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Neda's Blog

You can read all Neda's blog posts on this page.

Wonders of nature

Posted: February 2, 2013

When I enter Zimbabwe, the most beautiful scene awaits: Victoria Falls. Their enormousness hypnotizes me and their depth is overwhelming. It’s almost unbelievable how nature can create such a wonder.

When I enter the lodge where we’re staying, I see a group of young musicians called the Chikenbus Band. They’re setting up their instruments and doing a soundcheck. Tonight I have the honour to play with them and contribute my voice to matters that cannot speak for themselves.

The lead singer of the band, Tinashe, is very passionate about environmental issues. He is also a volunteer for the International Anti Poaching Organization. This organization is doing the best it can to stop poachers from killing rhinos. In fact, together we had the chance to walk along with rangers, seeing what their daily patrol looks like.

After spending the night in a tent in the middle of the bush – an adventure onto its own – we wake up very early and put on camouflage-coloured clothes. When everybody's ready, the rangers hold a pre-patrol briefing. “Whatever you do, never run away if an animal tries to attack you,” we are told. Besides the sign language demonstrated to signal when there's a rhino, elephant or buffalo nearby, this is the most important thing he can tell us before starting our way into the bush.

"Excitement pulses through my body."

After a couple minutes, the ranger shows me the tracks of a hyena in the sand. A couple of metres farther, there are the freshly made tracks of an elephant. Excitement pulses through my body. Ten minutes later, the ranger stops to show us a long stream of pee. "This is the urine of a male rhino. He does that to mark his territory," he says. I remember how my grandfather would take me to the forest and show me the tracks of rabbits or, in a rare case, a fox or squirrel – but this is something else!

Luckily, these rhinos are still alive. This doesn't count for thousands of others that poachers kill for selling their horns. Tinashe explains how these poachers can be anyone. It can be the guy next-door who has 10 kids and doesn't see another way out of his financial problems. So next to just protecting the rhinos from the poachers, there’s a way bigger problem behind it. We follow the tracks. And indeed, after half an hour or so, we spot their large makers about 20 metres to the left. When the amazing creatures come closer I suddenly remember that they can also be pretty dangerous. One of the rangers tells me I should walk slowly to the tree a couple metres behind me and stand behind it. Luckily, the rhinos stop in their tracks and we can enjoy sight of them from a safe distance.

Just like that

Posted: December 23, 2012

Water, one of the most important things in our lives, but at the same time one that most of us in the Netherlands take for granted; probably because it's just always available. I, for instance, love taking long, hot showers, preferably twice a day, not really realizing that I'm waisting litters of clean drinking water.

In the Netherlands, I can just put my glass of water under any tap, and with one easy turn of a knob, clean and fresh water awaits me. Even the water my toilet uses to flush down my poo, is clean drinking water. It's funny how something that is so normal to you can suddenly be experienced totally differently when you're travelling.

For instance, when you're staying in a hotel in Ethiopia, there is no running water at all and -sorry if you were eating-, you have to do your needs on top of something else that's been lying in the toilet for a long time and is definitely not clean drinking water.

Or: when you're staying with friends in Buru Buru, Nairobi, where it's totally normal that there is no running water during the weekends. Where I come from, everyone's already pissed when there's (once a year at most), no running water for a day, due to construction work. Imagine having no water taps at all!

"I realize how blessed I am with the water situation in the Netherlands."

The people from the village we visited near Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, have to walk for miles every day to get buckets of water out of a big well, from which it's not even certain whether it's clean drinking water or not. I carried one of the buckets on my head for a few meters and I already felt like my head was turning into a square!

The moment I stand under a nice, hot shower, without my poo staring at me, because it's been properly flushed down, I realize how blessed I am with the water situation in the Netherlands. Maybe when I'm back home again for a couple of months I'll forget this feeling of gratitude, but for now it still makes me really happy to not have to walk miles for water, but just easily turn the knob and gladly receive fresh and clean water, just like that.

Africa's got SWAG

Posted: December 7, 2012

The funny (or sad) thing when you tell people you’re going to Africa is that most of them have a totally disfigured image in their mind because of the things they see or hear on the news. They think of poverty, Aids and little houses made only by cow shit. Of course Africa has poverty, Aids and cow shit houses, but what most people don’t know, is that most of all, Africa’s got Swaggg!!

Take Nairobi for instance, the huge capital of Kenya. The first night we arrived at our hosts place, the girls took us out for Karaoke. Now as boring as that sounds, Karaoke night in Kenya, has got SWAG!

It starts first at home with some weed that their favourite taxi driver provides for them every day. Then it goes to styling. One of the girls is a stylist and made sure everyone of us looked just fine. High heels were on, dresses were sexy and earrings were blinging. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the tattoos that were put on freshly in the bedroom right before we left.

So when everyone’s looking hot, you go out and take a matatu, which functions like our normal bus as we know it, only that it is not at all like we know it. Picture a bus, covered in the finest street art. Not only from outside, but inside as well. Black lights are put up in the corners, as are the disco lights. A conversation is impossible due to the amazingly banging dancehall and reggae music that is nonstop played inside the matatu. Now this is what I call myself a SWAG bus ride!

"Now this is what I call myself a SWAG bus ride!"

Entering the Karaoke bar, we see it’s no ordinary dodgy bar, but a big and amazing club that is packed with people performing the most crazy dance moves and singing their Karaoke songs like there’s no tomorrow. After Karaoke we go to another club on top of a roof. Kenyan Dj’s got SWAG! They know how to handle their tracks and don’t play house or trance music, but letting me enjoy the best Reggae, Dancehall, Hip-hop and R&B music.

And yes, Africa has supermarkets. Most of them three times as big as the Dutch ones. They got shopping malls, Facebook and smart phones. They got big ass cinema’s where you can watch 3D movies and they even got SWAG election campaigns, where the politicians are promoting themselves while a group of cute boys are dancing on stage, again, on dancehall music. Africa is not only what we see or hear on the news. Africa’s got SWAG!!!

The younger generation

Posted: November 24, 2012

"If I was a bachelor, I wouldn't do this work. I would stay at home with my mom. But my wife and two daughters are the reason I stay on the road."

I'm sitting next to Berenard Ngurutu in the truck. He's a 26 year old Kenyan intern at a truck company named A.O Bayusuf and Sons. They transport relief food to refugee camps that hold over 2000 Somalian, South Sudanese and some Ethiopian refugees who are still fighting for their freedom.

"I believe in the young generation."

Before he can drive his own truck, he first has to follow an internship for three years next to an experienced truck driver. Right now he's almost finished with his internship, and looking forward to driving his own truck. "As an intern I only get 10.000 shilling a month. When I have my own truck that amount will be doubled. It's still not much," he says, "but with the money I get from taking passengers with me I'll manage to support my family." Suddenly I feel a lot better about the fact that this ride wasn't really a hitched ride, since we paid him 350 shilling each to get from Marsebit to Isiolo.

When I ask him if there’s anything that happened on the road he would never forget, he tells me about an accident that happened in 2008: "I was driving the truck when suddenly another truck wanted to overtake me. He was too slow and hit a car that was in the next lane. The car flipped over three times and I saw how the driver's head got scalped. After that I knew this was something that could also happen to me. Most accidents here happen because of alcohol and sleepless nights. I never drink and drive. God arranged for me to see this accident so that I learnt to always be careful on the roads." And careful how he was! Because the roads were in terrible state, we didn't drive faster than 20km/h. It took us fifteen hours to get to Isiolo, while it's only a 223km drive!

Ten minutes after leaving Marsebit, we already found three trucks stuck in the mud. "Kenya is really corrupted. Every new government promises to build new roads, but in the end they just stick the money in their own pocket. The president always travels by helicopter, so for him the bad roads are no problem at all." When I ask him if he has faith that there will be a government that's gonna fix the roads he says: "Maybe in the year 2030. I don't have faith in this generation. I believe in the young generation."

A talk with Alemeyeki

Posted: November 19, 2012

"All I wanted to do is run. I grew up in the city Bokhi, which is known for its famous athletes such as Kenenisa Bekele. Every boy in town looked up at him. Why go to school if you can become an athlete? But my father had different plans for me. He was determined to give me an education; most likely because of his own past."

I'm talking to Alemeyeki Dekeba Bekele, a twenty-six years old Ethiopian student, who studies development studies in the Netherlands and is now back in his motherland to do his fieldwork.

"When my father finished the sixth grade, my grandfather wanted him back on the farm to help him on the land. Since my father was determined to continue his education, he ran off to the big city with only a bag of seeds he stole from his father's supplies. With continuously sowing and selling the seeds, he managed to pay for his own education. Eventually, he became a well-respected and known Malaria expert." Alemeyeki looks very proud when telling this story.

"Looking back at it, I'm very lucky I got such a good education."

"Looking back at it, I'm very lucky I got such a good education. It's something not a lot of kids get these days. Especially in the rural areas, a lot of families just don't have the money to send their kids to school and they need their kids to help them on the farm. There is also a very big problem with educated people, who can't get a job after they've graduated. The kids see their older brother go to school, and ending up no better than the people without education. This results in a lack of motivation from the kids themselves."

As I've seen myself, the governments and NGO's are working hard to get more kids in school and stop child labor. "There are a lot more schools today then there were ten years ago, but the quality of the education has gone down. This is, among other reasons due to lack of books, overfull classrooms and poorly educated, poorly paid teachers." "Another issue is that most of these projects don't provide school meals for the children. Without food, the children don't have enough strength and concentration to go to school. There's also still a big difference between boys and girls in the matter of education. The majority of girls get abducted and forced into marriage long before finishing school." The longer I talk to Alemeyeki, the more I feel entangled in a stream of complications.

"Yes," he ends his story, "I am very lucky indeed my dad pushed me to get my education and that I had the opportunity to go to school. Cause if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be where I am today."

Just like family

Posted: November 4, 2012

Everything goes as it goes. Inshallah, is what they say here, meaning it is in God’s hands. After traveling for almost a thousand kilometers from Cairo to Aswan, it apparently wasn't God's will that we would go with the boat to Sudan. Half of our crew did get a visa and a boat ticket, but the other half, including me, didn't. So there we went again, all the way back to Cairo, to arrange our visa there and take a plane to Khartoum, Sudan. Who would have known that a plane was written in our hitchhiking story? But if it's one thing Africa will teach you, it is to go with the flow.

As we arrived in Khartoum, I immediately felt a warm feeling of welcome. The friendly faces, the children's laughter, the excitement of their 'Eid' celebrations. Nema and Slim were two youngsters who were really cool and took us everywhere we needed to be, and were our right hand when it came to overcoming the language barrier.

"But if it's one thing Africa will teach you, it is to go with the flow."

We were invited to their traditional Eid breakfast the first morning after we arrived. Imagine a long table with loads of food; there was of course the sheep meat they sacrificed to Allah, rice, nut salad, bread, and a various number of different sauces, differing from sweet tomato, to something very spicy and also Tahina - the sesame paste sauce we had a lot in Egypt, but somehow tasted a lot better here. The whole family was eating standing up around the table, dipping bits of bread in the sauces, talking, laughing and in the corner Uncle Ahmed was throwing some more meat on the Barbecue. And this was only breakfast! In the evening we went to a party where I jammed with the band. In the end it became a real jam session, with some awesome local rap talent joining me on stage.

With all these wonderful people, I came to notice that I didn't miss my family so much anymore. I recognized my father’s dance moves in Nema's father’s ones. I recognized my nephew in the guys I was playing soccer with today. I recognized my mother and aunts in the women that were laughing and talking loudly to each other while preparing dinner in the kitchen. I recognized myself in Slim’s sister who told me her brother can drive her crazy, but she could never live without him. As God wrote all of our stories with the same hand, I see how you can recognize everyone in anyone. Today in Sudan, next week in Ethiopia and who knows where else. Inshallah.

Brides

Posted: October 27, 2012

You have husband?
Yes I do.
You should try egyptian man, they really strong.
No thank you.
We so strong, we stay awake 24 hours everyday, Egyptian man very, very strong.
No thank you, I'm already married.
He will never find out, it be our secret.
F*ck off.

This is how almost every conversation here in Egypt goes when I'm walking alone on the street. In only ten minutes a fifth guy comes up to me to tell me that he don't wanna hussle me, but only wants to sleep with me, I decide to go back inside and leave the bazaar for what it is. But then on my way back, a young boy comes up to me who wants to show me his family shop. I look into his bright brown eyes and he immediately reminds me of my nephew. Relieved to finally meet a kind person to talk normally to, I shake his hand. Mohamed is 17 years old and wants to become a tourguide.

He's in language school and virtually speaks four languages already. After ensuring me that he will kill every man that tries to hussle me, I go with him to his uncle's spice shop. He lets me smell a dozen of wonderful spices. There's mint, rosemary, cinnamon, vanilla, chamomile, sandalwood and so on. Our encounter didn't only consist of smelling vanilla sticks. Mohamed offers to show me and the rest of the crew to the best restaurant in Luxor and afterwards he will take us to his cousin's wedding.

"Cause who needs a roof if it only rains once every three years?"

I gratefully accept his offer. Of course, before going to the wedding we have to go to his friend the coiffeur, he says. After the coiffeur is done with shaping my eyebrows and straightening my hair, he of course asks me for money, but at this point Mohamed starts telling him off and says that his family don't need to pay for nothing.

Happy with my new lil brother, we walk up to the hostel to get the rest of the crew to go to dinner. During dinner, some locals warn us not to stay long at the wedding. They say only one day ago someone got shot in that same neighbourhood and next to that, Mohamed's family name was known as a dangerous one. The guys also don't really trust it, but I don't even want to hear it. Whatever family this boy comes from, it has nothing to do with the kind heart this boy has. An hour later we enter the wedding. After the bride and groom enter the party, the fun starts. The men are doing some kind of dancing duel with sticks and I'm being pulled to the other side, where there's a chaos of colorful veiled girls that all want to dance with me. We end up having a very good time and since we don't have a place to stay, Mohamed even invites us to his parents house to sleep over.

We sleep in a beautiful home without a roof, cause who needs a roof if it only rains once every three years? Mohamed promises me that when he grows up, he won't become one of the dirty men that try to hussle girls on the street. I'm thankful he showed Egypt to me through his wonderful innocent eyes. And oh yeah: his family is one of the kindest ones you'll ever meet.

Girl Power

Posted: October 20, 2012

Together with Raghda Bassam, a young Egyptian journalist who writes about women’s rights, I enter the 'women only compartment' of the metro. Finally a place where there are no men that undress me with their eyes, throw sexual comments at me, or make kissing noises when I pass by. Having only experienced Egypt for a couple of days, I can already imagine how hard it is for the Egyptian girls to manage themselves outdoors. Raghda tells me that every day again she has to pull herself together, hold her head up and cope with all the sexual harassment she has to deal with on a daily basis.

I look around in our compartment and see that even though it is an all girls compartment, there are still a couple of men sitting there. A girl enters the compartment in the next stop and walks straight to the guy that is sitting across from us. With a 'wtf are you doing in our all girls compartment' look on her face she forces him to leave his seat and let her sit there. With her, the other girls, including my friend Raghda, start yelling at him. A proud girl power feeling is rising in me and when we leave the compartment I give the girl across from us a high five.

"I got deep respect for the Egyptian girls."

It's nice that the government arranged a compartment like this for girls, but when you think of the fact that it’s actually necessary it makes me feel upset. With simple small things I already see how the girls here are put behind the men. When I was eating with Sierd for instance, he got tea from the house, I got nothing. "Yep, we never get tea like that", Raghda says. The weird thing is actually, that the biggest group of sexual harassers here are young boys around fifteen and sixteen years old, she says. They grab you in private places and then run away fast. I could really imagine now that it would feel very nice to cover yourself in a burqa. But it's even them, Raghda says, who get harassed.

Of course it’s not only the young boys who are responsible for the harassments. I myself got in a situation where a police officer tried to grab and kiss me. As a girl you can’t report anyone, even if they’ve raped you. The only way to report someone is when he harasses you, and you immediately drag him to the police station. Even though to me this seems like a very hard thing to get done, Raghda knew a girl that had managed to do this. The guy that harassed her got three years.

I got deep respect for the Egyptian girls. Cause next to the fact that Egypt is so incredibly beautiful, it is hard to keep on walking here with a smile on your face, and keep doing your thing as a girl. So for all my Egyptian sisters out here; I love ya'll, keep your head up!

The first week: musty toilet paper & sharing happiness

Posted: October 11, 2012

October the first suddenly came so fast. There I was, standing on the Vismarkt at 9am, with a backpack almost bigger than myself. African drums were playing, journalists were taking pictures, girlfriends were crying and I was hugging my dear brother and father who came all the way to Groningen to send me off. After all those months of preparations, we were finally on our way! No more than ten minutes later, after holding my thumbs high up in the air, a friendly lady stopped for us. My very first hitch.

Looking back on only this first week, I already lost count on how many rides followed that first one. There was this elderly couple in Germany that looked very suspicious at first, but by the time they dropped us off, they were totally enthusiastic bout what we're doing. There were two young, not so easy going brothers who wanted to let us pay fifty euro's for the ride at first, but in the end drove us for free and even tried to arrange a sleeping spot for us by calling up all their friends in the area.

" 'You like water?' he asked."

Then there was a guy who gave a pleasant twist to what you normally would see in a horror movie; stopping the car in the middle of nowhere, alongside a dark forest with absolutely no one around But instead of chopping us into little pieces and burying us in the forest, he showed us a nice little water fountain, to drink from and to wash our faces. "You like water?" he asked.

It can sometimes be a bit tiresome. To wait and wait for a ride and to sleep at nights in a car (or in a tent next to the Mac Donalds...) (or at a student’s home with fungus on the toilet paper....) But I can definitely understand why my fellow travelers have done this way of traveling more often. It honestly is a great way of traveling. The people you meet, the experiences you have, the landscapes you see along the road. It is something you would never experience by just taking a flight and staying in hotels. But even though we get to see so many different places, I see the similarities of everyone just trying to live their lives, and to be happy. It is a wonderful feeling that wherever you are, there are always people that are willing to help you a little further along your journey, sharing a small bit of their happiness with you.

Time flies. I can't believe that everything we already experienced only happened in just one week. I can only look forward to the rest of the journey, and make sure to enjoy every little second of it.

A little miracle

Posted: September 26, 2012

Friday the 21st of September, ten minutes past 6 o'clock in the evening, you decided to be born. Two weeks too early is what the doctors would say. Right on time is what you would probably say if you could. A lil' miracle opened his eyes into our world last Friday.

Everything he sees, he's seeing for the very first time. There's no judgment in his look. There's no prejudice in his system. He will taste his mother's milk without thinking 'bout what to expect. Just entering our dualistic world, he will only be in contact with his pure Self.

"But once we can let these go, and once we start perceiving things again like a little baby does, seeing everything for the very first time, a new world will reveal itself for us."

Thinking of this inspired me for my journey. It is so hard for us human beings to really see what is truly there. We tend to only see the past. We see a projection of our mind that is created by our own frame of reference and our old expectations of the situation.

But once we can let these go, and once we start perceiving things again like a little baby does, seeing everything for the very first time, a new world will reveal itself for us. Now this is something I can practice!

Can I step into a car of a stranger, without having a judgment ready about the driver? Can I listen to conversations, without putting my own belief system in the middle? Can I welcome every situation I will be confronted with, without labeling it as good or bad? Again, it’s about being in the present moment. Taking everything in, right now, as if it was for the very first time. Cause it can never be the situation that will frustrate me, only the thoughts and believes I carry about that situation.

My dearest sweet little nephew, without you knowing so, you have already inspired your aunt to the fullest.
I love you and I thank you.

Namaste.

The Lariam experience

Posted: August 29, 2012

Just like everyone who goes to Africa, I had to get my vaccinations and be informed about Malaria pills. After a speech where the doctor ensured me I most certainly will die from Malaria if I don't take the medicine, she informed me about two different pills. Malarone is a pill you have to take every day and use if you would go away for less than four weeks. It is very expensive, but - to be said - not to have many side effects. Since I'm going for a lot longer than four weeks, she advised me to take Lariam. A much cheaper medicine which you only take once a week.

She asked me if I ever had a depression or if I have ever been mentally ill. Aside from being a little crazy (in a good way LOL), both did not apply to me. So according to her, I would have no problems with the medicine. I could first test it out for three weeks, just in case, but she assured me that only mentally ill people would have a bad reaction on the pill, which would probably
only result in having nightmares.

"Since I'm going for a lot longer than four weeks, she advised me to take Lariam. A much cheaper medicine which you only take once a week."

After taking the first pill, the next day I felt really dizzy, tired and kinda like my mind was clouded. The day after that, I was totally messed up. I felt like something controlled my mind and for the very first time in my life I felt depressed! I was crying without no reason, I was paranoia, scared, and I felt like there was just no happiness in my life. Also, the nightmares started. People who know me, know that I'm always super positive, bright sided, happy, and enjoying each moment of life. I knew that this wasn't something coming from me. I felt toxicated.

After a little research on the internet about Lariam, I was shocked to know how easy they prescribe this medicine! All the stories I red, matched my experience and many were even worse. A lot of people suffered from serious mental depression for years after taking the pill or even committed suicide! In 1991, it came to the attention for the first time what the side effects of Lariam were. After that the World Health Organization published a rapport called 'Lariam’s Severe and alarming neurological and psychiatric side effects'. The conclusion was that more research needed to be done concerning the side effects of the medicine. Even though 41,6% of the users suffer from average to severe neurological side effects, in the Netherlands the medicine is still prescribed to 2000 travelers a year. I just hope for all of you who read this and will, at some point, go to a country that has Malaria; be careful of what you put in your body!

Namaste.

A place to come home to

Posted: August 8, 2012

Only two more months before my big 'Africa adventure' begins! The closer we get to the first of October, the more I start to realize that I'm really gonna do this. I'm actually gonna hitchhike from Groningen to South Africa... Honestly, how crazy is that though?! Besides the fact that I'm so unbelievably thankful for this amazing upcoming experience, I also started to feel a little nervous about it.

I was sixteen years-old when I got on a plane to Los Angeles all by myself. And after that I travelled to Canada, Kenya, and India. So I'm used to making far journeys and going on adventures, but I'm not used to going on it for three months! This will be the first time for me that I'm gonna be away for this long. Suddenly, I felt my belly flipping upside down by the thought of how much I'm gonna miss my family. How my ego had me now! It started talking to me about how I'm gonna miss the birth of my brother’s son, that I won’t be here for Christmas and New Years, how I'm not gonna have enough time to work out my stuff for school, and what about things like whose gonna be taking care of Mufasa(my cat)?? Even more, it worried me thinking about how I wasn't gonna have a place for myself to come home to at the end of each day. I would be homeless for three months! For the rest of the evening, my mind was rattling on and on.

"Just because you don't have a house, does that mean you can't have a home?"

When it finally went quiet I could here the calming voice of my heart. It told me how many people don't even have a house. And when they do, it can always be destroyed by mother nature, war, government plans or other circumstances. Just because you don't have a house, does that mean you can't have a home? My heart spoke to me about how the only place where you can really come home to, lies in yourself. It's the present moment where I can practice to return to everyday. I thanked my heart for this truth and knew how important it is for me to make this journey. Even though I know I'm probably gonna miss my people back home, I also know that I am ready for this. And hey, what is three months in a life-time?

I wonder

Posted: July 16, 2012

I never hitchhiked before. Thought if I'd do it for the first time, why not do it right and start of with crossing a whole continent? I was always told that hitchhiking is something very dangerous and one of the things (along with messing up rice, my mom is very serious about her rice) you should never do. But now that I'm older, I reckon it's one of the best ways to really connect to a culture. What better way of getting to know the real African life, then to actually live and travel amongst them? I wonder though, who will stop for the three white, strange looking foreigners, standing alongside the road, with their thumbs high up in the air?

It's kinda crazy come to think about it; somewhere, miles and miles from where I am now, there are loads of people that I'm destined to meet. Who are they? I wonder what stories will lie behind all their faces. I wonder what families I'll be staying with. I wonder about how their children's laughter sounds. I wonder what they learn in school. I wonder if they can even go to school. I wonder what music they'll be making and what dances they'll dance. I wonder how their food smells and how their rain feels. I wonder what the girls are gossiping about and what pickup lines the men use. I wonder what they believe in and how they look at life. I wonder who will take us in their car and let us be part of their lives for just a couple of miles.

"I wonder what the girls are gossiping about and what pickup lines the men use."

Then I remember a story that the wicked friend of my eldest brother told me. With twinkling eyes he explained to me what he does when he sees a hitchhiker on the road and wants to have a good laugh. "It's the most fun when it's raining and the hitchhiker in question is looking pretty depressed," he says. "The hitchhiker is carrying a heavy backpack and he can't even hold his thumb up in the air anymore. What you do is; you stop a hundred meter in front of him and wait. The poor sucker, really happy to have finally found a ride, will run towards you with his heavy luggage (rain's poring down harder now). When he almost reaches your door, you hit the gas pedal and drive away as fast as you can. Oh yeah, and don't forget to pull down your window and flip him the finger as you go!"

I wonder if these people only exist as crazy friends of my brother and hope that our hitchhiking adventure will go a little smoother than the one of that poor fella!

I choose love

Posted: June 18, 2012

'The journey is what counts, not the destination.' It’s one of the many inspirational quotes that hangs on the wall in my toilet and I believe it to be very true. Off course we're heading for Cape Town, but if our only goal were to be getting there, then I would just get a ticket and get there in a day. No, what we're gonna do is way more challenging; Hitchhiking from Groningen Netherlands, to Cape Town South Africa. A journey of 15.000 kilometers, crossing 16 different countries. For three months, I'll meet hundreds of new people, having the privilege to travel, eat and sleep amongst them while learning about their cultures, their lives and struggles, their joy and their tears.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can change my own thinking, the way I treat our planet and the way I choose to live my life."

I'm sure that their stories will change my life. But will I be able to change theirs too? Suddenly I feel so small, thinking bout how tough these people’s lives must be, and me telling everyone since I was a lil kid that I was gonna make a difference in this world. But how could I ever be feeding all the poor? How could I ever make sure that all of my brothers and sisters will live a happy and healthy life? Then my eye falls on a different quote on the wall by Ghandi that says: 'be the change you wonna see in the world'. I smile, and feel the truth of that in all my heart. I alone cannot change the world, but I can change my own thinking, the way I treat our planet and the way I choose to live my life. Will I choose my life to be a contribution to love or fear?

I choose love. And with me being the change that I wonna see in the world, I believe that whoever I will come across on my journey, will recognize that spark, for it will mirror their own desire for a better change in this world. And somehow I believe that they also, will be encouraged to be the change they wonna see in the world!

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