Welcome to the Blog

Welcome to the space where I share what I am up to. (scroll below this for the latest post)

On this blog I post my latest photos, music I am discovering, thoughts that cross my mind, work-related issues, travels and other randomness. It’s like a personal diary that I share with those interested in what I do – but also where I archive memories for myself. Things in here can be serious or not – mostly they are just random updates. Anyhow, I’m here – so if you want to get in touch or ask a question, feel free to send me an email via the contact form!

Enjoy! :)

Other things I do for work: Participation, C4D and Rights.

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Here are some photos from a workshop I facilitated in May as part of UNICEF’s support to the Belize Special Envoy for Women and Children.

It was a fun exercise where we tested the information booklet that the Special Envoy’s office has developed about Children’s Rights, and I got free hands to use different methods with children in two different school in Belize City – one public school and one private school. The aim was to hear from the children what they thought of the book and if the messages were clear, to see how the book can be used in a more interactive and participatory way, and to hear from them about any suggestions, ideas or changes to the content – and to let them decide on its final name. My favourite part was when we were talking about the rights of children with disabilities, and we played a game where the children were split into teams and I asked them to come up with something fun to do with a girl who had volunteered to be in an imaginary wheel chair – the teams started off with simple hand clapping and word games, but we spoke a bit more about things such as the paralympics and other people that the children had seen on TV or elsewhere, and soon enough the kids decided that children with disabilities can be involved more complicated games as long as everybody helps out and participates.

“I really liked to play hide and seek with the last team, they made me feel like I was an important friend to them and like it didn’t matter that I was in a wheel chair. I think we should talk about this more at school.”

Working on communication tools and strategies and campaigns with partners and professionals is one thing, but getting to actually listen to children, play with them, and understand their reality – now that’s where the real value is in understanding the situation and those crucial little details in a cultural context. C4D, I’m forever your fan.

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Child Rights Activity Book Belize

Toucans Toucans and some Jaguars. Belize Zoo explored.

Belize Zoo

As much as I’m completely against using animals in circuses and zoo’s and other ways where their sole purpose is to serve as entertainment or slavery for humans, I’m a sucker for animals and think its important for children to see and understand the richness of nature and beauty of different species. That’s why in-between solutions, like the Belize Zoo or the Na’ankuse park in Namibia, work for me. The Belize Zoo is more of an animal shelter/sanctuary than a zoo, and they claim that most of their animals were found wounded or in the homes of criminals who at some point had stolen them from the jungle or used them to make movies. While I’m not completely convinced that this is the case for all the animals, I did notice that the zoo was very rich in vegetation and that the cages were spacious and well kept. All over the zoo, there were also reminders to respect animals, care for the environment and stop illegal hunting, and the Belize Zoo is also called the Belize Zoo and Tropical Educational Center.

On their website, they write the following:

The Belize Zoo was started in 1983, as a last ditch effort to provide a home for a collection of wild animals which had been used in making documentary films about tropical forests.
Shortly after the backyard “zoo” began, it was quickly realized that its Belizean visitors were unfamiliar with the different species of wildlife which shared their country. This very aspect fomented the commitment to develop the little zoo into a dynamic wildlife education center.
Today, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is settled upon 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits over 170 animals, representing over 45 species, all native to Belize. The Zoo keeps animals which were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions.

For me, the visit was very impressive and most animals were active and not very shy. Apparently the Zoo works with rehabilitation of Jaguars who have been shot or caught attacking farms, and these animals are then sent to other zoo’s in the world. Before they do that, however, they teach the naturally very aggressive animals to trust humans and be calm and even do high-fives for food. At that last part of the story that the zookeeper was telling, I cringed. Jaguars are not supposed to do high-fives, but I guess the other option here is to let them get shot. “When a jaguar starts attacking farms it means it’s too weak to hunt in the jungle, sooner or later it will either kill a human or get shot by the villagers.”

Anyway, I’m getting a bit too serious with this – the Zoo was beautiful, and the animals were very impressive. Especially the Toucans. I had never seen toucans up close before, and the texture of their skin, the fineness of the coat, the colours and polished surface of the beak, everything about them looked absolutely magical. I’m a huge fan of toucans now.

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

Belize Zoo

The zoo is open from 8.30am to 5pm, and the entrance fee is 15BZD (7.5USD) for foreign adults and 7BZD for Belizean adults. It’s a 30 minute drive from Belize City on the way to Belmopan and I think it’s worth a visit.

TIME OUT – The Communication & C4D Strategy

Here’s the fact sheet for the Communication and Communication for Development Strategy I’ve been working on since I came to Belize. Seeing it come to life as the videos are being aired on TV, people approach us to tell us how they have been affected by them, and as I hold presentations for teachers, parents and different people about the initiative and the idea of using non-violence and communication to build positive relationships – I really feel like this whole thing is starting to have an impact and work its magic.

TIME OUT jpeg
click to see

click here for reduced size (for slow bandwidth)

click to read more about the initiative and see the videos.

Snorkeling with Manatees

Belize Manatee Tour

The manatee is a sea mammal sometimes referred to as the sea cow, and a couple of weeks ago we went for a snorkeling tour to look for one here in Belize. We were lucky. It was the first time ever that I got to see this huge animal, measuring about 3 metres and with a fat, clumsy looking body, the manatee was graciously swimming around and using the least effort possible when moving its little front flippers to turn, it was really funny. We kept our distance to respect the animal, and got to be completely alone with it for a while as it was checking us out, seemingly unbothered by our presence. A very cool experience with one of nature’s more strange and less studied creations.

Do check out the video below to see how beautifully calm and slow this thing is.

Belize Manatee Tour

Belize Manatee Tour

Belize Manatee Tour

Belize Manatee Tour

Belize Manatee Tour

Belize Manatee Tour

Belize Manatee Tour

Panama City, Part 2 – The work part of the story: Learning, sharing and dancing!

Panama City

So as I wrote yesterday, I went to Panama for a UNICEF training on my big love – Communication for Development, and MoRES (Monitoring Results for Equity Systems). The training was organized jointly by the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and the C4D section in NYHQ, and we got a full week packed with information, presentations, exercises and clinics. It was great to meet familiar faces and some old colleagues and friends again, and meeting up with people who work on similar things and face similar challenges is always refreshing and inspiring. We exchanged ideas, support and thoughts, and we really learnt a lot from the experts and from each other. It was very busy (we didn’t even have coffee breaks!) but it was worth all the stress, and in the end I really felt like I had grown a lot in my understanding of how to integrate both C4D and MoRES in my work and in our Country Programme in Belize. Just the feeling a training is supposed to give you. Thanks all!

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama UNICEF Training

Panama UNICEF Training

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City, Part 1 – The walks & the pleasures

Panama City

I was going to Panama City for a workshop on C4D and MoRES organized by the UNICEF Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, but since I’ve never been in the city before I really wanted to get a taste of it now that I had the opportunity. I changed my tickets so that I would have a day before and the weekend after the workshop to explore a little bit of town, and Luc came with me. I took a lot of photos, so I’ll try to somehow split them up by work and pleasure.

Panama City was really an interesting place to be in and I was delirious with joy at the amount of food options available and cool street art all around. We went to the cinema twice, had nice food every day, went crazy in a grocery store and went all in on shopping and walking around. There were no limits to the pleasures. And we stayed in a fantastic little apartment at a perfect spot in Casco Viejo. :)

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

When travelling from Copenhagen to Belize, one has to spend a night somewhere in the US since the only flights to Belize leave in the morning, it’s usually either Atlanta, Houston or Miami – so on my way back in early April this year, I scored Miami – and spent the night at this handsome man’s place. ;)

Miguel is a very good friend of a very good friend of mine, and you know how when you meet the people your favourite people love – how you so often automatically get along with them too? Well, Miguel was a real gem and we had a great dinner and a very nice time together. Short but sweet. Gracias homie!

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

A night in Miami

Climbing the Calanques de Sormiou – a beautiful place even more beautiful when seen from above.

Climbing the Calanques

As promised, here are the photos from when Luc and I went out to the Calanques de Sormiou (almost exactly a year later!) for some outdoor rock climbing. I’m really happy I got introduced to this sport, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s the perfect amount of scary and challenging. There’s really something about being at the point of “argghh, my toes hurt, I don’t know how to go higher from here, I can’t find a good grip! Also, if I fall I will die.” and then thinking “Ok, I got this, just one more try” then finding good grip and moving higher until you reach the top. And all of this while the sun is setting in the corner of your eye. The Calanques de Sormiou next to Marseille is such a beautiful and inspiring place in itself that you would be happy to just sit and look at it – looking at it while hanging from a rope, with the wind in your hair and having just challenged yourself and climbed a rock – now that’s something special.

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the CalanquesClimbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the CalanquesClimbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the CalanquesClimbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Climbing the Calanques

Glimpses from Marseille

Marseille 2015

Marseille was next on my list of places to visit in March, and Luc on the list of people to meet. I went for a couple of days and ended up extending the stay, since life is just simply better in Marseille than it is in Malmö. We had a lot of nice dinners, celebrated Luc’s mom’s birthday, went dancing, and walked around. We also went climbing, but I’ve saved those photos for a separate post. Marseille is cool, it reminds me of Malmö to some extent, but the weather is of course nicer and it feels a bit more lively. The culture of people getting out of their caves to socialize and have wine every evening definitely makes it extra interesting. And then there’s all the street art, of course. Enjoy.

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Marseille 2015

Trains, family and friends – Five days through Poland

Five days in Poland

Continuing my month-long contract break in March, and in an attempt to squeeze as many people I love as possible into that slot, I went for a five day tour around Poland. Grandparents, daddy and a quick dinner with my favourite person in Warsaw. It was short, but it was nice, and I absolutely love going by train in Poland. Thanks to that long and relaxing gliding through Polish forests and villages, I finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – and I highly recommend it. Visiting Warsaw again was nice, and I was struck by how fast it seems to be growing. So many new cool restaurants and bars, fresh buildings, roads.. the entire atmosphere was buzzing with energy and I felt that I really wanted to be in the midst of it all and live in Warsaw once again, a place where I have good friends and where I can feel at home. Ay, the nostalgia!

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in PolandFive days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

wawawawa

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Five days in Poland

Love & Play in Stockholm

Stockholm family visit

I have a family in Stockholm. A bonus family that I found in Mozambique. My best friend, sister and great inspiration, and her two children whom I adore to little pieces. Ava sometimes says “My mom is your big sister, and I’m your little sister, isn’t that funny?” And it’s indeed the best possible set up I can imagine, I’m getting the best of all worlds with these three.

I only had two days in Sweden after our return from Jordan and before having to move on to Poland, but I had to squeeze in meeting my favourites. So I did. A very pleasant six-hour train ride and two days of shared time, complete with playing, loving hugs and a long proper talk. Moments that nurture the soul.

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm

Stockholm family visit

Stockholm family visit

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 12: A trip to Jerash and our last meal in Amman

Jerash, Jordan

On our last day in Jordan, we took a minvan out to Jerash, an hour north of Amman. Again, it was a place with very old Roman ruins, but nevertheless a cool place to walk around in. And we met some fun girls who wanted to have selfies with us.

In the evening, after packing and going for a last bit of bazaar shopping, we met up with Rafik, and he took us out for dinner at a very nice place called Levant. We were so fed up with eating hummus and falafel every day that I was thrilled to eat some deliciously cooked lamb, kubeh and other Levantine specialities. And we had wine for the first time since we started travelling! It was a very nice evening in a really great place and we went for a walk and a quick drink on Rainbow street before Rafik drove us to the airport where our trip officially ended.

Can you believe it? That’s it. That’s the end of our 10 days in Jordan, Palestine & Israel that my mother and I tried to squeeze out the most experiences, places and impressions from. I think we did pretty well.

And hey, “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” :)

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Jerash, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

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Amman, Jordan

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 11: Amman – The Citadel, Darat al Funun and a little bit of dancing.

Amman, Jordan

On our second day in Amman, we went up to the Citadel, a nice spot to get an overview of the city and the Roman Theatre and the hills. It’s a touristy spot which apparently is one of “the oldest inhabited places” since they found evidence of occupation since the “pottery period” (that period started more than 10.000 years ago.) I’m not a big fan of old Roman ruins in general, they are very impressive and big and all, but they really look almost exactly the same wherever you see them so I tend to get bored after a while. But we went up to the citadel and took a walk anyway, we even entered their little museum with bugs and pots and a selection of random very old things. It was cute and we had fun.

On our way down from the hill, we passed by the very cool art space Darat al Funun that I had read about online. It had an interesting exhibition by the Palestinian artist and filmmaker Emily Jacir at the time and we had a walk and a nice lunch there. It’s not the biggest of art galleries, and many of the buildings were closed, but seeing some contemporary art was a nice little break from looking at old buildings and monuments.

We also stumbled upon a very nice little vegan cafe called Naqsh, where artists were just painting the walls and the owner was setting up the place for the season. It seems to be a cool community space and the owner told us they work on environmental conservation and art projects. Again, another one of many cool quirky places in Amman, and I felt like I could possibly live there at some point. (If only it was closer to the sea)

After exploring, we went to a shopping mall to have a look at the more “modern” part of Amman. And gosh was it modern. The prices in the mall were completely outrageous, and even Zara clothes were at double their original price. It was an interesting contrast to walk around the mall and look at people, they looked completely different from the people we had met in the old town. Posh kids with tight blouses and girls and boys holding hands. It was a fun experience.

After not really buying anything, we went to have dinner at a little restaurant just by our hotel and I was in contact with a friend of mine that I know from before, Rafik. He was going for a birthday party with some friends from his office and invited me over to join them. So after my mom had gone to bed because she said she was too tired, I went out and got to experience a bit of Amman by night. And in line with what we had seen in the mall, Amman by night was just like any big European city. The bars were full of people, and we found a nightclub where the girls were wearing high heels and short skirts, people were drinking, dancing and hugging, and even the music was the same as everywhere. We danced, we laughed, and when I sneaked in to the hotel again at 2am my mom woke up immediately. “How was it?” she asked. “Cool, we went to a disco and danced!” “Why didn’t you call me, I would have joined!” haha, she is the best.

And I’ll say it again, Amman is a cool city. And that’s especially true when you realize that it was just a Tuesday night. Too bad there’s no photographic evidence of that night happening.

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 10: Amman Meetings

Amman, Jordan

The buses that go from Jerusalem to King Hussein Bridge (to continue to Jordan) leave every day and are very conveniently located close to the Damascus gate. It was a breeze to walk over in the morning and hop on the van, and the ride took us less than two hours. We arrived at the border, two young female officers stepped on the bus and inspected us with their piercing little eyes, trying hard to look angry, and said “do you have any weapons?” we all looked at each other in confusion, and said no. That was that. We got through, had to step off the bus, into another bus that took us across no-mans-land, and then we got to the King Hussein Bridge border with Jordan. Since we now were crossing another border than the one we had exited through, we had to pay the 40JD each for Jordanian visas again. (You can’t get a double-entry on arrival visa in the airport, which is complete nonsense.. but hey.. the ways in which we make money from tourists, no?) It wasn’t the best of deals, but it saved us a lot of time compared to going back down to the south and the Eilat – Acaba border, and then having to make our way all the way back up to Amman again.

Once across the border, we found a taxi driver who took us for the standard fee of 25JD to our hotel. With the help of Google Maps and that awesome sim card we bought upon arrival to Jordan, we managed to help the driver find the place we had booked. The hotel was fresh and very conveniently located in the old town, walking distance from the Roman Theatre, the fruit bazaar and a lot of shops where we bought a lot of things we didn’t need but couldn’t resist owning.

We met some people while walking around and made some friends. One of them was 4 year old Mariam who was born in Aleppo just when the war in Syria started. Her family sent her together with her three sisters to their grandfather, Mohammed, who lives in Amman. Mariam doesn’t remember much of Syria anymore, but she knows Amman isn’t really her home, which is heart breaking. The current number of registered refugees in Jordan is almost 630,000 people according to the UNHCR. That’s almost every tenth person you will see in the street. It’s quite a lot.

There are more photos from Amman, but that’s for tomorrow!

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 9: Jerusalem pt2 – so many names for God, so little time.

Jerusalem

Back in Jerusalem we continued exploring the different religious sites and churches as well as some of the most iconic and holy Jewish and Muslim sites, the wailing wall and the Dome of the Rock. There are so many different christian denominations and other religions and so many ways to interpret the books and just so, so many ways to refer to an entity that just really seems to be the one same thing. It’s confusing and a demonstration of how we need to have our own thing, feel different, create our own groups and rules and means of control, and feel like our group is better than the other group. Identity. So many different names for what you refer to as God, yet you’re all just really saying more or less the same thing.

We started our second Jerusalem tour off at the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall as it is often referred to. It is the wall closest to the Temple Mount and the most holy site for Jews apart from the Temple Mount itself. Jews come there to mourn the history of their people and to pray. We later continued up to the Temple Mount, which has limited visiting hours and restricted access for Jews, a very controversial place overall:

“In light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site as a Waqf, without interruption. As the site is part of the Old City, controlled by Israel since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over it, and it remains a major focal point of the Arab–Israeli conflict. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslims.” According to all-knowing, all-seing, Wikipedia.

An interesting observation that we made at the Temple Mount was the big amount of kids running around and playing ball against the Dome of the Rock, one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture with great significance for Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. We were surprised nobody frowned upon the kids kicking the ball against the walls of the shrine but two girls sitting nearby, Eseel and Rania, explained that the Koran states that children should play near holy sites due to their positive energy and in order for them to establish a relationship with the site. If that’s the case, it’s a nice perspective and the children really seemed to have fun and enjoy playing up there.

We later met Ephream who was with a big group of Ethiopians at the beautiful Church of All Nations on the olive mount, next to the place where Jesus supposedly sat praying just before they took him away to be crucified. I got a nice portrait photo of him and we spoke a bit about the dream of Zion and Ethiopia and their beautiful white clothes.

All in all, it was a really nice day, we walked around, spoke to people, bought really nice coffee with cardamom and I took a lot of photos. Enjoy the contrasts below!

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jerusalem

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Jerusalem

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Jerusalem

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 8: Bethlehem – A town off limits for Baby Jesus.

The Separation wall

Next stop on our Palestine tour was Bethlehem. My mother wanted to visit the nativity church and the place where people believe Jesus was born. Mahmoud suggested that we also see the Banksy art on the wall and around – it was a great set up for both of us.

Outside the church, we met the very stylish Yasminn and Hiba from Nablus who were there to visit The Nativity Church as well, as it’s a holy place not only for Christians. We walked around to look at the different parts of the church and then we came back out and went to the wall. “Make Hummus not Walls” was written on the wall by graffiti artist Banksy, next to impressive pieces of art and statements by activists – but beyond the beauty and the creativity of it all – it was terrifying: A huge gate was cutting through the middle of what used to be a 15 minute straight drive from Jerusalem to Bethlehem – the ancient road was now obstructed by the wall, checkpoints, additional 40 minutes of detour travel and closed access for Palestinians.

We got on the bus for the road back, Mahmoud couldn’t drive us since he can’t cross the check point. “On the way from Jerusalem you had no problems, I know – there isn’t even a check point on the way here – but you will see on the way back to Israeli territory how different things will be” And it was different indeed, as all Palestinians were asked to get off the bus when we approached the check point. Elderly ladies, young people, young men in leather jackets. It was very cold, and they were all asked to stand in line outside of the bus while the “border control” teenagers calmly went about checking our passports and asking some people questions on where they had been and where they were going. It all took much longer than what was necessary and the Palestinian people were waiting outside all curled up – each holding on to their 400€ entry passes or legal working permits from their employers in Jerusalem. All of this so obviously just to make a disgusting point on who Israel thinks is worth more on a scale of deserving humane treatment. All just to show who’s the boss. All of it to nurture angry young Palestinians who will continue giving the Bibi team vague reasons to make sure status quo is maintained.

If baby Jesus was here, he would be crying his face off. Also, he wouldn’t have made it to Bethlehem. Modern day Apartheid is very much real.

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

BethlehemBethlehem

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

The Separation wall

Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 7: Hebron

Hebron, Palestine

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here, I know. With the Hebron photos next in line from our trip to Jordan, Palestine & Israel, I haven’t had the time or mind strength to really think about how to explain this place..

Hebron is the second largest city in the Palestinian territories, and a very holy place for both Muslims and Jews – the population of almost 500 000 Palestinians lives door to door with about 500 Jewish settlers. Or, rather, door to soldier – because parts of the old city in Hebron look almost like an outdoor prison, with 20% of the city under Israeli control, Palestinians having to go through security checks to go home, and the settlers doing all in their power to force the Palestinians away.

We took the bus from Jerusalem to Bethlehem where we met a taxi driver who promised to take us around for the day – I knew I wanted to take my mother to Hebron and to see the recent Banksy art on the wall, my mother wanted to see the nativity church in Bethlehem – and the things I had pitched to her. We only had one day, so taking a taxi to all the spots of interest was the best option for us.

Being in the taxi was interesting in itself, Mahmoud told us about the pass that Palestinians needs in order to cross the check point back to Jerusalem. People get this pass to look for a job, or to go and pray at the dome of the rock in Jerusalem, the holiest place in the world for Muslims. The cost of the pass is 400€, it can be cancelled at any time, and it is not valid on Fridays. On pray day.

We entered Area “A” – Palestinian controlled area, and arrived in Hebron.

We took a walk around the old bazaar. I recognized a man I had met in 2010 which was pretty amazing. Same spot, same things for sale, time hadn’t done much for him. The old bazaar looked the same, only even emptier than last time. Already then people were complaining that no tourists came to Hebron anymore because they were afraid. People were giving up and moving out. There was a net above our heads, and trash scattered all over the net. Israeli flags were hanging from the windows. The settlers live upstairs and they throw their trash down at the market to make life hard for the Palestinians. Thus the net. Thus the bad business.

But we were there, the only tourists at the time. And people were very happy to see us. “Welcome to Hebron” they all said when passing us. Kids wanted selfies, and they wanted to have their picture taken while showing off. Jumping on an old mattress, running fast, fighting, laughing. Kids stuff.

When going back to the cab, we saw a boy climbing out from a window with a little ladder next to it. “Oh, that’s a home” Mahmoud said. “It’s just that the settlers have closed the front entrance since it’s Israeli controlled area – so the family has to go in and out through the window.” Just as he said that, the boy fell down the ladder hit himself against the car that was standing just in front of him. An old woman dressed in black came out through the window to get him as he was crying loudly. She was my grandmother’s age. I was imagining my grandmother having to climb in and out of her house through a window. And having to explain to her grandchildren why.

Thanks for the eye opener, Hebron. Again.

Hebron, Palestine

Hebron, Palestine

Hebron, Palestine

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Hebron, Palestine

Current

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Life isn’t always artsy, smart and inventive, bubbling with stories and happiness. Sometimes it’s just not inspiring at all, and things feel rather pointless and sad. Especially when you start thinking about the things you miss rather than the things that make you happy. Like right now.

And I want to keep record of that, too.

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 6: Dinner and a walk in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

Noam took us to his place and we had a very nice dinner with his family, (but first we made a stop on the way to buy some knafeh and tahini) I was happy to meet them again after so many years and the food that Noam’s mom had prepared was really delicious. After dinner, we drove down to the waterfront and took a walk in a very nice part of town, filled with street art and cosy bars. It was a bit sad that we only had such a short time in Tel Aviv, there’s really something about that city that I really like a lot.

Thanks again, Noam!

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv

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Tel Aviv

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 5: Crossing over to Israel and our first day in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel

Crossing the border from Aqaba to Eilat wasn’t very complicated apart from the extremely unpleasant passport control girl who questioned why I had come back to Israel “I can see you were here in 2010, why are you back?” and stamped my mother’s passport on purpose before she had the time to say anything, even though I had made it clear that we didn’t want her to because we would be travelling to other places together, possibly Muslim countries. “What’s the problem?” she asked, pretending to not know that her country has lousy diplomatic relations, and that some countries won’t let you in if it bears the Israeli stamp.. Anyway, there wasn’t much to do other than getting the documents and leaving as soon as possible before they came up with anything else.. you’re never in power in a border crossing and I bet these teenage girls laugh by the end of the day about how many passports they stamped just to mess with people. “Welcome to Israel” I told my mother, “good thing we already visited Kuala Lumpur, no?” She had just gotten a new passport.

Eilat was sunny and warm, and we took a walk around town before hopping on the bus to Jerusalem. It took about 5 hours and it was a very nice drive through the desert, passing the dead sea, passing hundreds of kibbutzes and big factories, and further onward on a fresh beautiful highway cutting straight through Palestine from the south-east to Jerusalem. We arrived in Jerusalem in the evening and checked in to our hotel. We first got a room that smelled of cat piss, so my mom worked her magic and got us upgraded to a beautiful room on the third floor with a view over the old city and the dome of the rock, we were going to spend the coming three nights here so it was perfect.

Next morning, we met with Noam! I was happy to see him again after so many years and we spent the day walking around Jerusalem and showing my mother some of the sights that she wanted to see. In the afternoon, Noam invited us over for dinner in his home in Tel Aviv, but that’s tomorrow’s story. :)

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

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Jerusalem, Israel

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Jerusalem, Israel

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Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jerusalem, Israel

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 4: Staying with Bedouins in the Wadi Rum desert

Wadi Rum, Jordan

We found Obeid on Booking.com, after having read great reviews of his Bedouin camp online. Obeid offered to pick us up from Petra in the morning, which was perfect, and we drove 1.5 hour south to reach the Wadi Rum desert and his camp. We went for a drive to have a look around the desert the same day – the dunes were very beautiful and the sand was red and soft. We ended the trip with watching the sunset and having tea in the desert, and then Obeid pointed to the horizon “see the lights over there? That’s our camp” .. “Do you mind driving the car back while I have my evening run?” I was so excited I hopped right in, and driving the 4×4 in the dunes was great fun!

My mom and I were alone in the camp apart from the family, and in the evening Obeid and his two very friendly sons had prepared dinner. We sat by the fire and spoke about things, and they played some music and sang, which was nice. As I mentioned before, there was 3g everywhere in Jordan – even there deep out in the desert, the guys kept uploading photos to Facebook and showing us different pictures and videos. It was quite funny and a bit of a contrast to what we had imagined in terms of what “Staying with Bedouins in the desert” would be like, but “that’s what Bedouin 2.0 is!”, the men explained laughing. Of course.

The next morning was insanely cold and I got a big jacket from one of the boys, “you look like Daesh!” he said laughing. They laughed a lot about IS in the camp, which kind of gave an insight into how they felt about it, it wasn’t going to reach the south and it was mostly crazy people with an impossible mission. I was thinking how some of the satire and comedy on IS maybe had reached them. The two brothers told stories about their family who lives in the town nearby, about how their sisters study and how one of them is getting married soon to a teacher “Do you have any photos of your sister?” we asked. “No, of course not! What if one of my friends takes my phone and starts flipping through the photos?” was an answer delivered with such “but, duuh, don’t you get it?!” that both my mom and I decided to not take the conversation further. There were still significant contrasts in the way Bedouin 2.0 looks at life.

We headed off to see the sunrise from the backs of our camels, it was cold, cloudy and windy, so after a while we decided that we preferred to head back. Just a couple of minutes later, the rain started pouring down – and Nayel, one of the brothers, came rushing with his 4×4 and picked us up. We came back to the camp where one of the tents had been prepared with breakfast and the fireplace was nice and warm.

After breakfast, we packed our things back into the backpacks and Obeid dropped us off in Aqaba, just by the border to Israel.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

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Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, JordanWadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 3: Sunset in Petra and an unexpected Bedouin cave visit.

Petra, Jordan

We arrived in Petra around noon with the bus, and took a taxi to our hotel, the Petra Guesthouse, located conveniently just by the entrance to Petra. After relaxing for a while we decided to go and have a quick look at one of the world’s most beautiful cities, also known as the red-rose city – it was already getting late and the site was closing. To enter Petra, you walk through a beautiful passage in the mountain, between the pinkish coloured rocks, a magical walk with cool air and your steps and voices echoing off the walls. We arrived at the Treasury, which is the first carved structure in Petra – and it was really something else. By the Treasury, we met Feras and his cousin Abdullah, who asked whether we wanted to ride on mules to the Monastery at the top, suggesting to give us a tour of the entire site. We hesitated, as we were only supposed to have a quick look at this point, but then we figured that it could be nice to do it already now instead of next morning – and the light was really beautiful as the sun was soon setting. For photos, and for avoiding the crowds, it was a perfect set up. Feras also happened to have a very calm and approachable personality, he wasn’t insisting or pushing, just suggesting – and that felt reassuring and safe. We agreed that we would go with them to the top of the mountain and Feras also invited us to see the cave where he lives. So off we went on our two beautiful white mules, passing people on the way, all of them walking in the other direction to exit the site.

We had to learn how to trust the animals beneath us, as they were climbing stairs, walking very closely to steep falls and stepping around slippery stones. As much as we wanted to guide them in the direction that looked like the safest to take, they knew the best way. We arrived at the Monastery and it was all empty, there was not a single person present apart from the man serving coffee with cardamom in the little restaurant by the site. It was quiet, there was a soft breeze, the monastery looked mysterious and the coffee was delicious. I was trying to imagine that this construction was built as much as 312 years BC, and how incredibly old and beautiful it is, carved in red stone. Imagine it wasn’t even known to the western world until more than 2000 years later, in 1812. And here we were.

We continued up to the top of the mountain where Feras and Abdullah showed us the view, it was scary to stand so close to the edge and I felt worried that the animal would suddenly decide to jump off the cliff, it was very steep and a very deep canyon. Once I relaxed and decided that I would probably survive, it was a beautiful view to take in, and Feras and Abdullah were throwing stones into the distance, competing on how far they fly, listening after the distant sound of rock against rock. The sun was setting as we were standing there, and it started getting darker, we decided to climb down and start returning, but first we were going to pass by the cave where Feras lives.

By the time we had come off the mountains and started heading towards the cave, it had gotten really dark. My mom was getting worried, “are we going far?” “are you going to take us back all the way to the entrance?” she asked. “Don’t worry, Feras reassured, it’s just 10 minutes more” that was enough time for it to become completely dark, I could barely see the road ahead of me. “Does the horse even know where it’s going?” “Yes, trust it – it knows the way and it sees better than us” Feras said. So we headed to the cave, and it was indeed not that far away. Feras explained that his family is one of the few that still live in Petra, as many Bedouins moved out when the king had built a town for them with schools, hospitals and other comforts. “We love the king, but some of us wanted to return. My father is one of the guardians of Petra, and we live off the tourism here – it’s good. I’ve learnt all my English from the tourists. My sisters live and study in the village.” We entered the cave, which really was a door in the wall, and a big room behind it with carpets, sleeping bags and pictures on the walls. We sat there for a while talking until we felt really hungry and decided that we wanted to head back. So we stepped outside, and it had gotten even darker than it had been before. Now we really couldn’t see anything at all, I couldn’t see my own feet. “Are you completely sure the mule sees in the dark?” I asked again. “Don’t worry, just let them take us back” Feras said. So we hopped on the mules and headed back down the mountain, passing places where I know I had seen steep falls before. I could feel the animal moving underneath me and it felt calm and reassuring, so I decided to relax, let go, and just look up at the sky instead. It was completely filled with stars. The air was warm and still, that sweet smell from when we had just landed in Amman was back again, and the silhouettes from the mountains in the distance were lit up by the cities behind them. It was completely quiet apart from the sound of hoofs against rock, none of us spoke. Mind cleared, bliss. My entire body smiled.

We arrived back to the treasury where we had first met Feras and Abdullah, and looked up at the details of the construction that were barely visible, I imagined arriving here at night and discovering this for the first time, what an amazing moment that would have been! We continued out through the mountain passage, and Feras and Abdullah now made the mules go faster, they knew this way by heart – so we raced out through the narrow passage, fast, with the wind in our hair, and the clapping sound of hoofs bouncing loudly off the rocks, the stone wall sometimes swooshing closely by us, it was a bit scary but I had already decided to trust the animal, so I embraced the moment as yet another beautiful one.

When we arrived at the exit there was nobody left, not even a guard to let us out, so we thanked Feras and Abdullah and let ourselves out. Happy to have had our own custom made and spontaneous experience in Petra, not at all what we had expected.

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

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Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

To contact Feras you can get in touch with him via email on feras.petra@yahoo.com, or by phone/whatsapp at +962 772098134, we highly recommend him especially for his calm, honest, courteous and kind personality. Thanks again for everything, Feras, and thank you for showing us your home!

Jordan, Palestine & Israel Part 2: First 24 hours of travelling – a glimpse of Amman and onward bussing.

Jordan 2015: Amman

We arrived in Amman at 8 in the evening, and the first thing we did was to get a Jordanian sim card with 4g network (including free local calls & sms, and 3GB of data) from the Zain kiosque – it was about 20€ and worked well throughout the trip – even in the desert! A driver picked us up and took us to the home of friends where we spent our first night. The air in Amman was pleasantly warm and had a sweet and embracing scent, it smelled like a mix between apple flavoured water pipe smoke and warm desert sand.

We woke up early the next morning, had a joint breakfast with our hosts and took a cab to Amman’s southern bus station in the Wahedat area, from where we hopped on one of the local buses to go to Petra. (There is also a tourist bus service called JETT bus which departs to Petra every morning at 6.30am and returns at 5pm) The local buses from Wahedat depart every hour (or rather, once they are full) and the price is 7€ per seat, we got there at 8am and waited about 45 minutes to depart – and we paid for three seats – one each, and one for our bags. :)

The 3,5h trip through the desert isn’t very exciting in itself, but it’s always pleasant to look out the window and relax while the wind tosses your hair around. A nice and easy start to our trip.

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman & resa

Jordan 2015: Amman

img src=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7598/16815529029_c12da5be24_c.jpg” width=”800″ height=”534″ alt=”Jordan 2015: Amman”>

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan 2015: Amman

Jordan, Palestine & Israel 2015 Part 1: The itinerary

With 10 days blocked out exclusively for my mother during my contract break in March, Mami took her persuasion skills out and convinced me that it was time for yet another trip with our backpacks. We looked at maps and weather reports together, thought of options that were not too far away yet not too close.. and when Daesh started smashing art to pieces in Iraq we agreed that Petra in Jordan was a place that we should make sure we experience as soon as possible.

We booked our flights to and from Amman without booking hotels, and I decided that if we’re going to spend days looking at monuments and beautiful desert, I want my mom to understand some of the local context and history, and experience some of the places I visited in 2010. So we added Palestine and Israel to the itinerary, and the circle was closed. March 9th to 19th 2014 – Jordan, Palestine, Israel. The photos and the stories are coming!

Jordan map

Malmö hangout sessions pt. 2 – Happy Birthday to Vladi and a big nostalgia party.

I got a Whatsapp message from a primary school friend: “Hey! Heard you’re in town! We’re organizing a surprise party for Vladi on Saturday – would be great if you could come. Hope to see you!”

Vladi is a friend I’ve known since first grade, we were buddies from the beginning and somehow almost always ended up in the same classroom while switching schools, all the way up until high school. We’ve managed to keep in touch throughout the years, 22 years to be exact, and I visited them just before leaving to Belize. Vladi has also been great at keeping the relations with many of the rest of our primary school friends, the friends from the neighbourhood, the people we grew up with, people from primary, middle and high school.

So, his girlfriend – and a girl I much liked to play with on the school yard, had organized a surprise party inviting all of Vladi’s friends to their apartment – and Vladi had no idea at all.

We shouted surprise, exchanged hugs and continued mingling in what for me was a nostalgia overload of faces and interesting life stories, people I knew as primary school kids were now talking about their parenthood and boyish faces had grown manly beards. In between the “this is sick!” and “wow, 7 years at least!?” greetings and hugs, there were laughs, some dancing, and a selfie stick that got to be the ultimate centre of attention all night. It was a great party, and I was very happy to be there.

Happy Birthday once more, Vladi! Thank you, Nilo! And the biggest of hugs to you all.

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Vladis Birthday!

Here’s some added goodies from the archive. Wish I was at home right now so I could share some more!

Nostalgia

Nostalgia

Nostalgia

UNICEF Belize: TIME OUT – Ending Violence Against Children in Belize

LOGO 1

Last month, UNICEF Belize launched the National C4D & Communication Strategy to End Violence Against Children in Belize, TIME OUT, along with the new PSA Videos that are being aired at National TV. The event was well attended by the media and UNICEF partners, and the discussion that followed gave added insights as to how the country will continue advocating, listening, and working together to End Violence Against Children in the Belize.

LAUNCHING EVENT

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

Time Out Launch

THE STRATEGY
The strategy stretches over at least 2 years – and it is important to point out that “TIME OUT” isn’t just a “communication campaign” – it’s an initiative using mainly Communication for Development approaches, aimed at inspiring behavioural change and affecting attitudes towards violence over the long term. C4D is based on listening to communities and creating dialogue on the issues that affect them in order to find out why certain damaging behaviours are in place and how we can work together to find alternatives.

One of the cornerstones of the strategy will be the establishment of a baseline on the situation of violence against children through a nationwide KAPB survey (Knowledge, Attitudes, Perceptions and Behaviours). UNICEF has travelled across the country and met with more than 130 children conducting focus group sessions including theatre and other activities, to find out if and how they are affected by violence in their communities.

Workshops

Workshop - hand

The strategy is based on the cooperation with our partners, and also incorporates community level initiatives such as training of teachers on positive discipline, parental training and strengthening of the child justice system.

COMMUNICATION & PUBLIC INFORMATION COMPONENT
Along with all of these C4D initiatives – TIME OUT also has a classic communication and public information component including posters, videos and other visibility items such as wristbands.

wristband

We are using the common concept of TIME OUT. However, the message today is not for children, it’s for adults – to take a TIME OUT and think – before using violent methods and teaching our children that these are acceptable/normal – and instead choose to use alternative methods to communicate and solve conflict.

“Basing our relationships on Understanding, Respect and Love.”

Through community consultations, we have learnt that one of the biggest challenges for parents is that while they don’t deem it necessary to use violence and negative discipline – they don’t know any other alternative. We are trying to inform about these alternatives, and strengthen parents in their confidence that a positive approach is possible.

poster Video1

The content of the videos has been inspired by the inputs collected from children across the country and there five videos on the five types of violence will be rolled out on a monthly basis:

– Verbal Violence
– Physical Violence
– Gang Violence
– Neglect
– Sexual Abuse

The videos are embracing the cultural diversity of Belize, and are acted by normal people – “maybe even your next door neighbour.” One of the main points that we learnt from the children and want to communicate is that – VIOLENCE HAPPENS EVERYWHERE in BELIZE, across all social, geographical and cultural borders in the country. It’s hidden in plain sight and it’s thus everybody’s business to address violence.

The videos will be aired on most of the media channels in the country, and will be added to this article as they are released to the public.

Super Soft Heroes – stereotypes crushed with love.

supersoft heroes

Swedish artist and illustrator Linnea “Limpan” has created a colouring book with alternative situations to those we might expect of our classic and well known super heroes. Here’s what she writes about it on her Facebook page:

“Boys learn from their role-models to act tough and aggressive and that showing vulnerability or emotion is equivalent to being weak or ”being a girl” (which is considered an insult in today’s society). They are taught through those role models to ”man up” and that ”boys don’t cry”. Girls on the other hand learn early on that their greatest asset is to be beautiful. When my son of three years old stopped crying because none of his heroes do , I had to take action because I think this is (excuse me) bullshit.

I decided to draw ten soft superheroes and ten strong princesses, just to give the kids some alternatives. This coloring book is free, partly because i want no trouble with Marvel or DC comics but also so that I can reach out to as many kids as possible. As a cartoonist and a big comic book-fan myself I know the superheroes are emotional and complex characters, the problem is that in the kids editions they show only aggression and violence.
If you like my ideas and wish to donate money to my future projects you can send it via paypal to linneita@gmail.com

Here are the ten Super-soft heroes and in a few weeks I will give you ten Super-strong Princesses.
Thank you!”

This is an extraordinary initiative that I think parents should print and let their kids play with and even bring to their preschools as an alternative for all children.

Thank you Linnea for challenging stereotypes and giving parents alternatives to what the children of today are being forced to see – I adore Spiderman in the wheelchair and the grocery shopping Hulk!

Click below to download the PDF – it has been taken down from Linnea’s dropbox probably by people who don’t agree with progressive change and that Batman possibly could make a loving father, I urge you to help Linnea save and spread the pdf as widely as possible – it’s not only free, it’s important!

supersoft heroes2

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF.

And let’s not forget to drop something into Linnea’s paypal account linneita@gmail.com so we can help her set up her own website.

Saying farewell to Sarah

Sarahs farewell

The problem with small cities and even smaller expat communities is that people tend to leave a lot. Often, when you meet the nicest of people, they already have a ticket out. (I’m not going to claim I haven’t been guilty of leaving, too. Sorry, all.)

Sarah is one of the people I wish I had gotten to hang out more with, although I’m sure we will meet somewhere else on the planet – unless she comes to visit us before I leave Belize which is very possible considering how cold London is now.. Hurry, hurry back, we have palm trees! :)

We attended a small farewell party as well as an official reception to say good bye to Sarah – she will be dearly missed not only by friends but also by the many people she worked with here in the country.

Good bye and good luck, Sarah!

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Sarahs farewell

Right, and then Lu-C and I took some elevator selfies..

Sarahs farewellSarahs farewell

Dinners, chocolate and messy kitchens

Luc spent almost two months here after we came back from New Year’s in Mexico. Apart from what I’ve already shared of our adventures, he ventured off into an entire world of culinary experiments. Including a chocolate strawberry-heart cake for Valentine’s, and an absolutely mind blowing chocolate mousse layered mint dark chocolate cake with mango sauce for my birthday.. plus a wide selection of other forms of chocolate.

There were breakfasts in bed with funny-face-pancakes, portobello mushroom fun, wine wine champagne, and the occasional movie-watching-snack overload.

BreakfastsSnacks

leftover breakfastsIndian food

Valentine's DinnerValentine's cake

Pancakes in bedPortobello Mushrooms

Chocolate layered mousseHello

Portobello mushroomsChampagne in bed

The result? Kitchen got messy and girl got her lady parts back. Haha!

Messy kitchensHello!

First Ever Belize Electronic Music Weekend – The official launch of an EDM era in Belize!

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

The first ever Belize Electronic Music Weekend was a great success in many ways, with international DJ’s, happy positive people, breath taking venues and – most importantly and not often heard of here – really good audiovisual gear – equaling CRISP and well-balanced sound, and nice visuals! The weekend was three full days of new friends, great tunes, dancing and hanging out. And I can’t wait for more to come.

Belize Ocean Club welcomed us with great service, rum cocktails and a beautiful suite that David, Natasha, Luc and myself would be staying in. We headed straight to the beach and had a quick evening swim before having a nap and heading to the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro where we had a VERY good dinner, and then to the lagoon side of the hotel to check out the party. The venue was perfect. With a dock going into the lagoon, all beautifully lit up, open air, and even a little hangout place with a fireplace. We spent the night chatting away, dancing and meeting new people, and the last couple of hours until sunrise in a ring around the fireplace. The best thing about the party was undeniably the mix of people. The mix of ages, the mix of backgrounds, the mix of interests. People from the most random corners of the world, many of whom were complete hippies in their minds yet proper responsible adults in practice. People with a past, a present and a future, stories to tell and an open and welcoming mindset. We felt so much at home in the conversations it felt like it was all just a very big and well organized house party with good friends and some new exciting people. Just the way you want your electronic music party to feel, right? Perfect!

On the second day we woke up late, hung out for a while by the pool, and headed in to Placencia town for the sunset party at Tipsy Tuna. Again, we danced, chatted, and hung out. The party ended a bit earlier which was nice as we were completely dead after the night before. Sunday was a different thing. We headed straight to the pool where the pool chill sessions kicked in at noon, with the same friends, warming sun, live electronic beats and colourful cocktails – we stayed for as long as we could before having to drive back to Belize. And the weekend was complete.

A big thanks to all our new friends, and especially to Anna and Marcus Perigo from Sisimito Records who arranged the weekend, invited us, and were being great hosts throughout. On our way out from Belize Ocean Club, I spotted Anna and thanked for the weekend. “Can’t wait for next year’s party!” I said as I gave her a hug. “Oh, no no no.. you won’t have to wait that long – after this success we’ll make sure to arrange events like this more often!” she responded. Which sounds absolutely perfect. This is the beginning of an Electronic Dance Music era in Belize, and I’m VERY happy to be here just now.

Just call us and we’ll be there!

Now – enjoy the photos – and don’t miss the video!

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

(The following three photos were taken by Leonardo Meléndez)

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

(Photo above by Leonardo Meléndez)

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Belizez Electronic Music Weekend 2015, Placencia

Quick weekend in Guatemala – driving to Flores and getting a fix of colourful Mayan magic.

Tikal, Guatemala

We took Suz for a ride to Guatemala a couple of weekends ago, just to get out of town and do something fun together. I’ve been to Flores and Tikal before, in 2013, and it was great to re-visit and reminisce about some of the moments. Tikal is beautiful and inspiring, and only a “short” drive away – so I definitely recommend anybody living in or visiting Belize to hop on a bus or take the car and make their way over the border. Now.. I must say, this all wasn’t as easy as we had expected – driving from Belize to Guatemala is quite different from the good ol’ “roadtrip to Mexico”  excursion. Particularly when you cross with your own vehicle. You will need to stand in line to declare your car and get a permit to enter the country – and to do so you need photocopies of your passport, your driver’s license, and the original of your vehicle registration (I usually only have the copy in the car). If you don’t have photocopies, eager taxi drivers gather all around to “help you out” and drive you to the nearest town to get them. We were lucky, as the person in border control was a big fan of our employer and decided that we should be treated as diplomats, my car doesn’t have those magic diplo plates so we couldn’t skip the necessary admin stuff – but he kindly offered to help us out with some details and take care of the copies, and we just paid the necessary fees and got out of there. Again, remember that you can only pay your vehicle permit in Guatemalan Quetzal, cash – as expected – but there are of course very kind currency exchange guys who will help you out and change your Belizean dollars at a conveniently outrageous rate. :)

This entire permit deal is an interesting thing once you have it –  it’s valid for three months. In other words, you can drive the car in and out of Guatemala as much as you wish within a period of 90 days. After that the permit automatically expires, and you’re then not allowed to enter Guatemala with this car at all for three months! A system I haven’t before heard of. Another option, which we went for, is to cancel the permit when exiting Guatemala. I’m now not allowed to bring Suz to Guatemala again before May. Which is fine since I won’t even be here in March, but I must admit I do feel a little bit  claustrophobic.

After the border, the road is ok, in the beginning – then there is some road work and the road is horrible – and then it’s back to your normal Belizean-style pothole fiesta again. Don’t trust Google Maps when it tells you that it takes 3 hours to drive to Flores. In fact, don’t trust Google maps to tell you how long it takes to drive anywhere in Belize. It manages to calculate Placencia and some of the southern districts right – but when going North or West, I very rarely manage to keep up with the estimation, (the surprise road bump suspension massacring frenzy manages to maintain my driving at slow and paranoid mode.) Adding on the border crossing dealings, the fact that we left Belize at rush hour, and that we drove after dark on the Guatemalan (my security focal point should not see this) roads, it took us almost 5 hours to get to Flores. Not a short drive, but a pleasant one with beautiful scenery – and very much worth it.

We stayed at the Ramada hotel, the only reasonably located option that wasn’t fully booked at the time. It was a bit on the steep side of Flores hotels, but the service was honey coated, the room was fresh and pleasant, and Suz got her own secure parking spot. Just what we needed. Oh, and surprise coffee at 3 am in the morning before our trip to Tikal.

Tikal, the old capital of the Mayan empire, is about one hour away from the picturesque and colourful little island of Flores. You will want to go with an organized tour in bus to get to enter early, avoid driving at 3 am, and see it at sunrise – sitting on top of the highest temple while the sun is coming up is one of my favourite parts of the experience. That, and the morning pyramid hang-out a couple of hours later, when you get to sit and look at the site as tourists come and go, and get little moments of silent stillness with the structures, thinking of how insane it is that they have been standing for almost 3000 years and that 90.000 people once used to live there.

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, GuatemalaTikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, GuatemalaTikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

Tulum mornings

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

We stayed with friends at Residencia Gorila in Tulum, a creative art collective that invites artists and good vibes from all over the world to share life and ideas. The Gorila rooftop is the perfect spot for moon gazing, and the surrounding areas are perfect for beach play and breakfast love. Together with the dancing, the food and the arts – Tulum provides everything that a life loving spirit desires.

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Gran Cenote, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Gran Cenote, Tulum

Tulum stories: The moon is full and life is yours to enjoy, now come – dance and love.

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

We found our way back to Tulum where the moonlight was telling a million stories and the beach embraced us in all of its warmth and beautiful vibes. We were invited to stay with friends and joined them for a party on the beach, under the full moon, under the palm trees and with what happened to be one of my long time DJ crushes, Nightmares on Wax. We played, we loved, we danced and we welcomed the sun as it came up in the morning.

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, TulumMoonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Moonlight Stories, Tulum

Tulum sunrise

New friends, wine, a boat, and yet another beautiful sunset…

Isla Mujeres and Boat

We hopped over to Isla Mujeres where we spent the day on the beach and met a crowd of New Yorkers who insisted that we shouldn’t be taking the ferry back to Cancun – but join them on their catamaran instead. So we did. And had a beautiful afternoon on deck, dancing, playing, having drinks and swimming as the sun was setting and the moon came up. All as beautifully random as an afternoon on a boat can be with a big group of happy people. Thanks guys!

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Isla Mujeres and Boat

Counting down to 2015, Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mexico.

New Year's Eve in Cancun

We ended the year on a beach in Cancun. An electronic music concert with David Guetta and his buddies who delivered a spectacular show – and loads of happy people, yet not too crammed, not too loud, and not too much in your face – we had enough space to dance around, enough hearing left to be able to talk to people, and enough energy and happiness to dance all of our make-up off when it started to rain. It was a great night, one hundred per cent positive, and I couldn’t have been happier and more grateful to spend it with two people who had made their way all the way to another continent to dance through the night and count down to 2015 with me. So much love, thank you darlings!

We continued to another beach once the party started dying out, had some food, danced a bit on the street and went home just as the sun was starting to make its way up. I was happy. A bit worried about 2015, but very happy.

Oh, and cameras were forbidden in the concert, so please excuse the quality of what is to come. Don’t miss the videos, though – one was filmed by a production company and features a split second of our dance moves at 2:24, and the other one is from my phone and captures the moment when the rain fell. I think our shared happiness can be felt through both the shouting and the music, that rain couldn’t have come at a better moment.

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun

New Year's Eve in Cancun