Author: Kirstine

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Farvel til Moskva

2019-09-03 | Long read, Rusland | No Comments

Det føles fremmedartet – tanken om Moskva – eksotisk, uforståeligt, barskt. Jeg kan huske flimrende sort/hvide tv-billeder af russere med pelshue, der står I lange køer foran butikkerne i sovjettiden. Vi bruger udtrykket ’en by i Rusland’ om noget, der er meget langt væk – og sådan føles det også.

Bolshoi

Men i realiteten er russerne meget tæt på. Der tager kun lidt over 2 timer at flyve til Moskva. Der er kun 1 times tidsforskel. Det samme som til London, som vi synes er lige rundt om hjørnet. Muren er nok aldrig helt holdt op med at eksistere, for vi har forsat øjnene rettet mod vest uden at se, hvad der gemmer sig østpå.

Det gør det hellere ikke nemmere, at det er besværligt at søge visum. Jeg brugte 3 dage på visumcentret, og har aldrig oplevet lignende bureaukrati. Med skræmmehistorierne fra den kolde krig, især om KGB, i baghovedet er det ikke uden nervøsitet jeg lander i Moskva. Man hører jo så meget om nutidens Rusland – og så er paskontrollen overstået på 2 minutter. Ingen spørgsmål, ingen mærkelige blikke.

Karl Marx

Jeg kan svagt huske russisk historie. Ud over køerne foran butikkerne er det Peter den store, Katarina den store, Ivan den grusomme, den kolde krig, angsten for atomkrig og -kraft, Chernobyl. Så er det balletten, forfatterne, kommunismen – men så kan jeg heller ikke huske meget mere.

Jeg er blevet glædeligt overrasket. Moskva er en af de smukkeste byer jeg nogensinde har besøgt. Jeg ved ikke, hvad jeg havde forestillet mig – noget i retning af grå beton og monumentale sovjetrussiske bygninger. Men det er helt anderledes. Her er lys og luft, brede veje med plads mellem bygningerne. Bygninger er smukt restaureret.

Moskva er både meget gammel og meget moderne. Det føles ikke som om der bor mere end 12 millioner mennesker her. Selvom trafikken kan være et helvede, er der masser af plads til fodgængere. Her er meget få cyklister, selvom både udlejningscykler og -løbehjul er kommet til. De fleste kører på fortovene, der er så brede at der er plads til alle.

Badstue

Jeg har kun set en lille del af Moskva. 3 dage er langt fra nok til at se det hele og få et ordentligt indtryk af byen. Jeg har besøgt de sædvanlige turistattraktioner sammen med horder af andre turister – den røde plads, Kreml, museet for kosmonauter m.m. Jeg blev også vist rundt af en lokal humanist Svetlana, som viste mig dele af Moskva, som jeg ikke selv ville have fundet. Vi var blandt forbi et badehus og et kloster, begge godt skjult bag tykke mure.

Jeg har ikke set noget til de demonstrationer, der har været i forbindelse med lokalvalget, der skal holdes den 8. september. Der bliver slået hårdt ned på uroligheder her. Politi- og sikkerhedsstyrkerne er forholdsmæssigt meget store. Der er meget politi på gaderne – og man finder ikke det jeg ellers altid har mødt på alle turiststeder: sælgere og tiggere. De er her ikke.

Sputnik

I Moskva er der penge. Bilerne er større og nyere end i Danmark. Der ligger luksusbutikker og -hoteller på stribe. Men som jeg får fortalt flere gange, så er Moskva ikke Rusland. Det rigtige Rusland ligger derude et sted. Det er så der jeg skal hen, når jeg lige om lidt stiger på den transmongolske jernbane.

Jeg skal køre igennem Rusland de næste 3 dage, 4 nætter og 5 tidszoner – og jeg håber at få et glimt af det rigtige Rusland gennem togvinduet.

Næste stop er Irkutsk ved Baikalsøen.

Kick off

2019-08-31 | Rejsen, Short read | No Comments

Jeg har forladt Danmark og er landede i Moskva i går. På tirsdag stiger jeg på den transmongolske jernbane og efter cirka 8.000 kilometer med tog, står jeg med fødderne solidt plantet på den kinesiske mur.

Det er bare begyndelsen på min rejse jorden rundt.

Det er et år siden jeg sidste gang jeg trådte ind ad dørene i mit gamle firma, og køberne af mit hus underskrev købsaftalen. Beslutningen om at jeg ville starte forfra blev truffet for mere end et år siden, og jeg har ikke fortrudt et eneste øjeblik siden.

Min drøm om at rejse verden rundt er så småt ved at blive til virkelighed. Det seneste år har jeg rejst rundt i Afrika og Europa, jeg har interviewet mere end 40 mennesker, min podcast er online, jeg har set the big five og utallige andre dyr.

Jeg har set de smukkeste landskaber og rejst tusindvis af kilometer. Jeg har mødt de mest fantastiske mennesker undervejs. Jeg har ikke haft en eneste sygedag – og flere eventyr venter derude.

De næste 6 måneder bliver kufferten mit hjem inden jeg vender tilbage til Danmark sammen med foråret.

Foreløbig rejseplan er:

Rusland
Mongoliet
Kina
Japan
Taiwan
Philippinerne
Indonesien
Malaysia
Singapore
Nepal
Indien
Grækenland
Egypten
Jordan
Oman
De Forenede Arabiske Emirater

… inden jul

Dernæst skal julen og nytåret bruges i Australien, New Zealand og på Fiji før jeg vender næsen hjemad og rejser gennem Sydamerika, Mellemamerika og Caribien.

Jorden kalder 😊

Ctrl – Alt – Delete – igen

2019-08-28 | Short read | No Comments

Der har været stille på bloggen siden jeg kom hjem fra Ghana & London i juli. Jeg har brugt sommeren på at genoverveje mit projekt. Jeg dropper det ikke, slet ikke, men jeg har måtte gentænke hvordan jeg fortæller om mig selv, min rejse og mit projekt.

Der har været for meget sammenblanding mellem mig selv og min podcast. Min egen rejse med at starte forfra og træde ud af hamsterhjulet for at rejse verden rundt, har fyldt for lidt både på bloggen og på min Instagram profil. Min podcast og situationen for ikke-troende er kommet til at fylde det meste.

Så derfor adskiller jeg nu de to ting. Jeg har derfor oprettet en Instagramprofil til min podcast Babelfish (følg den endelig). Fremover vil alt vedrørende podcast findes der og på facebook. Du kan stadig finde podcast episoderne her på mit website.

Jeg har også besluttet at min blog fremover skal være på dansk fremfor på engelsk. Det giver mest mening for mig – jeg beholder dog engelsk som på min Instagram profil, fordi jeg har mange følgere fra hele verden. Min blog og egen Instagram profil vil komme til at handle om min egen rejse, genopdagelsen af mig selv og de overvejelser jeg gør mig om det gode liv, mens jeg rejser jorden rundt. Jeg har oprettet en facebook profil, hvor du kan følge mig.

Min hjemmeside er blevet opgraderet med links til artikler og foredrag. Hvis du gerne vil booke mig til et foredrag – eller kender nogen, som kunne være interesseret i at book mig, så tag kontakt. Jeg har tid fra marts 2020.

Jeg håber du kan lide den nye tilgang til det jeg laver 😊

Goodbye Ghana

2019-07-13 | Denmark, Ghana, Long read | No Comments

The Gate of No Return, Cape Coast

I just left Ghana after a visit which seemed too short. It was my first trip back to western Africa since Sofie & I visited Mali 14 years ago. Back then Mali was a peaceful country and we travelled with Sofie’s friend Martha, her brother Simon, her mom Dorthe and her dad David (who is born in Mali).

It was a family visit, but Sofie and I took a road trip to Timbuktu. The first of many trips to far away fairy-tale places (at least for us Danes 😊). Our drivers name was Baloo and our guide in Timbuktu was Tuareg (one of the blue men) with the name Muhammed Ali. I kid you not it was their names. Internal conflict now makes it impossible to visit and the UNESCO world heritage sites we visited back then is ruined by rebels.

The food is good – here jollof

Ghana is the opposite – it’s peaceful and compared to other African countries wealthy. Like all the other countries Ghana is very religious, but the humanist organisation is growing. Roslyn who recently was elected to the board of Humanists International helped me settling in, showed me the beach and took me to a pub, where I experienced the football frenzy – Ghana fighting for a place in the quarter finals of the African Cup. Unfortunately, they lost so we didn’t party all night (good for me).

With Ros on the beach

At Roslyn’s house a met some of the other humanists. I interviewed her, Roslyn’s husband Michael who is also president of the humanists in Ghana and Ato & Anim. They are trying to create a safe space for non-believers, since they are stigmatised. It was so nice meeting them and discuss humanism, human rights and much more.

Danish history is intertwined with Ghanaian history. We don’t talk about it much in Denmark, but we also participated in the slave trade from Afrika to Amerika. We had a few islands in the Caribbean with plantations and some slave forts along the Ghana coast. I visited one of them Christiansborg in Accra with Michael who took me on a road trip from Accra to Cape Coast to Kumasi and back.

It’s estimated Denmark was responsible for 100.000 slaves being brought across the ocean over 130 years. Local tribes delivered slaves to the Europeans – amongst them the Ashanti kingdom which still exists. Slaves was rounded up from todays Mali, Burkina Faso and other countries. Then they were sent marching towards Cape Coast which is several hundred kilometres – barefoot in shackles, many of them dying on the way.

Place for the Homecoming ceremony

Today decedents from the slaves seek their roots and a lot of them visit Ghana. Every year there is remembrance of the slave trade. A homecoming ceremony is held for those visiting for the first time.

Ghana is a beautiful country. People are so nice and friendly – we had a lot of laughs. I leave with a lot of good experiences – a lot wiser regarding my own country’s history and new friends I will surely miss.

Some facts:

Ghana (Denmark)

Population:   30.4 mio. (5.8 mio.)

Area:   239.000 km2 (43.000 km2)

Density: 128/km2 (133/km2)

Life expectancy: 63 years (80 years)

The final episode of Babelfish season 1 has been published. The podcast will be on holiday until August. So far 30 interviews with non-believers from 7 countries in the eastern and southern parts of Africa have been produced.

I have talked to humanists, atheists and freethinkers from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana and South Africa. All of them had fascinating stories to tell about their life and the challenges they face.

Many of them grew up in religious families with no room for critical thinking, questions and discussions about belief. Growing up most of them have felt alone, thinking they were the only ones doubting the existence of God.

Now they are building communities for non-believers in their countries. In some countries humanist schools are formed, educating the kids in science and critical thinking. Other humanist schools are supporting single moms. Humanitarian projects are being run by non-believers.

In some of the countries the communities are very small with almost no resources. But in all countries non-believers are having metups, debates and social events in order to grow the small communities.

Everywhere I went non-believers are discriminated and stigmatised. Not due to legislation since the constitutions are based on human rights, but due to the religious society. Some have experienced to be shunned from their families, some have been fired. In some cases, there has been violent reactions to non-believers fight for human rights.

Sometimes it looks like an uphill battle to change the society’s view of non-believers. But everywhere I went I met amazing people full of energy and optimism. They keep up the good work and I am sure they will change the world.

It’s been quite a journey for me as well. A year ago, I started the planning – a bit scared, nervous and excited. I have had doubts many times, thinking this was crazy – thinking I wasn’t able to do this. But I did – and I will continue.

Season 1 has been finalised. Tomorrow I’ll fly to Ghana to meet another group of amazing non-believers. The interviews will be part of season 2 which will begin in August.

Next step is to cover the rest of the world. I am actively seeking funding and sponsors for a tour around the world. The tour will start by the end of August.

You can also support the project by donating money through Patreon – or for the Danish audience through 10er.dk.

Have a nice summer

Goodbye Portugal

2019-04-22 | Long read, Portugal | 1 Comment

Streets of Lisbon

It wasn’t part of my plan to visit Portugal this year. I want to do a Europe tour at some point visiting all the European countries. I want to wait interviewing non-believers in this part of the world where is seems to be easier than in other parts. But since I was in the neighbourhood, I decided to tour Portugal and Spain after the nomad cruise.

Portugal is beautiful, the green mountains, the olive trees, the ocean and the cliffs. The characteristic pavement of white and black stones in the cities and the architecture. Until the 70’ies the country was a catholic dictatorship and has suffered many financial crises since. They are only just recovering from the latest crisis – there are many beautiful old buildings who looks like they are falling apart. At the same time there is lots of restoration going on.

Streetart in Lisbon

I was so tired after the nomad cruise I needed to take it easy and not do much sightseeing while I spend a couple of days in Lisbon. I just did a walking tour with the other nomads to get a brief insight to the story of the city.

I interviewed 2 non-believers from the secular society (http://www.laicidade.org/) Ricardo and Rodrigo. Portugal is very religious, and the catholic church still has a huge impact on government and every day life. This even though the Portuguese constitution has been secular since 1911. The secular organization is not just for non-believers, members are of all faiths. The primary goal is to implement secularism in Portugal. There are still many issues in everyday life. Non-believers don’t face server challenges like in the African countries I have visited, but people think they are a bit strange.

Ecumenical Temple

I also visited the ADFP which is a foundation in Coimbra. It’s founded more than 30 years ago and is based on humanity and helps disabled people, foster kids and others. It owns a natural park, a hotel and a few years back they build an ecumenical temple on the top of a mountain.

The temple is dedicated to peace and to remember the victims of fundamentalism. It is for both believers and non-believers – I find it a bit strange to call it a temple, since it then sounds like a religious place. I understand why they have built even though I would have preferred something more secular.


Cromeleque dos Alemenedres

From Coimbra I rented a car and drove down south through the mountains and landscapes. For once I was on my own – no driver, no public transport. I decided to take a detour, going back in time finding the megaliths (Cromeleque dos Alemenedres) outside Evora. They are thousands of years of old and are amazing. They rest on a mountain top with a beautiful view. There are several megaliths and monoliths in the area. They are breathtaking – incredible they were able to build them back then.

I also visited a former colleague Paul Gerner and his wife Ewa in Lagos in Algarve. We haven’t seen each other for years, but it was just like the old days – nice relaxing and cosy. Paul has been visiting Portugal for more than 30 years. He told me the economy is improving, a lot of investments are being done and many Europeans are moving here with their savings. So, it looks good for the future – and hopefully some of these old amazing buildings can be restored.

Some facts:

Portugal (Denmark)

Population:   10.2 mio. (5.8 mio.)

Area:   92.000 km2 (43.000 km2)

Density: 111/km2 (133/km2)

Life expectancy: 79 years (80 years)

The humanist society

2019-04-02 | Denmark, Short read | 1 Comment

Happy Human

My life stance is humanism and my values are based on human rights. This means I belong to a minority in this world since most people are religious. I have not really considered myself being part of a minority before I started my travels and talked to other non-believers.

But we are a minority. In Denmark approximately 1.500 people are members of the Danish Humanist Society and approximately 800 people are members of the Atheist Association – Denmark has 5.8 million citizens. So we are a minority in Denmark even though the country is considered to be one of the least religious in the world.

I’ve been a member of the Danish Humanist Society since it was founded almost 11 years ago. Since then the society has fought to be acknowledged as a life stance organisation to acquire the same rights as faith communities. We are not there yet but hopefully we will get there within a year or two.

I have been active in the society in some years now. It was my involvement in the international work which gave me the idea to Babelfish – it was meeting all the other humanist struggling to get recognised who sparked the idea. Even though I travel I am still active in the political work – you just need your laptop and your phone, and you can work all over the globe.

I have also been involved in planning a lot of events culminating in our 10-year anniversary celebration last year. 2018 was a busy year with a record high number of ceremonies held and a lot of events. Last weekend we had our general assembly where our President Lone Ree Milkaer again was amazed on how far we have gotten and what we manage to do with very few resources.

At the general assembly I was re-elected for the board and will also continue as vice president the next year 😊

London Baby

2019-03-27 | Short read, UK | No Comments

Kew Garden

I’ve just spent four days in London with my family. My daughter Sofie and her boyfriend Rasmus has been living there since August. Both my mom and I have birthdays in March. So, we went there for our birthday celebrations and to spend some time together for once.

I love London. I love the diversity, the bustling streets, the parks, the food. Just walking the streets, looking at people – walk a bit, grab a cup of coffee, walk some more, have lunch and so on. There is always something going on in London.

Phoenix Arts Club

Thursday, we went to the Phoenix Arts Club for The West End’s Theatre open mic night to experience Sofie on stage she is an amazing singer. It was a great evening; the performers are fantastic, and we had a lot of fun. They have open mic night every Thursday.

Friday on my mom’s birthday we visited Kew Gardens, a fantastic botanical garden. Way too big to see in just one day, so we only saw a fraction of it. We also had afternoon tea at the Ivy in Covent Garden – afternoon tea is a must every time I’m in London, love it.

Afternoon tea at the Ivy

Saturday, we went to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park while a million brits was marching for a people vote. It’s hard to understand they are leaving the EU, but on the other hand they don’t really see them selves as Europeans. They always talk about the continent, i.e. Europe.

Kew Garden

It will also affect us as a family because we do not know whether Sofie and Rasmus can stay. Rasmus has just been accepted to one of the universities and will study creative writing the next 3 years – it’s so cool and I’m proud of him.

Sofie has a free scholarship for a musical performance school (MX Masterclass). We saw their show at Charing Cross Theatre on Sunday. Sofie has applied for a master’s in musical performance from this fall. All of this means we follow the Brexit negotiations closely – tension rises each day.

But besides the insecurity we had a great weekend in London – my feet were killing me, and I had to relax all of Tuesday due to the pain.

I’ll be leaving Denmark soon, but the whole family will be together again on Iceland in the beginning of June – a family holiday.

Management by Fear

2019-03-20 | Denmark, Rwanda, Short read | No Comments

Rwanda – Genocide Memorial

I just finalized my next article. Its about my visit to Rwanda and it has been difficult writing it. Its been tough thinking about my visit again, so emotional. I ended up spending several days writing the article, because I needed breaks in between.

Thinking about all those people killed during the genocide. All those lives lost. Looking at history it doesn’t seem like we will ever learn and change our ways. I’ve visited the memorial in Rwanda, I’ve also visited the killing fields in Cambodia – my grandparents were part of the resistance during world war 2. They were imprisoned in a camp in Denmark (Frøslevlejren). They were lucky. They were caught just before the war ended, else they might have ended up in a concentration camp.

Cambodia – Killing Fields

And why do genocides happen – how is it possible for human beings to kill other human beings. How is it possible for human beings to commit those horrible crimes. It is difficult to comprehend.

Looking at history the commonalities to me seems to be when groups of people are dehumanised – either because they are from another tribe, another religion, another race or just something else which differs them from the majority.

Denmark – Froeslevlejren

The dehumanising begins when those in power (or the people who wants to be in power) starts to distinguish us from them. They point out the differences between humans. Next step is to put fear into people, claiming ‘the others’ are bad people. Claiming ‘the others’ want to force you to change your life, your belief or even that they want to kill you, your family and friends.

This is what the Nazis, the Khmer rouge and the Hutus did. This is what happened before all genocides. Fear is a powerful tool – it is a powerful weapon. It is easy to scare people, especially when it comes to the un-known. It requires much more energy for us to have an open mind, look at the facts and be pragmatic.

Everyday we see how fear is spread, fake news and lies are all over the place. It’s a shame because basically all we want as humans is living a good life. We want a good life with friends and family being happy. This is what everybody wants no matter where you live, what colour your skin has or what you believe in.

Home sweet home

2019-03-14 | Denmark, Long read | No Comments

I haven’t been active on my blog the last week. My writing routine is a bit off after I came home. I’m still trying to adjust to everyday life – it is especially hard to get used to the cold weather and the rain. I’ve been freezing, some days just wanted to stay under my blanket binging Netflix. It is no surprise that many people suffer from winter depressions here in the north.

I’ve been bust processing all my experiences, catching up with everybody and at the same time plan my next trip. My plans are in progress and I’ll hopefully leave Denmark in 3 weeks. At the same time, I am meeting a lot of new people and hope I can corporate with some of them in the future. interesting times 😊

I & Maja aka minnie_mouseling

I met one new friend through Instagram. The fun part is that she lives in Copenhagen, she is an atheist and has made atheist jewellery for some years. I had never heard about her before and we live a few kilometres apart from each other. She found me and yesterday we met for coffee and talked for hours about humanism, atheism and our common goals. She has a lot of followers in the US where it can be (in some parts of the country) just as difficult to come out as a non-believer as in Africa.

The invisible pink unicorn

Her name is Maja but known as minnie_mouseling on Instagram. Maja has created a beautiful invisible pink unicorn pendant for atheists to wear and has the motto: put a friendly face on atheism. The invisible pink unicorn is an international symbol for atheism. Check out her webpage and follow her on Instagram.

Last week was International Women’s Day and I spent a lot of energy being frustrated about the media coverage. In Denmark the media prefer to ridicule feminism instead of focussing on the issues and challenges we still face.

We do not have gender equality in Denmark – a report from Amnesty international highlighted this in a report on how rape survivors are being treated by the authorities. It is devastating to read how the survivors are blamed, victim blaming is the norm both by authorities and in the public eye.

But the media wanted to cover a non-existing conflict regarding gender neutral traffic lights. A story created by a journalist who months back also created a non-existing conflict about a song.

Saturday night dinner

So I was mad most of Friday – fortunately we (Humanistisk Samfund) was hosting the annual Nordic Humanist meeting the whole weekend – they managed to make me happy again. It is always a pleasure meeting our friends in the Nordics – from Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

We talked, shared experiences and made plans. During the weekend we also had a visit from the Norwegian ambassador in Denmark Aud Kolberg talking about Nordic identity, and a Danish scientist Josephine Valentin talked about SKAM (the tv-series) and Nordic identity. Great weekend.

I’m also adjusting to the day-to-day tasks – getting used to grocery shopping, doing the dishes, cleaning the apartment, visiting the doctor and the dentist. I still need to get a haircut. All the tedious tasks you have to do – it’s tough to adjust 😉