In the last few days, we passed the Alps from Turin via Sestriere, La Grave, Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d'Huez to Albertville. And it was snowing a lot, finally. On the streets we had exactly the conditions I was hoping not to see during our travels: A mixture between snow, sludge and some ice. In fact, I had been checking a lot of alternative tyres for our travels in winter. Fortunately, all the alternatives where either too expensive (because of the need of different rims) or not suitable for our weight. So we still drive with our Michelin XZL off-road tyres - and they are great!
Two days ago, we drove up the twenty-one hairpin turns to Alpe d'Huez without snow chains and without using any differential locks, while passing many cars that had to stop in order to put on snow chains. An unexpected and fun experience! We were also able to drive down in snowy conditions without chains. However, as Max is really heavy, we still use the chains on steeper descents.
We are impressed by the capabilities of the Iveco Daily 4x4. See for yourself 😃:
The strong chemicals that are used in regular mobile home toilets are quite a horror to us – and certainly to mother nature.
So we have installed a composting toilet from Nature’s Head. It runs without water. By separating the urine from the stool, it is also completely odorless. A little fan makes sure that really no smell can develop inside the cabin.
When you feel you have to take a dump, you simply open a flap – and there you go! The container for the stool is filled with hacked coconut fibres that come in blocks. These fibres are mixed with the stool and create a fluffy compost that can be disposed at any compost heap. It is enough to empty the container every few weeks. In order to do this, however, you have to take out the whole toilet.
The urine flows into another container that can easily be taken out when full. You simply pour it into a regular toilet and flush it away.
When we recently cleaned our alternative toilet in the cleaning room, an interested mobile home owner asked us about it. He was thrilled to learn that there is an environmentally friendly version for doing your “business” on the road. And so are we!
The Nature’s Head model is the second chemical-free toilet we have installed, since our first choice did not convince us at all. Although there is certainly room for improvement, it is the best option we have found on the market so far. It’s quite worth the investment of about 800 CHF.
We have started our journey end of July 2019. That means we have been on the road for about twenty-six weeks or about half a year. In all that time, all four of us have never been sick. No fever, no cold, no nothing.
I, Karin, have always been the healthy type. But I remember getting sick in the first two weeks of the new year – regularly, every year. Right when it was time to start work again, my body would develop a fever and force me to stay at home.
I knew then already what the reason was. Not a virus. Not being exposed to too much cold (which is a hoax, anyways). No, I was just not ready for the pressure of the daily routine at work. For getting up early and coming home late. So my body would react. Getting sick is handy: Nobody dares to question the reasons. Not even yourself, if you do not want to.
Marian felt the signs his body would send him even more: In his stressful days, his stomach ached on a regular basis. His heart palpitated. He was in a bad state of health, until he finally decided to quit and start a journey towards himself. Finding out what he really wants to do with his life. It is a result of this inner journey of his that we are where we are now.
Luca and Lou also regularly got sick while going to school. It was the same story: Whenever the pressure at school was too big, whenever troubles with other schoolmates came up, whenever there was fear of something, their bodies would react with a cold or with other symptoms.
What do I want to say with this? It is not that we all should quit our jobs or leave school. But that we learn to read the signs our body sends us, that we learn to understand his language. Inner stress is the real reason we get sick. Something has gotten out of balance. Only then, the virus you caught can make you sick. If we have to courage to be honest with ourselves, our life and health improves. At least, this is what we have experienced.
Have a happy and healthy 2020!
It was interesting: As soon as we had crossed the Greek border, Luca and Lou wanted to interview me about the Gods’ names. Funny enough, this is just what they had chosen to learn about with Anton! Anton is their online learning tool. It consists of a lot of questions about all kinds of subjects, and distributes stars and crowns when you get the answers right. They decide what they want to learn about. So right then and right there, it was Jupiter, Minerva, Venus and the other Gods. Which gave me the opportunity to translate the God’s Latin names into their Greek equivalent – after all, that’s what I was interested in as a kid and thus remember until today.
Learning by experience also means that we visit Mount Olympus and recall that this was Zeus’ seat. We visit the Oracle of Delphi and learn that Apollo killed the dragon Python there who then turned into a snake. We read the tales of Daedalus and Icarus, and of King Minos of Crete, and of Theseus killing the Minotaurus (brutal, they are!). And of Theseus’ father Aegeus who thought that his son had been killed and threw himself into the sea – which is why the Aegean Sea is called the Aegean Sea. The very sea that we are looking at right now...
Luca and Lou are eager to hear the historic sagas, and to learn with the tools on the iPad and laptop. And then suddenly, they throw all electronic devices on their beds and run off to explore the camping site we’re staying at. Because they regulate their physical activity like they regulate their interest in learning: All by themselves.
The tools Luca and Lou currently use for learning:
We have not seen much of Albania yet. In fact, we crossed the border over from Montenegro, bought a SIM card in a small shop that only took cash (2'600 LEK) and directly moved on to Lake Shkodra Resort – a camping site that „meets the highest standards“ (see picture above). Meaning: it is better than what you usually get in the country – tourists will be pleased. We offered ourselves a "comfortable" start.
We heard a lot of Albania so far. It is supposed to be beautiful. At the same time, we have been warned that there is waste laying around everywhere, even at the most splendid spots. People from Montenegro consider Albanians to be really poor. And to have a very strange language. THAT is true! When I asked the sales person in the first shop I entered what „thank you“ means in Albanian, she said something unpronouncable that seemed to be the elf language spoken in Middle-Earth! The places are called SHKODËR and QARK FIER and GIJROKASTËR and MELGUSHE. From Slovenja to Montenegro, I managed to understand quite a bit thanks to some chunks of Russian I learned thirty years ago. But here? No chance! It is completely fascinating. But it does not make me feel any more at home.
This morning, I was taking a shower. Again, something inside of me was glad that there were such good sanitary installations. And then I realized that this was exactly where separation begins: in our heads, with a certain arrogance, with me thinking I am different or at least used to something different. Just then, I heard the local staff cleaning the showers chatting away. Somebody laughed at something someone else had said. And it struck me again: We all laugh at the same things! We all have the same hopes and fears! We ARE the same!
The world is inclusive. We just all too often forget. Albania is a good place to remind me of that. I am open to everything we will experience in this unique spot on mother earth.
Learning by experience: Luca’s and Lou’s - and our- biology lessons consist of determining plants by picture with the help of an app (Pl@antNet).
We have learned so far: The tree carrying banana-like fruits is a magnolia. What looked like an olive bush really is a plant named pittosporum tobira nana (or Japanese Mock Orange). And today, Marian made the aquaintance of a real Paulownia tree – he only knew the wood so far, using it to build the furniture in our mobile home (well, in his first attempt... We ended up using bamboo – which warps, too).
Nature is a huge miracle!
Since our program should be done on an empty stomach condition, we mostly do our practices in the morning. I prefer to go outside or to the driver’s cabin, while Karin does her asanas on the floor of our mobile home.
The children are used to our habits and keep on snoring even during our AUMs. Let’s hope the neighbours can also get back to sleep after wondering about the strange exotic bird in their surroundings.
To a world full of love, light and laughter!
PS: If you wonder what kind of Yoga we are practicing: We follow the programs of Sadhguru, which starts with Shambhavi Mahamudra Kryia, tought in the frame of the Inner Engineering programs. If you feel like trying it out for yourself - we have each received gift certificates to give away to people who want to join the Inner Engineering Online course.
There is a strong wind outside.
Whenever there was inner movement or turmoil in our family during this trip, the weather outside would reflect this. We had our worst drama in a night of very heavy rain. On every critical day or night, when we felt tense and there was a new development going on, I remember exeptionally strong winds shaking our mobile home, shaking our very life.
„As within, so without. As without, so within.“ This universal law applies to everyhing. Also to the weather.
Well, it’s not a drama right now. Things have calmed down very much. We deal in a more conscious way with our inner disturbances. The phase I (Karin) am in right now is a phase of disorientation. I just came back from a week in Switzerland, where I took a dive into my "old" world, worked, met some friends and enjoyed that very much. Now I feel like in empty space. As we drive along the roads, I keep asking myself „What the heck am I doing here?“.
When you are on a two-week-holiday near the seaside, you enjoy the sun, the fun, diving in the sea, you try out new activities like stand-up-paddling, you visit the national park nearby, it is all new and exciting. When you have seen and done it all, you go back home.
When you are on a seemingly limitless trip, there also is a moment of „seen and done it all“. You do not feel like swimming in the sea anymore. The next national park does not exite you very much. Visit a museum? Get out of it! But then you do not go back home. You ARE home. And yet, you are not. Disorientation.
Before we left, a friend in Bern told me that there would be a crisis occurring around the eighth or ninth week on tour. That we would question everything and ourselves then. And that once we passed these critical weeks, we could go on forever.
I have learnt that phases of disorientation offer all possibilities. Every direction is open to you. They are not easy to stand. But they lead you to the next level. Quite curious how this will look like.
Another question we hear – or see in the eyes of the people we’re talking to – is: What does this journey do with your family and your relationship?
We have not felt ready to answer this question so far, since it was not clear to us either. It is still not clear, it’s still work in progress. Yet, we now realize there is a development and where it could lead to.
Even before the journey started, I (Karin) knew it would be tough to be so close to each other for such a long time. Therefore, I did not only look forward to the trip. Marian, on the other hand, was longing to go as soon as possible, expecting it would be an experience full of joy and adventure.
These two views collided in the beginning. It WAS tough. We had days and whole weeks when we fought and argued with each other. The energy was tense most of the time. Marian thought I should be more involved, help more, have more fun. I thought he should better understand the immense process we were all going through, have less expectations and see that I did my best all day long. We basically blamed the other for the mood and the misery we were in.
The climax was a night when I seriously felt our relationship would break apart, that it would not stand the pressure. We talked long this night. And this night, something happened. The next day felt like a fresh start. We kind of let go of accusations and expectations. Marian and I both accepted how things were for the other one. We took – and gave each other – the freedom to feel what we felt. We allowed ourselves – and the other – to have different desires. Marian accepted that I wanted to be free enough to feel and behave like I wanted to. That I wanted to spend time in Switzerland when I had professional assignments that required my physical presence. I accepted that Marian had felt imprisoned living in the city and the apartment we lived in before. I accepted that I served him as a trigger to feel that he had to do everything by himself.
Being triggered – feeling the feelings – taking the chance to look at old wounds and fears – taking responsibility – owning it: That is the cycle it took for us to consciously overcome the crisis. We know there will be different phases, worse and better times to come. Yet, we now feel that our relationship gets stronger as we go along. This trip is like a steamer for us: unprocessed wounds and issues from the past show up faster and stronger than before. Sometimes, the steam is too hot and the emotions explode. But then again, we also develop in fast forward.
What about Luca and Lou? Well, they mirror us. They are tense when they feel we’re tense. They are relaxed when they feel we’re relaxed. At the same time, they do not seem to be affected too much by the drama. It’s like they understand – not always taking it easy, but always easily forgetting and overcoming even the most dramatic scenes. They know. I feel our children will not have to go through the same cycles of being hurt, being triggered and being healed like we do. Good for them!
And as days go by now, they are more and more filled with joy and adventure.
Did I really write in the last blog that it helps children to be busy when they have a pool, a playground or other facilities around? Well, get out of it!
Yesterday, we arrived at a (or probably the only) free camp in Croatia – a cozy little place where you are free to park for the night, with "nothing" around than pure nature. As soon as we stopped, Luca said that his Forschergeist – researcher’s spirit – was awakened: He and Lou eagerly got out of the car to put their special researcher’s pants on. They took their compass, their magnifying glass, a rope, red disinfectant (which Mia sure needed for her knee!) and plaster with them. And off they went, exploring the surroundings. And they sure detected an x-amount of riddles, traces and mysterious spots!
Children do not need anything to play. Their imagination creates the greatest stories. How could I forget in my temporarily limited mode of thinking!