May 302012
 

La Paloma, Uruguay.

More than a month ago my bag was stolen. That included my laptop. Which contained the six chapters of my book that I had finished (ok, so the last one wasn’t completely finished. Nitpicker!). Four I uploaded to have some people look at, two are irretrievably lost with the computer.

Motivation to start writing again has not been high ever since.

But lately it’s been itching. Thoughts keep popping into my head. My characters are speaking to me, asking to tell more what happens with them.

So I again downloaded the first four chapters that that are not lost to my replacement laptop (thanks mom and dad for that!)

Time to re-read my chapters to get back into the story. Remember exactly where I left off. Get the inspiration flowing. Dive back into the game.

But…

My policy had been, write first, edit later. Meaning that there are a lot of things in the chapters I already wrote that I knew at that time or somewhat later that I wanted to change. Sometimes a single sentence that didn’t flow as nicely as I wanted. Sometimes an inconsistency I introduced. Sometimes an entire part which was just weakly written.

And now I have to read all that again!

Which scares me to death!

I still remember the gist of the story. Still can (vaguely) remember all the characters I introduced. Still sortof know the plot lines I was creating.

But the actual words? No clue!

What if it’s completely incomprehensible. Or boring. Or unbelievable. What if what I wrote really sucks?

To be faced with my own inadequacy? I guess that is the greatest fear of any human being?

So, time to scrape up my courage again, and plunge in.

If you don’t hear from me within a few days, I died of shame… ;-)

May 292012
 

Punta del Diablo, Uruguay.

I love to read. And I’ve read lot. Fantasy and Science Fiction mostly. But also a lot of books on psychology, human behaviour, happiness. And in that last section there seem to be two very distinct directions.

I am not religious, don’t consider myself to be spiritual. Firmly grounded in reality. Objects, people, work, play. And emotions, feelings are definitely a part of reality. Perhaps not directly observable, but indirectly they influence every part of our lives.

So I happily read about time management, the differences between men and women, effective living, feedback, courage, choosing your own path. And I think I learned a lot from that, incorporating parts in my own life. Partially because of this I usually listen to critique without going on the defensive. I’m busy facing a number of fears that I feel limit me. I seek to cooperate and not oppose. I’ve grown and achieved. And I feel happy because of that.

Together with Vivi in Punta del Diablo (point of the devil), a cute little fishing village that has transformed tranquility into a tourist attraction. Now in low season the hostels and beaches are empty, yet the ocean keeps pounding onto the shore with the same rugged beauty. We’ve got an extremely nice little house for the two of us and decided to take it very easy for a few days. Reading, writing, walking. There’s not much more to do here at this time of year. Yet it provides some needed rest after quite a while traveling and sight-seeing. Peace for the soul at the point of the devil.
But every once and awhile there is mention of another side. Not directed towards the outside world. Not having to do with relationships, behavior, achievement.

A direction inside. About letting go, accepting, satisfaction with what you’ve got and what you are, being one with the universe.

At that last one I usually quickly turn the page. :-)

But the rest of it has been speaking to me more and more.

I wrote before that I’m always happy, never content. And though I’m happy at not being content, it can be very tiring as well to constantly be fitter, happier, more productive.

Because where does it stop? How many achievements are needed until it’s enough? How much growth do I need before I’m “finished”?

Perhaps it’s time to start learning in a different direction. No clue how to do that or where it will take me. But I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of that with you here. I guess I’ll start by reading a book… :-)

May 242012
 

Montevideo, Uruguay.

One of my first Couch Surfing experiences was a lovely couple that stayed in my house in Utrecht for 2 nights. They were traveling the world, going from New Zealand through Indonesia, China, Egypt, Russia, France, Germany, Finland. The Netherlands.

All of that in 6 months.

So I was very proud that they chose my country to spend an entire 2 nights (Germany only got one!)!

They spent a day in Amsterdam while I was working and I showed them Utrecht the following day. Having some real Dutch beers together, talking about our respective countries. Well, I was talking with her mostly as he didn’t speak a lot of English. Still, it was nice to get to know these people from the other side of the world. This place I had only vaguely heard of.

This city called Montevideo. In this country called Uruguay.

And now I’m here. And we got to meet again! After more than 10 months, a single message was enough to get an immediate invitation for drinks (and it turns out food). So yesterday we met up with them and spent a lovely few hours talking (the four of us. His English hadn’t improved that much but my Spanish is good enough for light conversation), drinking and having fun.

It’s just great to have total strangers visit your house, become friends and then go and visit them! Certainly gives me more faith in humanity :-)

Long live hospitality!

May 222012
 

Montevideo, Uruguay.

Uruguay. The last stamp in my passport (well, if I’m lucky I’ll get another one when going back to Argentina). The last country to visit on this trip.

Mom and dad left today. Or better, they went to Buenos Aires to get their flight tomorrow, while Vivi and me went to Montevideo. It was really cool to travel with them, show them how to backpack and to share the beauty of South America. Looking forward to your their visit!
It feels like I’m already almost home. The countryside looks almost Dutch (slightly more rolling, so perhaps German (but since we’re all in the same European Union (and coin, whether we want to or not) and the Germans haven’t invaded us for quite some time and we haven’t played any really important football matches against them (and lost) for quite some time, it’s almost the same)). Green pastures with lots of cows. Grey skies from which a drizzle is falling (it’s autumn here. Beautifully colored trees!)

Buildings don’t look very different from Europe either. The only thing to notice is that all the streets are straight and in a grid pattern (in the cities, that is). Very handy for finding your way actually. I prefer the more natural feel of our Dutch cities I think.

The people are slightly darker than in the Netherlands, but they could be from Spain, Italy or even France.

One thing that is very different though: Mate. It seems you cannot be Uruguayan without sipping from the bitter tasting tea-like-substance. Continuously.

It’s a charming ritual. Everybody (and I do mean EVERYBODY!) is walking around with a bulb in their hand, filled to the brim with the yellowish yerba mate (a locally grown herb), from which a metal straw is sticking. Underneath their arm they clench a thermos of hot water, which they use to constantly fill up the bulb. And then suck it dry again. All day long. On a bus. When going to the toilet. When shopping. When driving a car…

So I guess this is a good in-between place. From exotic Peru and Bolivia to Europe in one go might be a bit too much of a (reverse) culture shock. Nice to get a bit of feeling for the old continent again.

3 more weeks… And then I’ll be home. Don’t really know how I feel about that. Looking forward to seeing everybody? A bit lost as I won’t be traveling anymore (though I’ll be visiting a lot of places in Holanda)? Looking forward as it’s the next step to the next big adventure?

I’ll take it the same as I’ve been doing here. One day at a time…

May 162012
 

Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I love it when a plan doesn’t come together (free after Hannibal, of The A-Team).

When setting out on this trip I had certain expectations. Some of them came true. And a lot of them didn’t. But it’s the way in which they don’t come true that’s important.

The idea of my itinerary was roughly: Fly into Lima (Peru), go to Cuzco to see Machu Picchu, leave Peru after perhaps 2 weeks. See a bit of Bolivia. Head down Chile to Patagonia, up again through Argentina to spend quite some time in Buenos Aires, to learn the tango.

It’s been close to 8 months and I arrived in Chile not two weeks ago and in Buenos Aires only yesterday.

Peru changed from 2 weeks into over 4 months. I visited Ecuador which was never part of the plan. Chile I only saw Santiago, and not for half as long as I would have wanted to. Haven’t been to Patagonia and won’t have the time for it. And finally, I might take a tango lesson while I’m here in BA, but I won’t be able to dance it when I leave.

I guess only Bolivia got the month that I had originally planned for it. And I have to go back because I haven’t seen what I want to see…

So do I feel bad about not realizing my plans? Not at all! Because there is just so much that I did do. In Lima I fell in love not once but trice (ok, one is with the city itself, and the last one it’s better to say that happened in Ecuador, but still…)! Volunteering for two months was absolutely fantastic! Heading down half of Chile as quickly as possible because mom and dad will visit is the coolest ever! Making friends from around the world (and getting invited to come and visit) is awesome!

I love it when a plan doesn’t come together. :-)