the sun and the most delicious water from the mountain spring, all incorporated in a system you have ample work on, it is inspiring to have the opportunity to actually experience this lifestyle and realize that it is a choice, an option, I can live like this too! I don’t need to go to a 40-hour job or live in a city, I need very little income to have the most enjoyable and abundant life, only doing things I really enjoy doing, spending lots of time in the hammock, in front off the fire, in the ocean, in the mountains, playing tabletennis and slacklining, playing music, feasting with friends etc. I can honoustly say Im doing fantastic, better than ever when anybody asks me how Im going. Im smiling more than ever and feel so much warmth inside. So happy to be alive every morning and grateful for the opportunity to spend another perfect day on this amazing planet!

The jobs around the place like taking care of the animals, moving them around, sowing seeds, building food tunnels, pruning fruit trees, building a cellar, harvesting wood for the fire are all a lot of fun, we do it stressfree and in slowmotion while singing songs and noticing the wildlife around. I just love doing the round around the garden feeding and moving the chooks, thanking them for their hard work, taking a bite here and there of the abundant food growing around the place, seeing everything growing and florishing, watching the first flowers to open up and receive the rays of the sun, slowly to transform into an explosion of color and scent.

Money comes in through a variety of enjoyable jobs like building beehives, trimming horses feet, selling eggs and some firewood etc. I would absolutely love to spend at least a year here to see all the seasons and thinking this my dreams seem to be coming true! Nick offered to employ me building beehives for him, yohoo! I love working with wood and these beehives are absolutely gorgeous, check m out: https://www.beekeepingnaturally.com.au/buy-kenyan-topbar-beehives-australia/

I need three months of specified work in specified areas to be able to apply for my second year visa and the immigration office just confirmed that building beehives will count! Yihaa. Lets start building 😀 So Im working on this job, I enjoy helping around the property, kickstarting projects like planting heaps of flowers and ornamenting the place, playing with the chooks and bees and still there is time for many adventures! We spend our hammock and fire time to think about how to get this message out there, to tell the world how beautiful rich abundant and enjoyable life can be and we started making youtube videos on the things we do. They’ll be coming out soon!

We’re a bit slow on our projects though because there are many and we spend a lot of time going on little adventures 🙂 Adventures change people’s lives, by giving inspiration and building confidence, creativity and a reconnection with nature. And Im an addict 🙂

One of the adventures we went on was a little horsebacktrip with Nick’s friend Tracye. With these beautiful horses and a beautiful woman, we just walked out of her backyard to ride a couple of hours around the bush. It felt so good to be back on a horse again, I had been thinking about it a lot lately and still dream about a longer horsebacktrip, possibly Mongolia ;), but anywhere will do :p They are such incredible animals and such a great sense to feel all their muscles moving underneath you, never completely in control, but trying to be in harmony with the beauty; confident and gentle. So beautiful. Anybody who can arrange horses to go on a trip, let me know, I’m in! 😀

 

Im starting to feel very much at home around Gulagah mountain. There is something very special about this area. Everybody I meet is wonderful, warm and kind. Strong and capable. And everybody is so happy to be alive, enjoying all the beauties this world has to offer. There seems to be a lot of awakening happening here. I feel so at home and welcome.

The next two weeks I got the opportunity to go on another couple of great adventures. First thing we did was climb Gulagah mountain, Nick and me. We stopped in Tilba to kill to chooks for friends of Nicks and went on to climb the mountain and spend the night at the tors: beautiful big rock formations. The mountain is very sacred for the aboriginals around and supposed to host a lot of female energy. Maybe that’s what Im feeling, the warmth of a mother womb, caressing and nurturing the area. Anyways, we stepped into this big timewarp. I was barefooted and we seemed to have been walking in slowmotion, easing our way up while enjoying every step. When we got there the clock told us we spend about 20 minutes on a hike which was supposed to be two hours. We checked the times with Nicks friends who dropped us of at the start. Very strange.. We did a little ceremony asking the spirits to let us enter and watched the sun set from the tors. The rainbow serpent tor, the wedding tor, the honeymoon tor, the mother tor, the healing tor, we payed our respects to all of them. We spend the night at the saddle and watched the sunrise over the mountain. Such a special night. After the sunrise we walked up to the summit. The energy of the mountain is absolutely incredible and I understand why it is such an important one. And so beautiful to experience it with such a wonderful person as Nick. Very awakened and aware, eyes wide open and brightly shining with love, we lift each other to the next level, hoping to contaminate everybody with our happiness 😉 We talk about the words we use in a lot of detail. Like: we don’t say ‘no worries’ as most Ozzies do, because it’s a double negative, we say ‘ my pleasure’; we respond with ‘fantastic mate’ when people ask how we’re going etc. etc. Words are so important! Nick and I have been picking Gaia cards, tarot cards the last days and it is incredible what they tell us. We picked the same card six time in a row, out of a pack of 50, that seems almost impossible! And the card tells us to relax and enjoy, to let go of fixed and rigid ideas, to take time out to just be. So that’s what we do 😉 It will revitalize you and give you a newfound sense of purpose and inspiration. Relaxation slows down your thoughts and opens your heart. And it sure does and feels good!

I picked a card for my dad as well one day, guiding me in this difficult relationship. Because I am so so attached to him and miss him so much every day, I keep crying when I think of him, but at the same time somehow I cant find myself flying back to Holland to be with him either.. And the card I picked was spot on, damn. This is what it said:

 

“Whether you realise it or not, you have become to emotionally attached or dependent on someone or something. Or, you have allowed or inadvertently caused someone to get too emotionally attached to you. What at first seemed like a healthy friendship or interest, now seems to be taking over your life or is creating too much co-dependence. For your sake and the sake of others you must do whatever it takes to break free from this negative emotional attachment. Initially this may cause some resentment and even a sense of panic, but the end result will be worth it. When you manage to emotionally detach yourself from this issue you will have learnt a valuable lesson and this will serve you well in the future.”

 

Isn’t it magical? Reading this I completely panicked, I don’t want to let go. But at the same time I realize I have to, it is better for the both us. And the more I thought about it the more I realized what this letting go meant. Im not letting go of my dad at all, but im letting go of the co-dependence (what a beautiful way to describe our relationship by the way) and let only room for love. The next day I had some sort of epiphany where I understood what I needed to do, and I felt a rush of warmth and love and happiness filling my body, as if God itself was passing through. I started to cry. From happiness. It was bizar and beautiful. I had a beautiful conversation with my dad shortly after, trying to explain all of this to him and I felt a big sigh of relieve through my body and mind. I have let go now. Finally the pull from behind has released its strain, I can go forward now. And what do you know? The next two cards I pick where the ‘Ocean of eternal love’, two in a row again, incredible! It tells me ‘something is resolved and healed through love’, the struggle is over, I am so full of love now, it is time to use the knowledge and experience I have gained to move forward, for the good of all. The forever changing seasons of eternity turned heir invisible wheel and a new cycle begins! One infused with my love and all the experience and wisdom I have gained through life to date. It is time 😀 And where better than to start the new cycle in such a magical area than where I am right now?

On this trip I have felt so many new emotions I never felt before and they keep getting better and better and I keep getting happier and happier and more balanced and stronger and I have more and more love to share and light to shine. It’s amazing! Im manic J I’m sending it out to you every night, I hope your door is open to receive it 😀

 

The gulagah mountain was a nice warm-up for us to get ready for the three day light to light walk we would enjoy with neighbor Nick and friend Matt for the River Rock café I wrote about earlier. We filled our backpacks and walked from Boyd lighthouse to Greencape lighthouse, camping and fishing along the way. It was a beautiful hike through ever changes landscapes and microclimates. Nick and Nick jumped in at what we thought was Leatherjacket bay, which we later renamed false leatherjacket bay when we found the real one :p Nick speared some fish and Nick caught a couple abalony, so tasty! (After having tried to cook them different ways at home without bashing them first I learned the bashing is really necessary though :p). Amaizng hunters J I de-gutted them and we carried them to our camp for the night. It was at Moworray point. We had planned to walk further that day but this place was just to good to pass. A beautifully protected pristine bay with a clearing on the top, where we build a fire and enjoyed a feast (after I had run down an jumped in the water of course, enjoying the sunset behind the mountains in the north.. wow!)! Before leaving we had all agreed to travel light and don’t take too much stuff. Hahahahaha.. you should have seen what everybody pulled out of their packs! We had a full ten course meal spread out over more than three hours cooking and eating besides the fire. There was corn with soy sauce, spuds with olive oil(that’s what they call potatoes here :p), pumpkin and blue cheese, homemade chili sauce, abalony with ginger, chili, garlic, lemon and parsley, fresh supersalad from the gardens, fish cooked on the ashes or in foil etc etc. To finish off with chai tea, honey and Lindt chili chocolate. Glamping for real! 😀

The next morning when we woke up to this beautiful bay fishermen were on the beach hawling in their net of fish, which they had rowed around the bay. Nick and I went down and had a talk with the superfirendly fishermen, who gave us a salmon, a whiting and a taylor to enjoy for breakfast, amazing! Goooooood morning Moworray point 😀 The next day we hiked along the beautiful coast when we saw a ground parrot rising up from the grass. They are very rare and we very excited to have spotted the bright green coloured bird, yoohoo! Further along the track Nick suddenly realized that he had left the car keys of the car we left behind at Green cape, our end destination, in the glove box of the car we left behind at Boyd tower, the starting point. Whahaha hilarious! From the start Nick had had trouble understanding what the deal was with which car would be left where. And he had even told other Nick he left the keys in the glove department to which Nick responded: Oh yeah, all right. Hihihi oopsie, we were in trouble. Nick and I managed to hitch a ride, well actually four rides back to the first car to get the key and drove the car to our next camping destination, where we would meet with Matt and Nick again. Everything happens for a reason and we had quite a little adventure, meeting amazing people on our trip. We just made it to Buttangabee and were drying off the cold water in the warm sun after a skinny dip on the secluded beach when Matt and Nick arrived, perfect timing 😉 Buttangabee was amazing. It was so incredibly abundant in food, the aboriginals would have lived like kings there. Abaloney everywhere and lots of fish to spear, we feasted again. This time we had the brilliant idea to put the shells of the first round of abalony on the next round, letting them steam inside their shells, yummieeeee 😀 At the camp we just had to keep an eye on the possums trying to feast with us.

The advantage of the car exchange trick Nick pulled on us, was that we got to walk the last leg of the journey without our packs. I just brought a pack carrying some water and snacks and the guys were free. The day was beautiful, the weather had been great along the trip and this last day we kept walking through many different kinds of landscape, beautiful! Untill we made it to Green Cape, a lighthouse at the tip with grand views along the coast, up till disaster bay where a major shipwreck had taken place in 1886. We rested a bit in the grass just two meters from the car when neighbor Nick realized he had lost his key of this car somewhere on the track. Hahahaha I was pissing my pants at this moment, it was all too hilarious. It must have fallen out of his pocket somewhere. We searched the grass until Nick pulled the key from behind Nick’s ear! Magic 😀 Nick had indeed dropped the key in the grass right there and Nick had picked it up to pull a little trick on him. So funny J Anyways, we made it, the light to light journey had come to an end, high five to the guys, it had been great!

We tumbled from the one adventure in the next. We arrived home at night, unpacked and repacked the next morning to head of west to the Gongi retreat (https://www.facebook.com/RetreatsatGongwana/), where Nick and me would help his friends Sol and Shanti erect their tipi and collect some firewood. Sol and Shanti have a beautiful retreat in the bush containing amongst others a hot bath, a sweat lodge, outdoor kitchen, hippie van, and tipi. The old tipi had collapsed (luckily not with anyone inside) and needed re-erection. New poles and painted canvas together with our perfect measuring and erection skills resulted in this beautiful golden tipi with the full moon shining through the smoke flaps right into it, amazing! That was a great place to sleep 🙂 We lit the fire inside, played music and sang before heading in to the sweat lodge, wow, amazing! Walking down to the river (singing Allison Krauses song ‘ down to the river to pray’) jumping in the cold water, screaming ‘Im alive!!!’ from the top of my lungs, getting back in and doing it again 🙂 before heading to the hot tub and feasting on more delicious goodness cooked on the open fire under the light of the full moon and the stars… Not enough words to describe this excitement 😀 I would highly recommend this place if you’re ever in the neighbourhood 😀 Magic is real, I believe my life to be a fairytale and manage to live like an angel, a bird, a mermaid and a bush fairy with flowers in my hair, adventures and beautiful dreams coming true. The opportunities in life are amazing and all opening up to me 😀 And you can do it! Listen to your heart, follow it, do what feels right and avoid what feels wrong, send out love and kindness, go on adventures (however big or little far or close), open up to the world, smile at it and it will smile back at you. I will do my best to support everyone i meet on this journey, for i wish everyone to feel the way i do: ultimate happiness and love every day again.. Live the life, feel the presence, the divine, be in love.

 

As Eckhardt Tolle states it in his book ‘A new earth’ we ‘defy the gravitational pull of materialism and awaken to a widespread flowering. […] Don’t search for the light, be the light! […] You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge.’

We focus on a positive revolution (read Edward de Bono’s book about that!), where we cut out all the negativity and focus on the good; not taking things too seriously at the same time though. Live in the moment you are in right now right here. Occasionally reflecting on the past is healthy, just as giving some thought to your future is wise, but be present as much as possible. You are here, right now. Appreciate it and thrive. Relax, for it will slow down your thoughts and open your heart. Relaxation is fuel for the soul that will have a positive flow-on effect for your entire being. Your wellbeing is of paramount importance, so do not take it for granted. Without it, nothing else really matters. Send out positive vibes, do the right thing and show the world. No fighting, no activism, no negativity in any sort or form. Love and contribute to a better world.

You see a street full of garbage. So you drop your coffeecup too, what difference does it make? Or you decide not to be part of this waste and keep your cup until you can discard of it properly. Or.. you keep your cup AND pick up a couple of others. Now you are contributing to a better world. What about a contribution diary? Superhero deeds :D, like helping someone in the streets, wishing someone a beautiful day, holding the door or rescuing an injured bird. Or feeding the homeless, making a donation, sharing your abundance, picking up a hitchhiker, teaching something, stopping environmental pollution, caring for the sick, preventing crime. You are giving a good example to others and you’re training yourself. You are encouraging a constructive attitude in others and devaluing negativity and passivity.

There is a useful place for negativity in changing values: in providing shaping pressures; in curbing excesses; in removing defects in order to improve an idea; and in forming the conscience of society. But the constructive and creative energies have to be there in order to get the steady, step by step progress that is the basis of the positive revolution. I want to be part of that revolution!

Focusing on the positive gives a great sense of joy and achievement. But I dont take it too seriously at the same time, I have let go of fixed and rigid ideas and opened up to the many opportunities life has to offer. I don’t expect myself to be a saint. That is nonsense. I start out by being a saint one minute each day, and some days I’ll be a saint for two minutes, that is improvement. If it feels good, I move forward. Maybe its even better not too even try to achieve this, just ‘be’ and follow your heart.

I smile at the world and it smiles back at me. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much, unable to wipe it of anymore. And its contagious, spiralling up with every smile i get back 😀 give it a shot 😉

I still want to travel, but for now I have found my place here. I feel like I can really boost my heart here. It’s a great basecamp. A beautiful part of the world. Thank you universe, for bringing me here 🙂

 

Australia part 5: adventures between Sydney to Dignams creek

 

I left Andy behind in Sydney, I needed to get to my appointment with my cartoon-figure-like surgeon Dr. Vickers.

 

In the hassle of getting up very very early in the big city to catch a train to Nowra I left my helmet and bikelock behind. Shit! Cycling without a helmet is dangerous, mostly because of the heavy fines. And the bike lock I needed if I was to go to the doctors office, not wanting to leave my bike and all my gear outside for anyone to grab. I usually do that anywhere, but not in city centres. I didn’t think about it too much, trusting the universe would work something out, as she always does. And again, bam! She sent me a man on the train who started to talk to me about my bike and the journey I was on. Alan happened to be a criminal lawyer, running a back forest retreat north of Nowra and invited me to come spend the night at one of his cottages for free, amazing! When he heared about my helmet he decided to drive me to the doctor and back to his place, lending me an old helmet for my onwards journey, so nice :D. There was no arguing. Wow, was I glad he invited me! He told me stories about the aboriginals around, and I discovered all the town along my way mean something in aboriginal language. For instance, Nowra means black cockatoo, which explains to me the huge amount of she-oaks I had seen around: it is their favourite tree 🙂 He showed me this beautiful painting on the side of the library and then took me home.
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He lives beautifully on the north side of the river with distant views over country and forest.
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Beautiful flowers in his yard! I helped him harvest feijoas (pineapple guavas) and strawberry guavas, delicious!! I was so caught up in the harvesting though that I didn’t see the redbelly black snake I stepped upon with my bare feet. I felt something wet crawling over my foot and when I looked down and lifted my foot it quickly moved away. It was more afraid of me then the other way around, I was just amazed by this beautiful creature! I had seen many of them around but never from this close 🙂 Again, privileged to be able to feel the animal on my skin. We fed the sheep and said hi to the alpaca, went on a little bikeride around the beautiful area and spend a lovely night with him and his wife Naomi, who was very kind and lovely. Very open-hearted warm people. What a pleasure to be there! The cottage I was staying in was build with passive solar design. The first of many I was to see in Australia. It is such an incredibly simple and smart concept, that it made me realize that besides the food industry the building industry is an area we went completely wrong and where there is much to gain in the world. The passive solar principle is a way of building to maximize sustainable design. The front window faces north to let in the winter sun and wide eaves block the summer heat. The cottages are constructed of mud brick and there is woolen insulation in the ceilings. Mud bricks provide a high thermal mass to store heat and smooth out the day-night temperature variation. The posts and beams were built out of termite-resistant native cypress and the ceiling was plantation pine. There are obviously other ways to build sustainably but this was a good start of my knowledge. It’s not just about building with natural materials, preferably from onsite (mud or rammed earth) and using native timbre but also about designing the house in such a way that you hardly need resources to sustain it: a clever design to let in winter sun and block summer heat, allow for natural ventilation and air conditioning and run the house on solar power, including solar heated water; water being harvested from the rooftop. Off-grid and very comfortable and beautiful. Grow your own food and be kind to the world and there you go, that’s all you need! Everything else is extra 🙂 Music for example.. He got me onto this beautiful song by Scott Cook, called Pass it along. He sings about how we don’t own anything in this world, we just borrow it and it will pass on to other hands after us. So better take good care of it. That’s what I’m trying to do 😉

 

The next day I was free as a bird again. No more appointments with doctors. I was declared healthy and dr. Vickers assured me my energy would slowly come back. I just had to take it easy. So after delicious feijoa and celery juice and an elaborate breakfast with smoked salmon and eggs on toast, I got on my heavy loaded bicycle to cycle down south to make it to the Crossing outdoor education centre to assist at their permaculture course :p I was so exhausted I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but off I went. Adventure awaiting me again! Oh the wind in my hair and my feet on the pedals again out into the unknown, sooooooo nice 😀 😀

Even though I realize cycling in Australia is not quite as enjoyable as cycling in Europe: it’s much harder to keep off the highways, there’s less mountains, there are long stretches of similar surroundings (although I’m learning to see more and more detail and thus differences in microclimates) and always lots of cars on the roads. In this part of Australia that is of course, since I haven’t seen any other areas yet. But I enjoy the bicycle as a means of transport anyways and sing out loud and smile and wave 🙂 When I rest I play my guitar and sing, so happy I bought and brought it!

I arranged a warmshower host down at Conjola lake and was welcomed very warmly by Saul and his parents, after I had gotten excited when seeing the lake and rode past the house directly to the water to jump in, whoohoooooo I’m Aliiiiiivvveeee 😀 Beautiful pristine blue water with green forest surrounding it, no one on it. Well, that’s what I thought, until a fishermens boat came around the corner while I was just drying my naked body in the sun, ‘Hi guys’ :p Isnt it great to jump in the cold water naked? I ditched my swimmers and find myself still jumping in the ocean in winter, so reviving! Whoohoo!!

 

Anyways, after a bit of chilling there with PIP magazine (great stuff!)
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I cycled back to Saul’s house and rang the doorbell after admiring the beautiful flowers on his tree in the front yard, it’s the flower of new south wales, the waratah, what a beauty! A big man with bright shining blue eyes opened the door and we hugged. Some people are a bit distant when you meet them but some just have this incredible positive energy around them, ‘hug me’ written on their forehead. Saul was one of them. He was in the midst of rebuilding his house and working on a veggie patch in the backyard with his amazing parents. It was inspiring to see how well he got along with his parents, they love and respect each other so much. I felt privileged again to be part of this beautiful life for two days. Again it made me miss my dad. He is such a beautiful person and I have so much love to give him in ways I wasn’t able to before, distracted by life, I would like to make up for that and enjoy every second we could still be together. But then again, the universe directed me here and I have another path to follow right now. Im sending him my love through the stars every night though. Im on a journey travelling closer to the essence of life everyday, getting inspired by everyone I meet. Now it is Saul. He is a passionate mountainbiker and was just about to head off for an adventure taking a couple of kids on a couple day trip around Kangaroo Valley and getting paid for it, what a job! good on you, Saul 😀

Walking back after a nice dinner with Saul’s parents that night we strolled down this little warfh at the lake and put our feet in the water, and wow, magic, the water lit up! As I moved my feet all these little fluorescent glow in the dark spots appeared on the surface. I was flabbergasted and amazed. Never had I seen such beauty. It was like constellations in the water. I had seen stars in the sky, I had seen them in the glowwormtunnel and now in the water. Whoohoo! I think they are called Sylica (but Im not sure, if you know, tell me please ;)). I could have spent all night right there at that spot, it was beautiful 😀

Eventually we headed back though getting a good nights rest to get ready for another beautiful day, which started amazing. Sauls parents (in their seventies!) brought out the boat to go wakeboarding with us at the lake. Hahahahaha can you believe it? What a way to start the day! It had been a while since I had been on a wakeboard and I never did it behind a boat, I had a blast! Took me a bit to be able to stand up, but once I had that figured out it was absolutely incredible. My legs supersore and tired, but I didn’t want to stop 😀 It was amazing to see his parents enjoy it too and on the way back Saul and I each grabbed a rope and wakeboarded back home splashing each other and sometimes even holding hands.
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Whahahahaaaaaaaaaa screaming from the depths of my longs, life is gooooood 😀 There was no-one else on these beautiful waters except some pelicans coming to greet us: good morning fellows 😀

That day Saul showed me the beach,
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the cute little town of Milton (loved it) and took me hiking up Pigeonhouse mountain, wow! It was incredible, absolutely stunning.
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Enjoying the sunset on the way back, thank you grandfather son!
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I just love love love hiking , especially up mountains. Look at this view, almost unbelievable 😉 I should get rid of that word from my vocabulary though, because Im starting to believe more and more in the beauty of this planet, it is real and Im part of it and so very grateful for that! Or maybe it is not real, I don’t care, it would be a beautiful dream..

There is still lots of beautiful nature and adventure to discover around this area and to enjoy with bright-eyed Saul, but I had to move on. Ill be back 😀 I managed to squeeze in just one more little adventure the next morning though :p Sauls parents were besides wakeboarders also go-kart racers, travelling around the whole country with their little go kart in the trialer, amazing! But they also were part of the moruya dragonboat racers. I never heared of such a thing and they invited me to come along for the training the next morning. Of course I said Yes to that 🙂

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Wow, that was though! I was the youngest but had a hard time keeping up with the twenty people in the boat rowing their lungs out up and down the river. Hihi, it’s not something I aspire to do more often but it was a fun experience for sure! On the way back they dropped me at Batemans Bay so I could cycle along the coast down south. It was only ten o’clock in the morning but I was already exhausted so I decided to just take it slooowwwww like a slug and see how far my legs would carry me. The coastline was beautiful. Quiet roads and amazing beaches and forests all along the way.

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At some point, close to Broulee, I stopped to admire this beautiful old tree, gated and with a sign.
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A huge piece was taken out of the tree and I read that all along the coast you will find trees like this, for the aboriginals cut out the bark to make canoes. I started to notice them more and more, but never as big as this one, what a beauty! A black raven had landed right next to me while I was admiring the tree and it kept hopping around me for more than ten minutes, as if it was trying to tell me something. I tried to listen but couldn’t work it out. I started talking to my new flying friend when a car pulled over to ask me if I ask was allright. Hahaha I said yes, but opinions might differ 😉

 

I told the suited man in his old ute I was just admiring this amazing tree, which started a conversation. This ex-buddhist, now Jehova’s witness apparently just got back from the Kingdom hall and I was interested to hear what he had to tell. After talking for about ten minutes on the side of the road he invited me to this house to use his shower and maybe sleep in the garden if I wanted. I was exhausted and welcomed that offer. Marc was a bit reluctant at first (because of his religion) but we got along so well that I ended up staying another day. At home he got out of his suit and into his old wrecked working clothes and turned out to be a humble gardener into permaculture, building beautiful rustic design furniture, growing veggies, cooking all meals over the open fire outside,
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enjoying the stars and very much enjoying the simple life. We went for a walk to the beach
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and he took me on a daytrip through the beautiful mountains out west. It was amazing!
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imageEye to eye with a wombat

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and even a wild pig came to visit us! Ran off as soon as he saw us though :p

We had lots to talk about. I told him about the Back to Eden projects in the states (http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/): great permaculturist gardeners using bible verses to back up their believes, very inspiring: God is a gardener! One subject I always find very interesting and want to hear everybody’s opinion about is love. He showed me a beautiful verse from the bible:

 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (Corithians 13:4-13:7)

This is what love is about. Unconditionally. Unlimited. It’s not easy to live by, but sure worth trying. No matter how dark things sometimes seem to be, there is hope always; as Leonard Cohen says: “There is a crack in everything….that’s how the light gets in.” And we’re spreading that light!

 

The next day we loaded up the kayaks and went for a paddle on Congo river. Haha I’d seen the victoria falls in the blue mountains, they were nothing like the ones I have seen in Zimbabwe! And now the Congo river.. what to expect? We arrived at a little campsite close to the beach, where we let the kayak enter the water. We paddled all the way upstream as far as we could go. It was beautiful.
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Seeing the forest around you from the water is a beautiful experience. We saw the landscape change and appreciated all microclimates we encountered. There were lots of gums, she-oaks, native cherries, ferns etc. Sometimes an eagle flew over our heads and all the way these incredibly beautiful bright blue kingfishers flew ahead of us, as if they were leading our way. They are pretty rare and absolutely stunning, it was the highlight of the trip for me 😉 Where we couldn’t go any further
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the kingfisher flew into a tree and I climbed it to get closer
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Paddling in these areas, with the occasional obstacle to overcome was very peaceful and joy filled my heart once again. Life is great! Such luck that this man stopped his car and shared this journey with me. And it kept getting better J When we finally made it back to the inlet we discovered the estuary was full of oysters. We harvested a couple and enjoyed them on the beach, while enjoying the sunset.

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Can a day be more perfect? Very magical. Marc dropped me off at my next host, a couchsurfer. I know I’m cheating but I was just too exhausted to cycle long distances so this help was welcomed very warmly. Seb, working for national parks and wanting to be a firefighter hosted me in his apartment in Narooma the next day although he was at work himself. I got to explore the surroundings by myself without luggage, yeay 😀 I cycled to the pier
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where I admired Australia rock
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and watched a couple seals dancing in the waters.
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The beautiful waters also hosted lots of pelicans, drawn to the fish guts and skins the fishermen threw back in the water.
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Lots of animal activity to watch and enjoy 😀 I cycled this amazing bridge and the boardwalk around the headland
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and the cyclepath all the way to Dalmeny, which just opened last year after begin completed solely by volunteers, incredible! Well done, guys. I enjoyed the headlands, the beaches, the eagles, the wannabe eagle (paramotor), the wetland birds, the kangaroo grass (never knew I could be attracted to a kind of grass :p), singing out loud and wishing everyone a wonderful day. I slowly made it back to Narooma and spend some time on the west side of town in the stunning Forsters bay.
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Clear blue waters as far as the eye can see. Peaceful serenity. I spent a bit of time at the shops where there was free wifi to catch up with some friends and family and discussed the practice of deliberate bush burnings with my host Seb. Im learning more and more about the way aboriginals were managing the forest, about what they once looked like and what is the best way to manage: thinning out the regrowth and letting the big mama trees florish, occasional controlled burning on cold days in mosaic patterns to reduce fire hazards (a big problem in this country!), ringbarking and using the wood for local practices (which strangly is not a habit at all at the moment). We humans have the power to improve these forests tremendously and I feel like we have the obligation to do just that. Let them thrive! It’s too beautiful J Im very much in love with all the treeferns around, they seem to me like guardians, like sisters, like warm guides on my journey. I take off my imaginary hat and greet them with poise and grace, as they deserve.

From the wonderful town of Narooma (great holiday destination) I started my last day on the bicycle to arrive at the Crossing outdoor education centre that night.
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Passing the cute little town of Tilba, which is absolutely worth a visit.

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I cycled into Bermagui and passed a hippie/regae kindof café which looked great, so I stepped in and had a little chat with the owner Matt. Not knowing we would become friends and go on great adventures later. He told me about the open mic nights on Fridays and invited me to come, I was looking forward to that! I cycled onwards to the visitor information centre when a lady came running out of the Gelato shop. Simone is a longdistance cyclist and saw me and just wanted to come and say hello J We chatted for a bit and she gave me her number to maybe go on cycling adventures after the course had finished. She told me how to get to the Crossing and I cycled up and down the dirtroads, into the forests, not sure I was on the right path, occasionally choking on the dirt after a car had passed. I arrived though and immediately fell in love. A beautiful permaculture property in the middle of the bush,
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vegetable gardens, orchards, pastures, a river, chooks and a goose (Henrietta, isn’t that a great name for a goose?!), a train carriage for the guests to sleep in, an old bus turned into the owners house
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and a big structure to host all events, including a big kitchen with everything you might need. Yeay! I like it 😀 Dean and Annette just came home when I was strawling around and welcomed me with a hug. Annette and I hit it off right away (she’s clearly a sagitarius too) and we had a great time cooking for the students. I got to sit in on a couple of the classes,
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went on a field day with the group
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and helped Dean prepare the things to make no dig gardening beds. The students were amazing, just like I remember my permaculture design course in Bulgaria, like a family and even though I had not been there for the first week I was part of the family right away. I learned so much again! And felt like I was redirected. This is the path I want to walk, this is the way I want to go, Together with beautiful people who all want to make the world an even better place through love and harmony, through working together and sharing, through appreciating the simple things in life and striving for the best. We are not just surviving, we are thriving and want everybody to thrive with us!

 

I learned heaps of practical stuff like how to collect water through building dams, collecting from rivers and rooftops, how to filter greywater through reedbeds, how to build houses with natural materials, how to improve soils, which plants acoompany which, how to save seeds, how to deal with weeds etc. etc. The list is endless. And I realize that I have been on the right path all along. I have no desire at the moment to run my own place, to build a self-sustainable living. I enjoy very much going around to peoples properties, helping out wehre I can. In a reciprocal relationship where I learn a lot and share my knowledge, my love and hard work where I can. Spreading the seeds I’d say. And through the reactions from all the people I met I know I’m doing the right thing, changing lives for the better. Better of the earth and better of themselves. Go organic, start growing food or support those who do it organically, live simpler, let go of possessions (they’ll posess you), be kind and loving always and to everyone, work together, build community, enjoy nature etc. It’s easy to have a fuller and richer life if you cut out the bullshit and find your way back to your essence, to your heart. And share that joy. Life is beautiful and I celebrate it everyday, being extremely grateful to be part of another perfect day 😀

At the crossing I met many interesting wonderful people I would go and visit in the next weeks. The first one would be Nick. I heared the students all being very impressed with his lush and abundant property, his exciting energized cheerful personality and his incredible Kenian topbar beehives. I was on a mission to get myself on top of the list to come WWOOF at his place. Well, it was a fairly easy mission, since Annette decided I would be perfect for the job and praised me to Nick 😉 I just had to bring my new dear beautiful half-Maori friend Shardae with me as well. A drink by the fire and Nick was convinced 🙂 We were off! I could write an entire book about the happenings at the crossing that one week I was there, but Ill leave it to this saying it was beautiful and incredible and mostly very inspiring. I would highly recommend everyone to do a permaculture course, it will change your life forever. Every step you take will be weighted on three ethics: earth care, people care, fair share. So important, and so often forgotten. There is so much love in it though, and positive energy. People are warm and welcoming and willing to share all to make everybodys life better. So beautiful ❤ I’m in!

 

So after the final party, representing all the permaculture gurus from the area Shardae and I were off to Nicks paradise. And wow, all the praise I had heared before was justified. I’ll tell you about it in the next post!

Australia part 4: kangaroo valley, aboriginals, surgery, folk festival and back to the blue mountains

 

I made it to the Kangaroo Valley, but I was sick, very sick. This infection kept getting worse and draining my energy. I really wanted to be involved in the farm and with the boys, but I couldn’t do it. Most of the days I stayed in bed, trying to pull myself together to contribute to the household. I was so privileged to be amongst Mark, Marcus, their grandmother and Peter, I felt terrible not being able to spend time with them. I could hardly open my mouth and even talking was very painful.

 

The twelve year old twins Mark and Marcus were here to go to school and learn things like English, maths and reading and writing and experience ‘our’ western culture, which they call the Bellanda world – the Hollander world! After all, the Dutch were the first to step foot in Arnhemland and stir things up.. The boys were far ahead of the other boys in their tribe and are soon to be leaders, they already had their initiations as men. Their grandma is a very strong and sincere woman with fantastic weaving skills and she came down to spend some time with her boys and set them on track. Which was necessary 😉 The boys got in trouble in their first week at school on a cross country run when they suddenly took off and caught a kangaroo, with their bare hands! Felt like I was in a movie. The boys made an absolute mess off the house and we talked about how to handle them, so we could all live together but obviously avoiding to make well-behaved white boys out of them. Never thought I would be in the position to think about these things! The boys were very musically talented and spent a lot of time in the treehouse playing the drums and my guitar.
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If I had felt better we would have formed a band together, it was great 😀 They’ll be famous one day, im sure..

 

I felt very sick and stayed in bed most of the time, only to come out and make myself some liquid food. Not being able to open my mouth, it was even hard to stuff a pill behind my teeth.. pfff.. Peter drove me to the doctor and the pharmacy a couple of times and all of them kept checking up on me. I felt well cared for. When I found some energy I cleaned and cooked, which is by the way not easy when you’re unable to taste :p. And to make things more funny, my first tries were not welcomed with a lot of applause at all! Apparently they never eat vegetarian up in Arnhemland and they hardly use any spices. A dish where I could hardly taste the chili made them all run to the tap to wash their mouths hahahahahaha yaka menmak (no good), but ok Im learning :p

Badunbil (grandma) is not much of a talker and had been driven crazy the past weeks by all these people who wanted to talk to her and asked her a lot of questions. Probably another reason why my body prevented me from talking, so I would just sit and be with them and listen to whatever was said.

I felt incredibly grateful to be there and Peter did his best to make me feel comfortable and able to just be sick. I couldnt wait to get better and help out on the farm, improve the treehouse, harvest the honey from the bees, go fishing and kayaking with the boys, ride the horse and find any way to make a contribution to these beautiful good-hearted people.

One day I did feel a little bit better and I pulled myself together to get on the quadbike and go and harvest the honey. Oh boy… When I opened that box.. It was the saddest beehive I had ever seen :/
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The bees had gone, the pests had taken over, the whole box was black and rotten.. I sure hope those bees found a better home..

 

One night we all went to dinner at Peter’s friends place elsewhere in the valley (they were hosting another aboriginal girl from the same tribe, she was so sweet..). We were welcomed in this absolutely stunning and well-built hexagonal shaped mudbrick house (very inspiring!), while they were cooking a traditional bushcamp meal in big cast iron pots around the fire, yeah baby! I still couldn’t eat any of it, but it looked so good 🙂

 

After having visited the local doctor and pharmacy a couple of times, and still not feeling better,
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the family drove me to Nowra to visit a dentist. He was so kind to advise me charge free, after having my xray taken across the street, to visit a dental surgeon as soon as possible. So I did. Back at the farm I contacted a couple of surgeons the dentist had recommended me and the next day I was driven to Nowra again. Dr Peter Vickers talked to me in a mix of English, German and Russian (it was a bit weird..) and concluded that it was necessary to perform surgery right away. Within two hours I was fully anesthetized and Dr Vickers and Dr Van Tran were draining the abcess and pulling out all four wisdom teeth. I was sound asleep dreaming a pretty nice dream and was disappointed to wake up. I was brought to a recovery room where I stayed all day, night and the next day with antibiotics dripping through the IV.
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Nobody could tell me how the surgery went, besides that it went well. Nobody told me it was quite normal that the wound would keep bleeding for a while, which freaked me out. The nurses gave me big cotton things I was supposed to put in my mouth against the wounds, but I still couldn’t open my mouth! There was no decent liquid food either, the only thing they could offer was custard and highly processed apple sauce and yoghurt with a lot of sugar. How was I supposed to regain my strength on such a bad diet? Crazy hospitals.. It was nice to lay in a bed though where people are payed to take care of me, so I didn’t have to feel so guilty. The next day I was discharged though and Peter drove all the way down to bring me back to the farm.

I am so grateful for the help in the valley, of people driving me to all these doctors and providing me a bed and food. Being sick while travelling on your own, on the other side of the world, is really fucked. I felt like a humongous burden on these generous people (and I was) and my previous excitement of being there soon turned into a wide arrange of negative feelings. I just couldn’t give back what they gave me and felt stuck, I had no place to go. There was no way I would be able to load up the bike and hit the road again.. For the first time I started to get a bit homesick, missing my friends and family more than ever. I realized how important it is to have a good network around you, to build deeper relationships so you can all care for each other. And I love taking care of people. It’s horrible to need care though.. The biketrip was so perfect for me, because as long as I have food and water I don’t need anybody, I have my home with me and am independent. Whenever someone offers to host me or asks me to spend time together I am free to say Yes, but don’t ‘need’ it, it is beautiful 😀 Getting sick was not on my to-do-list though and for the first time I was really dependent and not in the right spot for it. It got worse when Peter couldn’t manage all his projects anymore, when his close relative got very very ill (eventually died), when Badunbil went back home and Peter got very stressed. I decided to ask my friend Andy from the Blue Mountains for help. I really don’t like to ask for help.. I know he was going to be in the neighbourhood that weekend though, since he bought tickets for the National Folk Festival in Canberra. He bought those tickets only to be able to enjoy the festival with me, I was supposed to go volunteer there. I had to cancel that though and Andy wasn’t able to get a refund or sell his tickets. Messaging back and forth he offered to pick me up and take me along to Canberra, winging it, seeing how we would go. I felt bad about leaving the farm without having been able to contribute, but I was so happy to see Andy and I started to feel a bit better every day in the good care of him. We left the kangaroo valley through this beautiful bridge
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and camped in the bush, made some fire and just enjoyed the nature surrounding us.

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It felt liberating not be a burden on Peter anymore. And Andys love for everything about nature is very satisfying and invigorating. We rescued a bluetongue lizard,
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gazed upon some goannas,
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kangaroos, wallabis,
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identified heaps of different birds and enjoyed many other beauties of nature. It’s so good to be able to share this with someone who enjoys the pure nature just as much, if not more!

Andy drove me to Canberra where he would attend the festival on his own and dropped me of at Lauras place. I had met here sailing at Pittwater bay weeks ago and she was such a lovely girl. In my desperation I contacted her for a bed, so I could be sick, waiting for the festival to end and Andy taking me with him on his way back to the blue mountains. Laura was out of town herself but offered me her bed, isn’t that super super nice?! Her lovely roommates kindly hosted me. Meanwhile I was improving little by little and decided to buy a day-ticket for the festival to join Andy for as long as I could (to buy of my guilt). The security was set up in such a way that I could join him at the campsite easily and I stayed the night. The folk festival was great! Luckily there were chairs at all performances so I could stay seated and just enjoy the music (much better than laying in bed!). There were some very good acts. Miriam Lieberman for example, wow! Check her out, she’s amazing; playing this fantastic instrument the kora (a 21-stringed west African harp); and her voice is so so beautiful.
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Wood and Horse was another highlight: Turkish snares and Mongolian throatsinging combined, absolutely spectacular. Absolutely refueled my dream of a horsebackriding trip through mongolia, when the eagles are out and the music is playing 😀
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We saw many great musicians and enjoyed a couple delicious chais.
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No party hardy at this festival, but it was very enjoyable eitherways. I just love folk music and the atmosphere surrounding it 😀 I was drugged and zombified and running out of painkillers. I decided to experiment how long I could go without the painkillers and I ended up stopping cold turkey, giving me back a lot of energy! Enough energy to help Andy harvest the >20 kilos of wild apples and pears we found on the way back to the Blue Mountains! I managed to sell most of them to the local food co-op, isn’t that great?!
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We made some nice detours through the countryside and we visited the Wombeyan caves, beautiful!

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There were some strange monkeys living there 😉
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Back in the mountains, Andy went to Sydney a couple of days, working on felling down an enormous tree in someones backyard. I used that time to catch up with my old climbing buddy and I met great people again back up at the climbing community at Mount York. After just one climb I realized though that it was too soon after the surgery, I had no strength and my whole body was trembling, even though it was a very easy climb. The next day I hooked up with William, the aboriginal elder I had been in contact with. It was great spending a bit of time with him, including a little drive around the area, telling me dreamtime stories about how the aboriginals believe this area was formed, millions and millions of years ago. One of them being the eagle story, can you recognize its head?!
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He showed me the soupkitchen and accommodation for the homeless (dont mind the money in the picture, that was a project for Andy),

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and told me about more of these great projects he was involved with, including starting a completely self-sustained community in the country, where everybody – no matter what start budget- could join. This area is just full of environmental conscious people doing great things for the world and for each other. I keep discovering the one great project after the other! It was interesting to hear that uncle Bill agreed that us people are not really helping the world evolve, but he believed other way bigger forces are at work for the coming apocalypse, just like there was an icetime and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Bill and I parted and agreed to go on our gold and gemstone fossiking trip next time I would visit the blue mountains, something I was highly looking forward to!

 

I still hadn’t quite found my mojo back and was super super tired. So I slowly moved around and visited one of the many great little art galleries around. This one had portrets of people who were prime examples for all of the acts in the declaration of human rights. Great pastime! On the way back though Andy’s 4WD started to act a bit weird on me, before finally breaking down completely on the start of a big hill with almost no space to pull over. I had to, though. It was already getting dark and with Andy in Sydney and me without a phone on me, I was a bit worried.. I tried to start the car again on gas, then on petrol then on gas again, nothing worked and I couldn’t find anything wrong under the hood. I had to ask for help. Very soon a car stopped and a fellow barefooted human being got out. He was great! Everything happens for a reason and this car breakdown happened so I could have the opportunity to meet this wonderful man, full of interesting stories and thoughts, giving us a lot to talk about (in raised exciting voices) and we were a bit sad to leave in the end. We drove a couple of times back and forth to the gasstation (first we bought the wrong fuel hahahaha classic, then we went back to get more of the right fuel, see if that would help..) but in the end we couldn’t get it to start again and I decided to go home and wait for Andy who was supposed to come home that night. My rescuer dropped me off (it was on his way) and we were both grateful to have met each other. He told me these stories of how he had been looking for people he could actually help, but they seemed to be hard to find. And he was happy to find this damsel in distress, haha the world turned upside down! I guess the least I could have done was to remember his name, but if forgot.. oopsie :p

Anyways, Andy came home we had another exciting midnight mission (one mission before we dressed up in black and entered someones backyard to pick the pears from a property that seemed to be quite abandoned and a tree nobody seemed to be harvesting; turned out not to be abandoned though and we had to abort the mission: Retreat! Retreat!). We towed the car to his friends place where he was able to fix it up later. Pfew..

 

Andy had to go back to the big job in double bay, Sydney and this time took me with him. I would catch a train from there into Nowra for my appointment with the strange Doctor Vickers about my surgery. I would help Andy as much as I could on the tree job, lowering down branches, playing with the chainsaw and carrying heavy logs up the hill. My energy was still very very drained though and after half a day of hard work I had to stop.. damn.. The next day it was raining so much that we couldn’t work so we went for a walk around town, heading towards the cinema. At first we felt very out of place, walking around in the big city but things got even worse when we entered the cinema! Grey hair everywhere. I wondered, was it because it was a Tuesday? Ah well, we found out a senior film festival was happening. But we didn’t let that stop us :p We even got student discount, the both of us hahaha. Still works.
We went to see this incredible inspiring movie called Back to the wild, where this beautiful young woman is on a mission to bring back the wild nature in people backyards, designing their gardens full of wild flowers and sacred geometry. I cried through the whole movie and so did Andy. A couple of scenes where shot in Ethiopia where a bunch of guys are planting lots of trees to rejuvenate the eroded bare earth into the beautiful lush forest it once was. It was incredible! That’s a very very good cause in life to spend your time on. Id love to be part of a project like that. We talked about this while walking back and looking at all the plants and tress around us, happy to see still so much nature in a horrible city like Sydney. Especially the streets full of fig trees (not edible) were very beautiful. We found a nice little sort of park where we read to each other from the books we found there. Beautiful 🙂

 

The next morning I had to say goodbye to Andy. It was time for me to head south for new adventures. I didn’t quite have my energy back yet, but Dr. Vickers was waiting for me!

Australia part 3: from the blue mountains to the kangaroo valley

And so I started dreaming.. my songlines started to form 😀

Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh the moment I breathed in the fresh air of the mountains again! Take a deep breath with me! This is my place. I am a mountain girl. I feel like you can divide a big part of the world into coast lovers and mountain lovers. I’ve been around coastal lovers for many weeks by now and couldn’t quite share their enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, the coast is absolutely stunning and I enjoyed a lot, but it’s just not the same kind of emotional happiness and tranquility the mountains give me. It was a lot cooler and drizzling when Scott picked me up from the train station (barefooted, yeay!) to invite me to his sharehouse in Wentworth falls. What a beautiful place! From the porch and the rooftop J they have this amazing view over the mountains and the city, far far away 😉 He lives with great housemates and two cats. There’s a garden where Lisa is starting to grow her vegetables and medicinal plants. The house is never locked and I felt very welcomed by all of them. Scott is a teacher with a beautiful mind and we could spend hours and hours talking about, well, basically everything! Im very interested in his gnosis classes and waking up to this beautiful sunrise every morning I very soon started imagining myself moving in 😀 My body agreed. The strange thing was that on the way to the mountains my belly started to move and rumble and when I woke up the next morning my sickness was gone and I felt incredibly strong and energized again. Also, my knee problems started to disappear very quickly. Had I just been sick from the city?

The next days I spent hiking, cycling, climbing and exploring the beautiful surroundings.

imageI still laugh out loud every time my friend the Kookoobura does the same :p

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I smell and taste the flowers of the mountain devil, also known as honeyflower (just a slight little contrast isnt it :p)image

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and enjoy the authenticity of things in the mountains. The guy actually comes and changes the board with every train, a pleasure to watch 🙂image

The mountains hold lots of jurrasic park like scenery,image

lots of waterfalls,image

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beautifully coloured layers of sandstone.image

and fantastic views everywhere.image

Even from Scotts porch! Unbelievable 🙂

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imageThis is Scott (middle) with his housemates Felix (left) and Thom (right) in their beautiful kitchen which is a good representation of the whole house, made of wood 😀

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I hiked the Wenthworth falls track, where I saw my first real live red-belly snake, beautiful creature! And Felix, one of the housemates that comes and goes throughout the year, joined me on a trip with Bera, my beautiful Italian friend Mario’s uncle. He took us on a fantastic hike to the ruined castle which is this awesome rock formation with an incredible 360 degree view!

 

 

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This is the view from their rooftop, perfect place to spend your evenings and nights, well and mornings and afternoons to be fair :pimage

and this is the view from the bathtub.. damn.. it got me thinking of moving in. Im on the waitlist!image

I had sent a request on couchsurfing whether someone wanted to take me rockclimbing and I was lucky to spend a couple days with Dave, this very relaxed laidback guy who truly enjoys living in the mountains, works at the outdoor education centre and was happy to find someone to climb with. We went climbing at the Dam Cliffs which gave us the opportunity to swim in this superidyllic place as well, climbing the rocks and jumping back in the water.

 

 

 

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Another day he took me up to Mount York where the first crossing of the mountains is celebrated and from where we had a fantastic view over the valley, where I had moved into in the meantime. This is his farm, right at the base of mount York 🙂

imageI stayed there with Andy, this fantastic independent, nature-loving, ever-smiling hippie with a piece of land in the Hartley valley, where the Kangaroos hop by in his garden every night. He’s got some fantastic Chinese Silky chickens (aren’t they the fluffiest?!),

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and started his orchard and veggie gardens: fresh raspberries for breakfast, yum! He lived in a treehouse for a year (great stories) and is thinking of building one in his trees, building a tipi, a greenhouse, many great dreams. His little collection of books are all books I would like to read (that usually doesnt happen) and his ideas of enjoying life very much coincide with mine. We were so much thinking alike that it was becoming a bit weird. Many times it happened he wanted to do something and I already did it or the other way around, or we stole the words from each others mouths. We completely agreed on so many things and especially on what is a good life and what is a good way to spend time together. His favourite sentence : ‘that’s a Sagittarius thing too’ :p. I never really got into astrology, because my twin brother with the same genes, the same upbringing and the same star signs is so very different from me. But apparently I am a very typical Sagittarius, I never knew!

A couple of traits that describe me very well are the following:

– Apparently Sagittarius-born are driven by an unbound curiosity, longing to learn anything and everything. Always seeking truth and wisdom, most Sagittarius do not take things at their face value. They take their own sweet time to form their opinions, and would not hesitate in asking embarrassing questions. They make good listeners. Usually they are impulsive and up for anything ‘new’, not afraid to take risks. They thrive on changes. And I just love change, that’s why I’m still travelling, never a boring day 😀 Sagittarius favours different tasks and dynamic atmosphere. Even in relationships Im always happy to meet new people, but when it comes to friends and family or when truly in love, I’m very loyal, faithful, dedicated (and romantic :D).

 

– It makes the Sagittarius one of the biggest travelers among all zodiac signs. Their open mind and philosophical view motivates them to wander around the world in search of the meaning of life. The philosopher and explorer within will go as far as road will go and explore every corner thoroughly in their ever eternal search for wisdom. Isn’t that exactly what I am doing?

 

– The Sagittarius understands Eckhardt Tolle’s message of the power of now very well (he was not Sagittarius though). Life is all about living in the moment. I don’t dwell in the past and learned this year not to plan too much for the future. I am here now and that’s all that counts. I used to live in the future, thinking about all the wonderful things to come, but I found they will come anyway and I have way more pleasure in enjoying what’s right here right now.

– Free as a bird. Freedom is my greatest treasure. Sagittarius are very independent. I really love to share, but I cannot be contained. Please don’t try to clip my wings. I have to feel like I have options. That’s why I have problems in relationships: I don’t do well with clingy people, feeling constraint, I have problems with commitment, really live in the here and now. Can’t I just love you now? Can’t we just enjoy today to the fullest, whatever happens tomorrow?

– We are known to be very optimistic and positive. Well, that describes me very very well. Always smiling! Sagittarius seem to be blessed with “natural good luck.”. Ive written about this before, I cannot believe how many good things are happening to me! Good fortune on my shoulder always somehow.. I also learned how to see hardships as positive things, teaching me lessons or having faith it is happening for a reason, which I will later understand. I learned to have huge faith that good things will happen tomorrow and the future carries good luck. And I try to spread this optimism and faith. I just love to smile, and make people smile and be happy. It’s contagious!

– Sagittarius are not emotional people and don’t like to talk about their emotions. It’s something I am always working on. They are easily hurt by a careless selfish action, they will be blue but turn it around pretty quickly with their naturally sunny disposition. They don’t dwell on hurt because it is a waste of their energy. So true! It is very very hard to upset me. But if you do I’m pretty good at forgiving and moving on.

 

– Apparently Sagittarius are very sincere. I sure am. I hold no secrets (see this blog) and find honesty very very important. I see no reason ever to be dishonest, waiste of my time. What I say is what I mean, I do not like mind games. I like straightforwardness and expect it in return. The clue is to be honest in a respectful way. I treat others the way I want to be treated and live life based on a ‘live and let live’ policy which makes me capable of getting along with just about anybody. Even though I have my opinions for my own life, I really try to be non-judgmental.

 

– And then there’s the idealistic part of the Sagittarius: They like to do their best to make the world a better place and a career that will do that is well suited for Sagittarius; they do not however like the fine details and mundane day to day routine; this bores them so they tend to procrastinate and let someone else deal with the details. Sagittarius are known to perform their best under pressure. This is all 100% me!

 

I find it intriguing how these traits describe me so well and intriguing how Andy has the same personality traits. Can we blame it on the moon? On the planets? I will have to start reading more about this (that’s my unbound curiousity talking :p) and ask people for their zodiac signs. Experiment started!

Since we are so similar Andy knew exactly how to fill the days to make them all perfect, one by one, just being, one with nature.

He took me on a couple of trips, one of which into the Megalong Valley (fantastic name!). Driving down there was like entering Jurassic Park again and I just hoped and prayed a dinosaur would show up. I kinda suspected Andy to secretely be a dinosaur in his heart.. He is so connected with the forest. He’s superknowledgable about all the plants and creatures and taught me a lot. One thing I learned is that Emus not only look like dinosaurs but sound like sounds from the past as well. There is this deep drumming from their chests I never heared before.

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It was fantastic to walk and cycle around with this happy smiling enjoying encyclopedia, I felt very privileged. I read and ask and experience and step by step Im gaining so incredible much information about the surroundings. Its fascinating and makes me so so happy! Time seemed to warp and run on another dimension up here. Every day was a feast and a perfect day again.

One of the days in the mountains, my sailing buddy Malcom even came up one day to share lunch and a little hike, so nice! There are so many wonderful hikes around that this area needs many years to explore, everyday there are so many possibilities, I wont be bored for a while 😉 And as I learn more about the nature, the natives, the plants, the trees, the wildlife I start to see more too! More details, more changes, more beauty.

The Blue Mountains only have one bicycle shop, which I would highly recommend anyone! The owner Tristan is a supernice guy who really took the time to listen, to advise me and in the end saved me a lot of money. I was told before and now under pressure of Matt and Scott I was convinced I wanted some clipless pedals to help me cycle over more and higher mountains. Sing with me: *Aint no mountain high enough!!* 😀 When Tristan showed up with a last pair of cycling shoes, so on sale, from the brand Tahoe (Scott was born and raised at lake Tahoe) I had to trust the signs and go for it. And Im happy I did! It makes cycling a lot easier! I still don’t really like the sensation of wearing shoes, but allright. So I bought some pedals too with clicks on the one side and Tristan shaved off the medal on the other side for me to ride barefooted (although he doesn’t agree with that :p). He even brought the pedals to the farm! It was on his way from his kids school to the shop, he said. Somehow he runs this great shop, he’s got a wife and two kids and he’s building a house, while setting the property up to one day become self-sustainable. Pretty amazing! I wish you all the best, Tristan.

 

Another day with Andy, after watering the plants and feeding the chooks and miss piggy we were off to our next adventure. This time we would drive down to Wollomi national park for a beautiful hike up to this old railway tunnel, which is now occupied by thousands of glowworms! It was absolutely incredible! I had never seen such a thing before. It was like looking at the stars, the little creatures forming constellations of their own. Unfortunately my camera was not equiped to capture this.. :/

imageCloser to the tunnel everything was more wet and the landscape changed drastically. First we were welcomed by these beautifully coloured gum trees.

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some with crazy scribbly patterns on them

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imageWho left their kids unattended in the forest with a pencil?!! Oh wait, its the scribbly gum moth.. These zigzag tracks are apparently made by moth larvae moving under the skin of tree, revealing the tracks as the old bark falls from the tree. Its like a lifeline in fact! Where the track starts the egg hatched and where it ends it pupated, sweet!

We found this absolutely amazingly curved cave, resembling an ocean wave barrel. Fascinating how nature makes these beauties.

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And slowly the dry gum tree forest started to change into a rainforest. I just love love love these wet rainforests and the tree ferns are my favourite! So beautiful! But to be fair, there are a lot of competitors out there 😉

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We found the perfect picnic spot to drink one of our many cups of tea (still an Englishman in heart), which reminds me of his teacup stating: You can cut all the flowers, but you cant stop spring from coming.. Thank you, Pablo Neruda 🙂 That day we ticked a lot of boxes of wildlife I had never seen before, but Andy managed to point them all out to me, it was another perfect day ❤ We snacked at this beautiful view

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and walked back with another perfect sunset

imageI feel so at home in the nature, so at peace, so one with her. And the signs all confirm we are exactly where we should be. When I asked Andy about his spirit animal he without hesitation told me it is the black cockatoo, isn’t she pretty?!.imageAt that same moment two black cockatoos crossed our path, that’s one hell of a confirmation! I love it when these things happen 😀 Another day when we were talking about them we saw a flock of seven cockatoos flying through the valley beneath us, seven being the divine number. Believe what you believe, I just think it’s magically beautiful and choose to be believe that all things happen for a reason and see beautiful signs out in nature everywhere. You just have to wear the right glasses and be aware of your surroundings to see them 😀

The drive to the park had taken us through the town of Lithgow which is basically pretty much a shithole with a lot of social problems and a big prison. Maybe I can find a job there?

Andy is making his money as a tree surgeon now and I got the opportunity to see him at work, high up in the deceased tree, taking it down. Pretty kickass!

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We shared lunch at the bottom, hoping it wouldn’t fall on our heads and I went out for a walk after.imageI made it to Witches Leap which is amazing.imageSee her face in the waterfall? Just before there was a big boulder with nice soft moss growing on it. I sat there for hours trying to talk to her 😀 On the path I saw my first lyrebirds,

imagewhich are pretty amazing creatures. Named after the greek instrument lyre, they are equipped to sing the most diverse songs, imitating other birds (and even car alarms and chainsaws!). They are beautiful too, with their long elegant tail feathers.

At Andys place I saw a lot of shooting stars and we spent a night outside by the fire; that’s life for me. He also has a bathtub outside, ready to be filled with hot water and essential oils, surrounded by some candles, to watch the (shooting) stars above you and hear the songs of the wind and the animals around. I started dreaming. Dreaming about living here and setting up a treehouse camping. Customers can lower down a basket with their wishes for breakfast and Ill be able to provide them with my own produce: honey from my bees, eggs, from my chickens, fermented drinks, preservatives, jams, veggies and fruit from the garden and orchard etc. I could take them out to explore the area, start a repair café, an outdoor cinema, a band stage, bicycle workshop, art classes etc. etc. My mind was superbusy with all these ideas, excitement and adrenalin pumping all the time! So far I had been living in the here and now, but I started to think of the future again. I felt so at home in the mountains 😀 Also, because Katoomba is a transition town, with lots of projects happening on sustainable living. There is a great music scene and lots of spirituality around. There are a couple of observatories and lots of climbing areas. I’ll find everything I’m looking for just around the corner! And if I really really want to go to the city, it will just take me two hours by train.

 

And I wanted to go to the city that weekend. It was time for Mardi Gras! I was going to celebrate the big gay and lesbian parade in the city with my chef Rafa. See if it’s any different from Amsterdam 😉 I cycled the hills down to Penrith (great ride!), past a bush fire (there are many here), and took the train into the city, where everybody was getting ready to party, all dressed up and all! It was a bit different from what I expected though since alcohol was not allowed and after the parade finished there were no parties in the streets whatsoever. You had to stand in long lines and pay huge entrance fees if you wanted to party. My friends were off to this party they payed 160 dollars for, I declined their invitation. Which meant we just watched the parade and walked the empty streets afterwards back home. We had a good view though and I enjoyed all the customs, the music, the dancing and the being with my friends.

 

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But I learned something I already knew, which is that these kind of events are not really my thing, especially when im just a spectator. I like small gatherings and festivals I guess. I was glad I came to the city though because the next day I spent all day at Bare Island which was hosting the Blak Market to support aboriginal culture, it was great! It started out with a traditional fire ceremony led by the Simmons family and traditional dancing by a couple of city boys that are thought to reconnect to their heritage, great!

 

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The sound of the didgeridoo (we should say Yidaki) is incredible and I was told superprecise. From experience I know the circular breathing is very hard (I tried it on the saxophone), but there is much more to it (even though many of us might not hear the subtle differences). Aboriginals sold beautiful art, books and very interesting to me: products of bush food! I learned about the highly nutritious pepperberry, lemon myrtle, bush tomato, wattleseed, cinnamon myrtle, aniseed myrtle, rosella, salt bush and finger lime. I talked hours with Vic Sherikoff, who is a professor in nutrition and just released a book about nutrition and the wild foods of Australia (highly recommended!).

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I also attended a native bee workshop and a plant workshop where Drew Roberts taught us about the multiple usages of some plants around the area.imageIt was a fascinating day and again already dark before I made it back to the mountains.

 

I was supposed to go on a gold and gemstone fossiking trip with Bill, this aboriginal guy who lives in the mountains. We were gonna do body painting, ceremonies and dreamtime story telling. And was very very excited for that! Unfortunately Bill got sick.. We kept in touch and I offered him my assistance if possible but he didn’t recover well enough in time to meet. So ill have to come back to see Bill!!

 

It meant I had a couple more days in the mountains though. Not so bad 😉 The first day both Andy and Scott had to work and Dave wasn’t available, so I contacted Maca who had offered to take me climbing up at mount York. This is him:

imageI didn’t know much about Maca but soon found out that he had been climbing these mountains for years and had become a real legend. At 53 years of age he ran up those cliffs, sometimes barefooted, like a mountaincat. When he took me up Mount York he introduced me to this whole community of climbers campjng up at the mountain, climbing, slacklining, getting most food from dumpsterdiving. Fantastic people! We had a wonderful day together, lots of laughs, great climbing and enjoyment all around. Maca told me he hadn’t had such a wonderful day in a long time, isn’t that beautiful? He really touched me and I was happy the universe had given me this chance to meet him.

 

The next days I spent with Andy. He took me to the botanic garden on Mount Tomah, where we enjoyed our home made lunch right in front of the famous Wollemi pine,

imagepreviously only known through fossil records, the oldest dated to 200 and the youngest to 2 million years ago. It was unexpectedly discovered right here in the temperate rainforest of Wollemi national park in 1994! It was exciting for the whole botanist community, a dinosaur tree, a living fossil! To protect it, the location is still undisclosed to the public. There’s magic in the mountains all around!

Time got warped again and we suddenly realized we had to be quick to be back in town in time for Andy to get to the bank. Maybe it was the energy of the Wollemi pine, but we succeeded in an experiment in the law of attraction. Andy worried he wasn’t gonna make it, and to be fair, all odds were against us. But I told him to have faith. If you focus on not making it, we might as well have stayed in the park a little longer. So we chose to assume and accept that we would be in time or something would happen for the bank to close later today. This positive attitude worked! When we got the bank the sign said closed, but the lady was willing to help Andy anyways! And the story didn’t stop here. We drove back to the farm and decided we would have to stop at one of the beautiful lookouts to see the sunset (never miss it if you don’t have to 😉 ). Driving there it started raining. Something we had been wishing for in days, it had been too dry and hot. Miss Piggy wasn’t happy, the plants weren’t happy, the mountains needed some rain. And finally the clouds broke open! I excitedly opened the window, stuck my head out and thanked the clouds by yelling yoohooooooo! All wet but too excited to be cold we rushed to the lookout, again not sure if we were gonna make it in time, but full of faith. All of a sudden I screamed and Andy anxiously turned his head. There was a beautiful, colourful, amazing, DOUBLE rainbow! We just had to stop and enjoy this crazy wonder of nature!

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Quick, back in the car! And of course we made it in time for the most beautiful sunset.

imageimageWe couldn’t believe this was all happening and we joked that it could only be more perfect if we would see some lighting. So that’s what happened…. Say what??!!! Yeah, it really happened! Standing in the rain on this boulder at the edge of the colourful sandstone cliffs the blue mountains are made of, the rainbows on the east, the sunset on the west and just one strike of perfect lightning right in front of us in the south. Couldn’t be more perfect. Wealth is not in possessions, wealth is in nature, in being alive. Natura non tlincitur nisi parendo – nature is not to be commanded except by obeying. And we should be humble, thankful that she gives us all we need. We need to honor and celebrate that. Party! This is God, this is perfection, this is pure happiness for me.

This law of attraction I call “Fake it until you make it!”. Very easy, just pretend you already have what you wish for and you increase your chances of it actually happening 😀 I love it!

 

Unfortunately I met many many people who seem to have lots the faith they had as carefree children and now focus on the negative. It’s a very human tendency, but it is so destructive. Out of all the people I met I can only name a handful that seemed to be truly happy with their lives, not complaining. I am who I am and hopefully inspire some to send out more positive vibes. Take responsibility for what you created in your life and always aim for the moon, for even if you fail, you will land among the stars 🙂 Acknowledge how you might have influenced some bad things in your life, learn to crawl and be prepared to walk, humble but with your back straight. For everything is connected. That what you think impacts how you feel, which impacts how your body reacts, which impacts how others react to you etc. Every time we experience an emotion we not only affect every part of our own body, we also affect everyone around us, some believe even the entire planet, the entire universe. And to some level the effect things have on us whether negative or positive, is a matter of choice, how we choose to perceive the situation.

That doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. There are perfectly good reasons for negative emotions. Like when survival is at stake fear and anger are appropriate. But unfortunately many people feel fear and anger in situations when it is neither useful nor appropriate. In fact fear and especially fear of change is a big problem among mankind, which also runs in my family..

 

The next day I put all my trust in Andy as he walked me through the forests of Mount York where I would have been completely lost without his guidance. We encountered many amazing natural structures, like these humonguous ant hills almost as big as I am. Isn’t it amazing the little guys make them out of dirt, their own saliva and castings?

We also encountered some wombat holes which can go as deep as 30 meters and contain several chambers, quite the structures! Sometimes children crawl in them and get trapped or killed by the wombats.. :/ so be careful! And the coolest thing in the forest were all these gigantic vines reaching meters up in the air to hold on to the canopy, providing us fantastic swings 😀

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So we swung. We pushed each other and were four year old again. I felt like bushfairy and could have kept swinging all day. But we were on a mission! We were on our way to this beautiful dam where many birds showed up to welcome us, where a leach gave me a good strong kiss when we swam with him and where we caught our dinner for that night 😀

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I had been digging for worms in Andy’s compost pile that morning and the carps just loved them :p I feel very uncomfortable killing animals, but when it is to eat them Im quite ok. It made me think about starting to fish more on my travels. It would be a good surplus to my vegetarian diet. At home we made our own version of the fish and chips you see advertised everywhere in Australia. Carp with fingerlime and roasted sweet potato from the oven. Delicious!

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We could have kept going enjoying beautiful days like these, but it was time for me to move on. The kangaroo valley was waiting for me. I made good friends though and it felt heartwarming to know that I would see all of them again once I would return to the mountains. I would just leave them for a short little while, that was all J Andy bought a ticket for the Folk Festival I would attend in Canberra two weeks later and Scott I would see that night at the celebration of the Twelve Tribe community down in Picton. I had met them in their common ground in Katoomba where they run the Yellow Deli café, which looks like a treehouse from the inside with all different little corners to sit and enjoy the delicious healthy homegrown foods. The tribe tells the world to be kind and gentle, to love and show compassion. They seem to me a mix between Christianity and Judaism and I seem to agree with a lot of their beliefs. The community invites anyone interested to come and celebrate the beginning of Sabbath with them. It involved speeches, singing, dancing, music and more delicious food 🙂 By the examples they told us it seemed to me they really practiced what they preach and I felt very warmly welcomed and I saw the kindness expressed by everyone. Scott and I camped that night and joined them for the morning celebration and breakfast at their beautiful farm down the road, apparently home to many many many many waterdragons, hello guys! :D.

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I ended up staying almost all day talking to different members and some volunteers, discovering what their community is all about. And I was pleasantly surprised. I would be interested to come back and spend some more time with them. Of course I discovered some beliefs I didn’t quite agree with as well and I am in no means interested to join them, or for that fact any other kind of community, it’s not what I believe in 😉 I want to be part of the outer world, not retreat from it. The fact that they answered all my questions by saying ‘we believe’ instead of ‘I believe’ scares me, there seems to be no room for individuality or the slightest difference in opinion. But I was grateful for their welcome and it boosted my faith that more people believe and spread the word that we should be kind and gentle and forgiving and loving and helping, even in the worst situations. I left the farm with warmth in my heart and made my way down to Kangaroo Valley where I would arrive two days later.

Back on the bike again, yeay 😀 It felt so good, so natural, so free. I was superhappy to get my wheels rolling again. I guess I missed this me-time. There was some good amount of adrenalin pumping through my veins once I had said goodbye and headed south for new adventures. I enjoy this way of travelling without polluting my environment, the slow pace, the living outside, the not really knowing what’s to come, not caring what day it is or what time even, the trust I have gained by now that difficult situations always dovetail into good things, the physical exercise, the mental liberation, the oneness with everything around you, the beauties around each corner and in every persons eyes, the understanding that possessions equal complications, the un-selfconsciousness of travelling without clean clothes, without a mirror.. I finally threw out the last piece of make-up I was carrying: mascara, but didn’t use in so many months. Im not carrying shampoo, creams, or any off the stuff marketing makes you believe you need. Just a bit of soap (organic!) is enough. Im (not fanatically, dont worry) avoiding all chemicals inside my body, but also on the outside (have you read the labels on your beauty products lately, terrifying isn’t it?). The natural way of living is becoming more and more natural to me. Makes so much sense and feels so good. So uncomplicated and liberating. The next step is to learn how to get my food and medicine from nature as well, or at least part of it. So Im learning all the names of the plants and the animals and their possible purpose. I feel the oneness in everything again. And was once again pleasantly surprised by this couple who offered me a bed and shower in the house after I had asked them to pitch my tent in their garden 🙂

After visiting the beautiful Fitzroy falls area

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after being warned about wombats

imageI pushed my bike up a steep hill, welcomed by two curious alpacas and a horse,imageimageto find Peter waiting for me. We were meant to meet. I was meant to be here at exactly this time. I was supposed to arrive hours later but somehow Peter had sensed I would be there soon. It was the first of many similarities we would discover. From the first second I felt at peace at the beautiful farm overlooking the valley in the midst of nothing but nature. My body was happy to be here. And collapsed. There was an illness in me waiting to come out and this was the time..

Peter had been feeling pain and discomfort in his left jaw for the last week and that was exactly where my pain went crazy. The whole left side of my face blew up like a balloon and the pain was unbearable. I couldnt eat or talk, but the worst thing was, I couldnt smile!imageMy educated guess was that the growing of my wisdom tooth (in the wrong direction) was pushing against my gums which had allowed bacteria to enter and inflammate. Peters pain vanished the moment I arrived. Our spiritual diagnose was that I needed to rest some time and this was my body telling me to do just that. Peter was supernice and told me many times he was happy to have me, that I was at the right place and that he actually enjoyed taking care of me. And it wasn’t just words, I felt it. There is so much kindness in the world!

Peter is a superwarm, gentle ex-professor who now lives from his biodynamic farm with some vegetables, macadamias, green tea and approx. 100 cows.imageimageHe has always been involved in the aboriginal communities and I was lucky to meet this amazing woman from Arnhemland – Badunbil- with her two grandsons, staying with Peter. Badunbil is a weaving master

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and many more things. Her two twelve year old grandsons (twins) are pretty amazing as well. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog once I figured out what is ok to share and what is just for me..

 

 

 

Australia part 2: farming at the northern beaches

 

Farming

So, back at Bungan Beach. JJ and Richard, the owners of the homestead, were about to leave to Japan for a month of holidays, leaving me, Chris and Sophie in charge of the place. Sophie took care of their daughters dog Kiko, secretely dressing him in cloths, she  just couldnt help herself hahah hilariousimageWe were volunteering there which meant working a couple of hours in the morning in and around the house, keeping all the plants and animals alive, and enjoying our lives the rest of the time.. 🙂 I really liked the work we were doing and I learned a lot! We took care of the bees,

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chickens,

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the fish

imageand all the veggies and plants.

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imagecorn:

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Passionfruit:

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peppers:

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We made compost

imageand looked after the worms. We helped a little bit in the bush regeneration and I learned there is such a thing as a BioPod fo superfast composting, using larvae. We were planting and maintaining the herbs, vegetables and fruit trees in a completely organic way. Even more than that: in a biodynamic way!, which to me is even one step further where spirituality kicks in and interesting things happen like planting according to the moon cycle but also a bit far-out crazy things like spraying the vegetables once a month with BD500, which is fermented cow dung made by filling a cow’s horn with cow dung from a lactating cow and which are buried in Autumn on a Root day with a descending moon, and then lifted in Spring, also on a Root day. It is then stored. Before using you dilute the mixture in water and spend a couple of hours stirring it first to one side and then to the other. Could be quite meditative. I was happy I wasn’t the one stirring it :p But hey, gotta go with what you believe!

I learned a lot about new species and varieties I didn’t know of before or hardly had experience with. Like cucamelons, who came up with that?! Not my favourite though.. I enjoyed the fresh tomatoes everyday, the delicious little guavas,

imagethe beans and all the greens, we made a lot of baba ganoush from the eggplants,

imagepesto from the mint and other herbs, we harvested fresh salad from the microgreens,

imagethe salad mixes and the chard and silverbeet everyday for lunch (so lucky!),

imageI loved the lemon verbena (which we dried and used for tea, my favourite!), the Tulsi (or holy basil) and my alltime favourite: Okra!! Wow, that is one amazing plant! The plant itself is gorgeous, the flowers stunning and it gets even better when these beautiful flowers turn into the most delicious treats; as if the plant descended straight from the heavens…

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It grows like crazy though, we could harvest them everyday! So many 😀 And they are great raw, stirfried, grilled, pickled, everything 🙂 We spend a lot of time harvesting and cooking, drying, pickling etc.

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The house was heavenly for doing this since it had all the equipment you could wish for, even better than some of the high-class restaurants I used to work for: there was a thermomix that weighs, heaths and mixes, a super state-of-the-art oven (also great for sterilizing jars and canning), gas barbecue, smoke-oven, dehydrator etc. And then there was this kitchen full off all the ingredients you might need. And everything organic. What she didn’t grow herself, she would order. This beautiful cabinet was my best friend and I will miss it..

imageFull of organic and raw seeds, nuts, grains, spices, dried berries, coconut oil, ghee, raw cacao and carob, Himalaya salt, coconut flakes, black tahini (try it, it’s beautiful!) etc. etc. I made the most healthy and delicious smoothies, avocado-spinach-banana-honey-chocolate-mousse with a hint of chilli (SO GOOD!!!),

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mungbeanfalafel, sweet potato crisps, black rice sushi, humus, long squash spaghetti etc. Oh I enjoyed my time in that kitchen 😀 I experimented with some native bush herbs like wattleseed: grown from acacias, very nutty taste and delicious bush tomatoes. I drank Maca coffee and dandelion chai.

I learned a lot about fermentation and made Momo fuku’s, lacto-ferments, hot vinegar pickles, I canned tomato sauces and cucumber relishes, I made kefir (yoghurt like milke-ferment) every couple of days (adding a culture powder and leaving it for two days, easy :p) and I experimented with many different kinds of Jun.

imageYou might know of Kombucha, it’s more renown brother, which is made from black tea and sugar. Jun is made of green tea and honey, though, some people stating it as the champagne of Kombucha. So you cook the water, let the green tea sit for a while, strain it, stir in the honey and add it to your culture, which looks like an old sponge that has been used too much. The mushrooms will ferment the whole things, making a nice fizzly drink. After three days I added flavours (my favourite: tarragon, ginger and lime) and let it sit for a day before bottling up and storing in the fridge. When I get the chance I’d love to give other ferments a try as well like Kvass and ginger ale… So many things to do! Why didn’t I do this at home before? Besides the incredible health benefits of ferments it is supertasty and delicious 😀

Another thing I want to get started once I find a place to settle is getting my own bees, too bad I can’t take them with me on my bike.. :p

Bees

The honey we used was from JJ’s own bees and she made sure they were happy bees: Don’t worry, bee happy :D, oh how I love those little creatures! My first acquaintance with beekeeping was in Bulgaria and my fascination had been growing. By now it’s going through the roof! WOW! Bees are the most interesting and beautiful little flying things. I have been learning so much about them by reading books, watching documentaries, working with them at the farms and talking to other beekeepers. I won’t write down all the details, cause by now I can write my own book. There is so much to learn: from how the colony works, the difference between the worker bees, the drones and the queens, the rearing of queens, the swarming, the threats like the hivebeetle (luckily there is no Varoamite in Australia, nowhere..yet..), when to split a hive, how to see what is brood and what is honey, or nectar, or pollen, or propolis, what a healthy hive looks like, how to spot and react to problems, when to harvest etc.etc. Jean-Claude helped JJ with her bees and took me under his wings for a couple of days. He is this older French guy that has been a big-scale commercial beekeeper for many years, packed with a lot of knowledge, but also a bit stirdy in his opinions 😉 We visited different people with different beehives, which thaught me a lot, since every beekeeper has its ways and opinions. The more diversity, the easier to make up your own opinion. Some people prefer good old-fashioned Langstroth-hives, some prefer topbarhives like the Warre, some experiment with the fairly new Flowhive (where you just open the tap at the right time and the honey flows out, sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Curious to see the first results and experiences..) and some keep native bees on the side. JJ had all four of these, wasn’t I lucky! So I got to suit up a fair couple of times 😉

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imageSo smart to make windows with a thermometer inside of your hive so you can check on them with minimal disturbance:

imageimageJean-Claude took me and Chris to a field day at the beekeepers association where we harvested honey, yippie!

imageWe cut the comb from the frames with an electrical knife

imagebefore extracting the honey by spinning the frames in this machine.

imageFor extracting from the Warre-hive

imageJJ used an old-fashioned fruit press. We prepared the left-overs to extract the wax, which can be used for all sorts of beneficial products. I’m still using the cream my friends in Bulgaria made from a mix of wax (extracted in a solar still and herbs. Another product is mead: an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey and water which takes three months to turn into an alcoholic drink: too damn tasty! JJ made a really good one. Yummie 😀

So heaps of fresh raw happy-bee honey! One spoon each day will keep the doctor away…. Because it makes you happy! ‘Clap along now if you feel that happiness is the truth..’ 😉

Aquaponics

Besides plants and bees, we also took care of a 4000 liter aquaponics system. I told you about this fantastic system in my previous post.

 

Chickens

And last, but not least: 11 chickens brighted up our days by singing their songs J Some people would describe it as this horrendous sound that unwillingly wakes you up in the morning and doesn’t stop all day.. I loved it :p By the sound you could make up whether the ladies were just gossiping about all the good-looking surfers passing the place on their way to the beach or they were busy trying to get rid of their eggs. We were collecting way too many eggs from the girls, thinking of all different ways we could eat them (I love them just poached, but we made frittatas, banana pancakes etc.) and ended up giving away a bunch as well. They do keep for months though.. When one of the chickens got sick, JJ cared for her as for her own child: spending shitloads of money at the vets, feeding her, gently trying to get her to take her medications and so on. At the same time JJ was eating chicken she bought from an organic farmer as well, haha, that was just too funny. I didn’t though, I stayed a veggie at the house, there was too much good stuff there!

Activities at the northern beaches

Music: So, besides the couple of hours of work at the house, there was a lot of free time. And we used it wisely 😀 Every morning we woke up early by the beautiful sight of the sun rising from the waves. Sunrise is my favourite moment of the day and seeing it every morning from my bed is just incredible! Getting up at six everyday was no biggie at all this way 😀 all I wanted to do was go out and greet her, play for her, sing for her, worship her.. And I sang and played a lot, I enjoyed having so much time to play my guitar.

Surfing: Everyday I would get in the ocean as well, either for just a swim in the ocean

imageor at the ocean pool just around the headland at Newport beach, finding cute shelters n the scrumble there 🙂image(once a whale carcass was swept into the pool, can you imagine?! No whale migrating season right now though);

falling in love with the beautiful stones

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and enjoying the beauty of the way back up every time. Where you see the sun is where the house was 🙂

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or I’d go into the ocean to get pounded by the waves for hours, I mean learning to surf 😉 We had all these boards and wetsuits we were given permission to use, so nice!

imageBut damn, learning how to surf is just not easy! I was very lucky Chris was there to hold my hands the first couple of times, cause I am scared of that ocean! Scared of the waves, of the rips and the currents, scared of my lack of swimming skills (improving them now in the pools, can you believe I didn’t know how to do freestyle stroke or swim under water? Im starting to find my rhythm now ;)). Once you catch your first waves though, wow! That’s exciting, I want more! I needed the right (beginner) conditions though and I spent a lot of time in the white water trying to stand up. When I actually managed to make it through the breaking waves and tried to catch some unbroken waves, damn…, I needed some help. It is difficult to choose which wave to go for and when and then I lack the strength to build up enough speed and missed a lot of waves because of this. Great work-out though 😉 Chris helped me by trying to push me into waves haha, I was like a little child and loved it! Thank you Chris 😀 But even after a month the ocean still scares me (which might be a good thing) and I am still at superbeginner level but eager to get on the board again once the universe will provide the opportunity for me :p

One of the days I went out surfing people on the way to the beach warned me about a lot of blueys being in the water. Being a local and all I pretended to understand and kept on walking. What the hell are blueys? I figured they might have meant unexperienced surfers, a species the local guys are not very fond of. But I was soon to find out. The little bastards! I mean, they are beautiful but hurt like hell when you have three long stinger of the Portugese man-of-war jellyfish wrapped around your leg! That day I only surfed for half an hour..

Sailing: one day I was hanging around at the local bikeshop, talking to the mechanics about bike mechanics hihi and nice routes to cycle around the area and ended up talking to one of the customers. He asked me if I had been sailing in Australia yet. I hadn’t but would really love to go though! So he invited me on his son’s boat haha, friendly dad :p I contacted the son a bit reluctantly, but he was very happy to take me out, so we went! Sailing on the incredible beautiful waters of Pittwater bay, you won’t believe your eyes. I wish I took some pictures..image

It was just a leisure sailing experience though where I failed my first sailing lesson: bring beer and snacks! After the sailing we returned to his house which was on the other side of the bay where no roads lead to and can only be reached by boat. It looked like a huge treehouse completely surrounded by forest, with a fantastic view of the stunning Pittwater bay.image

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imageThere were more guests, a barbecue, a fire.. I’d say a proper after-sailing party 🙂 I talked to some very interesting and nice people, one of them being Malcolm. Malcolm was this South-African guy who moved to Australia after spending many years of his young adulthood on different sailingboats going around the world. His young apprentice Manny from Spain sat besides him and they offered me to go sailing with. Hmm, let me think about that… Hell Yeah!! I’m in 😀 And it turned out to be one hell of a ride!! They took me on board of the Greybeard a couple of times, one of them being the Australia day regatta

  • australia day is also referred to as invasion day, a more appropriate name..image

at Pittwater, apparently the longest running regatta in the world (this was the 180th time) and we won! Incredible! I wasn’t sure why though, cause I wasn’t much of a help. I had to learn all these English terms and sailing theory but the guys were very willing to explain and show everything, so nice! Pull the heliard, ease the sheet, get the kite ready, breeze coming, let’s tack. NOW.. (which means: duck if you wanna stay onboard! :p) etc. 😀 Malcolm would get a bit stressed and tension was building on the boat, I loved it 😀 and the guys were supernice and great fun!

image The last time we went sailing we went out of the bay on the open ocean water, that was a cool experience! Malcolm would let me steer the boat and going back in the bay we had fun trying to catch/surf the waves with the boat, yihaa 😀 We sailed three races in a row against around 15 other similar boats: achilles, which made it very busy in the water and especially around the buoys, getting wet from the splashing water everywhere and watching all the kitesurfers down at the beach. It was beautiful! I had to get back in time though, because I was working that night but the guys had come up with a plan :p They had picked me up from the house that morning, left a car up at Palm Beach, drove back to Avalon to get on the boat and after the race we immediately sailed back in the bay, I jumped of the boat and swam to shore, took the car and was in time for work, hahaha so funny! We had great times J and it was obviously way too short.. I really hope to see them again and spend more time together.

Working: yeah, so did I just mention work? I worked in the kitchen of Mexicanos restaurant for a couple of weeks. Chris left the job and I immediately took over. Always on the bike I was welcomed by pelicans on the bridge or in the water, hi guys!

imageAnd beautiful flowers everywhere 🙂 I wish you could smell them!

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The work was supereasy and the food not that great, but the colleagues were fantastic. With Derrick, his daughter Leah, Alex, Sam and/or Krishna in the kitchen time flew by 😉 Ok and the ginger or jalapeno margherita, frozen, no sugar, was pretty good too ;p We ended up being a real tight family in only a couple of weeks.image

imageMy chef Rafa from Brazil is superfriendly, I might say the nicest chef I ever worked for 😉 and we enjoyed a nice afterparty at his house the day I left, isn’t that amazing! imageimage

I will go back to enjoy the Mardi Gras festival with him and his friends in march, yeay!

Misc: other things we did was snorkling close by the little reef where we saw some beautiful little creatures, a flounder and a stingray. It was a bit of a hassle to get of the ledge and on to the reef with the flippers and the waves smashing in on us hihi that was fun! We cycled through the Kur-in Gai Chase National Park which was just around the corner, stunning! It has this fantastic views in and out Pittwater bay

imageand we could see the lighthouse at the top of Palm Beach where we cycled and hiked before.imageimageWe found some aboriginal remnants along the tracks.

imageimageThe ride there was amazing, with all these houses along the road that looked like out of proportion tree houses, surrounded by forest and looking out over the bay, beautiful 😀 The sounds were amazing too, mostly overwhelmed by the intense sounds of cicadas (tree crickets). You can find their old skins hanging on the trees, which looks like this:

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At the house Chris and I practiced some akroyoga together, Id like to get into that more, it’s fun! Chris had some experience so he could fly me pretty confidently and things like shoulderstands, bows, butterfly twirls were easy-peasy :p so enjoyable!

Chris had made some Australian friends while studying in Ecuador and they all come over for a reunion on the Australia day (e.g. invasion day) weekend. With their girlfriends, so we were with 8 in the house, what a party!

imageWe enjoyed surfing at Palm beach, beers from the local brewery (really really good!!), some slacklining and playing guitar/singing, and we went Barefoot bowling hahaha that was fun!

imageIt is this weird bowling game with huge balls that are weighted on one side (make sure you plan the curve on the right side!), trying to get them as close as possible to the white ball. I passed a couple of fields before and it seemed to me like quite the elite sport with lots of elderly rich men dressed in white taking the game way too seriously. But apparently young people enjoy it just as much 😉 At night we played this fun game where we agree on a word (like sun) and each team has to come up and sing as many songs as they know with this word in it, fun guaranteed!

Blue mountains: The next weekend Chris and I left Sophie to take care of the house by herself and left to explore the Blue mountains, yihaa!! It’s name deriving from the bluey maze the oil from the eucalyptuses give to the sky. We took the train up to Katoomba and started hiking. And hiking and hiking. And more hiking. We hiked different routes (from the famous three sisters to sublime point), making it way down in the valley (on the rodriguez pass to junction rock, passing the beautiful bridal veils); at points feeling like a dinosaur could pop up any moment. The ancientness and humongous stretch of wild forest was intimidating.

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With steep sided vales and hazy forests of gum tree, many different warm colours and layers of sandstone mingled perfectly with the many colours of green.imageThe distinctive sound of the bell birds were cheering us up as we went. Gumtrees and tree verns everywhere. Many gumtrees shed their bark.. My favourite being the one that sheds bark going from deep dark red at the bottom to lighter and lighter colours of orange going up. I don’t think it’s because of me being Dutch, I think it’s the warmth and the earthiness of the colour orange that attracts me to it so much (to be fair, pumpkin and sweet potato are one of my favourite veggies, maybe that’s connected :p). And so many beautiful waterfalls along the way! We met Peter on the path. I think at least. He was like a character from a fairy-tale and at some point I had to ask Chris if he saw this beautiful creature as well, to check it wasn’t just a figure of my imagination. Peter was this old man with a stick and a backpack that had been stitched at least 489 times, with a look of bliss and joy but out-of-spaciness as well in his eyes, as if he was seeing things happening behind you, many times losing his words or thoughts halfway along the sentence. I understood he was originally from England but moved to the mountains a long time ago and was to be found in the forest every day. He spends his times taking care of the tracks, cleaning up the forest, destroying fire arrangements, cleaning graffiti and apparently telling his life story to those who care to listen to his very unclear chaotic but fascinating monologues. He started telling us all the beautiful places we should go, drawing ‘maps’ in the sand with his stick. He got a bit too excited though, and I couldn’t follow anymore. Left at this tree, follow the river, cross it, cross it back, then at the second three you don’t go up, no wait that was the other cave, yes you do go up, it doesn’t look like a track and oh many years ago me and my girlfriend we used to go ride our motorbikes in Asia, you know I used to be very shy, I didn’t know how to talk to people, oh look at all these ants etc. etc. Peter was fantastic 😀 We all agreed how amazing it is all the work people have put into making these paths since the first crossing in 1813, thank you!!

We kept going and we camped along the way. The second night we were all the way down in the valley and found this fantastic little shelter!! With a dream catcher!

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wow 😀 That was where I wanted to sleep ! We managed to squeeze my tent under it 🙂imageIt was right next to the river and look at this view ❤

imageIt inspired me to start making dreamcatchers myself.imageChris and Rafa having the honour of receiving my first ones, may they catch all your bad dreams!

At the train station in Sydney I had started talking to this girl playing her guitar and we ended up chatting all the way up to the Blue Mountains in the train. She played and sang at the Gardeners Inn and we went to see her play, which coincided with the rainfall of that day, meant to be?imageShe was very interesting and spiritual and we shared a lot of thoughts, experiences and book references. Perfect! Daniela, thank you for showing me the five agreements by Ruiz and the 16personalities test. Im usually not into personality test, especially not short ones online, but this one was so spot on and helped me understand myself a lot better, wouldn’t have imagined that, great! For example, it describes the ways I view and struggle with romantic relationship so well, I finally have words to describe what I always tried to tell. And Ruiz’ books added to that, for one by giving us these five agreements, which are to me beautiful guidelines in life:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love”
  2. Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama”
  3. Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream”
  4. Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret
  5. Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen”.

I meditate on these five agreements now and see how I can incorporate them in my life better and better. It helps me to forgive myself and others. Everyday we start again and try our best. If we fail, that’s ok, that’s life, we gave it our best, and we will  do just that again. There is only today. And today the love has to be spread!

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We only had three days to enjoy the beautiful mountains before we had to go back to the farm and help Sophie out. The Okra had grown through the roof by now! I knew I had to come back though and spend more time. It would be the first thing on my list after leaving the northern beaches.

Back at the house we spent one more week before the owners would return. After almost a month living at the northern beaches I still hadn’t seen anything of Sydney yet, so I decided I wanted to explore the city for one day and Chris and I visited the two most important things in any city ;): the botanical gardens and the observatory! Haha, both really amazing. The botanical garden are for free and open to anyone and huge, we spent hours enjoying all the plants. Look at these beauties:

-the amazing stevia plant which is supersweet without the negative side-effects of other sweeteners.

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Pink bananas 😀 not edible, too pretty!

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  • the famous tea tree:
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  • zebra plant
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  • and the famous romance tree :p
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We learned about the magic of verns:

imageand the edibility of the waterlillies as great bush tucker

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The observatory was pretty amazing as well, situated in the middle of the city with a great view over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.imageAt the observatory a time ball still drops every day at 1 pm to indicate the time.imageBefore the Observatory was built, Sydney didn’t have an accurate time standard. The Observatory’s first function was to calculate the correct time from the movement of the stars.imageThe time ball signalled the time to ships and the post office in Martin Place at 1pm each day, accompanied by a cannon blast to provide an audio as well as visual notification. No more cannon blast these days though :/

I learned about the transit of venus across the sun, beautiful!!imageHistorically of great scientic importance because it was used as the first realistic estimates of the size of our solar system. From earth it can be seen as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. I wrapped my head around the fact that it happened in 2004 and 2012, but wont happen again until 2117. I probably wont be there to see it, but who knows! I will be there to see Mars at opposition on may 31st 2016 (it happens every 1,88 years though): Mars and the Sun will be at directly opposite sides of earth; from our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west. Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east. Funky :p

At the observatory there was a lot of white men history, but I missed the aboriginal stories of the skies. They might not be as scientific but a very important part of Australian history with lots of beautiful stories which show they knew a lot about the sky, which took us thousands of years to discover/confirm. I love stories. For example, every aboriginal tribe has its own version about Orion hunting the Pleiades, explaining the cycles of the stars. Another subject ill have to read/hear more about J

We then walked to along the shore to the opera house, which was unfortunately not running visiting tours at that moment. I would have loved to see the room with the more than 10.000 organ pipes! That’s impressive, it took them ten years to build! Id love to hear a concert played there. I looked at prizes but they were just going through the roof unfortunately :/ one day..

 

The end of my Bungan experience

So, after a month the owners were returning from their holiday, new volunteers were on their way and Chris had booked a flight back home to the States. I am very grateful for this opportunity, grateful I got to spend time at this fantastic place, grateful for the trust the owners had in us and grateful for Chris to invite me to hop on his tail in this adventure. But. (haha, so many Australians end their sentence with the word ‘but’ without continuing.. strange fellows :p). But, I have to be honest to myself and thus you guys who are reading all my inner thoughts.. I was happy to get moving again. The place drained me a bit, I felt empty and I wasn’t sure why, because everybody kept telling me what a wonderful place I was staying at and what a wonderful set-up I had arranged for myself. Which was all true. But…

I guess I lacked the feeling of making a difference. The owners were so rich, they didn’t need me at all (in comparison to the last place where I volunteerd in Bulgaria where I could really be of great assistance, helping the poor farmers getting ready for the harsh winter). They didn’t farm for any other cause then just for fun and to feed themselves. And there was no social connection whatsoever. The couple of days we did spend together there was no initiative from their side to find out who I was, they had no clue and were not very interested to talk. Makes sense of course with so many volunteers coming and going all the time, so no hard feelings. And they were nice people, absolutely, but I just lacked the love I guess. There was some friction between me and Chris as well, which made me trying to adjust and compromise all the time. Yeah, time for me to move on and find myself again, feels good! Getting excited 😀 All packed up again and ready to go!

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Sydney

One of the first things I did was visit the bird research centre up at the Olympic park in Sydney. Amazing! Nobody knows of it, and it is quite hidden away, but absolutely worth it! At least for me it was 😀 Mark was on duty that day and very happy to be talking to someone as passionate about birds as he was. He taught me a lot about the native birds, showed me around, helped me recognise the sounds and showed me their eagle cam. The camera is directed at an white-belly Eagle’s nest in the park where you can see the couple fly in and out and in the right season see the eggs hatch, amazing! I spent quite some time talking to the volunteers and Judy, the park ranger, took me under her wing for a ride and dropped me off at the station in the end. The diverse varieties of birds in Australia are just magnificent 😀 Well, you’ve read about all that on my previous blog already :p

I spent a couple more days exploring around Sydney, staying at Matt’s place at Maroubra, one of the beautiful beaches of Sydney. He lives quite south, literally scratching against the national parks. The view from his front window was Maroubra beach, at the rear the national park and a 15 minute bike ride into town, isn’t that amazing?! With black cockatoos flying around his house 🙂

imageMatt took me out on little bike rides around the numerous gorgeous bays, we did some cliff jumping and swimming:

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imageimageand explored some old fortresses with great graffiti:

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And we went to the fantastic Royal National Park! We didn’t make it far there though, because of a tiger….

Ehhmm yeah so when we riding a tiger ran out of the bush, tried to bite Matt’s leg off but he defended fiercly and only had a small injury on his elbow, just a couple stitches there and a completely wrecked front wheel. Could have been much worse I guess. We ate the tiger for dinner, delicious! (Ok, Matt took this fantastic selfie and saw the branch on the road too late and fell.. pretty bad story..)

 

After spending a couple days with Matt and leaving him wounded and with a broken bicycle (I did buy him cookies he loves so much!) I made my way up to the Blue Mountains to meet Scott, my warmshower host there. Wow!! I was sooooooooo happy to go back to the mountains! I had been super sick and nautious all week in Sydney, I was not digesting something (literally, but I guess it was emotional :p) and when I entered the mountains and felt the fresh air filling my lungs and strated feeling better right away, my nautia was gone the next day and I felt super re-energized! People go on and on about the Australian coastline, the beautiful beaches, their love for the ocean etc. etc. and Yes, I do appreciate it a lot, but I don’t share the same enthousiasm. The mountains though. Damn!! Heel yeah, I am a real mountaingirl, soooooooo gooooooddddd 😀 😀 😀 Really, on the verge of crying to be back up in the fresh air ❤ Daydreaming of moving here. I feel like I belong. This is heaven. Ill tell you all about it on my next blog post. Cause first I need to tell you the story of how my love for Australia is starting to grow.

My love and appreciation

I was never attracted to Australia, never thought I would come here any time soon and didn’t think I would want to spend much time. The culture the English and Dutch have developed here is not at all interesting, everybody dresses the same (you’re either a surfdude or a cowboy, no matter what age; all the kids wear uniforms to school), the towns all look the same to me and it is packed with all sorts of clubs, mostly there to generate excessive amounts of money from drinking (super expensive here) and gambling; Australians are the biggest gamblers on the planet! It seems to me very over-regulated with too many rules and humongous fines. It is comfortable, clean and familiar, everybody is easygoing and approachable. It is safe and well organized and the sun nearly always shines. I do enjoy the fact that I get to walk around everywhere barefooted (even banks and supermarkets don’t mind, in fact I threw away my shoes, joy J) and people are superfriendly all along (’How ya’ going?), but that’s about it. Behind the surface I’m finding more and more beauty though.

The aborigines lived here for thousands and thousands of years, without leaving a trace; being part of nature, not trying to conquer it, realizing the earth owns us, not the other way around (such a contrast to the fact that now most of them have been erased, with only 700.000 left living in sad sad conditions resulting in lots of drinking problems and crime.. unfair and mistreated; they weren’t even classed as citizens until the 1967 referendum!). I wanted to learn more about the old ways, when Australia was glorious, the golden ages! So I started to ask around and I started to read and it fueled my flame. Australia is amazing! Forget about the white people and forget about modern society and ‘civilization’, let’s focus on what’s really important and you’ll find so much beauty!

 

It is the home of the largest living thing on earth: The Great Barrier Reef (I’m not leaving before I’ve seen it with my own eyes!), and of the largest monolith: Ayers Rock (or Uluru in its more respectful Aboriginal name, unseen by anyone but its Aboriginal caretakers until only a little over a century ago, now a huge tourist attraction). It is wild, it has more things that will kill you than anywhere else in the world, even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip. Australia has more species of venomous snakes than any other continent, 21 of the world’s 25 deadliest in fact. Spiders are the most widely distributed venomous creatures in Australia, with an estimated 10,000 species inhabiting a variety of ecosystems. But even though spiders live all around, from urban centres to the bush, bites are infrequent. An interesting fact is that the most life-threatening creature in Australia is the bee! Beestings have killed more people than snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles or any of those things people always warm you about. You have to be careful though of course.

Bill Bryson states it beautifully: ‘if you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected matter, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It’s a tough place’. I think it’s beautiful J Mother nature is the alltime winner, she is in charge, not us! Don’t ever forget that! It’s why I love heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, show your face, mamma! Australia is a place like no other: much of it is still scarcely charted and more than 80 per cent of the plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia and are found no-where else, amazing!

Even more so: it lives in abundance, which seems incompatible with Australia being the driest, hottest, flattest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents. Even the soil here is technically speaking a fossil, wow. And yet it teems with life, many species yet to be recorded. It still holds so many mysteries, unexplained discoveries and undiscovered explanations. Im starting to believe this is the place where it all started. I’ve started this trip to ‘get back to basics’, never intended or interested to go to Australia, but I believe now the universe brought me here for a reason. I need to go out and explore.

 

Australia to me had become the barer of the most ancient wisdom. It is old, very very old with almost 3 million square miles of emptiness. I can’t believe it still has only 24 million people living here (my little country of Holland has 17 million people!). Many of the oldest objects ever found on earth, like rocks and fossils, animal tracks, the first faint signs of life, all originate from Australia. And there is this beautiful people that has been living on the largest island and continent for at least 60.000 years (as we say, they say it’s much longer, since the beginning of all, the Dreamtime). Modern science has trouble explaining their presence here, while they have no clearly evident racial or linguistic kinship to their neighbours in the region. Superinteresting to me, but most histories breeze over it in a small paragraph to start so-called ‘history’ with the arrival of captain Cook in Botany Bay in 1770. Let’s not talk about the fact that Captain Cook didn’t discover Australia and was even yet a captain when he first visited the continent. For most people this is where the story begins, I’m not interested in this story, it is a very very sad story to me (May 26th I will be celebrating Sorry Day with all my heart!). I want to learn about the story before that. I’m ready to Dream, let the Dreamtime come to me.

Australia part 1: Falls festival and rock climbing in Tasmania

My adventure in Australia had started: just before Christmas I landed in Sydney! In the process flying to Australia something very strange (among other every-day life strange things of course;)) had happened: I had lost an entire day in my existence! It didn’t make me feel much different and it didn’t hurt at all 😉 Where did my day go? It just vanished in the time-space fabric of our universe? Did I enter another realm? Was I sucked into a wormhole? I knew the only way to get a refund on my loss of existence was to fly back around the world only to find myself set foot on ground a day before I left.. Pretty mind-blowing time travelling stuff, isn’t it?

Chris had arranged his friend Dave to pick me up from the airport 11pm which was great since the airline had lost my bicycle and carrying this big pack of panniers on the public transport would have been a real hassle (the bike was delivered to the house later.., saved me from dragging it and saved me the quite strict examinations at the airport where all the mud had to be washed off, which I didn’t do in Istanbul, so it was perfect!). I was very happy to see both Chris and Dave again after we parted in Istanbul about two months earlier. Dave drove us to his sister’s unbelievable house up at the northern beaches of Sydney, famous for its incredible beauty located between perfect beaches and lush national parks. Chris and I would be volunteering at what JJ calls her permaculture sanctuary on a millions of dollars worth piece of property right at the beach.
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It is interesting to experience the other side of the coin now, whereas my last volunteering position in Bulgaria was at the most poor and remote place you can imagine. This is the exact opposite! How do these people handle permaculture principle, sustainability, closed-loop systems and ethics with so much money? I was curious to find out..

I fell asleep to the sound of the waves and woke up every morning watching the sunrise from my bed.
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Enjoying to be back in summer, swimming in the see and playing my guitar at the beach I felt at peace.

I was excited to look at the stars at night and discover all the new constellations. Whereas I got to learn the night’s sky in the northern hemisphere I would have to start all over and learn (and invent! My imagination is my best friend :)) the constellations here. The Southern Cross was easy to find and I was surprised to see Orion, which apparently is to be seen from both atmospheres! I was lucky that during my stay this incredible phenomenon occurred where five of the planets lined up with the moon to be seen with your bare eyes and I spent some nights admiring them ❤

JJ and Richard (the owners) surrounded the house by native bushland (they are also involved in bush regeneration of the area), organic vegetable gardens,
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11 chickens
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and a couple different beehives: a Langstroth (standard), a Warre (topbar), a flowhive (incredible quite new inventions, curious to see how it works) and two hives for the native bees.
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They also grow fish in their aquaponics system.
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It was the first time I saw such a system in real life and I think it is brilliant! Don’t worry, I’ll explain: aquaponics refers to the marriage of aquaculture (growing aquatic animals like fish) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water), which results in a closed-loop system where the by-products of the aquaculture system (toxic to the fish) are broken down by nitrification bacteria into nitrates and nitrites which are great nutrients to the plants, after which the water is recirculated back into the aquaculture system, everybody happy 😀 Besides all this fantastic farming I was going to experience and learn, we were living right at the beach and the garage was full of bodyboards, surfboards and wetsuits, free for us to use, yeay!
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I had almost no experience with swimming in the waves, with sometimes strong currents and rips so it took me some time to get used to the ocean, and I must say it still scares me a bit. Every year dozens of people drown in Australian waters and I sure don’t want to be one of them! But the surfing looks fantastic and I am eager to start learning 🙂 Chris is a great surfer and took me out. We didn’t have much time though, since we flew to Melbourne just two days after I arrived.

Falls Festival!!

In Melbourne we hitchhiked to the city and took the train to Russell, Chris’ friend. Russell had set us up with a job at the famous Falls Festival: a multi-day music festival annually held on and around New Years at three locations simultaneously: Lorne, Tasmania and Byron Bay). Some of the main acts being: Bloc Party, Foals, Gary Clark Jr, Leon Bridges, Django Django (love m!), Paul Kelly (famous Australian), RUFUS and Hilltoop Hoods. We would be working with Russell on his Green Team. Sounds good, doesn’t it, Green Team? Good for the environment, all about recycling, but in the end of course meant handling garbage :p The festival was about to get cancelled though, because of ongoing heavy bushfires, which are unfortunately frequent events and impact extensive areas. Victoria (where Melbourne and Lorne are situated) has seen the majority of the deadliest and largest bushfires in Australia. Global warming is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires and will lead to increased days of extreme fire danger. Lorne was evacuated just shortly before the festival. We were a bit worried hopping on the plane, but decided to just go and enjoy our days with Russell exploring the area. We met his wonderful family who made us really feel at home from the minute we stood foot in the house. We explored some of the beautiful surroundings and some of his parents wonderful cooking (and beers) 🙂

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In the meantime some kind of miracle happened, as the festival crew had made an herculean effort and was able to move the entire festival with 16000 festival goers (or ‘punters’ as they call them) to another venue at someone’s vineyard estate. It was insane! Good for us though, cause it meant there was a lot of work to be done and we were able to work very long days (up to 16 hours a day) on the six days we were there. Three of them were public holidays which meant double or 2,5x pay and we made a shitload of money in these days. Australia pays very very well and in these six days I made the same money as I would make back home in a month on a 36 hour workweek as an investigative psychologist with the National Police. The first days I was like ‘why do I have two master degrees and I am handling garbage now’? But that soon changed to: Yiihaaaaaa let’s go guys, this is fun! The dirtier the better 😀 We had a great team with a great hard-working mindset, supporting each other in the extreme (hot) conditions. We were working hard, singing, dancing, making policemen limbo under the trucks, pulling drunk punters out of their tents during the heath, witnessing a toe licking contest, and gently improving the looks of the car we were using :p

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falls 1It was a very fun experience and I would do it again if my visa would let me 😉 From left to right: Tom, Chris, Rachel, Chris, Jonno, Ella, Dan aka Bushy and Russell, you guys are awesome!

I didn’t get to see too many bands, since I chose to work instead, but Gary Clark Jr was great, some unknown singer/songwriters lighted my afternoons and Foals was a good introduction into the New Year!

 

I was overwhelmed with the incredible consumption and accompanying wasting that was going on. People are pigs, really. The sight of the festival ground after it finished.. Made me sick.

I found a lot of drinking tickets in the arena during the morning sweeps which I was able to sell later for an additional 100 bucks, I found some drugs here and there and some money people lost being drunk and dancing to the beats. When going through the campsites, especially after everybody left I just couldn’t believe my eyes what people had left behind. All this brand new camping equipment, food and drinks, cloths, there was so much stuff that was perfectly fine but abandoned. I was fantasizing about renting a truck, load it all in and giving it away. In stead, everything was collected and destroyed, what a shame.. On my bicycle I couldn’t take much, so I just got myself the essentials: a beany, sweater, jacket (I overconfidently packed no warm clothes at all when I flew to Australian summer :p), some tent pegs and food. The end of our festival experience was celebrated with a great staff party where I slow-danced with my newfound inflatable friend the killer wale.

 

We made some great friends, which I will visit again during my travelling through Australia, but it was time to get moving, since we were meeting Chris’ friend Mark in Tasmania for a 10-day rockclimbing trip around the island, yeay!

 

Tasmania

Wow, Tasmania is B.E.A.U.tiful!! What an incredible place to go to. It is the most amazing natural state of Australia, located 240 km south of mainland Australia, with almost 45% in reserves, national parks, and World Heritage Sites. Untamable wilderness all around! Let’s keep it that way J The state was the founding place of the first environmental party in the world and I see conservation and regeneration projects everywhere. It is also home to a sad sad invation story where the Aboriginal population was estimated to have been between 3000 and 7000 at the time of colonisation, but was almost wiped out within 30 years due to wars and imported diseases. Some call it a British genocide.. Im reading more and more about Aboriginal heritage and their ways of living lately. Their way was beautiful. They managed to populate Australia for thousands of years without leaving a trace, living in harmony with mother nature. We came, we saw and we destroyed. I’ll try to find ways to support them on my travels.. if possible.. (good reads: ‘the voices of the first day’ and ‘mutant message down under’)

 

Tasmania is named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (I feel so sorry for my heritage..) and often referred to as Taz or Tassie and Australia as Oz, and I soon discovered that the Ozzies just love to abbreviate everything J: sunglasses are sunnies, arvo is afternoon, hollies are holidays, mossie is mosquito, and rego stands for registration. It took me some time to get used to that and understand what they were talking about :p Then there is this crazy thing where everybody is your ‘mate’ and whether you are interested in the answer or not (mostly not) you ask everybody how they’re going. I just can’t do it.. The sentences most frequently used are ‘No worries’ and ‘Too easy’. This country is just very informal, everybody is supernice and your friend from the start… Which is great! I see two kinds of Ozzies: the surfdudes and the cowboys (they all dress the same, whatever their age) and they are so relaxed that I get to walk around barefooted everywhere. Even in supermarkets and bank offices nobody asks me to wear shoes. So I don’t. Yeay! The culture is obviously pretty similar to our western culture and in that sense not very excited. Easy though, too easy 😉

 

Anyways, so after the festival we flew to Tasmania and met Chris’ friend Mark and his friend Matt at the airport. Mark had driven his car down from the Snowy mountains (ok, not all the way, he took the ferry to cross the water), which was very convenient since on this vast open and fairly unpopulated island (with just over 500.000 inhabitants, of whom half live in and around Hobart, the capital) public transport would have been a real hassle, especially to get to the more beautiful climbing areas. So thanks Mark! Our first destination: the beautiful Freyinet national park! Located on the east coast it is home to dramatic granite peaks, gum tree forests (lots of Eucalyptus in Australia), secluded bays, white sandy beaches and abundant birdlife.
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The kookaburra is hilarious, since it’s call sounds like a high hysterical laughter, which is very contagious. I find myself starting to laugh every time I hear it 😀
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The cockatoo, on the other hand, is such a beautiful bird that it is hard to believe it makes such a horrible obnoxious sound..
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I am very pleased with Australia offering a beautiful variety of birds (I am so fascinated with them! My little eagle is still hanging from my handlebar, travelling with me wherever I fly.. J), for example it has the widest variety of parrots in the world, with over 55 different species. As numerous as they are colourful, including a spectacular variety of cockatoos, rosellas, lorikeets, cockatiels, parakeets and budgerigars. They are commonly seen in rural and urban areas, so everywhere: Lucky me! I tried to snapshot a couple different crazy birds:
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There are beautiful parrots, of which the rainbow lorikeet with its blue head and orange chest is a much seen favourite. Then there is the crimson rosella: mainly green and yellow with blue in the wings and tail and a red head, and the galah which is pink and gray. You’ll see lots of black swans around, very special to me. Then there is the wagtail named so because of its distinctive dance *shake your booty!* and the bower bird is famous for making some sort of dancing area out of blue things to attract the females (in case you wonder where your blue clothpegs have gone..). The whipbird is easy to recognize by its fantastic whipsound (still trying to imitate it, as is the Lyrebird which imitates all other birds, scientists think maybe even birds that don’t exist anymore, whoohoo!).  Magpies are real bastards, attacking cyclists for example (people ride around with sharp things sticking out of their helmets). The superb fairywren is not only amazing because of its name, but the males are blue in summer to attract the females. They turn the same brown colour in winter though :p. The common Myna is beautiful and everywhere but apparently not-native (from India) and quite invasive, competing too succesfully with other birds for food and nesting sites;  its relative the noisy miner is even worse with a real gang mentality, driving off most other species. Another unpopular one is the white ibis. I think they’re pretty cool with their long black beaks, but people find them nasty, they’re real scavangers. I saw lots of pelicans along the coasts as well as oystercatchers with their black body and bright orange feet, beak and eyes.

Spirit animals

On the way to Freyinet Mark suddenly pulled over as he spotted a garage sale alongside the road (apparently very common throughout Australia). I jumped out as well to have a look and ended up having the guys wait for me for quite some time. I found two books about spirit animals and how to find yours and started talking to the lady about her books. Apparently everybody can adopt or has one or more spirit animals that can guide you through life. Many off you will recognize a strong connection or abomination to some sort of animal and studying the characteristics and ways of these animals will give you insights to your emotions and might help you through life. Like the butterfly who helped me start this journey, ready for metamorphosis, while being very fragile and dependent on the wind, helping me to recognize change, welcoming it more and fearing it less, while trusting in its guidance. And indeed, I had this experience of the butterfly landing on my handlebar when I was desperate and starting to flap it’s wings without flying away when I asked it for help. Interesting thought, isn’t it? (I know, some of you may think I’m going delusional now, but I like to explore these ideas, why not). The lady got more and more excited telling me about this and ended up selling me both books, handing me the address of her spiritual guide and went in the house to find her goatskin drums, made by the husband of this shaman.

 

I read the books and obviously found out that the eagle is my spiritual animal (always knew that), as a symbol of inner strength but also of tranquillity and the ability to rise above. I am attracted by it. They say when the eagle comes flying in your heart, ‘it is time to reconnect with your spiritual path. It’s time to listen too and heed your spiritual directives as well as your heart and to allow them both to lead the way for you at this time. When you can find yourself in this state of flight then all the doors will open and the directions you need to follow will be made clear. Like a beacon – your heart will follow the light’ The eagle is reminding me to stay grounded, even when I am soaring high. A beautiful guide on my journey.

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And of course, since my last name is Valkenier, meaning Falconer, I must research my connection to the Falcon. I feel very close to the falcon, was knighted a falconer as a little kid, together with my twin brother at Muiderslot, this beautiful castle in Holland, and the falcons characteristics are very inspiring to me. The falcon is known to be vigilant, has a sharp mind and is very agile; it knows how to mentally work out problems and is often three steps ahead of others. Having the falcon as my guide through life, it helps me to believe in my ability to soar high and see things with greater vision to be able to take advantage of opportunities that may arise around every corner, while my success may depend on quick reactions. At the same time it teaches me to have the patience to wait in order to get the most out of any opportunity that comes my way (sometimes I want things too much or too soon, patience, my dear..). The falcon helps me to stay focused, wait for the best time to strike and more importantly be grateful for all that is coming my way. This gratefulness is very important to me! I wrote it before: since I am not pursuing anything and I don’t ‘want’ anything (I don’t need ‘the secret’ to have the universe help to get what I want), I am free to be grateful for everything that comes my way! It reminds me of this beautiful poem by this great writer Herman Hesse:

‘If luck you chase, you have not grown
enough for happiness to stay,
not even if you get your way.

If, what you lost, you still bemoan,
and grasp at tasks, and dash and dart,
you have not known true peace of heart.

But if no wishes are your own,
and you don’t try to win the game,
and Lady Luck is just a name,

then tides of life won’t reach your breast
and all your strife
and all your soul will rest’

Last but not least, the falcon reminds me of the fact that I am independent and need to have alone time in order to be happy (I forget that sometimes). I must be cautious to keep the balance between giving all my energy to others (as prescribed by the Celestine prophecies) and finding peace to recharge myself.

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Next to the eagle and the falcon I adopted the hummingbird as my guide as well. It is less serious and more joyful as a symbol of love, happiness and endurance. I want to be like that! It’s why I love this movie Big Fish, Mario showed me in Italy. Full of imagination, which makes life so beautiful 😀 And why I am so much in love with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty and pleasure. She is identified with planet Venus which is usually the first star you see in the night sky and which is the only planet in our solar system orbiting the other way around, sing with me: ‘isn’t she lovely?’ 😀

So the hummingbird… as a messenger of hope and jubilation, it is teaching me to not take life too seriously, for it is meant to be enjoyed! It teaches me that seemingly small ideas and concepts often possess a lot of potential and power and that my flighty thoughts and frivolous ideas have merit and should be explored. It teaches me that I should pursue my dreams and make them a reality, while inspiring others in need of inspiration and renewal to bring forth the best in them. Isn’t that a great guide to take with me? Don’t you ever think of leaving me, Mr. Hummingbird, I need you, the world needs you!

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Climbing Tasmania

So after this little sidetrack, Mark’s old car (we called her Granny) managed to bring us over some offroad tracks, where we frequently had to get out to be able to make it to this great campingspot where apparently all the climbers go. And when I say all the climbers.. well, there were only a few others and while climbing we only once met another couple climbing. It’s not Europe 😉 We were held company though by the cutest little kangaroos
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and the not so cute jumping jacks and bull ants, which hurt a lot when they get you and they’re not afraid to fight!

Other wildlife we got to enjoy were these babies
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And… Oh my… Abaloney, oh my, aaaaaaaaaabaloney! Damn baby 😀
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Mark would go diving to get us abaloney for dinner every day, so incredibly delicious! Too bad for Chris that he apparently is allergic to it (we found out the hard way..). Was a bit scary when he got hives all over and his throat was closing up on him during the night, being far away from any kind of village or city. We managed though with some antihistamines and I kept a close look on him until the symptoms started to decrease. I sacrificed myself to eat his portion from then on 😉

 

So we went rockclimbing. Obviously in Holland we have no mountains. At all. It’s so sad.. I went to the indoor climbing gym many times and had been climbing outdoors only a couple of times, but was fairly inexperienced. I appreciate Mark, Matt and Chris so much to take me on this trip, where I found out that outdoor rock climbing is fantastic! It’s amazing! It’s beautiful! It’s a great way to enjoy the beautiful nature, a lot of fun and very satisfying. I wanna keep doing this J Obviously I was unskilled to leadclimb any routes, so I would follow and was able to climb around rates 16-18. I was not disappointed with that and ready to improve my skills and one day climb ‘The Nose’ on El Capitan in Yosemite Park (seen the movie ‘Valley uprising’? Beautiful). I just love heights. I don’t know why. It relates to my fascination with birds and the fact that getting my skydiving licence is maybe the most enjoyable selfish thing I did. So the higher the climb, the better! And we climbed some beautiful routes with overhanging rocks, where you see the waves coming in just under your feet. Absolutely loving it. The granite sea cliffs were our best friends for a couple of days. I felt like a little kid again 😉 (more than usual :p)
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There was this overhanging boulder perfect to jump from,
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but when Mark and Chris jumped it, unfortunately Mark broke his back! Holyshit! We got him to a hospital, there was nothing they could do and we still climbed the rest of the trip, Mark was just taking it a bit more easy, such a hero. Mister Hero was also the one that gave me my Australian nickname I still carry: TimTam. TimTam is Australia’s favourite chocolate biscuit, tastes horrible but somehow very popular and is offered to me everywhere I go. I like the name though, I’m keeping it. Somehow Tamar is always a bit difficult (even though there is a Tamar valley and river in Taz!) and I used to travel as Lisa through China and Colombia, but TimTam is nice for now J

 

We dropped Mark in Hobart, where he was attending a folk festival (very nice) and I spent some time at the conservation volunteering office, before the three of us headed off to climb the organ pipes. The vertical dolorite (typically in columns) feels pretty serious, since there is some loose rock and a great amount of exposure while we were overlooking the city (1000m elevation), wow! Beautiful days up on the crags, with only the sound of birds and the wind accompanying us. I was imaging it would be a great place to live as an eagle, maybe I will one day..

After asking around a bit, we decided to just sleep in the park. Many parks have electrical hot plates, very convenient, so we cooked on them and enjoyed the night with our new nervous friend Ben from France. The first night was very nice, sleeping under the stars without a tent. The second night, though, we were awakened by the rain. Shit! And then it stopped again, and started again, such strange rain in Taz. It took me some time to realise what was going on, get out of my sleeping bag and start moving. By that time the sprinklers (hahahaha!) had gotten us fully soaked. So funny!!

 

In the morning we picked up Mark from the festival and made our way to the Tasmanian Peninsula, with the most stunning coastal scenery, home to a wide range of land and marine animals, fascinating rock formations and some of the highest and most spectacular sea cliffs in Australia, damn.

We wildcamped at Dorgbark Road,
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which was funny, since at night I found Matt nervously wandering around his tent when dogs were barking in proximity to our camping spot. In the morning we drove to the most beautiful beach (I keep thinking this every time we find a beach, they really are stunning),
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and hiked for 1,5 hours through beautiful forests along the coastline,
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before ascending down the cliffs to get to these awesome pillars!
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Except from Chris, our pro-climber, we were all pillar virgins, how exciting! And we conquered the damn thing 😀 Incredibly windy and cold, but so cool and blissful! The feeling of getting your feet on the top and enjoying the surroundings from there, wow. I can’t describe it.. This is from up top:
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We were there only two days though, since we were heading for our final climbing spot: Ben Lomond. It was too rough on the seaside so we first hiked up Mount Brown to enjoy these stunning views.
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And this is Ben Lomond:
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At an elevation of at least 1300 meters, the crags at Ben Lomond are mostly jamming cracks (Chris taught me how to do that). We spent the nights in this little cabin with some other climbers. Unfortunately by now, my knee injury had gotten pretty bad and I wasn’t able to climb with the guys. It took a good amount of scrambling up on these rocks to get to the crags and my knee was just wobbling around and swelling up like a balloon.
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I was so frustrated and disappointed! This was my chance to climb and my body gave up on me. How many times in my life did I wish to just be a soul without a body, my body was holding me back from the thousand things my soul and mind wanted to do. For instance the fact that we actually do need sleep often annoys me. Haha but don’t worry, I have made peace with my body and enjoy having it 🙂 So I just have to take real good care of it. I scrambled very slowly up to the summit of the mountain and found myself in this beautiful flat land with the best diverse odours surrounding me, occasionally disturbed by some kangaroos hopping by.
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I also walked my way to the other side where the ski resort is located,
while seeing my first snake! Beautiful creatures, I love them 😀 I listened to Joshua Slocum’s memoires about his journey as the first person to sail around the world alone in the late 19th century. Audiobooks are the way to go for me 😀 So, as a good stay at home wife I cooked the guys dinner in the little cabin, where we played cards and celebrated a beautiful holiday together out in nature. So, so very much appreciated guys!

 

Time to head back to the northern beaches to look after the homestead while the owners would go on holidays to Japan for a month…

Short home visit..

So I went home. I left behind eigth months of fantastic adventure, an introduction to my new free life, and was about to face my old life again. I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for it. To be honest, the only reason I was going home was to see my family and friends, which I preferably would have met some place else in the world. It was really though on me, I spent a lot of time feeling uncomfortable and even crying by the thought of going home.. I wonder why it was so though on me. I guess I realize I should have ventured on this journey way earlier, if not in real live, then in my mind. I realize I didn’t question the ethics of my previous decisions enough and didn’t realize how easy it is to change life paths, both physical (the rest of the world is just around the corner!) and mentally. I realize my old life wasn’t satisfying enough. In terms of doing the right thing, in taking care of the earth, of other people and of myself. Even though at the time I thought it did and I did what I could with the knowledge I had. No regrets. But going back is not an option. I learned so much about the world and myself that I would do things completely different from now on. I guess I’m scared to be sucked into old habits, feel the pressure of expectations of old friends and acquaintances, the pressure tob e sucked back into an established lifestyle I dont want anymore, feel the pressure of consumerism and egocentrism of the western world, don’t know how to handle the overwhelming amount of impulses from an overcrowded part of Holland with lack of nature to quietly retreat to.

But it was time. Time to face my fears and learn from them. Fear of not being able to connect to my friends anymore, not being able to describe what I experienced and how it changed me and my views, fear of not belonging anymore, feeling the ground under my feet on which I always stood so firm slowly crumble away untill I’m floating in thin air. I was scared, and it was painful in some ways but at the same time I enjoyed it too, because it gave me more incentive to go and find out what it is I DO want in life.

It started when I got on the airplane and this way-too-fancy pretty boy (the stewart) spent almost all the flight trying to sell us horrible things like scratch cards (weren’t you always dreaming of that beautiful new car?), expensive perfumes (yak) and unhealthy snacks full of sugar, chemicals and preservatives (can’t really call it food). We landed in a grey and rainy ugly Eindhoven where I luckily was welcomed by my beautiful friend Anne 😀 I was very happy to see her again after I last saw her when we were cycling through Bosnia together. She is awesome and we enjoyed long walks, some climbing

imageand lots of catching up 🙂 She’s on a very different life path (just bought a house with her boyfriend and discussing whether to chop down the tree in the garden and have a bird folliere), but is always very open to others views and opinions and it felt like a safe environment to start my return, a little breath of air. I spent the night, like I had done so many times in the past, before we parted and I was about to go home, to finally see my dad again, who I have missed so incredibly much.

I was excited, but scared and sad at the same time. So very happy to be able to spend real time with him again and at the same time painful for realizing I couldn’t stay. I was scared not to be able to leave him again once I would see him in real life. He means so much to me. While I am living a life now I can never really make him part of, I intensly hold on to the strong mental connection we have and send him all the love I can send him. I am on the verge of giving up my whole journey just to be around him and it hurts me that my path is not in more physical proximity to him.

It was time for hugs!! Many many hugs had to be given!! I jumped in the car (I dont like these boxes) and drove through heavy rain on busy Dutch highways (so sad) northly. First stop: daddy! I had been quite vague to most people about when exactly I would arrive back home, beacuse I wanted to spend time with my dad first, before everybody would come knocking on my door. The first day together we went for a walk in the dunes where all of a sudden I heared someone screaming my name! Damn! It was Janneke 😀 She was running there and recognized my bright pink hat. I love her so much and was so happy to see her there! That morning me and my dad were discussing where to go for a walk and initially thought of another round but changed our minds last minute.. was it a meant to be?

That day crazy things kept happening. I had told my friend Erwin who doesn’t live too close to Haarlem I would be there that day so we could meet and when I picked him up at a cafe to have a drink with Janneke as well, there was my friend Mariska sitting right there in the cafe, busted! :p (later I visited her at home :)). That night my tango orchestra was playing a quite exciting concert (accompanied by dancers!) and I arranged with my good friend Floor that I could at least join for the repetition to play my saxophone again. I ended up playing the concert though, sweet!

imageIt was so nice to join them again and play these beautiful songs I strangely enough still remembered pretty well. After the concert I caught up with some friends who came to watch us play (including Maarten) and hurried up to the next party. My friend Rosaly (awesome chick!) was celebrating a goodbye party because she was about to travel to the Phillipines for half a year to join a fantastic project on marine rehabilitation. She didn’t expect me to be there and my welcome was hilarious. I was very excited and a bit scared to walk in the room, Eva acted like she saw a ghost and there was lots of disbelieve, hugging and crying and smiling and jumping and and and.. aaaahhhhhhh . Writing about this two months later the tears still fill up my eyes and the excitement still raises my heartbeat. It was so good to see them again 😀 I love these girls so much. Rosaly, Janneke, Eva and me know each other from girlscouts. We are all very different but so close. That will never change. Even though I changed. Turned out i didn’t need to be scared of that.

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The next weeks were packed. I arrived home in a world where little had changed, even though I felt I changed so much.. hoping to become more like this girl one day :p

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Just kidding, but she’s beautiful…

After the initial trying to explain and tell about my experiences I soon stopped trying and just enjoyed the love of my family and friends, which had not changed. Even though I felt like living in another world, the love was still there and I just sat and smiled. I am no evangelist, I have no desire to convince anybody and don’t judge anybody who chooses to live differently , I am on a journey for me, only me, to support my own decisions. And I am very grateful to have the opportunity to experience this. Whoever is interested is welcome to ask and I will be very happy to have deep long discussions (preferably outside and under the stars :)). But if not, that’s fine as well. I enjoyed the warm company of these beautiful people and realized once again how lucky I am to know them.

At the same time I was a bit sad though when I couldn’t find anyone willing to join me on a wild food foraging trip, planting trees in the first dutch edible forest, visit this ecovillage or visit Haarlem’s first permaculture garden. Only my dad seemed to be slightly interested to join me so I dragged him along to visit some people who are starting up permaculture gardens. My dad and I tried to find time to go out walking as much as we could while discussing everything I learned and experienced and I was so so happy to have these long deep talks with him again, like we always used to. We walked on the beach, we visited some exhibition about the future of food (apparantly cheese is very very bad for the planet, damn!),

imagecooked together,

imagelistened to classical music in silence and dark, went to a beautiful concert in ’t Mosterzaadje where I once as a little girl performed on the piano, basically I just tried to be around him as much as I could. We also went for a walk on the beach, where some stranger saw us and thought it was worth taking a picture of, what a great man!

strand papa.jpgNot enough though. I (mis)used the time in Holland to work at the cheese shop to make some money. During Sinterklaas-time, yeay 🙂

imageMaking lots of Christmas presents..

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Together with seeing some of my best friends time passed way too quick.

I was very lucky that my good friend Michael was in Holland at the time (he had just moved to India),

imageI enjoyed spending a weekend over at Erwin and Carla’s, and we enjoye another day at the beach,

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I got to play another show with my tango orchestra

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and I payed a visit to my former colleagues from the police. I went back south to visit Anne again, and this time my beautiful Belgian friend Ricardo came up to join us as well 🙂 And we enjoyed some Duvel beers like we used too 😀

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At the vegan cafe I took them they had this great concept where you could pay for a coffee for someone else to take who doesn’t have enough money.

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Ricardo bought some ❤ I know this system from the states where homeless people are helped out this way. Fantastic! Not sure it works here though, stacked in the back of an expensive vegan restaurant, but still. Good job Ricardo, you’re a hero!

I enjoyed seeing my brother and sister, even though I felt there was way too little time to really show them I love them. It was great to take my brother to the climbing gym and hope we can do that again on some real stuff outdoors one day. On our birthday we just had a nice quiet family dinner, perfect to me 🙂

I played around with the idea that I might spend more time in Holland next time I visit and how I would use this time to get involved with some of the refugee programs, I would volunteer at the permaculture garden in Purmerend working with mentally disabled (beautiful project!), engage in dumpster diving (big supermarkets throw out so much good food), cook nutritious food for the homeless, help out at the community gardens etc. Many opportunities and ideas to make my life fulfilling and giving.

I read some beautiful quotes lately, which are very inspiring and a good guideline to find my way:

‘You have a magnificent contribution to make to the more beautiful world your heart knows is possible. It may not make you famous, but you have an important gift, an indispensable gift, and it demands you to apply it to something you care about. Unless you do, you will feel like you aren’t really living your life. You will live the life someone pays you to live, caring about things you are paid to care about. You can make a different choice. […]

The most reliable guide to choice is to follow whatever makes you feel happy and excited to get out of bed in the morning. Life is not supposed to be a grim slog of discipline and sacrifice. You practiced for such a life in school, tearing yourself out of bed for days of tedium, bribed with trivial rewards called grades, intimidated by artificial consequences, proceeding through a curriculum designed by faraway authorities, asking permission to use the toilet. It is time to undo those habits. Let your compass instead be joy, love, and whatever makes you feel alive. […]

At a certain moment it will become necessary for you to go on a journey. It isn’t to escape forever. It is to find yourself outside of whomever your conditioning trained you to be. You must put yourself in a situation where you don’t know who you are anymore. This is called an initiation. Who you were becomes inoperative; then, who you will be can emerge. […] On this path, you are sure to get lost. You’ll despair of finding the answer – and then the answer will find you. Breakdown clears the space for synchronicity, for help unimagined and unearned. None of this advice can be sustainably implemented by a heroic effort on your part. You need help. Seek out other people who reinforce your perception that a more beautiful world is possible, and that life’s first priority is not security, but rather to give of your gifts, to play, to love and be loved, to learn, to explore.’

(http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/a-letter-to-my-younger-self/)

Im slowly getting closer to breakdown, to feeling completely lost and gave up on trying to find an answer. I’ll ride this wave of life and see where the wind blows me, while I always keep questioning myself. And I love, and I laugh, and I enjoy, and I learn and I explore and I love some more, trying to give where I can.

Being back home just hit me in the face with a sort of reality check, social and economic pressure, fast pace and consumerism. It was hard to balance out with my newfound tranquility. Somehow it is much easier to deal with these live questions when you are on the road, experiencing much more freedom (even though I should learn to feel the freedom anywhere anytime, it is in your mind..). There was no time to crystalize all these thoughts out though, the three weeks were over before I knew it and I didn’t even had had the time to see everyone I wanted to see. But my ticket was booked and I was on my way to Australia, off to new adventures!

It took me a couple interesting days to get to the land down under. First I flew to Istanbul (unexpectedly ended up in first class, woohoo)
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I picked up my bicycle, my guitar and my stuff
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and was very lucky that my friends Katie and Mehmet were back in Istanbul at the time!
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Katie met me at the Greenpeace wearhouse, where I had stored everything thanks to my host Ozay, and we spend the day together: cooking, drinks, strolling around, it was fantastic! She was still vilting and made these fantastic earmuffs,
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aren’t they great?! Haha so funny. Katie and me have a strong sisterconnection established through some funny crazy adventures and I am sure we will meet again. I am very grateful for this reconnection in Istanbul, it was perfect 🙂

 

I went to the airport late that night, still unsure if I would pull it off to bring my bicycle and my guitar on the plane, but it worked out! I wrapped the bicycle in plastic
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and just carried the guitar on. Apparently it was allowed.. On the long flight I watched a couple of great documentaries (including Back to Eden) and read the classic One Straw Revolution. I had two stopovers in China, where the longest (10 hours) was in Ghuangzhou. Wasn’t I lucky!! Yoohoo 😀 I had been in Ghuanzhou the same time three years ago and visited my friend Thomas, who still lives there, yeay! It was perfect: he was free for work (jazz musician) and picked me up from the airport to go out all night.
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It was so nice to see him again, see his new appartment, meet ‘Poes’ (the cat I keep reading about in his e-mails), go see some bands, drink some beers, enjoy the midnight street barbecues like we used to and be happy together :p Thomas arranged me a taxi to the airport and I was on my way again, to have the next reunion. With Chris. In Sydney… ‘Hey mate!’.

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