A little history
This is a photo of my apartment in The Hague. I moved here after 4,5 years of living in different countries, moving into a new apartment every (half) year or so and after a turbulent time in Egypt. When I moved into this apartment, I was longing for some peace and quiet, a place of my own, a place to stay in for a while. I realised all my ‘future home ideas’, like hanging my guitars on the wall and having three pet snakes. And it felt good to have my first real home… for a while. After a year or so, the itch started again. Even though I was happy with my place, my work, my social life, I wanted to leave again. I wanted more. I wanted another new chapter. I wanted new adventures.
Earlier this year, I decided to embark on a journey I have dreamt of travelling for years: Alaska to Argentina. The dream started years ago as a road trip dream, but I would not have been able to do this due to the costs involved; buying a decent car/motorbike, paying for the petrol and getting the paperwork done for all the carnets de passage… I decided that the best and most sustainable method would be to travel by bicycle and I decided that ‘one day’ would become a ‘departure day’ and it was 17 June 2017.
While in the past I was living in different places with boxes full of stuff halfway around the world, I decided that this time, I needed to be truly free and detach myself from everything that I do not need. No unnecessary belongings meant less clutter (also in my mind), less weight and more flexibility and no distractions. I started selling my belongings, starting with the guitars and my car (the first and only car I ever owned). My books and other small stuff followed soon after and, with little belongings left and the aim to save up more, I moved out of my apartment and in with a friend. I like being open, transparent and fair, so I also informed my employer early on. My manager knows me and my weird ideas, but still he was surprised. He also said, “Are you sure you will go, no matter what? What if you fall in love?” and I laughed at this ridiculous idea plus the (slightly sexist) idea that I would drop everything for some guy, even if I would fall in love. Some friends didn’t like the idea at all and wished for me to stay, but also my grandmother called me, worried, asking me if nothing could stop me. I tried to explain that I didn’t mean to upset her, but that I have to do this.
And then… I fell in love
In September, I travelled to Namibia and it was gorgeous. I loved it so much – the nature, the wildlife – I didn’t want to leave. But I also I fell in love… with skydiving! I did my first tandem jump at Ground Rush Adventures and the moment my feet touched the ground again, or even before that, I was thinking “No, no, no. Take me back up. I don’t want this to end. I want to go again!” So, I went for a second one in the afternoon. The skydiving stayed in my head. I drove to Brandberg, smiling like an idiot, reliving the feelings and views and everything. I travelled to Etosha with a friend and skydive student that I had met that day and he said I was thinking and talking more about skydiving than he did. I wanted to go back for more jumps, but thought that it does not make sense to keep doing tandems; I have to learn how to jump solo. I only had two days left and that was not enough for the AFF course. I tried to change my flights so I could leave a few days later, but it would have cost me €800, so no. I then decided that I would come back to Namibia after my bicycle trip, to do my skydive training and become a camera flyer.
The change of plans
Back in the Netherlands, my head was still in the clouds. Dreaming about Namibia, dreaming about skydiving. I shared my stories and the idea to do my skydive training after the cycling trip and some friends asked me why I would still want to cycle first? I sounded so enthusiastic about this, so why would I not go right away? Immediately, I thought it was not an option to skip the bicycle trip. I mean, this is what I wanted to do and still want to do! My mind was so fixed on the idea (stubbornness), but at the same time, I am impulsive and curious. I still wanted to cycle, but I want to do something else as well, perhaps a little (or a lot) more than the cycling trip. I noticed that I started thinking of ways to save money during the cycling trip so that I could afford the skydive training afterwards. I was thinking of how to shorten my trip, so I could get to Namibia sooner. But not doing the cycling trip ‘the whole way’ didn’t feel right. I am very much an all-or-nothing kind of person. I know I don’t have the funds to do both completely (full Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia and full training to become a camera flyer), but I also don’t want to do things half (cycle only part of the trip and do only part of the skydive training). I had to choose and based on both feelings and logic, I decided to go to Namibia first. It feels like I am breaking my own promise, but it also doesn’t feel right to go on this big cycling trip just because I said I would. I would not enjoy the cycling and being in the present as much, because I would be thinking of Namibia and longing to be there instead, trying to rush/save money in order to get there as soon as possible with as much money left as possible. The more I thought about it, the more it felt like it’s the right decision to go straight to Namibia in June. I had planned the cycling trip after I had booked my trip to Namibia, but I did not expect to love it that much. The nice thing is that, without the preparations for the bike trip, I would not have been so free to go for a skydiving future in Namibia. If I want to cycle, I can still do that afterwards. But if I cycle first, I know I won’t have enough funds left to complete all the training and jumps I want to do in order to become a good camera flyer. So for the cycling trip, the ‘departure day’ turned back into ‘one day’ and 17 June 2017 became my start day for a new chapter in Namibia.
While this may be a disappointment for some people, it may be a relief for others. Would my grandma be relieved that I will no longer be cycling by myself through ‘dangerous’ countries (for now) but jumping out of airplanes on a daily basis (hopefully) instead? At least my manager was right, I fell in love and somehow it did make me change my plans. I guess my mind was still open to other ideas that spoke louder to my heart. This made me think of a Frank Zappa quote: “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”
So, who wants to buy my bicycle and gear? 😉