Life can be really fun sometimes. I never thought something like that would be possible, but it was. Asking me what I mean? Well, meeting with Arne!
First, I saw Arne looking kind of desperate in Rio Gallegos, Argentina waiting for the same bus to Ushuaia. We didn’t talk there even though we were both travelling solo. Then I spotted him with some more guys in Ushuaia a few days later walking along one of the streets in the city centre. Afterwards, he was staying in the same house with me and more Couchsurfing guests in Puerto Natales in Chile (no, thankfully that time there was no sex and Couchsurfing issue). Then, we met by accident when hiking Torres del Paine when I made friends with his friends – yes, the same guys he was with in Ushuaia! Later on, we met again a few more times. Back to Argentina, we met again by accident with Arne and his friends one night in El Calafate among hundreds of people who came to the live concert. The following day we met again in Perito Moreno glacier where we decided it was enough of weird unplanned meetings already to finally start talking more 😀 And also that it was nice to watch sunset above the glacier getting frozen together:) Then, a few days after, we spent some time together in El Chalten. We were supposed to cross our paths with Arne again in Chile, but because of bad weather we both changed our plans so it never happened.
Right, I would never think I could keep meeting the same people for around a month across 2 countries! Unbelievable how it can sound, we never took a photo together 🙁
Btw Arne writes about some of his trips in his mother tongue on Genblogt.
Let’s find out more about this interesting guy:
1. Who are you? Tell us something about you.
To start with a cliché: it’s hard to define myself. Probably I’m a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. I started working at a very young age and at the age of 25 I finally went to college, where I studied to become a professional educator. But before I went back to school, I travelled together with my brother and a friend through the Indian Himalaya on Royal Enfield motorcycles to cross the highest motorable roads in the world. A lack of experience with motorcycles and all the ungentle contacts with the asphalt during this two-month travel (8 crashes), made this trip an unbelievable odyssey and probably the craziest thing I ever did. On the road I saw how beautiful and powerful this planet is.
Apparently, this whole adventure triggered a sleeping traveller inside me who wanted to discover this planet, I travelled to Croatia and Bosnia, crossed the Caucasian Mountain Range from Armenia to Iran and fell in love with the beautiful Tunisia.
Meanwhile, working with refugees in my home country, I had the idea of making a movie about those people who are living in difficult circumstances and during two years I could call myself a director slash fundraiser. Leading a team of more than fifty people with a small budget was probably the biggest challenge so far in my life. Luckily the result received positive response in my city and province and the first three screenings where all sold out. The movie was titled On the Road referring to the ones who are not accepted in their home country nor in their guest country and because of that unable to find a place they can call home. But unconsciously also to my favorite author Jack Kerouac.
But my biggest childhood dream didn’t come true yet. Since years I was dreaming of crossing the Americas from south to north and during two years I did everything (worked as educator, ICT-teacher, bartender) to get all the money together to explore the other side of the Atlantic. I applied for a press card so I could start to work as a freelance journalist during my trip and write about all my adventures. Finally January this year, I travelled from Uruguay to Tierra del Fuego and from there all the way up to Canada. After 143 days I had more than 26000 km (16000 miles) under the belt, I crossed 15 countries and lost 6 kilos of body weight. Absolutely the journey of my life.
2. What is your favorite place, city and country and why? (all three of them)
My favorite place is my apartment, I live in the city of Ghent in the Million Quarter (Miljoenenkwartier) on three high. I have a fantastic view of this green and beautiful neighborhood, built in the Interbellum. The apartment I live was built in 1929 on the former grounds of the World Fair in Ghent in 1913. This green lung surrounded with green parks with a nice view through the windows of my apartment on the corner of the street is my daily part of joy. If I go out, this tremendous city gives me all I need to be happy: good friends around, nice bars with live music and the best shops for quality food or a pleasant chat very close by.
Although I love my city, I fell in love pretty recently with Toronto, Ontario. A vibrating city filled with culture, nice bars, trolleys and some great people who live there. In a perfect world I would have my summer residence there and in winter time I would spend my time in Seville, Spain to enjoy the tapas, the narrow streets and the great atmosphere of Andalucía.
The country I have a crush on is Colombia, I only spend short time there, but I heard great stories about the Caribbean coasts and the old cities around there. I had fabulous days in Medellin and Cali. Living in the motherland of Marquez and salsa and floating in a boat on the Amazon makes the illusion of my personal paradise there even bigger. But maybe it’s only illusion, like I said it’s a crush, not really love… I really like travelling in remote areas but to live I will prefer to keep my good ol’ western life. After one month of great encounters in the States, from Texas to Louisiana and further heading north to Tennessee, I really fell in love bit by bit with the Southern way. The ones that complete the stage as a good second and third: France and Canada!
3. If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?
Alaska! My first plan of my journey across the Americas had Alaska as the final destination, because I was running out of money and lack of time, I had to skip that part. Only one person responsible for my love for Alaska is Jack London, who wrote beautiful books about the life over there. It’s the same thing as people enjoying looking at the sea, just like that Alaska is a metaphor of the end of the world, and sitting on the edge can be pretty relaxing, sitting on the sideline of life.
4. What do you love the most about your home country?
The happy unconcerned life. We always forget how high our quality of life is in Belgium. A good social system that helps (almost) everybody in time of need, the good working conditions, the beautiful medieval cities with a lot of culture, music, events, sports and always somebody to find to go for a drink. If you want to escape the city you can go to the coast or the Ardennes in the South, away from the rat race and stress. But I doubt I will stay in this country, life is too short to stay all my life on my little hill.
5. How travel changes you?
If I can give you one advice: never travel in the hope you will find yourself along the way, let the travel crawl slowly under your skin and try to be aware of everything that happens. Working already for years with very underprivileged people I wasn’t afraid of to meet that dark side of life during my travels. I learned a lot about people, how they deal with their daily problems, but I learned also a lot about myself: how to perceive every day new realities. One day surrounded by friends, you’re blind for everything around you and another day when you feel lonely, the helpless beggar at the corner -who is always there- makes your day by talking to you and giving you attention. In my opinion travelling is a lesson in humility, it teaches me that I’m not the belly button of the world, only an accident waiting to be happen.
Arne, thanks a million for these answers, I really enjoyed them and it made me remember all the fun we had with you and guys in Argentina!