A Break in Newcastle

*Written on Friday November 30th, 2012* 

Long train journeys always make me want to write. They give me the opportunity to gather my thoughts and order my overly-active brain.

As I’m writing this on my BlackBerry for lack of paper, listening to mumford and sons (my all time favourite band!) and the smell of beer from the guys in front of me making me even more excited for this trip, I’m on my way to Newcastle, England! To visit my friend Chloe, whom I met in Ghana where I caught the famous travel bug. It was with her that I backpacked through Australia and we haven’t seen each other for over 3 years!

So while I’m on this side of the North Sea, a visit had to be done. Not only am I excited to see her, I’m on the move again! The lenght of the trip doesn’t matter. I will be in a new city, exploring my surroundings and most important, out of Aberdeen! No bad word about Aberdeen, I love the place, I just need a change of environment now and then.

This weekend will be all about catching up, bringing back memories of Australia, having fun and forgetting about all the school work waiting for me when I get back. Apparently Newcastle is famous for it’s party scene so I have to do some of that as well of course.

As we’re nearing newcastle, the lads on the train are starting to feel the effect of the alcohol they have been consuming sinds Aberdeen. Beers are falling over, the “for fuck sakes” are being yelled and no matter how much I hate overly drunk lads, I can’t help myself but to smile at their accents. After the Irish accent, the Scottish accent is my all time favourite.

As my overly-active brain is ordered again, the train is pulling into Newcastle. With snow falling down outside, I know I’m up for an exciting weekend. Time to find Chloe.

First sea after 3 months on the farm

Chloe and my feet in the sea after working 3 months on a farm in the outback of Australia

Flashback: Ghana Confessions

I was just about to go to bed, when I stumbled on the Projects Abroad Ghana Facebook page I am part of. Once in a while I flick through it, read some messages and click away from the page. Just now though, I saw a video was posted about a volunteer D. who is going to travel to Ghana for the fourth time to donate football gear around Ghana. Including the club I volunteered at in my last month: The Cantonments.

My last month in Ghana, I decided to move from Cape Coast to the capital city Accra. Instead of helping in an orphanage, I would be helping/training a football team. An 18 year old girl, trying to teach 12 year olds how to kick a ball around. Looking back I find it hilarious, considering they kicked my ass on the field.. At the same time it turned out to be an experience I will never ever forget in my life.

While looking at this video, my experience flashing before my eyes at the same time, there are some things I just have to throw out there. Call it conscious, call it growing up, call it reflecting on life. It just has to be done.

I was 18 when I decided I wanted to help little kids in Africa. Feeling all grown up and sure I could do this, that they even needed me out there. Boy was I wrong. Thinking about it now, both the kids in the orphanage in Cape Coast and the kids on the football pitch in Accra, taught me more than I did them.

It was my first travel experience and I was suffering a big culture shock, severe homesickness and a lot of insecurity. This all made me a bit shy, on the background, just letting it all happen instead of making things happen. Most of the time, I just wasn’t really me.

During those 4,5 months I didn’t fully realize what I was putting myself through and how much I would value that experience right now. Even though I would do everything different now, I don’t regret one moment.

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The Cantonments will always have a special place in my heart.

Flashback – Lunch time in an orphanage in Ghana

One of the first things I did, after deciding to start up this blog, was go through all my travel photo’s. I could not believe how many photo’s I took of my feet, without realising that I actually had this habit. From every place that I have been to, I have at least one foto of my feet. All those photo’s brought back some really good memories.

In 2008, I finished secondary school. All my friends were excited to go to University but I just didn’t feel like it. I was looking forward to graduate and be finished with school for a little while. I could actually do what I wanted to do. I did feel the presure of the teachers, trying to help you with picking a course and University, I just had the feeling it wasn’t real. So I took a gap year, worked full time for 5 months and off I went. Volunteer work in Ghana, that’s what I wanted to do.

My friends and family encouraged me to go, but why Ghana? Well, to be honest, it was just a gut feeling. I was never obsessed with Africa, let alone live there for 5 months! But somehow suddenly I wanted to go there. 4 Months working in an orphanage, 1 month coaching a soccer team (more about that later on..).

Lunch time in the orphanage started with a song, to thank god for the food and water. They would stand up, close their eyes and sing without shame. Every day I would see this and every time it was just as amazing. After the song they would sit down and wait for their food, served by the oldest kids. Talking wasn’t allowed so they would just sit there, swinging with their legs, waiting for their food. During the whole meal, nobody would speak. An occasional giggle, but all the kids new they had to be quiet.

So when I was sitting on a bench, waiting for the kids to finish their lunch, I saw a pile of shoes. Not one matching pair. However, I never saw the kids walking around with 2 different shoes..