After a few years of complete ‘inactivity’ on this blog I decided to revive it with an idea that I have since a long time: sharing some of my experiences while traveling around this great globe.

In the past 10 years I have been traveling to almost all continents, so far the only one I did not visit is Antarctica.

Why do I write this down? Just for myself, I don’t want to forget some very interesting and funny details of trips that I’ve made.

The key lesson that I learned is that for me personally it’s not only about being on top of the highest skyscraper (yes I did them all), ski-ing in Dubai or shopping for electronics in Hong Kong. What I really appreciate is to learn about ‘reality’; what have people on their mind, what moves them, what makes them happy or sad, what is their goal. If you are really interested you can go one level deeper that the average tourist who is roaming the streets with their camera’s. I have learned so much about people, and especially how lucky we are that we were born in Europe. The more I see, the less I complain.

One of the first ‘checkpoints’ if you travel to a remote place is the taxi driver, and they are my favorite source for information.

I call them the heart beat of the city. If taxi drivers are busy, the city is busy. If taxi drivers are worried about business there is probably an issue. What is very interesting to me is that in most places taxi drivers are NOT born in that city, or even the country. 99% of the time they are foreigners that earn their money driving people around. It’s a great combination; knowing the city in and out and be able to compare this to their home country.

I always try to ask ‘where are you from?’ which leads to nice conversations about their mother land, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Mostly they recognize my dutch-english accent and talk about Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and the fun that tourist have in our country.

Yesterday I was up in Lapland, crossed the polar circle and arrived by plane in Tromso, in the northern part of Norway. It’s a beautiful region, but of course pretty remote. Taxi drivers are locals that are used to drive in the snow and on ice. In summer it’s light all day, in November they have 3-4 hours of daylight and then it’s dark; quite strange. In December and January the sun is not visible at all!

The taxi driver yesterday told me he was local, and I asked him about ‘Whaling’. In the bay in Tromso there are plenty of whales and I wondered if they still catch them for ‘diner’. The taxi driver was very clear: when he was young, it was almost the only thing they ate. It’s very healthy, full of energy, very tasty and very cheap; a perfect meal. And they just take it from the bay! Today there are 3 countries ‘fishing’ for whales: Japan, Norway and Greenland. I don’t want to judge if it is wrong or wright, I just thought about the deep history these people have eating the fish that is in their backyard: totally normal to do that.

Why is whaling then such a sensitive topic? I asked him about his opinion. You know he said: I have a daughter, and she was eating whale meat almost every day when she was young, like everybody in this town. When she was 8 years old, she decided ‘no longer whale-meat’, and the reason was not the politics, not the opinion of her family but an eye opening movie.

The movie made her cry, emotional as a 8 year old kid is seeing a ‘touching story’. After the movie she told her father: how can I eat my friends, sorry dad, I will never eat whales again.

The movie she saw was ‘Free Willy’.

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