Category Archives: new experiences

Wanderlust and the need for a routine

I suppose it was in some sense unavoidable for me to become a traveller at heart. Being born into a family of restless people I had to at least be somewhat affected. As it was, my lust for travel and adventure was planted in me even before I could walk. Perhaps even before I was born. My parents have always been keen travellers and did quite a lot of adventourous travelling before they had kids.

Especially my dad is restless at heart; he has an unsatiable need to wander. My mum is surely the more grounded of the two. Actually, she probably would not have travelled as much if it wasn’t for my dad. My dad always wanted to see the world from the sea side so when he had managed to persuade my mum to sail across the Atlantic with him as deckhands on a sailing boat he was naturally delighted. My mum less so. She likes sailing as long as the winds are calm and the waters glossy. Thus, she spent most of her deckhand time trying to cope with overwhelming nausea while my dad enjoyed himeslf immensely.

I was only a baby when I went on a sailing boat for the first time. The boat’s name was YoYo and my dad’s very first own sailing boat. He bought it before he even knew how to sail properly, but that was no hindrance to him. His philosophy was learning by doing and it seemed to work out fine for him.

Since then my dad bought an old ship carcass in Greenland while we were living there and worked on it for several hours every day until it was ready to sail. We then spent our summers sailing around the Greenlandic seas in The Northern Star as the ship was called. We also had a small speed boat that my sister and I practically grew up on, spending our summers sailing around the Greenlandic archipelago, fishing, and going camping on the islands. I remember those summers as truly magical.

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A on my brother’s and dad’s new boat, Starlet

I was a mere two months old when I sat feet on my first airplane. Going from Denmark to Greenland, where we were going to live for the next 4 years and where my sister was born.

My first actual memory from Greenland is one of trying to reach a keyhole that was exactly out of my reach with a key I had been given by my mum upon insisting on going home to bed while my parents were visiting a friend and talking boring adult talk. I was two years old. My mum had given me the key and let me go while secretly following me home at a safe distance. I remember desperately reaching for the keyhole while eventually peeing my pants and starting to cry.

My mum was surely very quick to come to my aid. Much quicker than my memory tells me; all I remember is reaching for that keyhole on a light Greenlandic summers evening and not being able to reach it. That’s my first memory of wandering into the world on my own. And the need has stuck with me.

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into the wilderness

The need to explore and to be in unknown places and situations. It is not because I love being uncertain about things and not knowing what things are going to be like. It is more of a feeling that I need more experience. That I still don’t know enough about life to be able to live it fully. But when I travel it is as much a journey inwards as a journey out into the unknown.

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an unknown situation all right

Travelling for me has changed over time. Travelling with A is a completely different experience from travelling on my own when I was younger. I think I have only really settled into travelling since I started travelling with A. It started with small trips when she was just a baby. We would take the train to Rostock in Germany to visit my friend, we would go sailing with the family, or taking small 1 to 2 week trips to other places in Europe.

My motivation for travelling with A is surely to give her the possibility of gaining experiences from the world that are invaluable for her. But it is as much a believe that these experiences we have together might help tighten our bonds and be a guide to us in how to live our lives in the future in the sense that we are inspired and enriched by the people we meet, the places we go, the cultures we are fortunate enough to have a small taste of etc. And last but not least, it is a need to wander. Is it selfish of me to take my daughter travelling for long periods at a time? You could say that there is an element of selfishness in it. However, since nomadic tendencies are a part of my person, it would be to deny a whole part of myself if I were to not travel, and that in turn would be to deny A that part of me. For sure, travelling is an act of balancing, but so is any other part of life. And if we are able to balance our lives, to get equally the amount of time we need for ourselves, to process our experiences and to just live and equally the amount of adventure that fits us, then I believe that travelling is truly worth it.

Like everything else in life you become more accustomed to travelling over time. You settle into a more relaxed travel pace. A and I have managed to slow down enough that it feels like we’re not on the move constantly and that has been a big help for us in appreciating things and places more. I have discovered that we need at least a week to feel at home in a new place, and much likely longer. Granted, A and I are going home soon. A has made it very clear that 10 months of travel is enough for now. We have agreed that next time we travel we will stay even longer in each place. Go to fewer places and stay longer in each new spot.

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Machu Picchu in the sunshine is a magnificent sight

I suppose A will be inheriting at least part of my wanderlust as it would be almost impossible for her not to. On the other hand, she has been very good at raising her voice when she had enough of new experiences. And I think part of what this trip has taught us is to know when to slow down.

There will be other trips, perhaps shorter, perhaps longer, in the future. We will learn new things from these trips. But we will always be able to look back on our journeys so far and remember all the things we learned. About ourselves and about the world.

 

 

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Three days in Parque Tayrona

A and I spent some time in Parque Tayrona, a national park on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

And even though LOTS of other people had planned to do the same thing, we still had a lot of the park all to ourselves. And it is a beautiful place. One just needs to keep in mind that Tayrona is quickly becoming one of the most hyped places that Colombia has to offer, which definitely cannot help but take its toll on a place. We were lucky enough to see monkeys jumping around in the tree tops and we saw lots of birds too. And swam in amazingly refreshing water.

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a moment of reflection

The park is full of camping options and we chose the first place we got to, which was also the cheapest and the biggest. We slept in hammocks.

During our days we walked around the park and looked for monkeys in the trees. We also spent a lot of time swimming and exploring caves.

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Tayrona is full of beaches. Most of them are dangerous and have strong rip currents, but they are all sign posted. And they are all equally beautiful; strewn with boulders and lush with jungly vegetation.

We brought most of our food ourselves since the food you can buy there is very expensive. I was surprised to see that the park does not offer adequate communal cooking sites; there is a fireplace and some run-down pots and no wood for making a fire. So we ate oatmeal and banana crisps for three days.

One evening we were talking to some other travellers who were interested in knowing where A goes to school. When I told them she doesn’t go to school and never has gone they were amazed by how much she knew even though she’d never actually ‘learned’ it. Especially one person was intrigued by how A learns. He asked if we’d seen the movie ‘Captain Fantastic’? And even though there are lots of things about that movie that I felt quite disappointed about when I first saw it, I was still happy to hear that someone who doesn’t actually unschool or even homeschool could be inspired by a movie about homeschooling.

I am mostly weary of talking too much about unschooling with people who have no concept of alternative education. It is tedious trying to explain why we do what we do and how much learning actually takes place outside of a conventional schooling scene. But in this case I could feel that what I was trying to explain was actually sinking in. It is uplifting to have such encounters with people.

A was climbing the big rocks at our camp site during the day. She befriended a young boy who lived there and they spent some time climbing and talking. They had some difficulties understanding each other from time to time but they made it work with a little Spanish and a lot of sign language.

One day we went with a Canadian girl to see if we could find a place where we could jump straight from the rocks and into the water. A and I had noticed some people doing it the day before and we wanted to try it.

A wanted me or Sarah to go first so someone would be in the water when she went in. And then we jumped, and jumped, and jumped! We had a lot of fun.

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rock climbing in Parque Tayrona

After two nights of sleeping in hammocks in close proximity to lots of other people we decided to return to Santa Marta.

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A and her new friend

Visiting nature parks is always a good experience with A. She loves spending time outdoors and often walking outside together makes for interesting conversations. We both like the quiet of the nature and getting away from the crowds. Maybe I more so than A, but we both deduce from it something of greater value than might be visible to the eye.

It has to be said, though, that Parque Tayrona is probably the least charming out of all national parks we have visited thus far.

Taking a slow boat up the Amazon river from Leticia, Colombia to Iquitos, Peru

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Puerto Nariño, Colombia

The Amazonas has been on my list of places to visit for a very long time. It has always been a place of mystery and magic to me. When I was a child my dad would speak about the Amazon and the river, about crocodiles, snakes, about the people who live there, and the place became one of magic and wonder to me. It became a place of my dreams, and somewhere I wanted to go.

As it happens, when I first asked A where she wanted to go on this journey her immediate reply was: ‘The Amazonas’. I don’t know why but I suppose the Amazon has that air of mystery about it that makes you want to go and see for yourself. So, we did.

We took a plane from Bogota to Leticia in the south of Colombia. Leticia is in the Amazonas, right on the shores of the Amazon river. I was anticipating the weather to be very hot and humid but actually it was not nearly as hot as I had thought. We have experienced much hotter weather on our trip so far and we all quite liked the way the air felt in Leticia. It was unmistakenly a jungle destination; the sounds of the jungle were close to us at all times, the air was hot and humid, and there were (almost) no cars in the streets, only tuk-tuks. It was magical.

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climbing a lamp post in Leticia

We stayed at a cosy little guesthouse where we slept in hammocks on the veranda and showered under the open sky. We have become accustomed to sleeping in hammocks by now but the first few times we did it I did not sleep very well. A has no trouble sleeping in a hammock though. There was an air of friendliness and tranquility about the place that easily made it one of my favourite places we’ve stayed. And we met some very nice people.

Leticia is a beautiful town. We went on a guided tour. One of the few tours we’ve been on on this trip. Our guide, Britman, was from Peru and had his own little river boat. He was very passionate about his job and told us everything he knew about the Amazonas, the river, the plants, the animals, and the tribal peoples who live in the area.

From Leticia we took a slow boat, also called a banana boat up the Amazon river to Iquitos in Peru. The trip took less than 48 hours even though we were told it could take up to 4 days.

There isn’t much to do onboard a banana boat. We put up our hammocks and lay swinging back and forth in the warm Amazonian breeze. We looked at the river, the Amazon forest, tiny villages. We were lucky enough to see a few river dolphins, but other than that there isn’t much wild life to see when you’re on a slow boat.

A of course quickly made friends with a little Peruvian girl and they spent most of their waking hours playing.

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A and her new friend

The meals were made and served in large portions by a talkative cook, who couldn’t for the life of her understand why we didn’t want to eat meat.

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with our cook onboard the slow boat

I took up reading Sherlock Holmes and found out that I really enjoy the story. I’ve never read it before but lying in a hammock all day seemed like a good occasion to read a long book.

We all enjoyed the simple life onboard the boat. But we were happy to reach Iquitos. Not least because it made it possible for us to use toilets that weren’t outright health damaging.

We spent almost a week in Iquitos and from there took the 5 day boat to Pucallpa. But that’s a different story.

Having fun in Puno, Peru

Arriving in Puno after having spend such great days in Arequipa is a bit of a shock. Puno is confusing, noisy, ramshackle, and smelly. Streets are filled with people bustling one way and the other.

The night we arrive both A and I are feeling a little under the weather. It is the altitude, I am sure. We manage to find our way downtown from our hostel and wander around the streets to find vegan food. We have no luck, so we stop by Plaza Vea. Believe or not, but Puno has a huge supermarket in the middle of it’s narrow streets. It sits right by the abandoned train tracks.

We buy avocado, olives, and bread. We walk back to our hostel and the friendly girl at the reception tells us we can use the kitchen on the fourth floor if we like. We thank her and go to fix our sandwhiches. The staff at our hostel are wonderfully friendly. We enjoy the somewhat boring breakfast and we go on tours.

Puno itself isn’t worth much praise. But it sits among beatiful surroundings. On our first day we visit Sillustani. An old burial ground, which is actually an old dweilling as recent archeological findings has discovered. It is a beautiful place to visit. We walk with our group and our tour guide, Freddie, who has a lot of knowledge about the place. A is tired though, she isn’t finding the place as facinating as I am. When we get to the top she wants to go back and after a little bit of talking back and fourth, we decide to go down. I don’t gwt to see the whole place. But A gets to go down and relax. She is hungry.

On our way back, we visit a traditional household. They serve potatoes with mud. A loves it. She wishes there was more. She is so hungry. At the hostel we order a pizza. Order is restored by a 22 PEN pizza. My budget hurts.

The following morning we go on a tour to visit the island of Taquile. First stop are the floating islands of Uros. We are going on a motor boat. We meet a New Zealand couple, Jessie and Luke. A is brimming with joy. Finally some people to talk to! She immediately undertakes the task of entertaining the couple, who are really sweet. They play with her and indulge her ideas. We also meet Chihiro from Japan, who lives in Oregon. Chihiro loves hiking, she tells me we should come visit her in Portland at some point and I REALLY want to! Chihiro is great. A loves her. She LOVES meeting new friends!

The islands of Uros are a curious experience. We are greeted by the chief of the island, who gives us an introduction of life on the island and how the island is build and maintained etc. The intro is quite long and A looses interest. A bird seems to think the intro is too long as well, she shrieks in a loud, persistent voice as the chief continues to explain and our guide translates. A mostly enjoys talking to our new friends. Chihiro and A walk around the small island, talking and taking pictures while the rest of our group sit politely and listen.

We are invited to try on traditional garments, to have a look inside the houses, to buy souvenirs and take photos. Later we go for a little boat ride in a traditional boat and the women of the island sing us some songs. I have an unsettling feeling that everything is part of the big tourist machine. I don’t know weather to laugh or cry. On one hand, the money brought in from toursim helps support the islanders and their lives, on the other hand, what kind of life is it to always have foreigners visit your home. To have to let them inside your house, have them take photos of you, sing songs for them, and so on. I myself wouldn’t want that kind of life.

Chihiro and talk about it sitting on the roof of our noisy motor boat. She says it must be weird having to sing those same songs every day. I totally agree with her.

After Uros we have approximately three hours of motor boat sailing before we reach Taquile. Jessie and Luke are amazing, they play with A on the whole ride. A tells them stories, she smiles her incredible smile and laughs loudly. None of us listen to our tour guide. It is a bit unpolite. But we have fun. I look at A and know why I love her so much.
Taquile is a beautiful Island. However, it also has the tourist bug. So many visitors every day. Children there are accustomed to jump into photos and afterwards asking money for posing. A young girl runs to stand in front of A and I while Chihiro takes our photo. We wait and explain to her that we would like a photo without her. She stands there for a while and then moves. She has taken a liking to A’s doll with the pointy hairdo though. She wants him. But it is A’s son. A doesn’t want to give him away.

Afterwards A keeps asking me why the girl wanted her son. She is so sad about it. It is so strange to her that someone would want her son without her wanting to give him away. I tell her that the girl is used to having so many strangers visit her island every day and quite probably she often receives gifts. “She doesn’t see just another girl when she sees you, sweety, she sees an opportunity to receive a gift”, I tell her. “But he’s MY SON!”, A says forcefully. I know what she means.

We take in the breathtaking views of Taquile. Look at the beautiful handicrafts in the artisan shop, and, finally, go for lunch on top of the island.
It is delicious! And there is a vegan option! Quinoa soup and rise with vegetables. A has the soup and fish. She was so hungry, but she can’t eat very much. Conversation flows at the table. We talk to Jessie and Luke and to an Indian couple from Chicago and to Maya from Israel.

Afterwards, we try out traditional hats and pose for pictures. We have a great time. A and Jessie have a secret that they have to carry out on the boat ride back. A is so excited about it. She laughs and looks secretive and gets that wonderful spark in her eyes.
We walk to the other side of Taquile to take the boat back to Puno. Everyone is a bit tired. But the mood is amiable and we chit chat as we go down. I am thinking that one of the best things about travelling is the people we meet. Such wonderful, magic people ❤ ❤

In the evening we buy tickets for Copacabana, Bolivia. Our adventure continues.

Photo diary from Puno:

 

 

 

 

When travelling is less than fun

We are fine. Actually we are very well and we are happy and excited to be experiencing a lot of new things. We really enjoy it. But sometimes travelling is no pleasure. We have had a few of those times when we have travelled. This time it was a bus ride from Lima to Arequipa. The ride takes approximately 16 hours. It took a little longer but nevermind.

I booked tickets with one of the more expensive companies here, Cruz del Sur, to make sure we would have a comfortable ride. And I must say this is the most luxurious bus I have ever stepped on in my life. Reclining sofa seats, a place to put your feet, space for your belongings, movies on the screen in front of you, two meals (if you’re not a vegan), and blankets and pillows. Very nice.

It was an overnight ride as I figured we would be able to sleep on the way and not be too tired when we arrived in Arequipa. Only, I was wrong.

After about 5 minutes on the bus A felt sick. Two seconds later she had thrown up all over herself and her seat. I resolutely emptied our bag of food in my seat so she would have something to throw up in for the next attack. That was wise. A had a stomack ache. She was throwing up every hour for the whole ride. I was running back and forth between our seats and the steward’s seat in the back of the bus for more puke bags and paper to wipe A’s nose, mouth, and forehead.

After a little while I also started feeling nauseous and my stomach was acting up. On top of this my mooncup decided to leak so I had to pinch myself in the, by now, not very delicious bathroom of the bus and stay upright for long enough to do something about it. It was an act of balance and determination. Neither easy nor fun.

Naturally, we didn’t sleep much on this bus ride. A managed to sleep for a little in between her throwing up but I stayed wide awake worrying about her and making sure she had everything she needed as best as I could. I also started to wonder if this was really the sort of experiences I wanted A to have. But I told myself it wouldn’t make things better to take it out on myself. Sometimes things are just not nice or fun or easy.

Poor A didn’t eat anything on the whole ride. She managed to drink a little water but she threw it up right away.

When we arrived in Arequipa we were both exhausted. We stumpled out of the bus. A couldn’t carry anything so I had carry all our baggage. I really wanted to carry her but it wasn’t possible. Arriving from Lima, Arequipa was burning hot and we immediately felt sweaty and uncomfortable after our long, unpleasant ride, wearing too much clothes and being both hungry and very tired.

We got a taxi from the bus station to our hostel but he couldn’t drop us off at the exact spot so we had to wander around and look for it. A well meaning woman send us in the wrong direction and after about 15 minutes (I know it doesn’t sound like much but at that exact point it felt like hours) of walking around in the blazing sun we found what we were seeking.

We fell into our dorm beds and slept. Oh sweet, sweet sleep.

Today is our second day here. A is still recovering. We are taking it very easy. Eating, sleeping, talking, watching movies. We have managed a small stroll in our nearby surroundings and Arequipa is beautiful. I am sure we will have a wonderful time here once we are both fully recovered.

Step out of your comfort zone – it’ll set you free

Neale Donald Walsch says that life begins at the end of your comfort zone and he is probably right. I have huge problems stepping out of my comfort zone. I have experienced time and again how I have refrained from doing something for the sole reason that I was unsure how it would feel. And that made me scared to do it. I still let myself miss out on experiences only because I am afraid to try. But I am slowly practising getting better at stepping out of my comfort zone. I have decided to try something new.

We are about to go on an adventure. I have bought tickets to Peru and they are one way tickets. So we are leaving Denmark indefinitely. This is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time! And now I finally gathered the courage to buy the tickets. Even buying the tickets was a big step for me. I was sitting on my couch at 4 am in the morning searching for the cheapest tickets on momondo and matrix.ita. I had been searching for almost a week while my decision to go had been growing in me. I knew I was going to buy them. I just didn’t know when. So when, at 4 am, I pushed the buy button I felt so overwhelmed with excitement and happiness I almost couldn’t breath. I was bursting with joy and pride that I actually dared do such a spontaneous act of wildness and lust for adventure. Not only that, it was an act of following my own desires, of listening to my heart and my dreams.

I had bought the tickets. I was beaming. I had to announce it on facebook!

We leave in approximately 2 months. I have had different reactions to my decision to go. Some people have been very happy for me. Some have been worried.

There are a lot of preparations to do before we leave. Both here at home and for the actual journey. We have started doing our research on Peru – there are so many things to learn. And since my Spanish is really poor and A’s is nonexistent (so far she knows hola and me gusta), we have to practise that a little before we go. As it is, we have had our first lesson in Spanish already talking to our friends’ new neighbours.

It isn’t like we haven’t travelled before. But this is so different since it is a completely different part of the world. I have never been to South America except when I was about 9 and went to Venezuela for two weeks with my family. Back then it was all just an adventure for me. This is so much more scary for me. We are going, virtually, into the unknown and for an unknown period of time.

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The other times we’ve travelled we knew when we would be back again. This time it’s unsure. And this time I wont be able to get by on English. I have to learn a third language. I have so many questions popping up in my head all the time. Mainly I ask myself: will I be able to earn enough for us to get by while travelling? How will we make ourselves understood when we don’t speak the language? What if we don’t like travelling that way?

It is not only the thought that we don’t know what we are going to experience or what to expect, it is the thought that we wont have any safety net. There isn’t anybody to call if things go wrong. Of course in these times of technology there is always a way to get in contact with people but noone will actually be able to help in case anything goes wrong.

Anyway, these are my fears talking. Yes, it is true. I am scared to do this. But I am also excited to do this and I am really happy I am able to take A on an adventure like this.

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Life is about letting go of your fears and saying yes!

My hope is that this journey will open up our hearts more and set our spirits free and teach us to trust our intuition and let go of our fears and live in the moment. It is mostly me who needs to learn these things. A, fortunately, is much more capable of living in the moment. She is much wiser than me when it comes to trusting the world around her.

I know that I will be stronger, wiser, better at embracing the world and the people around me when I learn to let go of my fears. And step out of my comfort zone. Since I decided against sending A to school I have stepped quite far from my comfort zone but I have a tendency of returning to it in times of uncertainty. I am well aware that travelling is not the answer for everything but I have seen time and again how much good it does for us. Going far away may not be the solution for everyone. Stepping out of your comfort zone is as much about embracing the world around you and trusting that you will be able to do things you are afraid to do,even if it is in your hometown, as it is about daring to venture into the unknown.

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The moment you jump is the moment you are free!

I trust that the world will be open to A and I as long as we are open to it. And I trust that with open hearts and outside our comfort zones we will learn the most important things and see the most incredible sights. And meet the most wonderful people. I am certain we will. We are stepping out of our comfort zones and we are setting ourselves free ❤

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Rainbow Gatherings, first edition

Newly arrived home from Hungary where we had our first real Rainbow experience. A is sleeping peacefully in our bed while I am writing this and I am biting my lip wondering how to best explain my feelings and thoughts about this experience.  I have a lot of thoughts about it. I am scared that I may have put my daughter through too much with this experience and at the same time I am wondering if perhaps it was a good learning experience in the sense that it was both interesting, joyful and truly exhausting. I am wondering if it isn’t very very difficult to find the right balance between enough inputs and too many inputs. In any case, the idea of Rainbow Gatherings still very much appeals to me. And A has announced she would very much like to attend another one. I suppose it does offer a view of a truly different way of living. And I like to be able to show her different ways of living/travelling/meeting other people. Staying at home is also very nice, we both very much like it; it is convenient and comfortable and very reassuring. But I think it is important to get outside your comfort zone once in a while. Still, there is a time for everything and perhaps I didn’t choose the right time. I can never be sure about that. If you count a small gathering in Finland three years ago this was not our first Rainbow. But, in a way, it was our first real one. Since the one in Finland was so small it almost wasn’t a gathering and since there was a house very close by where everyone could go whenever they wanted to it doesn’t really count as a Rainbow Gathering. First I am going to talk a little bit about our journey to get there. We do not have a car, so when we go anywhere it is usually by train. We do fly too even though I feel very ambivalent about it because of the impact on the environment. Well. Our journey begun here in little Denmark, where we live. I might as well expose that now. We were going to meet up with my sister and her partner in Vienna, Austria. We first traveled to Vienna by train where we were to spend the night at my sister’s partner’s place. We had to get the train to Hamburg, Germany, and then change there to an all-night train to Vienna. We took the train in the afternoon and got to Padborg, which is a border town between Denmark and Germany. Here we had to get the bus to Hamburg because someone had been hit by the train in Germany. The thought that someone had been hit by the train was unnerving and I avoided talking too much about it with A even though she was very eager to know exactly what had happened and why we had to take the bus instead of the train. We waited for a long time in Padborg along with a bunch of other people who did not manage to get on the first bus to Hamburg. A was inspired to draw while she waited because she was watching an Australian family where one of the children was drawing in a sketch book. We got on the bus eventually and barely made our night train in Hamburg. We shared a cabin with a very friendly Austrian man, whom A was chatting happily with and who told me about some of the good places in Austria to go camping. In Vienna my sister and her partner picked us up. Both A and I were very tired. We went to the apartment and stayed there almost the whole day except for a small trip to the store where we bought supplies for the trip to Hungary. At the apartment A was playing a nintendo game that she liked. We don’t have any video games at home so she really enjoyed getting to play. I sat and played with her for a while and we both found it amusing. Since we were both tired we went to bed early and A fell asleep while I was reading to her. The next day we got in the car to drive to Hungary. A was excited to go. And so was I. I was looking forward to experiencing a big gathering with many people and, hopefully, many children. The gathering was quite different from what I had originally imagined though. I better say that since I have never been to a big gathering I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But having been told about the gatherings from my sister and having read about them I knew that they are about celebrating love, light and compassion. There are a lot of different people attending and usually there are many children and a lot of wonderful things to do if you like being outside. I had told A that there would probably be a lot of children and, since it was the world gathering, there would be a lot of English speaking children. A speaks English very well even though it is not her mother tongue. And there would perhaps be a kind of outdoor playground. Since I had heard that there was one at a previous gathering in Greece last year. A asked me a lot of questions about it. I knew she was probably imagining things with that twist of fairytale and playful wonder that she usually does and I tried to explain how we were going into the wild; the playground wouldn’t be like the ones she was used to. Perhaps there wouldn’t be any. We couldn’t know until we got there. The gathering was overwhelming for both of us. The first night we didn’t reach the site until nightfall and so we put up the tent near where we parked the car. I sat with A, while my sister and her partner put up the tent. A got warm while I was rubbing her back and we got some food she could eat. She was very tired and quickly fell asleep. The next morning we went to the actual place where the gathering was. We had to walk quite far and I carried A on my back most of the way. I started to have doubts about going; was this really enjoyable for A? Would she really like it there? Would she notice how overwhelmed I was by the whole thing? But I also knew that I tend to be quick to make decisions if I feel uncertain. And we just traveled all that way to get there. So now we needed to really BE THERE. We went to the childrens area at first. Here was a small fireplace and a kitchen where people sat around talking. Most people spoke German as did all the children who were there when we came. A and I sat down by the fireplace and talked about things we saw. A asked what language the people were speaking. A young mother offered me a cup of coffee and I happily accepted. A asked for water and she got some while we still sat, quietly, watching everything that was going on. A resembles me a lot when it comes to new settings; we both like to observe for a while before we interact. When we had been there for a while A wanted to leave and we went to where my sister and her partner had picked a spot for putting up the tents. Later that day we went back to the children’s kitchen and met a tame blackbird. That was probably one of the highs of that entire gathering. A was absolutely delighted to have the bird sitting on her arm. We had some chapattis and the German woman who had offered me coffee said A could try and feed the bird. I was watching happily while A, gently and slowly, tried to show the bird the food she was offering him. But he wasn’t interested in eating. We went back to the tent that night, happy and fulfilled about being at the gathering. Nevertheless. some of the children I had seen that day did not look like they were feeling well. They looked rather neglected, unhappy, distressed. And some mothers seemed indifferent to their child’s distress. They looked themselves exhausted, unhappy or quite truly indifferent. Mechanical even. I couldn’t get those images out of mind that evening as I was reading to A before we went to sleep. I had thought the Rainbows were a place of compassion and love, kindness and support. But if that wasn’t offered to the children there, what was the point? Still, I told myself we had only just arrived and I should give us some time for settling in. A was happy about having met a tame wild bird and she was not complaining about being there so I wanted to give her time to settle in and I was also wondering if maybe it was only me who felt overwhelmed. But deep down I knew it was not just me. At the gathering A tried to interact with several of the German speaking children but none of them were interested in talking to her. She was not discouraged though. She was keen on exploring and I let her walk around for a bit on her own too, watching from a distance. Then A finally met a girl who also spoke English. She was delighted. The girl was six years old like A is. Initially the girls seemed to play well together but I sensed that something was off when I walked around with them as they played. The other girl seemed very self-assertive and in some instances a bit aggressive. A later told me she had seen the girl’s mother be “not very nice” to the girl. And that explained some of the things I had observed. During the next couple of days we made a trip to the nearest town to get supplies etc. A enjoyed going into town. She did not like the compost toilets at the gathering so she was really pleased to be able to use a real toilet. We were at a mall where there was a very small playground for toddlers, but A also climbed around there a little. In the end she sat at the slide looking at an advertising picture for a long time. It had three girls on it, arms wrapped around each other and big happy smiles. A said: “Mom, I like that picture. It makes me happy inside to look at it.” I told her I could see why. A while after she said: “I wish I could be their friend too.”  It was obvious she was missing her friends back home. Thus, five days later, a Rainbow experience richer, and somewhat disillusioned we headed home. Our trip home was okay. We camped by a lake in Austria after having been stuck in traffic in Budapest for several hours. A enjoyed playing with the slimy green seaweed and burying her feet in the muddy lakebed. In Vienna we had to stay at a hostel. We cuddled up close in the same bunk bed and A quickly fell asleep. I lay awake thinking about all the things we had experienced. The next day we got on the night train to Hamburg and from there back to Denmark. That was our trip. This post ended up a bit differently than I had anticipated since it became a sort of summary of our trip. I actually wanted to say something about the Rainbow Gathering, so here goes: I like the idea of Rainbow Gatherings. I like celebrating love, light, happiness and life. Being grateful for being alive and being able to experience our world and nature. The gathering was a world gathering so I had thought there would be more people from around the world. And perhaps they came after we left. On a grander scale, the gathering took place in Hungary, inside the European Union, which naturally leaves out a lot of people since the EU is not easy to get to for everyone. On a more personal level, I had thought the families who went to the gatherings would all be comitted to non-violent communication and showing warmth and compassion towards their children, but what I saw was something different. This left me disillusioned and unsure about how to feel about the gatherings. On the other hand, the gatherings are for open for everyone. They are a place where you have the chance to experience and get inspired by other people. Everyone there is free to be inspired by what they want to be inspired by and leave the rest be. And so the gathering gave us a new experience and, certainly, inspiration we can use and which we will use in a way that suits us best. Our surrounding society offers a lot of things we can choose not to be inspired by and that we choose not to be inspired by and the same goes for the gatherings. I see aggression and frustration being taken out on children almost everywhere I go. It is disillusioning and saddening and I had not expected to see it at a Rainbow Gathering and maybe that makes me naive. It is not to say that we did not meet warm and friendly people there. We did meet some wonderful people and we take with us the memory of those truly rainbow souls and cherish those memories. That was long and probably somewhat messy. Apologies for that.

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Rainbow hangin’
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Making chapatis
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Auntie Sara ❤ ❤ ❤
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A enjoying life
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A took a picture of me packing
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A loves to climb those trees
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Our camp from a tree top
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We are packing
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The green swamp where A and her friend are fishing
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Leaving Austria
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A takes a picture of me looking very concentrated
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Waiting for our delayed train

Deschooling: learning how to live

I haven’t started unschooling my daughter yet. I suppose I can only say I have started once I announce it to the authorities and make it completely official. Furthermore, she is still enrolled in kindergarten, albeit she is not attending it very much these days. In fact, she is not attending at all. Since I told her she could choose to stay at home if she wants to she hasn’t gone there. That tells me something about her kindergarten and about her. It tells me that she probably is not as happy about her kindergarten as I told myself she is and it tells me that the kindergarten is an institution, like all other institutions, that deals with what it does in what I assume is the best way it can, but that the people who work there are not able to see that my daughter is not happy there. And this again tells me something about our system, namely that we have all these institutions with lots of good and well-meaning people, who are not in a position where they are able to meet the needs of all the children who are there. The children are too many and the institustions are too big and have too little staff. All in all it has really made me think.

It has made me think about all the things I have already put my daughter through that were not in her interest at all. These are things I have felt compelled to do for many different reasons, not least how our society works and what possibilities it leaves a single parent and her children. These are things I will probably address again at some point.

We have started a so-called deschooling period my daughter and I; that is, I have lifted all restricions I have had for my daughter in the past such as screen-time, bedtime, candy-eating etc. Those are mainly the areas where I have set limits for her. But of course there are other areas that I am only just beginning to realise myself, things I have thought were my only options, such as sending her to preschool/kindergarten and to daycare. These are major things that cannot be undone now. But I can try to mend them. There are other restrictions too, things having to do with my own believes and ideals, but I will not comment on these just now and there are probably things I do that I haven’t yet realised.

My daughter seems to adjust really well to our new way of living. She is at peace, content, happy and self-confident. It is as if she is truly learning to be herself, or actually, she always knew how she is just learning that it is perfectly okay to be herself. Really the one who needs deschooling the most is me. I can feel fear gripping me every so often; it starts with a kind of restlessness or impatience, a feeling that I need to do something productive. I have talked about this before I know, and this is because it is not an easy thing to handle. I think everybody relapses into this fear once in a while. It is a fear that we have learned to obey all our lives; the fear that we wont live up to the expectations of our surroundings; the fear that people will think we are strange or rude or that we just don’t fit in. This fear can be observed and felt everywhere, but it can also be dealt with and we can learn to control and perhaps even use it as a guideline; when something feels truly scary we should probably just do it!

So, deschooling; my daughter needs a lot of downtime these days. She needs to come back inside her own body, to feel safe, loved, accepted and heard. Just like me she is a very sensitive being and she has always needed a lot of time, especially in the evening, to relax and calm down before being able to go to sleep. It has been like that ever since she was a tiny newborn baby. And now she is five and a half. She needs downtime after all the mornings we’ve had that have been stressed and unpleasant, she needs downtime after all the evenings where I thought I had to make her go to sleep even though she wasn’t ready and she needs downtime after all the hours she spent at her noisy and confusing kindergarten without ever having had a say as to whether she wanted to be there or not.

She watches a lot of TV-shows on netflix, she plays a lot, she thinks out loud a lot, she sings a lot, dances and moves around a lot, plays on her iPad some of the time, all of this while asking a billion trillion questions that I do my best to answer. Generally she is mostly interested in being at home these days. She is not in a hurry to get out and be somewhere else. She really enjoys just being. And I let myself be inspired by her calmness and her joy and curiosity for life.

I have learned a few things already myself; I have learned that we do not need to go for a long walk to feel like we have been outside enjoying the weather, we might as well go to the backyard. I have learned that we can bake bread with flour and water and a little bit of salt. I have learned that my daughter is perfectly capable of saying when she is hungry and when she is sleepy and when she needs what kinds of food. I have learned to trust my own instincts more and I have learned that I am not done learning at all!

It has been about a month since we started deschooling and we still have a long way to go. I have taken up a few of my old hobbies like drawing and writing, and I started learning how to knit again, and I really enjoy it.

The best thing about deschooling so far is, once we settle into the holiday feel of living a happy and content life, communication simply blooms; it flows naturally and we have long and deep conversations almost daily. It has opened up a new room, a new space that is there just to be used to speak and be silent together, a space where no clock demands us to do certain things at a certain time, a space where my daughter can laugh and play and use her imagination as much as she wants, a space where there is room for everyone who wants to be there. We started our journey and we are happily continuing seeking wisdom, truth and happiness in our souls and our surroundings.