Ask me again

DSC_9859

Ask me what it was like.
Ask me how I felt.
Ask me if it was what I thought it would be.
Ask me if I miss it.
Ask me if I would do it over.

And when I have answered the best that I can,
wait.
Maybe a day,
maybe a year.

Then ask me again.
Ask me again.

People change – and opinions with them.

Today, Last year

Today, last year, I returned to Norway from Namibia.

Today, last year, I thought I knew how I would always feel about my work in Namibia. I believed my friends when they said that, eventually, you only remember the good times. However, I remember laying awake for hours – because it hurts when wounds heal. I remember feeling dizzy, even as I told others that it’s okay, the water will come back – I’m sure. I want it to stay this way though. I want to remember. I need to remember.

12218925_920532134680459_1661044393_o
I cannot remember the good times I had with Jesse, without remembering how it hurt when she died.

We tell the stories we think others will listen to. The rest just quietly slips through the cracks. People like to hear about events that are funny, dramatic – Exciting! But sometimes, sometimes the stories of the little things are the stories that should be told. Because when something ends, you remember, not what happened once and was amazing, but what happened every day – and how that made you feel.

12242779_923879217679084_1768923201_o
Two things that happened every day, but that I rarely talk about, are the sunrise and sunset. They were unlike any I had seen before, or that I have ever seen after I left.

Today, last year, I left a place I learned to call home.
Today, this year, I know that it wasn’t, and that that’s okay.
Today, next year, I might have a different opinion – and that’s okay too.

Let the Butterflies Be

When I think of past summers I remember chasing butterflies. I remember catching them. I reget that now. However, no one ever taught me the consequenses of catching a butterfly. No one ever told me that it would shorten their lifespan. Not until I  volunteered in a butterfly sanctuary in Australia, April – May 2016.

DSC_0427
One of my favorites, a Common Eggfly. Sometimes there’s something extraordinary about the ordinary.

Like fish, butterflies have scales. They need them for their color and to flap their wings. Usually they’ll shed them slowly throughout life. When you touch them you interfere, and more scales than the butterfly is supposed to lose come off – this is the powder you can feel on your fingers. The butterfly might look fine, but you stole valuable time form its life.

DSC_0677
A butterfly at the end of her days. There’s soon to be one less butterfly to care for the ecosystem and be an indicator of biodiversity.

We shouldn’t encourage kids to catch them. We shouldn’t catch them ourselves. They have to digest themselves to change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. I think they’ve been through enough. Let the butterflies be.

DSC_0466
Fly little one, fly. Live the month you’re supposed to.

Up Over, but Down Under

I bet you thought I was done with Australia, didn’t you? However, it takes more than a week and a constitution day for me to be done with an adventure. I might have returned to Norway physically, but mentally I’m still partially there; at the other side of the world.

DSC_0881.JPG
I’ll be going back. It might take me years, but I will go back Down Under.

I wake up too early in the morning these days – the jet lag still wearing off. It’s strange how quickly I have adapted to being back home. It’s almost like I was never gone. But I was. I was gone for five weeks. Five weeks of work, fun, and of an adventure I think I will always remember.

DSC_0718.JPG
If all else fails, I’ll remember the first time I looked into this Frogmouth’s red, red eyes.

Sometimes I catch myself wondering if I am different from before I left. Looking in the mirror I still look the same (except for the tan of course). On my last biggest adventure yet, when I went to Africa, I felt like the changes took place so deep inside of me that only I knew they happened – like the roots of a tree grow without anyone but the tree knowing it.

Did Australia change me? Perhaps it’s too early to tell. If it didn’t? Maybe it was not about me changing myself, but about me changing something for someone else. If there is a list of truths about traveling then this one would make it on mine: When I meet the world, the world also meets me.

DSC_0265
Maybe I only changed something for a koala, but that would be enough for me.

The Inevitable Comparison

I’ve been thinking a lot about baboons lately. This might sound strange to a newcomer, but all of you loved oldies of my followers, you know baboons and me have a history. No matter which one of these groups you belong to though, you might ask yourself why I’m thinking about them now, in Australia, several months after my time in Namibia. It’s because of the koalas. The stupid, stupid koalas.

image

#creepily taking pictures of him while he’s sleeping

Baboons have this look in their eyes. You can see them thinking. You can see them evaluating you and plotting their grand plan. In koalas’ eyes I see nothing. Sure, they are cute, and waaaay softer than I expected, but they sleep 18-22 hours a day. They sleep, they eat, and then they sleep again. Where’s the fun in that? Now, you might be saying that I am here to help out with saving them from extinction, but as I can’t very well say this at work, I needed to let it out. I miss my playful baboons (at that point where they only wanted to play with me and not bite, scratch and pull my hair).

image

My furry friends could play all day, jumping up and down and in and out of my shirt.

Having thought of baboons, I started thinking about the rest of my project in Namibia. It’s so different this time around. I live at a hostel in the middle of the city, right next to a huge mall, not isolated in the middle of nowhere. I fall asleep to the sound of the French guys clinking their glasses together for the millionth time, not the lions roaring. However, there’s also always enough food on my plate and I never feel like I should offer it to someone that is more hungry than myself.

image

Ain’t nobody gonna eat this food, but me!!

I’ve gotten one cut since I arrived here, and even that tiny injury was taken seriously. While, probably right now, at an animal sanctuary in Namibia, a volunteer is walking up to a coordinator with a blood covered hand and arm – and the coordinator looks down at it and shrugs “hm, yeah, you might need stitches for that. Go see if you can find the veterinarian”.

image

Another similarity is that the work is hard. Digging up this tree was nowhere near fun, but immensely satisfying!

After I leave this place, I know, just like I knew as I turned around in the car to get one last look of the camp in Namibia, that I will never return. For better of for worse, some experiences are best left as once in a lifetime’s.

image

Having a dingo lick my face not included!

Holding a Snake

“The worst thing it can do is bite you.”
“That sounds pretty bad to me” I watch the snake that hisses from my coordinator’s shoulders. “What happens if it does?”
He shrugs “You’ll probably go: “auch!” ” He simulates a horrified expression, waves his arms and laughs at himself. “But hey, no worries, I’ll keep this one; you clean the enclosure. Great deal.”
I look from the greenish snake to the tools, and back again. I smile “hand it over”.

image

Shit, shit, shit. Don’t look at it, don’t look at it.

The snake is smooth and cold. It coils around me. For some reason I expected it to be slimey, but it wasn’t. “Okay, push the head back if you feel it gets too close to your face, yeah like that.”
“So is this one of the snakes you have because it showed up in someone’s bathroom?”
“You mean like the croc that showed up in someone’s pool? No, this one we have to teach our visitors the difference between dangerous snakes and really dangerous snakes.”
“In which categor-”
“But alrightie, all done. Here, I’ll take that. You said something about hoping to take a selfie with a kangaroo, right? I’ll show ya.”

image

Once in a lifetime, once in a lifetime.

Australia: First Impressions

Strangely, the first thing I noticed about Australia was the Asians. As I walked around Sydney’s airport they were everywhere. I didn’t think too much of it at first, but then I noticed that several of the signs are translated to chinese and japanese. Suddenly it made sense that the last meal we were served before landing was sushi. Arriving in Cairns, Queensland, several hours later, I’m not sure it I expected less of them, but I certainly didn’t expect more. However, they were around every corner, present at every store, and audible at every attraction. Why has it never occurred to me before that a lot of Asians travel to Australia? Were there Asians in Crocodile Dundee? It makes total sense now, when thinking about it – they are quite close; why wouldn’t they go?

image

The second thing that hit me, was the heat. It’s almost winter in this part of the world, but it is still much warmer than Scandinavia in summer. Lucky for me the humidity has decreased drastically since summer, making it less likely to happen tropical cyclones. The humidity these days only makes it feel warmer, although in my opinion it would be hot enough without it.

image

Thank goodness for pools!

Now, this is where this post goes from a general Australia first impressions, to a specific Cairns and volunteer project first impressions. The hostel I’m staying at is nice; we have a pool, a large kitchen and helpful people at the reception (I would know as I already have had to change my keycard three times!). I live with four other volunteers (all Danish girls) and a random woman from Switzerland. It can be noisy in the evening, which definitely is a downside, especially the German guys playing beer pong every night have a tendency for being loud.

image

Welcome to my home for my next four weeks!

The project itself seems fun and different from the project I did in Namibia. We’re talking Koala’s, Kangaroo’s, crocodiles and other Australian animals. My job is to clean the enclosures, prepare food, and in general help out where it is needed. We work from 9 am to 4 pm and have two days off a week (remember i had none last time?) This leaves us plenty of time to explore the areas around the three locations we work at: Rainforestation, the Butterfly Sanctuary and the Dome. I haven’t been to the two last ones yet, but Rainforestation has friendly staff and an awesome rainforest.

image

PS: sorry for the mishap earlier!