Being a wanderer
Nine weeks ago I was packing my stuff for this big trip. Enthusiastic and ready to go on a adventure. At Last ready… I knew for the first night where I was going to sleep. I was going to travel to my good friend ‘Makz’, and stay over at his place in ‘Nijmegen’. Outside of these future plans, there were no other plans. Planning is not really my thing and this has his positive and negative sides of course.
As far as possible I chose my clothing, tent and sleeping gear in preparation of the conditions I will have to face. The weather conditions I will have to endure on my trip were going to be extreme hot and dry as well as very cold and wet. I didn’t know what to expect or even where is was going to sleeping. And lastly how the combination of cycling and camping was going to be for me. I haven’t had the experience of going on a bike trip for more than a few days before. Therefore this adventure will be a leap of faith.
Although I left in autumn, the weather conditions were very good. It was like summer season was lengthened this year. September and october were unusually nice weathered months this time. The weather gave me the time to slowly get used to my new lifestyle as a wanderer.
Like i said planning isn’t a quality of mine and this can lead to situations which are uncomfortable. I’m going to try to explain why I don’t plan that much.
“ Freedom is one of the most value things for me, the ability to do what feels right and to do what you like at that moment. When I plan something it may feels good, but the next day this feeling might have changed. The possibility that I might find a beautiful spot on the way where I want to stay. Or the ride is heavier then I could have imagined. With planning as less as possible I keep the feeling of freedom and can change my “plans” all the time.
With the help of the nice weather, which kept my mind at ease. I was able to change my plans, whenever needed. This is perfect for me but it has some down sides. Daily, when I arrive at my destination for that day, I decide what my destination fot the next day will be. And start looking for a place to stay, near my destination. There are a couple of options.
Option 1: Couchsurfing, this is a way for travelers to find friendly people in the neighbourhood whom who share their couch or a spare bed for free. You can send them a request with the usage of the app or website, the one who is offering a sleeping place can either accept or decline this request. It’s an awesome way to have a unique experience. Because you stay with local people and you really get the chance to spend time with them and their culture and country.
Option 2: Camping, on the most campsites there is some room for a single tent. I can sleep save and it doesn’t cost much, the only thing I need to do is set up my tent.
Option 3: Camp in the wild, if I am not able to find a couchsurfer and there is no camping in the area or it’s closed, I pay some extra attention to my environment during cycling. And try to find a good spot to spend the night. Preferably not to close to the road but also not in middle of nowhere. And if it’s possible close to a river. Being surrounded by nature is beautiful.
Option 4: Communities, these are places where people live together in a self-sufficient way. You can almost always stay there for free and in return volunteer to remain the community. These places are kind of hard to find and there not a lot of these communities yet. But it’s a beautiful way to live together.
Option 5: Hostel or hotel, my last option because, it’s by far the most expensive option. Preferably I try to spend as less money as I can, as I am not sure what will happen on my journey in the future.
I tend to mostly send my couchsurfing request one or two days in advance, this is due to my poor planning. This is very short in advance and doesn’t always lead to results. When I arrive at my destination and all campsites, hotels and hostels are closed. As most small villages don’t have hostels/hotels or they are closed as well. I find myself in a very peculiar situation. In this case I don’t have a place to stay. What to do?
I try to motivate myself with the thought: “I will find something.” It gives a weird feeling I have to say, besides the fact that i have my home (tent) with me, I do feel homeless sometimes. It’s cold, I’m alone on my bike and crossing the small villages I smell food and the burning wood coming from chimneys. At those moments I feel alone and a voice in my head is saying “Jits you idiot what are you doing? Why didn’t you stay at home, warm and safe?.”
In those moments I also realise how blessed I am to be able to do this. That I have the physical and mental ability and resources to do this. There are homeless people who have no way out and live with that lonely feeling everyday. The kids with cancer who are in the ‘Princess Máxima Centre’ who maybe can’t do what they want. The survivors of child cancer who where less lucky than me.Who have a handicap now and still have their struggles in daily live.
I’m grateful that I can have this beautiful adventure. Thinking of those who are suffering, those who are fighting for their lives, those who are so strong, gives me motivation to push myself through the last kilometers and find a dry and warm place to stay.
Late effect or not?
During this journey I met a lot of new people, all of them with their own life story, like Zuzana. She is also a survivor of child cancer like me. Zuzana is originally from Slovakia and works at foundation ‘Kinderkrebs‘ in Switzerland. The organisation is providing families who have a child with cancer and organise events for survivors. We spoke about our experiences
When Zuzana was 14 years old she had a bone tumour in her left leg. After a lot of medicine and surgery the doctors told her that they have to remove a part of her leg and replace the tibia and the knee joint with a prosthesis.
How did you deal with that?
“I had to let go of a lot of things and because I had another puberty than others. For example I couldn’t cycle anymore, do sport or go out.”
For me that’s very recognisable, not having the opportunity to keep up with your friends. In the beginning you couldn’t see that i was sick, later on my head was like a skippy ball because of the prednison. How was this for you?
“Because of my prosthesis I walk different than others so they see it right away. In the beginning it was very difficult because I see people looking at me but they don’t dare to say anything about it, awkward situations… Out of nothing you are in the middle of a group and I didn’t like that. Later I forced this kind of situation and it gave me a kick to break the ice and tell them about my prosthesis.” If you look different than others because you’re sick you get forced to be open about it, to talk about it. On one side it’s horrible because you don’t want to talk about it all the time but it also forces you to be open and be yourself no matter what. A often seen after-effect of cancer is tiredness, something which is hard to understand for others sometimes. I found a way to deal with it through sports. By practicing sports I feel good and energized. I never saw it as a late effect of cancer because I also have a very busy life. It’s hard to say if I haven’t have had cancer would I be this tired as well? Do you feel that as well? “I feel that I have less energy than my friends but I found my ways to deal with that and I also find it hard to say if it’s a late-effect of cancer or not.”
So you don’t feel that the tiredness is holding you back. Is the prosthesis holding you back?
“ To be honest, no. I accepted it and found my own alternative way to do things.” Yeah you told me you where a sporty as well. How do you deal with sports now? “ There are a lot of sports which I can’t do anymore but recently I found out that I can do cross-country skiing without pain and that feels awesome!
I got a lot of respect for Zuzana. Although she is partly disabled, she found her alternative way to do the things she likes, stayed positive and is even helping other survivors! Beautiful!
Psst if you also want to help kids with cancer and give them the ability to do sports. Become donator of Foundation DreamCycle! Click here!
Hey my friend,
unfortunately we did not have the time to talk that much when we met…your page is very inspiring and if you like we will make a link on our page 😉 amazing where your way had lead you and what you experienced so far! Hope to see you again somewhere in the world 🙂
Greetz from Elbasan yours Franni & Jan