EMBRACE OF EMPTINESS | THE STORY

Elderly and insulation

No one is younger than seventy in the bus from Vrav to Vidin. They left to a ‘better’ world, their children and grandchildren. Most of the houses are empty around the villages and small city’s. Lot’s of Balkan villages are right now elderly villages that saw most of youngsters leaving and their houses crumble.

We started our project in the most North-West corner of Bulgaria in a village with 200 people in winter. The villagers know us better every day by visiting the local pub and church to get to speak to the people. We insulated one room in the 1939 and moved in three days ago. There is no running water, but we take drinking water from the neighbors and for the water to do the dishes/laundry/shower we melt the snow. The stove is working, after Freddy cleaned the chimney. That is necessary because it will be -20 in January. The focus is now on wood, insulating and making contact with the village. Feel welcome to come by!

Am I gonna get there before winter? A one month dairy

12-09-2018
He checks one more time if I am all right, the Serbian man that gave me a ride from Belgrade to Novi Sad together with his wife. Invited to their house, eating their food and sleeping in their son’s bed I feel grateful. I take a warm shower and fall asleep, watching a movie. He told me that they are half Hungarian, as many people of this northern region of Serbia are. He is a gym teacher, masseur and goes to England in two days, for a not yet set time. He will be a cleaner of machines there, for three times the wages as he is earning right now. She is the director of a music school.
13-09-2018
Hitchhiking goes smooth. From the petrol station I catch a Romanian young married couple who drive  all the way to Vienna. They are nice and give me grapes. I share my Serbian rose candy’s with them. His father is a crane machinist in Vienna. Stefan (My friend in Vienna) didn’t answer his phone yet. He is one of the rare people where I can always count on. Even calling him one hour before I arrive will result in ‘Sure, see you soon!’. I hope he is home. I over-smoked myself the last days, which is not hard in the Balkans. Like rakia smoking is the way of the most people to connect. I look out of the window and stare into the endless mono-culture forest and agriculture in Hungary. 29 kilometer to Budapest, 272 to Vienna.
15-09-2018
It feels safe and chill in the apartment of Stefan in Vienna. The bike is repaired which makes me almost ready to go. I am watching a documentary of Louis Theroux, visiting a Nazi-network in the US. After seeing so many cultures, types of people and many different forms of racism my stomach is turning around when I hear Tom Metzger, leader of the ‘White Aryan Resistance’ scream in his speech: ‘Nigger, Nigger, Nigger – Out, Out, Out!’ Short after this, he visits another guy who wants to know for sure if Louis is a Jew or not. I feel anger and my first thought is: How to fight this? It is admirable how calm Louis stays. Is his job comparable to my life? But then without camera and extra people around. After thousands of hitchhikes, I’ve heard lovingly people with great projects and hateful people that only took me because I am white. How to reply? Should I scream? Should I start the discussion with them? Should I be silent for the sake of the peace in the car? Will it make any sense to discuss?
16-09-2018
Three days in Vienna. It feels great to have some silent place before cycling again. Walking trough Vienna today, on my way to get an second hand e-reader and a bigger melodica (Got it, yes!) – as this guy walks next to me. I am reading the manual of the e-reader. ‘Are the letters interesting, haha?’ He has a small cigarette stump in his mouth  and a ‘NY’ cap on his head. Just five minutes before, I saw him checking the cigarette machine for left-over coins. ‘The manual of my ereader’, I tell him, and  ‘Are you collecting bottles and coins?’ He tells me about his thromboses, how he walked from Paris all the way back to Vienna, tells me where I can take free shower with a smile on his face and the places to sleep for free – getting away early in the morning, before the crowd comes.  I am curious about which bottles have deposit on them and I get a complete ‘container-bottle-deposit-collecting’ – lesson. He rolls a cigarette for me (can’t help it!). I tell him about my life and see that he didn’t expect to hear about a life so similar from a guy in modern clean white-dots pants and perfectly trimmed beard.

17-09-2018
There is the sound of wild boars, not too far from me. I hope they will leave me and my food alone. Their nose is good enough to smell me. That leaves me with a question: Do they keep a safe distance or will they bother me in their search for food?
18-09-2018
Heading from Vienna to Bratislava by bike. The sleep was not good because of the boars. This and the fact that the gears of the bike are giving trouble again, makes that I am done with smiling and saying hi to everyone. I am driving with an grumpy face trough Austria. Five euro’s.. five euro’s the man wanted for working one fucking minute on the bike. Motherfucker. I cycle away from the horrible village, with the horrible ‘not even a bicycle specialist’. I start crying. I feel angry at the world. Loneliness.. Money, money, money. That’s what they all want. Maybe I should say that I don’t have money to everyone that I meet. I am curious how much people will still help me then.  I think about you. You are silent. You kiss me, softly. I look into your deep greenish eyes and know that you are indeed not from this planet. Is this what they call love? I play a melody on my melodica, my new melodica with 36 keys – for you. Soon I will get a foot-pump for it and attach it. Then I can play and sing. You don’t hear the song, unlike the people on the bridge. Sitting at the side of the Morava river that streams on the border between Austria and Slovakia, I realize that I need to take much more of those breaks and search for places to stay longer. Stretch, breath and eat – but one of the most important things: A place where I feel accepted. This relaxes all muscles in the body and gives a opportunity to rest. The cold dive in the fresh water awakens me and puts me in my body.
19-09-2018
I project my expectations on close-by people, expecting them to do the same for me as I would do for them – I realize in Milan’s apartment in Bratislava. Often, that’s how I practice my interpretation of love and commitment. But who am I?  Who am I to think that certain acts mean love or not? In the same time there are my feelings. Feelings of missing. The feeling of small pieces in me, breaking – with not seeing people that I love for a long time. I feel pain. Instead of feeling the pain, I start manipulating. The need to share my thoughts in a way expecting answer from the other. Then, when the other isn’t ok with it or doesn’t reply – feelings of sadness,anger and misunderstanding are being projected on those people, most of the time people that I love. The challenge in this is to separate the feelings of sadness, misunderstanding and anger in myself from projecting  it on people. Projecting it is avoiding the pain in itself and makes it at the end heavier to wear. I feel free in the apartment of Milan. It makes me able to reflect before I will cycle towards Gyor in Hungary, where the bicycle will stay for a short hitchhike trip back to Prague to see someone very special and my friends..

23-09-2018
There are so many memories about this place. Kuba makes the yogi-massala tea that he always made when I lived for more than a month with him. A year ago I arrived at his place, not knowing that Kladno would change the travel that I lead so much, watching the world and the education of children in a total different way and not to forget: ‘my love-life’. I smell the herbs and the hospitality of my friend. I will always be welcome here. It is a nice thing to have and to know, having persons like him in my life.
24-09-2018
Is it my own insecurity? I see the love for me in the eyes of Vladia, Lucia and Kuba. The way I am being missed and the way they welcome me. What a great embrace. They appreciate me. Maybe higher than my own self-esteem. I will always be welcome.
25-09-2018
Polly is snoring in his basket. Behind them, the sunset already happened and I see some vague orange with clouds. Anna is cutting some paper that she is going to glue in her book full of paintings. I saw her today, after two months. The love streamed trough everything in the world and I felt the happiest man. Those couple of days with my Czech family are a great rest for me. I feel grateful. Especially to be inside a warm house, when the leafs are falling down from the tree and the colder
autumn days start with a lot of rain and people that hide themselves in their cars and houses.
26-09-2018
Her big green eyes are look me straight in the face, not asking, not telling but they just look. I look at her and move my head slowly towards her and give her a kiss on her lip. Then I give her a bigger kiss where bits my lower lip between her teeth, carefully. I move with my hand trough her blond/grey hair, down towards her naked back and buttocks. She holds my head in between her two hands and kisses me while she pushes her body against my body. I lie on my left side, she on her right.  I move my right leg between her legs and we entangle in each other. All thoughts about loneliness disappear and I feel filled. My empty  me, that often feels so lonely does not complain. The body relaxes and is happy. Without having any sense of time, we make love for 2, 3 or whatever hours. Then she goes. Back to the house where her children will wait for her. We see each other tomorrow. Then I will travel again.. I ask myself why since I am in love, the moments that I am without her are so much more lonely than the moments that I was not in a relationship. Does this makes life more complicated? Lucia bakes a cake, the dogs are snoring and Anna is cutting some paper.

30-09-2018
Wanderlust from Mark Knopfler plays on the background while sitting in the sun next to the blue water of the Danube – close to Budapest. Max, Connor and Josh play soccer. I was about to pitch my tent yesterday when heard German. The guy, Max – was talking with a friend on the phone. In a canoo, hollowed out of a tree that he made himself, he started his journey 7 weeks ago from Germany. We cook, smoke and have a great campsite night with conversations about love, sex, life and the conversation that comes always back with interesting people: Mono versus Polyamory, jealousy in this and trying to find out where this feeling comes from and what to do or not to do with it.
01-10-2018
knowing that I wouldn’t stay there, I went with Josh and Connor to their hostel in Budapest, Using their internet to search on warmshowers for people that would be willing to host me last minute was my goal. After one hour calling, I found Andras. He was 1,5 km away from the place where I was. Like my life is not random enough, something random happened. A girl was walking outside on the street and I thought, I know her. I went trough the door and shouted: ‘hey’! I know you! But from where? She remembered me. She knew me from a christian conference, 6 years back in Gyor. How different my life was back then.. Right now she’s working in the film industry, still christian – making a film with the actor that plays spider man.
03-10-2018
Classic music sounds trough my headphones while I am typing in the apartment of Andras. He is really hospitable and I feel home in his cozy apartment. He is really home with chemistry and explains me again how an atom is working and hydro-powered motors. We have discussions about our utopia society and how to get there. I realize that this is my life everyday since two years and that typing this tiny blog is too little to describe all  that I’ve heard and learned. Today we work on my bicycle, I got a new screw for my SPD-paddles and on my way to the bicycle specialist I asked all the supermarkets for the left-overs when I met this 80 year old man who had a small grocery store. He spoke 9 languages, is Czech and traveled the whole world hitchhiking. it’s too much.. I need three humans to digest all the things that I hear, feel and see in just one day.
7-10-2018
Proud of myself. The last 6 days I cycled from Budapest to Sombor in Serbia. Everywhere I asked for the old bread and the leftovers and managed to live for free those days. I was continually cycling together with nice people as my leg started to hurt a little again so I need a break
8-10-2018
Sitting in a real train after trying to hitchhike, which is not really a break, I found out. I don’t feel like hitchhiking. It costs to much energy. I don’t want to explain my story, even to the people that admire my way of living. I don’t feel sad, I just feel tired. I don’t want to hitchhike and ask for food anywhere now. Living the capitalist life, buying food everywhere – all the way back to Czech. Allowing myself to have a rest. Not interested in people. Secretly I think about investing in bitcoins..

17-10-2018 05:34
I just walked the whole night trough Vienna with my backpack. Took the train from Czech to Vienna, dumpstered lot’s of food while talking with Lucas. Then I discovered that my night bus was a afternoon bus that already left so I am walking the whole night trough Vienna with the heavy backpack till I meet a girl at the desk of the hotel where I check my bitcoins. She gives me a donut, coffee and a sandwich as we talk till 5AM. When her colleagues  take over her shift – I have to go and I walk to the station where I typ this story in a exhausted state of being. I order another bus that leaves in two hours. To Budapest and then back to Sombor (Serbia) where my bicycle is waiting.
18-10-2018
I was not aware of my hair growing so rapidly the past month, I realize after Yasmine cutting my hair. I am watching a movie on my laptop in the king size bed in Zorhan and Yasmin’s house. They give me lot’s of homemade food and we talk about Serbia. Tomorrow I will cycle to Novi Sad. Oh yeah, and I met Yoshi, the upcoming president of Liberland!
19-10-2018
Raindrops fall down on my tent, in the dark – close to Novi Sad. I skipped cooking, couldn’t get the fire started and it started to be dark. Watching the movies that Sean recommended me.. It is a good thing. I like it. With Luck, I can get to Belgrade tomorrow. I watch the photo’s from her and me. God, her body.. Love it, miss it. But now I am here, and not for nothing. If I don’t like it, I should make other choices. But I like it. My choice. Oh yeah, another story. Remember my anger about this Austrian man that charged 5 euro’s for a minute work on my bike? A guy in Sombor worked for 20 minutes on my bike and didn’t want anything for it. Every 10 minutes there is a Serb, screaming to me and my bike, it feels like being in the center of the attention. In the afternoon a woman stopped me and told me that her cousin saw me 10 km back  and told her to stop me to make photo’s. Of course the photo’s were not for free, I charged three apples and a sweet home made syrup. I miss the care of Zorhan and Yasmine already. I feel pain that I cannot be with my baby and my family and I feel joy that I can live this life. I am free. I can go almost everywhere I want with my passport and I am not forced to live in war.
20-10-2018
Reading about the first dutch person with a gender-neutral passport – it makes me happy. As a traveller I am curious how foreign countries are going to handle this kind of passport.. Hoping that more will follow and after research about acceptation in other countries, I will ask for a gender-neutral passport as well. I am so happy to read her emails. Somehow I hope that I will be soon in Romania/Bulgaria which makes me able to call roaming free! Yesterday I met a donkey with an attachment disorder. I gave her my dumpster carrots and talked a bit with her. She didn’t come close but eat my carrots.
22-10-2018
Where is the border between love and possession? Having some injury’s I am resting in the apartment of a friend. She didn’t contact me for 24 hours, which is not long if I look at it theoretically. It hurts. My insecurity says that she’s not interested in me anymore and in my worst case, she found someone else. It takes courage to speak about this so openly and I am feared of being judged. I call her.. She tells me she will check her email. God, I don’t want to be that kind of guy again, forcing someone to contact me. At the end, it is a lesson to learn how to trust on myself again.. To be not dependent on her. But still I do. What if I would not have a phone? What if I would not have internet? I cry. Because I feel lonely. But after the cry I feel less lonely. I like crying. Let’s do some breathing. To feel myself. Because this is real. My body, being in Serbia – on the way.. What a freedom and joy. Haha, funny. Reading this again I see the contradiction. And yes I am a contradiction with my mood swings.
23-10-2018
Still I am happy with not having anything on the internet except for a email and website. But now, resting from my injury’s I miss it. The simple scrolling on Facebook, contacting all the people where I don’t have contact with now to drive away the lonely feeling.. Is it true what people say? That I should not make it so hard for myself. Do I make it hard for myself?

Cycling from The Netherlands to Czech Republic (video 27-29)

I am leaving by bicycle and cycle trough West and central Europe, meeting lot’s of great friendships for life on the way.

#27 – The funeral of my grandma leaves me in confusion. Nevertheless I decide to leave Europe again, this time by bicycle

#28 – cycling from The Netherlands, through Germany to the Hitchgathering

#29 – Cycling through Germany, staying in Kesselberg – continuing to Czech Republic

Hitching back home through Georgia and Turkey to Europe (video 24 – 26)

I am hitch-hiking back home through Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and East/central/west Europe for the wedding of my sister and the funeral of my grandma.

#24 – Hitching from Armenia through Georgia to a great ecological farm

#25 – Working on a great organic farm and the visit of my little sister in Georgia

#26 – Back in The Netherlands, the great contradiction of a wedding and a funeral