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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I’m back in
Copenhagen, I’m back in my hood on Vesterbro down town Copenhagen. Today I went
back to my ‘office’ – a local restaurant BOBs where it is possible to work all
day if you are a member of Sp8ces. Through sp8ces (no I don’t get
paid to tell about it) you have access to several working lounges in Denmark
and Norway – they make agreements with hotels, restaurants, etc. to use
timeslots where their spaces are not occupied. It is a great concept – and
the last couple of days sleeping, doing absolutely nothing besides catching up
on Netflix. It will take time before I have processed all my experiences from
my journey. I have travelled many kilometres, met so many people – not only
humanists, but also other locals and tourists, seen the most amazing landscapes
and met fantastic animals. Earth is an amazing and beautiful place.
I know I’m
privileged – I have the possibility to visit places where the usual tourist never
goes. I’m glad this journey is a combination of following the usual tourist
path and meeting people living their lives in these countries. It adds so much more
when you talk to people living there and not just other tourists or people from
has showed me the diversity of the different countries. There is so much
prejudice in the western world toward the African continent – yes, it is a
continent and not a country. Africa is unfortunately often perceived as a
country and treated as such in popular culture and media. Africa is three times
larger than Europe and occupies 20% of the land mass on Earth – it is huge.
and southern Africa where I have been travelling, they have many challenges. I
travelled during the rainy season but in most of the countries, if not all,
they got lesser rain than they need to avoid drought. Climate changes are
already impacting this part of the world. The growing population is also impacting
the infrastructure – water supply, electricity and transport.
travelling for 10 weeks, visited 8 countries and held 30 interviews with
non-believers. During the next 3-4 months all the interviews will be published
as podcast episodes through Babelfish
and I will continue to write articles for POV International.
At the same time, I will plan the next steps of my journey. Which means I will be pretty busy while in Copenhagen – I also want to see, to hug and talk to my friends and family. Right now it is cold and rainy – I hope spring is coming.
Today I am leaving Namibia. The only country where I haven’t interviewed any humanists. So far, I know the country doesn’t have any humanist or atheist organisations – or at least no organisations are members of Humanists International.
to visit anyway – purely for recreational reasons. So, I have been on holiday
the last week, experiencing Namibia. A fascinating country almost twenty times
the size of Denmark, but the population is half the size of Denmark. It is the
least dense country in Africa with only 3 people per square kilometre – In the
whole world only Mongolia is less dense (2 people per square kilometre).
is all, in great amount. Savanna, desert, ocean, mountains etc. And everything
is big – the national parks goes on forever, you drive for hours through each
park in search for animals. For the first time ever, I have been part of a
tourist group with people I didn’t know beforehand. I’m used to be the only one
or travelling with Sofie.
interesting travelling with other tourists, even though it means you don’t get
as close to the guide or the locals. You meet people from all over the world
who are interested in the same things as you – to see some animals up close and
spend time in a 40-degree desert after hours and hours of driving. Canadians,
Americans, Namibians, British, South African and French – the latter has spent
the last 8 years sailing around the world in their own boat (impressive).
life is amazing – I saw my first leopard (2 actually) and my first cheetahs.
Black rhinos, elephants, zebras, Oryx’s and many other animals. It is much
drier here than in the other countries I have visited – Namibia is dry, but
also feels the consequences of the climate changes.
never been much water in this dry land – maybe one of the reasons for the small
population – but it is getting worse. They change salt water to drinking water
to cover the need. And everybody is asked to save water wherever we go. On the
positive side the water is clean enough for me to drink – I don’t need to bye
water all the time.
overwhelming experience was the Namibian Desert – especially the orange sand
dunes. This is the oldest desert in the world. The sun is relentless, the
wildlife is well hidden – but there are some. We managed to come across the
mountain zebra, many oryx’s, jackals and other animals.
the group climbed the Crazy Dune – aka Big Daddy – it is 325 meters tall. You must
get up at 5 o’clock in the morning or else it will get to hot to climb. I
didn’t get up there but walked to Deadveil to look at a dried-out flood pan
with trees which have been dead for 800 years – a fascinating place.
We had a
nice view of all the ‘crazy’ people climbing the dune while the sand got hotter
and hotter. Soon we could all feel the hot sand burning through the bottom of
our shoes – and it was only 11 o’clock. The temperatures were reaching 40
degrees at noon.
country was definitely worth a visit. It was a so-called protectorate of South
Africa until 1990 – or the real story is that South Africa didn’t follow the
agreements made in the UN, so they took power over Namibia and treated it as a
protectorate and even implemented apartheid rules. It took 35 years before
Namibia finally got its independence.
leave Namibia – I also leave Africa heading home to Denmark. It has been an
amazing trip, and an experience of a lifetime – I have been away for 10 weeks,
2½ months. This was a test run. I wanted to find out whether I can travel a
long time on my own. I can. I do not have any problems travelling alone – I met
a lot of people on the way. I talk to locals, I talk to tourists – and I meet
humanists, atheists and non-believers.
the heroes of Africa today. They are fighting for human rights and humanism.
They are fighting for their life stance in a part of the world where they are
the odd one out. Their stories deserve to be told – and to be heard.
arrive in Denmark, I will start planning my next steps. I want to visit several
countries in Africa north of Equator. I would also like to cover some countries
in the Middle East. I hope to be on the road again in April, but I will
continue blogging about my experiences from Africa.
I am happy to be able to break this news today. Going forward I will be a writer for the Danish online media POV International. This is amazing. They have so many fantastic journalists and writers who publish on their platform. The writers don’t get paid, but the readers can donate directly to the writers.
will bring my travel stories. The articles are in Danish. The title of the
series is (roughly translated to English): In search for the worlds non-believers.
Cape Town almost feels like coming home. It’s extremely European and according
to locals very different from the rest of the country – which means I haven’t
really gotten the full experience of this country. I’ve spent two weeks here in
Cape Town and haven’t seen half of the sights. After travelling for two months
I needed to spend some time relaxing and processing all my experiences.
All of us
of course know one the greatest humanists Nelson Mandela. You can’t visit Cape
Town without visiting Robben Island where Mandela spent so many years as a
political prisoner. I clearly remember the apartheid regime from when I was young,
and it was a fantastic day when he was released.
Island is a desolate place, flat with not much vegetation. The guides on the
island is former political prisoners. Our guide spent 10 years here and he told
about torture, famine and the humiliating treatment by the apartheid regime. Since
the regime ended improvements have been made but there is still a long way to
difference between rich and poor are still huge, even more than I have seen in
other countries. The different governments have only managed to lift a fraction
of the poor out of poverty. And like under apartheid it is primarily black people
who are poor, lack education and are unemployed. Unemployment rate is approximately
sight Cape Town looks like a wealthy city, but then you begin to see all the
beggars. There are so many beggars, none of them are kids though like in some
of the other countries. I’m not sure why.
humanists I met are concentrated around Cape Town. They told me this country is
just as religious as the other African countries, but it is easier to be a
non-believer in South Africa. Or it depends on which parts of the country you
are in. In some areas, rural areas, you would never say out loud you don’t
believe. While in others it would not be an issue, like in urban areas.
diversity is extreme. One example I got from one of the humanists illustrates
this very well. South Africa has a secular progressive constitution and
homosexuals has equals rights, same sex marriages has been legal for many years.
But while kids can be raised by homosexual parents without facing any
challenges in their daily lives, just 20 kilometres away lesbians get mass
raped as punishment.
On top of
this there is infrastructure challenges. Everywhere you go there is posters asking
to save water. The power plants cannot deliver enough electricity during peaks
times, which means they will cut the power in designated areas for a couple of hours
at a time – this is called load shedding.
the challenges I like this city – just the daily view of the mountains, Table
Mountains, with the clouds makes me feel good. When you are used to only the
flat land in Denmark mountains are mesmerising. Even though I am afraid of
heights, well to put it another way I am afraid of heights when I’m around
cliffs and trees. I bungy jump and want to skydive but I will not climb a
used to have the ocean nearby I’ve been happy to be close to the water again. I
have enjoyed the waves which are like at Vesterhavet back home, the cliffs
which looks like Bornholm only a thousand times bigger. I’ve had my first encounter
with wild penguins and seals.
first time I’ve been this long in one place. On one hand it has been nice to be
able to empty the suitcase and hang my clothes in the closet. It’s been nice
getting to know my maid Jeanette and the people in the reception & the
restaurant. But on the other hand, I know I’ve missed out on so much. I could
have explored the country even more if I had spent maybe a week travelling up
like to come back one day – they have it all – the mountains, the savanna, the
desert, the ocean. I want to go whale watching & swimming with seals one
day, and searching for a leopard the next, diving with sharks on the third day.
be flying to Namibia and then there is only one week left before I’m back in Denmark,
planning the next steps.
The last few
days I’ve focused on being a tourist in Cape Town – no interviews, no writing,
no editing. I’ve been exhausted and extremely tired. I’ve had writers block –
not being able to write anything that made sense. So, I needed this break, relaxing,
watching Netflix and not thinking about the next steps.
This is the
most touristy place I have come across on my journey. Off course the safari
places in all the other countries are for tourists as well, but it doesn’t feel
like it in the same way. It’s not the same kind of tourism. When you chose a safari,
you are interested in the animals and proper accommodation. When choosing to be
a tourist you are interested in historic sites, entertainment, shopping,
beaches and animals in a mix.
My journey has
so far been a mix of going on safari and meeting humanists. It has been a good
mix – I wouldn’t have managed travelling and only doing one thing. I like the change
in focus. But I have forgotten to give myself a break occasionally. When I was
on Zanzibar the purpose was to relax for a few days, instead I worked, I edited
the podcast and wrote some texts.
I have met
so many people, seen so many countries, met so many different cultures,
basically my brain has been overloaded with impressions. So, whenever I was
thinking about writing a blog post or edit a new episode, I felt tired and
wanted to lay down and sleep. I finally listened and decided to go with it and
do absolutely nothing and if it required laying in bed watching Netflix all day
it would be ok.
needed to leave the hotel, I’ve followed the beaten path of any tourist in cape
Town. Jumping on the sightseeing bus to get to know the city better. So, I have
seen the sights from the top of a bus or walked the city thin.
tourist here you don’t have to interact with the population at all if you use
the sightseeing buses, hotel shuttles and only visits the tourist attractions.
You can keep to yourself and only interact with others if you choose by
yourself. So, I choose to keep to myself trying to process all the things I
have experienced the last two months.
I have visited
7 countries, interviewed 27 people, published 11 episodes of Babelfish and
wrote several blogposts. Which is quite an accomplishment thinking about it.
Off course I deserve to take a few days off doing absolutely nothing, watching
Netflix and getting room service.
Now I am
relaxed and ready to continue – in a few hours I’ll visit Robben Island where
Nelson Mandela spend so much time in prison. In a couple of days, I’ll visit
Cape Point and, in the weekend, I’ll meet a lot of humanists. No worries – I’m
back on track 😊
difficult to comprehend the amount of open spaces in Botswana – the country is
the size of France, but France has almost 30 times as many citizens. So much
The Khalihari Desert covers a large part of the country. Together with the Okavanga Delta and Chobe National Park it attracts a lot of tourists – but it is by far the most expensive country I have visited. The parks are covered with air strips where tourists are flown in to stay in luxury lodges. Some cost several thousands of dollars for one night (one night!). A bit out of my league.
life is amazing. Even with my budget I managed to se a lot of animals – even
some I haven’t met before, like the pack of wild dogs and the python I met in Moremei
Game Reserve. Botswana has thousands of elephants which causes a lot of tension
with the local farmers.
will take down trees, fences and crops on their way. The number of elephants is
so high it is a problem. If there is not enough food for them in the parks,
they will migrate and ruin farmland. Even though I love elephants I see the
problem – some places in the Moremei Game Reserve looked like a graveyard for
trees due to the elephants taking most of the trees down or eating the bark of
changes also has an impact in Botswana. The country is very dry, but I visited
during the rainy season and it hardly rained. Newman, my guide in the Okavanga
Delta told me the water level should be 2 meters higher at this time of year.
Like in the
other countries I have visited the population is growing despite the fact
Botswana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world (estimated
25% of the adult population). More youngsters get an education. But unfortunately,
there isn’t enough jobs and unemployment is high even though Botswana is a
success story in Africa with high economic growth rates.
plays a vital role in Botswana. Most of the population is christian, but the
traditional beliefs still exist including witchcraft. Being a non-believer can
be challenging since they are considered to be devil worshippers and without
ethics and moral.
There is no
humanist organisation in Botswana – not yet. There is a small group of friends,
non-believers, who wants to create a humanist organisation.
I met a
couple of them while visiting and at this point, they are focusing on being
formally registered. Next steps are to make humanist more visible, basically
showing the public humanists are good people through charity work.
humanists in this part of the world their biggest challenge is the lack of
funding. I hope they succeed.
Today I lost one of my most valued travel gadgets. It doesn’t look like
much, it’s not expensive but besides my passport and my credit cards it is my
most valued gadget – it is a fan bought for 2$ in a Chinese shop in Copenhagen.
It has followed me for a long time. It is useful in the plane, the bus, in restaurants,
everywhere it might be to hot for you. Unfortunately, it died today. It will be
missed, and I need to buy a new one.
It made me think of what things I cannot live without while travelling. I wanted
to make a top 10 – or rather it ended up being a top 12 plus extras, since I
couldn’t limit it to only 10 things. These are the thing I always pack together
with some clothes.
Passport & yellow fewer card: pretty essential if you want to leave
your country experiencing the world.
Credit cards: instead of carrying loads of money for your whole trip. Make
sure to have different types of credit cards. Some places don’t accept visa
card, and some places doesn’t accept master card. It is also a good idea to
have a backup card, just in case. I actually travel with 4 credit cards, maybe
a bit over the top, but it doesn’t cost me any extra.
Travel insurance: just in case. I have never had the need for it, but I felt pretty good knowing I could get picked up by a helicopter in the middle of the Cambodian jungle and flown to the nearest hospital when I was travelling with my then 12-year old daughter.
I also feel pretty good knowing I can get help if I have an accident while diving with sharks or bungy jumping (still need to visit the 216 meter drop in at Bloukrans Bridge South Africa – take it easy mom – it will not be during this journey 😉).
Money: it’s always good to carry a few dollars. Just in case you experience
what I did in Rwanda, and your credit cards getting rejected by the ATM’s, then
you have some back up money. Else I will always rely on my mom to transfer
money through Western Union.
Sunglasses: no explanation needed
Malaria pills: no need to gamble. The pills are so cheap these days its
affordable for almost everybody. If you get malaria and you are not treated in
time you either die or will have the disease for the rest of your life. Just
get them and remember to take them.
Dehydration relief effervescent tablets: if I travel in countries with high
temperatures, I lose my appetite and forget to drink water. If you get
dehydrated, you’ll get extremely ill. I always bring the tablets together with
my miniature travel pharmacy. I’ve used them several times on this journey just
to be sure I was hydrated.
Mosquito repellent: another essential. You don’t want to have your whole
body covered in mosquito bites. Unfortunately, the repellent didn’t help
against the tsetse fly in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. I was bitten
from my knees down on both legs – so I had to dig into my travel phamarcy to
find the stop-the-itching-cream (which only helped a couple of hours at a
Sun screen: I must admit – I hate sunscreen. The greasy white stuff you must put on in a thick layer, using half a bottle every time, and it closes your pores which makes you sweat even more. For many years I have only used alcohol-based sun screen, which you only apply once a day. Down here I sometimes have applied twice a day though, the sun is relentless here.
I brought factor 50 and 20 and after 1½ month I still got a nice tan and no burns. Expect the one time I just wanted to get a bit tanned on my legs (they never tan, never, never) and sat outside on the ferry from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam for two hours – bad idea.
Lonely Planet books: Even though you can google everything wherever you
travel I like my travel books. And I prefer Lonely Planet – I always buy them.
I document my journeys, where I have been when, which route we have been taking,
which sites we have seen, where we have stayed. And I keep them in my bookshelf
at home. I like to look at them – it’s my travel diary.
Fan: the fan I have already told about – it is essential for me and I will
miss it very much.