Archive for February, 2009

Home: Retrospect

My stuff is unpacked, and I am picking up my life again in the sense that I’ve now spent 2 days in front of my computer. Ahhh laziness how much I missed you.

I am glad to be home, I honestly am. I usually go through a bit of a rut when I come home from holidays. This whole ugly country can burn for all I care, and all I want is to leave again. But not this time. I had enough of travelling for now. It’s quite an exciting feeling, the urge to resume life where I left it behind and moving on. Now that accommodation, food and income are pretty secure again, I may be able to spend this new-found energy on other things, like working on my house a little. I already fixed the light in the bathroom, next on the list is the leaking tap and then maybe see what I can do about the drafty wall. In many ways this place is quite shabby, but what can I say. It’s mine. My little house. Shabby, like me.

 

The trip was, in more ways than one, a complete failure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single thing about it, but I might have handled things differently if I had knows how they would go. The point was to make myself open up to strangers, and that didn’t go anywhere at all. I was supposed to be free of hesitation in a place where no one knew me, instead I still remained my timid self. Countless times I went out to to the city, which ever it was, to get among people. And with only a few exceptions, I only managed to make myself miserable as I wandered on, with nothing to say to any of a world full of beautiful people. That’s the thing, you see. I’m not one of them.

In another sense, I accomplished things I didn’t think I’d be able to. From facing challenges to failing them without taking it personal, I surprised myself on several occasions. And along the way, much to my relief, I was able to get my ex out of my head. Ironically, occupied with a dozen things at once, finally I got some peace of mind.

Yes, my ex… The prime reason I needed to get out. Even as the trip had been planned as much as I would allow it to be, it continued to tear at me. Just seeing her with others turned the knife. I remember sitting in a car in Ireland, having mentioned her casually in a conversation with my driver. Staring out the passenger window (To my left, which was weird) I couldn’t help but wonder what she would be doing. I tried to figure out if she would be thinking of me as well, and if so, why at this particular time. Leave it to me to overthink any casual thought of the moment. I hoped that she did, sometimes, and that she missed me. That she had an equally hard time to get over me, and that she still had that same tendency to stay true to me, even after all this time.

And then it hit me, like a train. She did not. She had lost all this before we even broke up. She cheated on me. She cheated me. Lied to me, when I was on my knees. Kicked me when I was down. And then told me to forgive her. She didn’t ask me, she told me to. Saying it was her right to explain the details I didn’t want to hear.
She betrayed me and the seven year old trust that I found evident to be holy, unbreakable.

 

I cried on this trip. Like a girl. Several times. Not once was I alone, but no one noticed, thank Maynard. Because they were asleep, or simply because it was pouring rain. If a tree falls in the forest…
I cried because I knew that what I was doing, was irreversible. Things would never be the same again. I’ve been in this kind of situation before, but always I felt that the solution, her love, was right around the corner. And time and time again I was proven right. And that’s why it hurt so badly, now that things were different.

It’s the reconstruction of a soul
And that’s why it hurts.

-Travel log

The only way was forward, and now that I was walking away in the literal sense as well as the figurative, I could feel myself die with each step. This knowledge, this trust, was part of my foundation. And now I’m constantly figuring out ways to remove it, like a tumor from a… tit. I dunno.
If there is one song that reminds me of her, it’s "Love Song" by The Cure. It’s a farewell song, and I connected it with our relationship because in a sense, I always knew it would end one way or the other. We were just too different, but today I loved her, and that was all that mattered to me. So now I’m listening to this song, again and again. Until the ties are broken and I can move on without cracking every time someone feels like listening to it.

It’s a damn fucking shame, I know. We’re all so eager to believe that love conquers all. But seriously. Honestly. I’ve fucking HAD IT. I’m DONE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

 

I always believed that she is the reason that I don’t want to talk to strangers. I grew up with her by my side, and often enough she was all that I needed to get by. She was my conscience, libido and common sense. What more does a man need? I concluded this long ago and until recently, I had assumed it quite self-evident. But I’m not so sure of it anymore, today.

Talking to strangers is one thing, but I also have the tendency to keep friends at a safe distance. They check the skies for flying pigs if I ever call them, and I have a (short) line of girls that I sent walking after they suggested they actually liked me. Could all this be from the same source? I’m beginning to doubt it, it seems illogical to me. I’ve had a much harder time breaking through this pattern than I anticipated, I’ve begun to believe that it’s something rooted deeper than I originally assumed.

Could it have to do with my mother? Did I have this behavior before she passed away? I… don’t think I respond differently to maternal figures, even though they’re quite obvious when I encounter them since they trigger very different feelings.

This bugs me terribly. It’s one of my most defining character traits and I don’t even know where it comes from. I suppose a psychologist might be able to tell me, but it might actually be a while until I beat it out of them. They have this annoying tendency to tell you shit you didn’t ask for. Tsh. Amateurs.

 

Alright now, let’s talk positive. Let’s get a few things straight: I am thrilled that I did this. It wasn’t quite what I hoped it to be, but still exactly what I needed. The difference in life energy today compared to new years is "sky broad" as they say here. Day and night difference.

My logs may have given a different impression, and for that I apologize. Yes obviously I enjoyed my time where ever, but face it. You really don’t want me going "Holy shit it’s so nice here and the people are so nice and there’s mountains here which is nice and nice and… shit nice and fuck and and" Fuck that. It’s not about peaks or valleys in mood, it’s about the difference of such. Even at a constant high, you’ll have ruts and ditches. And in my opinion, they’re just as important to spot as high points in troubled times. That is to say, objectively they are. Didn’t I promise myself to focus on positive things? Well the weather is nice today. It’s not raining. That’s nice.

One of the major contrasts between now and then is my attitude. This is to be my very last griping session, from here on I’m moving on like I did physically. One step at the time, but always walking. Always.
I finally got the chance to make this decision. On several occasions I broke down and thought I was better off going home and getting back in touch with my ex. Things were easy back then. It never lasted longer than a few seconds. In between those moments, I finally got the priceless opportunity to see things clearly for a little while, able to step back and get a more objective standpoint. And getting back together is not an option. Not because that’s how things are, but because that’s what I decided. From this day on, I decide. I determine what road to take, and I chose solitude- for now. Knowing that I could handle it. I started this trip, and I will finish it. I’m done being the victim of the situation. It’s no longer just how things out, from now on it’s how I decided things to be. I could have made a different choice, but I didn’t. No more blaming her. No more blaming that little fuck for my miserable life.
Bear in mind though, that I will still fuck him up if I ever run into him. Bad. If you know this little bastard, and some of you might, tell him to stay away.

 

 

So here I am, 2009 and a new beginning. Hardly any coherent new years resolutions other than "rebirth" which I promise myself every damn time. Drivers licence, maybe, so I can get that crew chief position and boss around people easily twice my age. Fix the tap. And the wall. Find a girlfriend. Be happy again. Be happy again.
Be happy again.


Gent: Home

Just as I got used to qwerty keyboards.

The trip’s over, I am home again. It may seem as somewhat of an anticlimax, but that’s not how I feel. Distance, time, quantity, it all mattered very little to begin with so none of them would have led to some climax to satisfy your voyeuristic needs.

What can I say? I was ready to go home. I was satisfied. There’s no longing to go back, or upwelling hate for my own country. I got back just in time, I think. Done and hoping to pick up where I left off as soon as possible.

I will keep writing, as I have done for years, but I don’t expect to keep many readers. I never started with that intent to begin with, the point was to keep something for myself to retrace. To map the changes that shape who I am today so I know where I came from, and who knows, be able to go back.
I’m going to digest this whole thing a little and try and reach some conclusion or other, over analyzing like I tend to. It’s not going to be pretty though, so if you were going to tune out, now’s your chance.
Kindly fuck off.

But here’s the intel on the last couple days.

 

As stated before, I was going to hitch a ride with a truck driver, going all the way from Stavanger to Paris. It sounded too good to be true, so nonetheless I half-assed planned getting there the way I had gotten around; hitching, bumming and cussing. All in all, I still didn’t expect to get home before the end of the month.

And I was right, at least in part. I had to get up early to catch my ride, some Dutch driver transporting microwave dinners. That is to say, to sit there and wait until he got his rig back from the shop. Something off with the balancing mechanism. He tried to explain but succeeded only in making me go "Wow this thing is more complicated than I thought. Durrr."

BUT in the end, around 11am, two hours behind schedule, we were off. It took me about 20 minutes in the cockpit (or whatever it’s called, Durr) to conclude that this man had a screw or two loose. He went on and on about the shit he stole, the whores he did and the employers he mouthed off to. He was an alright guy, he was just so full of talk it was hard to distinguish truth from fantasy or wet dream, accordingly. And during this rambling, he shared with me how he reacted when he was asked if he could have a hitch-hiker.

"This isn’t a taxi, I told him! I said, things would be different if he was a girl, but I’m not letting some guy sleep with me! I’m not a fucking homo! But when he said it was just to Oslo, I told him okay."

A few moments of silence followed. Just to Oslo. Well, shit. In my mind I began going through the same routine again: Internet connection, accommodation, means and direction of travel. To make matters worse, we weren’t expected to arrive in Oslo before 11pm. And thinking like that, I noticed how tired I had gotten of it. So far there had always been something I was able to come up with, but this constant nagging feeling when you don’t know where to sleep tonight, was getting old.

But at this point, my driver showed himself surprisingly helpful. Even though he had just virtually kicked me out of his truck, he began making calls without me even asking. While I was making arrangements to find a place to sleep, he phoned up his colleagues to figure out who else would be spending the night there and which way they were going. 5 different people, but only the last was both able and willing to take me in. As long as I wouldn’t be sleeping over.

I lucked out, second time in a row. He would be going to the Belgian coast and on to Paris from there, so I had but to pick my destination.
There was this woman in Germany that I wanted to meet, one of the coders of the game I am staff for, but at the last moment she seemed to have changed her mind. So sick of wandering, I figured I might as well jump out in Antwerp, stay with a friend, and go home the next day. But as it turned out he wouldn’t be home until late at night and we would be passing 30km from Gent, the choice seemed obvious. And for once, the obvious is what I went with. After hitching one more ride, I was home.

I let my friends stay at my place while I was gone, and I scared the hell out of them barging in like I did. This had been their little love nest for the past months, perhaps that is why they are now scrambling to move out like kids caught with their hands in a cookie (heh) jar, despite me insisting they take their time. I’ll be sad to see them leave. More time on my own isn’t what I came back for, but of course that’s my problem to solve, not theirs. And solve it I will – eventually.

 

For the last time, ladies and gents.
Map.
Pictures will disappear in a few weeks, I am taking them off. If you want them, let me know and we can work something out. I may put the best online at some point. Unlikely. Get ’em while they’re hot!


Stavanger: Snowblind

17th of February. A date like any other that serves as opening for a blog entry just as well as a pick-up line. But fuck you anyway. Heh. I said buttfuck.

 

I didn’t make it. Preikestolen. Not even halfway. And though I was going in the right direction, I wasn’t aware.

With about ten centimeter of snow, the path had vanished altogether. The only thing I could count on were the footsteps of those before me. Or, so I thought.
I set off quite well. I was surprised with how difficult the initial climb was, trampled powder snow really can be slippery; not to mention the small streams that lay frozen and hidden under snow. But, I can handle difficult. I enjoy it. It make me pick up the pace and find all the more satisfaction in reaching the top.

Howver, when the foot trail suddenly splits in three seperate ways, there’s just no way to tell which direction is yours. There were markings but they too were either covered by snow, or simply not there. Obviously, the path itself did not split and should be quite obvious, making signalling obsolete. I on the other hand, was left in the dark. I tried going straight ahead first, but that led to an area of huge boulders on the steep side of a mountain. I probably wouldn’t have stopped there, if it wasn’t for the snow and ice making the climb pure suicide. I was alone, and although I tend to push the line of the outright stupid from time to time, this was a little too far. Quite possibly the only hiker on the hill that day and without cell phone reception, I would be downright fucked if I got myself into trouble.

I explored all three options for a few hundred meters, but there wasn’t a sign in sight. I did however, spot a path higher up the rocks that lead over the saddle and out of sight. So I figured I needed to go up and between peaks, instead of around them. I picked the most logical path that turned away and up the slope, and went on my less than merry way.
It fucking vanished on me. It simply faded to a white carpet with bushes underneath, making me sink in up to my knees and more. Imagine having to go up a mountain through that shit. But that’s what I did: I knew the trail ran above me, and after about an hour of struggling I found it. Patting myself on the back, I looked left and right… seeing the side that I thought was right do down before curving behind the wall. But, if the trail turns on itself twice to end up higher on the mountain, it makes a sort of S shape, no? Maybe I had gotten to the center of that figure and I should be going left in order to end up going right.

I lost precious time with situations like this. I had no map, and my compass couldn’t tell me anything new since I knew which direction the fjord was. The sketch given on the start (the picture from last entry) was too simple to be of any value, even though I had memorized it well. I lost my way a second time, ending up in even more misery. I had to cross an area of large boulders, visible only as mounds in the snow. I had to jump from one to the next, hoping that there was indeed a rock underneath and not a bush, making me sink to my hips in snow- again. If I missed, I risked getting my foot stuck in the holes between the rock, which I did more than once, or worse.

I eventually found a sound path again, but I didn’t know it it was the right one. I had stumbled across so many different branches of the same trail that I had become convinced that there were in fact several, for some goddamn reason all using the same signs. The fact that every in-between area was indicated, but Pulpit Rock itself was not, only aided in making that crucial mistake. I was never sure of myself, wasting lots of time with looking for alternatives.

After yet another dead end on a raised location, I stopped and assessed te situation.
I had no idea where I was. I was convinced that the path I was taking was the wrong one, and might as well lead me away from my goal- although that was unlikely as I had walked parallel to the fjord, which has Pulpit Rock by its coast. I figured I had simply walked past it.
I didn’t know how to get back. Reversing was no option. It was getting late and if I kept going, I would risk having to walk in the dark, something I wanted to avoid at all cost.
It stung, but I had to go back. To be safe, of all things. Luckily I hadn’t started this with the peak in mind, but simply out to get a nice view. And I got plenty of those. I tried to take pictures but really, I ended up deleting most of them frustratedly as they simply would not do.

So, maybe next time. I know now where I went wrong and I would try again, if it wasn’t for the fact that my friend has to entertain herself in the local village in the mean time. Whether she insists that she doesn’t mind or not, I’m not going to put her through that twice in a row, possibly even more since I still haven’t gotten to the second half yet.

 

February is almost coming to an end. And here I was wondering after five days how I was going to last another week, let alone two months.
Now that I can put things into perspective, looking back, I’m thinking it’s about time to head home. My bank account is telling me the same thing: I reached the yellow zone. As I suspected, bills and rent are quickly draining it now that any income has run dry. I’m okay now but I do have the future to think about. If I run dry before coming home, I’ll be in serious shit the next month.

But, I lucked out this time. I’ve been mentioning this to the people here and they were so kind to ask around with their friends and relatives, and so on. And it so turns out, that the colleague of the brother of my friend’s mother [sic], a truck driver, is headed to Paris straight from my current doorstep. What’s more, he’s Dutch.
In other words, I can sort of pick any location, including my own home town, between Oslo and Paris, and be taken there. For free. By a fucking truck. Just how awesome is that?

The details will be known tomorrow, wednesday, and we’ll be heading out on friday 20th. But where to?
I can’t help but find it a bit of an anticlimax to just be dropped off in my home town. It sort of goes against the point of this whole trip (whatever that may be) and there were cities along the way I was hoping to visit. People, too: Although the girl I met in Dublin may be a little too much out of the way, there’s someome else I was hoping to see there, as well, who lives in the town where Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany come together. However Germany is huge, and even if he would, I am not going to ask my driver to take a detour. This means, that after being dropped off, I may very well have a few days worth of travelling ahead before even getting there.

All this assuming that things go according to plan, and if I’ll be welcome there. I dropped her a note so we’ll know soon enough.

 

My time spent here in Stavanger has been focused almost entirely on the people here rather than the town itself. In other words, I can’t be bothered with getting off my lazy ass and swithing off the X-box. Fallout 3 just sucks you in like um… Yeah. My character has turned into this evil opportunist despite my efforts towards behaving a little. Of course, first thing I did upon escaping the vault was blow up an entire town, residents and everything, and then proceed to murder the survivors in cold blood. I can honestly say I felt kind of bad about it for a few moments.

I’ve been catching up on my Norwegian. If I concentrate (quite a feat for me) I can make out the gist of a conversation, and occasionally even understand full sentences. Many words are very similar to Dutch and English, but often a word will sound the same while meaning something completely different, so it takes a little while before you catch on. I think I’m getting close to three months of combined time in Norway so it’s about time. I refrain from speaking though, until I get the hang of the vocabulary, with the exception of things like "Nei, takk" when asked if I want a receipt. Often I will understand something said to be by someone unaware, but have no response other than a stupid grin.

I don’t want to be seen as a tourist. It’s exactly what I am, but the very term shows a certain degree of disrespect towards the locals.
Just passing by to stare at your stuff, never mind me. I do not intend to understand your culture in-depth, just the most spectacular parts, and I won’t bother with your language any more than what serves as personal amusement. Can you say something with an ‘Å’ in it please? I’ll pay you for it.
That’s what a tourist is to me, and it’s the last thing I want people to assume about me. It’s a paradox I have to deal with every time I go abroad. I want to look beyond the tourist traps, and see what makes the locals tick. But most often I simply don’t have the time for that, so in the end I will leave again without any decent effort spent on either. It can make me a pretty boring travel companion, I suppose. But the reward when succeeding is all the greater, Liverpool being the perfect example where I actually managed both.

 

So next thing to figure out is where to go next.
I’ll let you know when I get there, I suppose.


Stavanger: Nørge

9th of February. At ease, Private. And yes, I know I misspelled Norge.

Maarten is a clever, thoughtful, insightful and kind person. His profile suggests that he can be a little strange at times, but I found him to be open, honest and without pretence. I can tell there are some sad moments in Maarten’s life, but he looks forward not back, and I found him to be a positive person. As a guest, he is interesting, knowledgeable, funny and articulate. I’d like to know how Maarten’s journey goes, and I hope it goes well. Good luck Maarten, and keep in touch. You are welcome here any time.

This kind of comments on my couchsurfing escapades make my day. Really. I know I will leave an impression of some sort or other when I enter people’s homes and although I hope for the best, I never really know what it is. In case you’re wondering, this "suggestion" in my profile is something I put in there myself, because I realize that my tendency towards the sometimes outright bizarre can rub off on me now and then. The very things that I enjoy, are corrosive to my confidence towards others. It’s something we all share; to a degree we are dependant on what others think of us.

That is why feedback is always appreciated. Positive or negative matters little, as long as it’s constructive and give me the chance to improve myself some way or other. And the building of confidence where you lack it is as good as it gets.

So far I’ve had nine comments, one of which is from a personal friend (thus valued all the more) and all are positive. Granted, you’d have to try hard to get negative feedback but some, like the above, go into detail and basically explain your good sides to yourself, and those interested enough to check those- like I tend to.
I suppose I can add this to the many things I want to thank this man for. He really was the ideal host and I hope I made that very clear when I put my feedback on his profile.

Or how a system designed for safety can be used as ego booster.

 

I jumped the north sea Friday the 6th, landing minutes away from my next stop and my current location: With a friend who I’ve known for years now.
It’s strange, it only seems like yesterday when I first stepped into her car, too tired to even notice the awkward silence. She was so friendly to drop me off a fjord down the coast and I walked my way back, taking me a couple days and returning just in time to celebrate new years with her. Good times.

It’s… a haven, for me. My home away from home, exactly what I needed at a time like this. And the warm person that she is, she has offered me to stay as long as I need or want. I’ll need a few days to figure that out, to begin with.
I love being here. Familiar faces, voices,… New ones too, of course. Among them, the first Belgian I (knowingly) met in a month. He’s from Antwerp so his accent is entirely different from mine, but it was a delight being able to have a decent conversation in Dutch again. And for once I could get back at the locals, speaking a language that no one else understands a word of.

However I have to be fair, Norwegians speak English as though they invented it. Even amongst themselves, to include me. I’m rather jealous of their accent. They seem to be ahead on us southerners on many subjects for that matter, I could only agree wholeheartedly with my Flemish colleague when he said that his heart broke when he went back home after a month here. However contrary to him, I didn’t get me a ride back to come live here permanently. Why not? Because I had a girlfriend at the time.

Times have changed now, and here I am again. Still loving this country, and its citizens perhaps even more.
So why not choose to stay? I don’t know. Or perhaps I do: I love my city, just as well. I love my job there. My friends. Everything but the rotten spot that drove me away – Ironically the exact thing that drew me back years ago. And personal change was long overdue anyway so if you do the math… It’s just not worth the trouble. Maybe someday, when I get tired of sunshine and the scales finally tip. But not today.

 

I was counting on making it back home by March but it’s becoming more and more evident that I’m not going to make it. I think it’s more plausible that I’ll be back closer to April, and that is if everything still goes according to the hardly existent schedule. But I did mention this in the very beginning, and I’ll say it again: Don’t wait up for me. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I can only give you my best estimate when asked, and even then I include that this could be week, months off target.

 

I’ve been quite passive the last couple days, literally doing nothing more than hanging around my poor friend’s house. As a result, my biorhythm is worse off than it was at home and believe it or not, I’m hung over. I can hold my liquor quite well, though. As long as there’s not too much of it. Yes, I am a wimp when it comes to drinking. I have no excuses other than just not giving enough of a shit.

All this will change tomorrow, because I intend to head out into the fresh Norwegian winter air and scale me a mountain. There is one nearby called Preikestolen (Pulpit rock), a major tourist attraction. In case you have a valid reason not to check out the link: It’s a 3.8km walk, covering 334m of height difference (technically more since parts of the path descend lightly) and eventually bringing you 604m above sea level, which you can then win back quite easily as the trail ends with an all but vertical drop. 600 meter down. This is going to make my 30 meter record in scaffolding seem like a walk in the park. It’s a pretty well maintained path so it shouldn’t be all that hard, but this is something usually done in the summer. It will be hellishly cold and windy, and if anything goes wrong I’ll be on my own. The view should cover the whole surrounding fjord and in theory, I should he able to hop down and land into the seawater. I don’t think I’ll try that though, I may get a cold and my camera isn’t waterproof.

Speaking of which, stay tuned for pictures. Better yet, my friend asked me to take her video camera so I might be able to include some footage, as well. How awesome is that. Maybe I’ll throw down the camera and with your face against the screen, you can feel what a near death experience feels like.

 

Map is updated (with the longest line so far) and I made a new photo folder for Scandinavia. That picture looks nothing like her.


Newcastle: Making the jump

4th of January and no mention of valentine’s whatsoever yet. Wikkid. I’m afraid that’s going to change once I get to the mainland, though.

 

That’s right, boys and girls, Norway is our next stop. If you check the map you will notice that it has been my rough destination for quite a while, and nothing better has presented itself (would have been a difficult thing though) so soon enough I’ll be flying over and most likely staying there for a little while to catch a break with a familiar and fond face. How long will be left to circumstances and impulse, but who knows someone will wander along by that point who has a clean pair of shorts and no companion to fill them. If your life was as random as mine the last few weeks, that will make sense.

By plane, indeed. I pulled every string, tried every political tie, tried every trick in the book, exhausted all my resources. The only option I have is to grab a plane and fly over. How unprofessional. My host helped me book but my luggage (more on that later) appeared too heavy, so they (SAS airlines) decided to assist me and lighten my load 185 pounds.
Fucking ripoffs. It was just 150 the day before, I don’t even want to look how much they’ve gone up now. And the bitch is, I have no choice. I don’t have any alternatives.

I’ve been to Norway a few times before and I’m afraid to say I’ve pretty much fallen in love with it. There’s a sincerity to its people and a beauty to its geography that managed to captivate me. The downside is that it’s so damn cold. I tend to pick the most lousy times to go wandering in the coldest countries of Europe, all in spite my love for the sun.

This little bit is also a big mental step because from now on, I have a land connection to home. Doesn’t make a lick of difference when I’m staying somewhere, but from now on I’ll be able to get home, no matter what happens. I can literally lose everything and still make it, after all it’s only a 24 hour drive.
All in all, I’m a tad disappointed that no drastic event managed to change my plans. It’s become such a regular thing, I’ve cone to expect some thing or other going wrong which undoes most of your planning and forces you to start from scratch. And now, when I am ready to accept change with open arms… It’s tumbleweed quiet. Everything just kind of… happens the way I vaguely thought it might. How… common.

 

His local friend aside, my host has been almost unsettlingly nice to me. On one hand, you have the kind of people that kind of leave you to your own business and don’t seem very excited about you being there, while on the other you have those folks who want to be so friendly that it’s outright annoying and you want to tell them to get a grip. This guy… fits smack in the middle. He asks you if you need anything, when you need it. From food to the use of his bicycle or a ride to the airport. Just as I got to think "Hm it would be handy if I had a key so I" -"How about I give you my key so you can go in and out as you please?"

And this goes spookily far. This man shows a spontaneous care for me that I haven’t seen in a very long time. It makes me wary while at the same time kind of shyly accepting his offers. The food he makes is better than anything I have ever paid for, which is exactly what I told him. There’s just no end to it- Worried that the ticket price might make it difficult for me to make it home, he actually offered to lend me the money until I got back to Belgium. Do note, this is a stranger I had met 3 days earlier. I just kind of sat there… gobsmacked. The keyring he gave me? Has his carkeys on there. I’d declare him mad if he wasn’t the prime example to be followed if this world is supposed to be getting any better anytime soon. I’m going to have it really difficult leaving here.

 

I went and met up with a local I’ve known for 6 months (to the day, it appears) over the internet. A rather nice fellow who turned out to live right on my path, much to my delight. We met up at a town near the beach and did little else than talking. And let me tell you, it was a weight off my back. Even just being able to mention that there’s a sunset that looks quite nice (understatement often makes a good point) was a great relief, as previously there was little else for me to do than just look at it. We just picked a direction and began walking, yakking about everything but only a few things in particular. Sharing thoughts.

Which reminds me, apart from a phonecall or two I haven’t spoken a single word in dutch for a month now. I noticed I’m actually starting to think and dream in english, simply filling in the words I can’t think of instantly with the concept of it. Ironically, this is causing me problems to express myself, since I’m always miscalculating my active vocabulary. There are times when I can easily match mose Brits in fluidity and sentence structure, but every so often I keep tripping over my words and end up stammering like Porky Pig. It’s frustrating and embarassing, especially when you’re talking to an impatient bus driver with a queue behind you. Of female students, what else.

 

Close by to where I’m staying, they built a majestic and -in my opinion- rather nice monument.

Oh look it worked.
Originals are here.


Newcastle: Standstill

First of February, the day on which I bitterly refuse to send my ex the text message she expects. Serves her right, she shouldn’t be wandering around naked through my head to begin with. This would have been much easier if she were fat and ugly.

 

She’s a stripper. A lap dancer. I was told over dinner, when I curiously asked "Any dance in particular?" after it was mentioned she had gone out to dance. Way to turn a conversation awkward in less than a heartbeat. And here I couldn’t help but think that the "office outfit" she was in earlier suddenly had a whole different meaning to it.
Not that I saw it coming, but I suppose it makes sense. She is hauntingly beautiful. The first day the suit easily put me off but seeing her skip around in her leisure clothes is quite… distracting. So I keep to staring at my feet most of the time. Aww that’s cute. Let’s just be friends.

All this aside, I am really begin to think she hates me profoundly. The distant friendliness I was tossed has vanished altogether and since our first conversation, she hasn’t spoken a word to me. In fact, she leaves the room as I come in, not giving me as much as a glance. And no, I am not imagining this. It’s painfully obvious. And the strangest thing is, I can hear her giggle and joke with my host, making me wonder if there’s someone else in the house. But when he senses me near, she shuts down and buggers off, leaving me confused and examining my toes.

Not that I mind being hated, but I am really curious why. I’ve never been treated so coldly in my life, hell she even outmatches my stepmother who will at least give me a brisk "hello" in return. It’… disorienting. And it’s not like I really got a chance to say something wrong.
So what is it? She can’t be a lesbian man hater because she gets along fabulously with my host.
Maybe she just regards men as pigs from experience at her work, retarded as it may sound.
Maybe I remind her of someone? But even then, her reaction to it would be very much over the top.

I simply can’t figure it out. What did I do? Is it me personally? My age? My gender? Nationality? It can’t be my body odour (as a taveller it’s not always easy, mind you) because she was like this when she first opened the door for me and walked away. As I said, she can dislike me all she wants, but if it’s something personal I would like to know so I at least know where my flaws are.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much. She could just be a very reserved person. Or maybe I’m facing a mirror here, someone who will seem one thing while thinking the exact opposite. Someone cold to you out of sheer forceful habit. A thin layer of ice to break, the hope for being approached just underneath. Maybe I should just walk up to her and start talking.

Fat chance. Not in this life. To be perfectly honest, regardless of the underlying reason, bitchy behavior…? Makes you a bitch.
I think I’ll mention it matter-of-factly to my host at some point or other. The curiosity is killing me.

 

So I’m in Newcastle right now. I really like it here, but as it turns out, I may be getting more than I bargained for. I could have sworn I found a ferry connection to Norway from Edinburgh, but as I’m trying to find it, it turns out not to exist. Luckily there’s a connection from Newcastle, as well. Or wait, the line is fucking CANCELLED.

There is no connection from the UK to Norway, whatsoever. The closest is Denmark, but I really don’t feel like booking two seperate rides- detours by ferry cost you whole days.

I fucked myself quite nicely, didn’t I? I’m impressed. I’ll find my way out, hopefully in time to see Johnny Bravo, but it’s likely going to cost me a ton of money – something I have very little of. I have no more backup, and the bills are still rolling in, including rent and whatnot. Today I can have over €500, tomorrow I can be broke. Also (Spoiler alert!), this would most likely include taking one or more planes, who, besides the money, present a few problems of there own. Firstly, I hate flying with all my heart, and secondly, the weather channel couldn’t have given me worse news. The next couple days are going to be insane here. Snow, storms, wind, it’s going to be really tough. For most of Europe, as far as I can tell. I may just be utterly stuck in place. And if I’m not, I’m not exactly looking forward to getting on a plane in the midst of a fucking snow storm. Planes scare the shit out of me as is, already. I really can’t imagine how they could not.

But… it’s a price I have to pay, right? Plunging head first into something you don’t know the outcome of, is bound to bring surprises good and bad. Something to tell my grandchildren, this.

Let’s say it like it is. I started off on newyears with €1900 and a few payments on the way. One month later, I have €1700, but I’ve run out of pleasant surprises. Can I afford this mistake? Yes I can, but that’s not the point of this trip. Relying on money is cheating, the bottom line is to rely on myself. The only reason why I still have any money at all is exactly that. I seriously didn’t spend more than £10 in total in the past week. So having to fall back on cash really bugs me. I’m going to keep searching for a way around this but it’s looking bleak. The upside is that no one is here to watch me, so I can just say that I swam the ocean when I get home. I’m so clever.

 

I checked on the internet and there appears to be a capoeira group active here in Newcastle. The class is tomorrow evening, I’m going. With some luck I’ll get to vent some energy and make some friends.

You go, girl.