Aren’t we all sluts?

The bathroom – Iveta ©yannbastiaans

Most women are sluts.. They are the good ones. Just like most men are sluts, and just like I am – being a sexual active male – a slut. I never understood what was wrong with being a slut? What is a slut? Is it someone who likes to have sex? Is that wrong? Isn’t sexuality a major part of our being, of our existence?

Without sex there would be almost nothing in this world. No trees, no bees, no flowers, no animals, no humans, etc.. Without sex we wouldn’t be here to have this – in my opinion – absurd discussion. I said ‘absurd’, but by no means ‘unnecessary’. The self-crowned moralists of this world have decreed sex as being something bad, something obscene, something taboo, thus negating the only reason they exist.

‘Slut Walk’ – Washington DC 2012

Why did I say sluts are the good ones? Because they are the people that are in harmony with themselves. They accept the fact that a whole part of their being is their sexuality. From nature’s point of view we are just sex. So why are there too many people giggling, or even worse: getting upset when confronted with sex? Every normal and grown-up being in this world has sex, or should have sex. Even needs sex for many reasons. Whether it is sex with your husband our wife, or with your friend, or with some stranger, or with a group of people, irrespectively of gender, color or race.

©Terre des Femmes

When are these double standards about people liking to have sex going to disappear? When a man has a lot of sex he is a hero, a king, a boss, and he can even talk and sing about it. When a woman says she enjoys sex, or even attempts to do 1/10th of what a man does, she is branded a slut. Why is that? Where is the equality?

I do like sex. Not just with anybody, but when the person is right, I love it. And I might engage in sex with several people at the same time, as long as my partner is consenting. Some people like it this way, others like it that way, but isn’t that just the beauty of our world: diversity? And there is nothing wrong with liking it this or that way, it is not going to hurt me if two (or more) adults have sex their way with mutual consent. So I see no reason to judge those people, the only thing I might say is: “it is not the way I like it”. Nothing more.

©Terre des Femmes

There is nothing negative about a human being, be it a woman or a man, having sexual fantasies, or fulfilling those fantasies. As long as it is with respect for the other(s) participating, and with consent, there is no wrong. Women’s liberation still has to go a long way. Discrimination has no place in our time. A woman can look for sexual satisfaction as much as a man can, and it is just natural, a part of our life. So people, get over it, just be happy, mind your own business and let others live their sexuality as they feel like. As free and liberated human beings. And pursue your own sexual satisfaction, for that is your sole responsibility.

©Terre des Femmes

As for me, I brand myself as a ‘slut’, out of solidarity with all the women being looked upon when they dare to admit they like sex. Yes, definitely, I am a big slut, and I wear this name with pride.

Love ❤️, yann.

Looking back

The fair in Popovo (BG) at the beginning of June

It is now a bit more than a year since I started living here in Bulgaria, after having left Belgium a bit discouraged. Or maybe also a bit disgusted by that country and its citizens. The acidification of society, the corruption of politics, the almost non-existent justice (except for the rich), the disproportional taxes.. All these factors, and then some, made me decide to leave that country and look for peace and rest in a corner of the European Union. Not that politicians are not corrupt here, but at least I don’t have to spend more than half of my income sponsoring their secret schemes anymore.

But today I started asking myself if this was a good decision I made, if Bulgaria really gave me what I expected from it. And I think I can say I’m still happy with my decision. Of course nothing is black or white, but adding everything together I found what I was looking for. Some things I really do miss, some I really don’t. Maybe the big difference with other people is that I never really grew up in Belgium, nor have I lived long in the same country nor region. I moved over 20 times in my life, and most of the moves were to completely different regions or countries, sometimes separated by hundreds of miles. So I didn’t grow those roots most people seem to have, nor do I have an allegiance to death with any country, despite having served the Belgian armed forces dutifully during seven years of my life.

Waterfall along the eco-trail near Emen (BG)

Bulgaria has been very welcoming for me. In the beginning I was surrounded by wrong people, luring expats into their money-making maffia-practices, but once I managed to get rid of those people I got submerged in the Bulgarian culture. Most credits should be given to Emo, my neighbour who offered his services as builder once I threw out the whole maffia-gang. As we grew closer by working together, we became friends and he became my window on Bulgaria. Of course there is also Yoana, the woman who works on the administrative side for expats who hire her for her outstanding services, and whom I also befriended. Someone like her is invaluable in a country which not only speaks a difficult language, but also writes in a different alphabet.

Since the very first day the language has been the biggest obstacle to surmount, and it still is hampering my efforts to build an extensive social life here. People mastering the English (or French, German, Spanish) language are rare over here, but maybe that is an advantage pushing me to learn the language faster. Now I manage to express my wants, but I’m still a long way of being able to have an intimate conversation about feelings, and that makes me sometimes a bit sad as this is the main (and only I guess) way to really connect with people. After a long search I found someone to teach me Bulgarian (and does speak the English language well), but it is not an easy language to learn.

My neighbor playing on my guitar in front of my trailer :)
My neighbor playing guitar.

What provides me the most happiness is the peace and the silence. No cars racing by, no planes flying overhead, no trains thundering by. Just the sounds of people walking on the street, the voices of people sitting on a bench beside the wall at the gate of my property under the shade of a big tree, the animals grazing around between the houses, the occasional cart with horse passing by, and sometimes the Bulgarian or Turkish music from a stereo a few houses away when the people are happy. Of course there is a car passing my house once in a while, but no more than 4 on a busy day, and in the season there is an old Russian biplane with a star engine making a deep growling noise maneuvering over the village to spray the crops in the huge fields, but this sound is rather welcoming as it is rather seldom. Nature over here is uplifting for me, and the notion I can go anywhere, without fences, private properties or prohibited areas and knowing that whomever I shall meet will be friendly and hospitable is heartwarming. On the premise I can make myself understandable of course ?

Slowly I start to attune to the rhythm of nature, and though I never had green fingers, I start to work in my garden more often, reaping the fruits trees and plants freely offer me. I prune trees and vines as if I was a semi-pro, and harvest the strawberries and cherries that are waiting to be picked this month. These I cook and then dry the jam-like substance in my dehydrator to preserve the abundant quantities for later on in the year. I try to keep on schedule for once the cherries and strawberries are gone the raspberries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, grapes and peaches will grow ripe and then I fear I will have to work day and night to process the vast quantities nature freely offers me.

A very old cemetery.. (BG)

My decision to buy a motorcycle with off-road capabilities was a good one. It enables me to recon the area, and reach places I never would have visited with my car. Just driving around in a car with no specific goal, turning around when something catches my attention, engaging a dirt road trough the fields and woods, is no thing I would have done, but the motorcycle lets me do all that when I drive around at leisure with no specific goal other than enjoying myself and discovering new places. My motorcycle reinforces my feeling of uninhibited freedom this country offers me.

The downside is I did not manage to convince my family and friends to move over here ?. So I do miss them, and being able to see them from time to time via FaceTime or Skype is reassuring. And of course I travel to Belgium regularly, as the people I do love with all of my heart are living there. Often someone drops by on a visit, and the last weeks my neighbor and his son-in-law were busy rebuilding my guesthouse next to my house. That will eliminate the need to shelter my guests in my trailer, as luxurious as it is, but a house feels more comfortable and cosy. Once ready it will have its own toilet and shower, a little kitchen and a living room. And the two houses are connected via the half-basement which functions as my huge living room, so even on cold or rainy days there is no need to go outside to meet. Due to the thick walls in sandstone and clay the temperatures are reasonable indoors during the hot summers. Down in the half-basement the temperature is always pleasing: warm in winter, fresh during summer. That is why I made it my living room, with a soon-to-be built rocket mass heater for heating the house in the cold winter days.

Storks are omnipresent (BG)

Most of all I miss my partner. She is a courageous and superb woman, often having to handle the problems she encounters by herself due to my frequent absence. Sometimes that makes me feel guilty. And of course lots of people do not understand the symbiosis between us, as we are not living the ‘standard’ life a couple is supposed to live by general standards. But we are happy, and we manage, and there is no ‘standard’ way a couple should behave, it is all about agreement between two people. Some have an open marriage, some have a conservative relationship, some live apart together, some cannot spend a minute without each other.. Whatever works and makes these two people happy, and it is no one else’s business. But I do miss her ? And we often travel to see each other. She likes it here, and I try to like it in Belgium.

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Church in a little monastery near Veliko Tarnovo (BG)

Little by little I get to know more and more local people, I get invited to parties and celebrations, and so my horizon is expanding and I get immersed in the Bulgarian culture. I have no doubts about staying here, just the evolution of civilization worries me a bit, and I fear it will catch up with the Bulgarian countryside in a few decades. But I might not be in this world any more by then, so there is no reason to worry about that yet. And if it happens and starts to bother me, I just might move on to a further place.

Love ❤️, yann.

To swallow?

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One of the visitors overlooking the hills from the window framework

Last year I had some special guests that made me feel really privileged: a couple of swallows made a nest against one of the wooden beams that form the ceiling of my dining room. We were fully preoccupied in the process of rebuilding the house, and one façade made up of wood and windows was removed as the wood was not really up to its task any more, and the glass was old, scratched and cracked in places and consisted of only one single layer.

So while rebuilding a couple of swallows built their nest here inside, unnoticed by me or anyone else. Due to the mess, dust and ongoing works I lived in my trailer here in the yard, and I just happened to see the muddy nest when thinking about ways to remove the many layers of paint that had accumulated during the past decades on the ceiling, in order to restore the wood to its former glory.

Once new woodwork went into the façade I waited to install all the windows, for I had seen in the ingenious nest a few eggs the parents were brooding in turn while the other flew around searching for food. Week after week passed and every time I checked I saw eggs in the nest. But suddenly I discerned three eggs instead of the usual two, and I found that strange enough to open up my laptop and inform myself on the propagation behavior of swallows.

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Perched on a window frame

To my astonishment I learned that swallows are not breeding once in a season, they just keep at it nest after nest until september. When the first eggs hatch, the young help the parents out with the next generation of hatched swallows, getting food and whatever it takes to make these remarkable creatures grow until they too can fly on their own. So I had to conclude that the next few months I would not be able to put in the windows this side of my house.

That was not really a problem. The weather was warm enough, and no rain could get in. At most it was a minor nuisance. As for the dung and residues falling out of the nest, I placed a cardboard plate on the floor under it, so things were kept clean. And I must admit that even those residues were minimal. I slept on in my trailer so not to disturb them too much, but when my partner came over with her kids for the summer holidays we needed to occupy the house. The swallows seemed not to be disturbed by us walking trough the house, and I could approach them at less than half a meter distance. The chirping and singing of the swallows kept the house alive, even at night. Fortunately I had yet no cat who could have taken interest in these birds.

Now, one year later, I saw the first swallows when travelling with my motorcycle to Greece, as they resumed their migration North with the rising of the temperatures in the Northern hemisphere. I knew that soon they would come back to my house, searching for their former nest I had destroyed once they left for the South.

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Tsar Buba, the nicest cat I know, but his gentleness will not apply to birds I guess.

Yesterday I was in my kitchen, when a swallow flew right trough the open door with much noise. He/she made a tour of the dining room, flapping his/her wings in stationary flight right under the place where used to be the nest, and then proceeded again outside to join his/her partner that was communicating with him/her trough the whole process. I thought I understood they were telling each other that inside the house was no option any more. But I clearly misunderstood.

In my kitchen hangs a fly-catcher, a sticky strip gluing flies to it until death. My astonishment was big this morning when I noticed two swallow feathers sticking to the fly-catcher. Last night I left my windows open when I went to bed, so these feathers told me the swallows made a nightly reconnaissance of the premises while I was snoring away.

Now I want to avoid at all cost the swallows to build a new nest inside the house. Firstly I have a young predator named Tsar Buba hanging around in the house who will not refuse a little tasty and feathery snack, secondly I will leave the house during several weeks in the months to come while travelling, so it will be unfeasible to leave the windows wide open for the birds to come and go as they please. That would mean sure death, even if they manage to avoid the sharpened claws of the house cat.

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The façade during the rebuilding, while a storm is brewing overhead

In the end I hope they will choose a spot under the beams of my roof that are extending from the house by a meter. There they would be safe from Tsar Buba, sheltered from wind and rain, and it would allow them free passage to forage at leisure. Still I hope they will hang around, for their music is lovely, and goes on day and night.

Love ❤️, yann.

The Greek Odyssey

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Agiokampos on the island of Evia as seen from the ferryboat (GR)

As the weather is slowly improving over here, I thought it to be a good idea to visit the neighboring country, Greece. Forecasting weather during spring in this part of the world is rather like looking trough muddy water, and forecasts can change on daily basis with temperatures varying from a few degrees above zero centigrade to hot weather. But I took my chances anyway.

I had no planned nor preset route, just the wish to meet the people behind the Telaithrion Project. The project is driven by a number of people who quit their often well-paid and comfortable jobs to live in a more ecological way. To this purpose they strive to set up a self-sustaining community by harvesting fruits and vegetables of the land, trying to find a way to cultivate those in an ecological way, together with raising the awareness of the world of our task to preserve the world. Quite a huge task with many problems and setbacks, but this seems only to magnify the motivation of the participants .

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Loaded as a camel near the lake at Gurkovo (BG)

So I loaded up my bike with my clothes, camping gear, and some emergency equipment to cope with eventual setback when driving alone a motorcycle in often off-road conditions. As a bonus I added my paraglider, I would really be upset finding the perfect flying spot while traveling without having a glider with me.

Loaded as a camel, seated on my saddle between my packs, I started the journey southward on saturday the 18th of april. It was a rather sunny day with a nice temperature. My navigation system was given the initial destination of Thessalonica, and with its feature ‘curvy roads’ it took me – as advertised – via small curvy roads trough Bulgaria. Small villages, streams and rivers, lakes and mountains passed by while the engine purred satisfied between my legs.

In the southern mountain range close to the border with Greece temperatures dropped dramatically and soon enough I found the roads surrounded by thick packs of snow. Fortunately the roads themselves were mostly clear of snow and slush, but the melting snow made driving conditions on the narrow twisting roads calling for more attention. Soon enough I had to make a stop to add some layers to my outfit to keep from freezing. Meanwhile the views were superb and I felt elated. The feeling of freedom I had was unbound.

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View of the lake at Dospat (BG)

Before I realized the distance I had made that first day I crossed the Bulgarian-Greek border. The spinning wheels of my bike slowly ate the kilometers, and one hour before sunset I set to the task of looking out for a nice camping spot. Away from the small road I found myself on I saw a hill that looked promising. The temperatures had risen again and I left the road on a dirt track winding trough the mountainous area. I unloaded the motorcycle and set up my tent, and found a big stone serving as a prop to form a seat where I could spend half an hour reading before enjoying the sun setting over the valley that unfolded beneath my camping spot. Far away under me I could hear the murmur of a river carving its path trough the narrow valley. I was happy because that first day I managed to cross into Greece, haven driven some 500km while enjoying the views and the winding roads.

The camping spot that seemed so perfect at first turned out to be not so ideal during the night. The wind that was almost nonexistent when setting up camp grew in strength and my tent swayed under the force of it, waking me up over and over again during the night. After too few hours of sleep I woke up to see the sun rising again, and I was confronted with the problem of packing up my tent in the stormy wind. Fortunately it was dry and not too cold, with the sky colouring in red, yellow and blue. The wind pulled out the pegs holding my tent on the grass, and helped by some collected heavy stones I managed to pack up my gear.

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Trough the Belasica mountain range near the Greek-Bulgarian border (GR)

My hopes of fleeing the stormy wind on that blue-sky day in the valley were vain, once I reached the plains at the foot of the mountain range reaching to the Aegean Sea at Thessalonica I realized the wind would be a major factor for the rest of the day. The area that my gear presented to the cross winds made driving difficult and some people might have thought me being drunk as my bike waddled over the road from left to right under the forces of nature.

During the afternoon of that sunday the gods of the wind were appeased, and I could concentrate more on my surroundings than on fighting a battle to keep my bike straight. As the plains were uninspiring and too flat for my taste I drove on to Glyfa, a small dormant village where I hoped a ferry would operate in this season and take me to the island of Evia where the guys of The Telaithrion Project have their base.

Fortunately – as I did not check in advance – a regular ferry boat took me that same day over a half hour-trip to the island, I did not have to wait for long before the boat left the main land. Once on the island I realized that the long distance I had traveled, mainly over small curvy roads, the strong winds during past night and the first part of the day, and the lack of sleep I suffered because of those winds, had drained my energy. So I decided to look for a small hotel in Agiokampos, right where the ferry delivered me on the island. To have presented myself to the people of the ecological project that same evening in my condition would not have been very respectful as I doubted I would be an attentive listener and could hold up an intelligent and friendly conversation for a few more hours. And having spent two days on the saddle made me a bit worried about my physical and hygienic appearance when meeting the people I was looking for.

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Remnants of a not-so-distant past, anti-tank poles near the Greek-Bulgarian border (GR)

The hotel I found was right on the beachfront, a mere one hundred meters away from the quay of the boat that brought me. A quay might be a big word, it was merely a kind of small ramp on the pebble beach allowing the cars to enter and exit the ferry when moored. A shower brought refreshment and the restaurant next door filled my hungry stomach with a delicious Greek salad and a plate with freshly caught small fried fish. A few kilometers away from my ultimate goal sleep was quick to come and very deep ?

In the morning I realized my gps showed many villages with the name of ‘Agios’, so that made me wonder if I found myself in the right area. The only thing I was sure about was that I was on the right island, but the island is quite huge. Anyway, I was in no hurry and had time on my side, for I was on no schedule. My neighbours at home take care of my dogs, cat and house when I’m gone, until the day I will be back, so everything at home was covered and safe. But finding The Telaithrion Project was an adventure in itself, so I was not particularly worried.

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My first camp in the foothills of the Belasica mountain range (Macedonia, GR)

I drove the few kilometers separating my former sleeping place from the closest village of Agios, and being a stupid and stubborn male I resented asking for information and directions. Having seen some photographs of the project, I knew they had fields to cultivate away from the village, somewhere near a hilltop. So I drove trough Agios and found myself on a dirt road going up the hills. After having driven a while I was not sure any more I was going in the right direction, and overcoming my misplaced male pride I descended again towards the village. There I approached a man, who did not seem to speak anything but Greek, but took me inside a small tavern where the lady behind the furnace managed to speak some words in English. She took me back out where a fine-looking lady was called who tried to help me out, but when confronted with my question of pointing me out the right location of the project on my gps, she asked another passing English-speaking man to help me out.

This man guided me with his car to a house where he said the participants in the project spent some time every day for cooking and socializing. But unfortunately no one was present at that time. So he managed to point out another location on my gps where I probably could meet some of them, on top of a hill outside the village. I thanked my guide and left for the place he showed me. The dirt road was exactly the same I took the first time when I was stubborn and convinced I could manage on my own… It was just that I gave up two or three kilometers too soon. Thus enhancing my pride my intuition was right the first time, and simultaneously degrading my pride realizing I was a quitter for not having set trough following my hunch.

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The ferryboat from Glyfa to Agiokampos with the island of Elvia on the other side (GR)

But the place on top of the hill, with a fantastic view of the villages below, the Aegean Sea, and the mainland across it, was also empty of people. In the middle of a green patch of land with young fruit trees was erected a big dome, which I learned later would be used as a place for meditation, social events, conferences and studies. I spent some time there contemplating the views and the abundant nature, and the silence. Wandering around I saw a perfect spot to take of with my paraglider, and when looking for an eventual landing place below, if the winds would not be able to hold me up and offer me a landing at my starting place, I discerned a green valley with lots of grass, and with old green trees following a stream I could not see but hear from where I was.

Remembering the turnoff left I passed just below me on the hill I set on driving down to find that road. The dirt road was in good condition, but just before I reached that green valley the road fell down so steep I wondered if I would survive this unscathed on my bike. Unfortunately there was no way I could turn back, hampered by lack of maneuvering area and the steepness of the place when I discovered the difficulty ahead. Added to the steepness were the tracks in the road made by off road jeeps in the past, forming tracks in the mud that were now dried solid as concrete. Driving with your motorcycle in such a track is just like driving with a bicycle trough an iron tram rail in the road, it is a possible prelude for disaster. But there was no other way, I could not avoid those tracks, and would have to rely on some speed to descend trough them unharmed.

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Arrival of the ferryboat as seen from in front of my hotel (Agiokampos, GR)

To my relief, and I must admit, adding to my misplaced pride, I managed to reach the promised valley without a hassle. Once near the stream I found the perfect camping place. Away from civilization, away from people, in the middle of nature, surrounded by wonderful trees, some very old and hollow, near a clean mountain stream that could provide me with fresh water, and soft green grass to make a great bed for the night to come. In the distance I could hear the bells of a goat-herd, so the only unexpected human encounter I might have there was with a shepherd guarding his flock.

Having enjoyed a while my future camping spot, having decided where to put my tent and gear, I set off again to the task finding the people I was looking for in the first place. The steep climb trough the dried mud tracks worried me a little, but my conscience was put to sleep by my effortless victory over that part while descending. Approaching the hard part I increased my speed to some 30 km/Hr, for I knew that a lower speed would not give me the needed stability to handle those tracks in a straight line, and on top of that it was likely that my tires would lack the traction needed to manage the slope when going slower.

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The dome of The Telaithrion Project behind me (Agios, GR)

Having engaged the slope in great spirits, I found my helmet slamming the earth with force when my plan was blown to hell after my rear wheel left the rut my front wheel was in, and my bike just gave up on me by getting into a low profile.. I felt a sharp pain in my right ribs when I realized I was laying on the ground, and I could hardly breathe. My ribs had connected with the earth just at a point where a thin but high wall of about 30cm, made of dried mud and pebbles and strong as concrete, divided one rut from another. Getting myself up the first thing I did was pushing the emergency stop on the bike to halt the engine. Then I checked my body for possible damage. I found none, except for the diminishing pain in my ribcage. I thought I came out fairly unharmed after all.

After a breathing pause of a few minutes I tried to get my bike up again, but with all the added weight of my gear this task was simply impossible for a man alone. Or maybe just for me alone. So I unpacked and removed my gear pack by pack from the motorcycle and laid it out on the side. Sweat was pouring down and I had to remove my jacket. Once I removed most of the gear I finally managed to get the bike on its wheels, struggling against the steep slope. Fighting the elements somehow I found myself sitting on it again, but my tires where no match for the slope, and my rear tire just spinned and spew out pebbles without moving forward an inch. I killed the engine and, positioning myself next to my bike, I slowly started skidding and sliding down in a more or less controlled way the slope.

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The dome of The Telaithrion Project and the new fruittree plantation (Agios, GR)

Once the motorcycle was on less sloping ground, I looked around and thought I found a way round to avoid those ruts. It would take some skills to manage bumps, holes and stones under the grass, and the earth was muddy in some places because of water trickling down from the hill beside. But now my ride was considerably lighter and more in balance when empty, so I got on with it. There was no chance I would try those dangerous ruts again, and there where not many other solutions. Prepared for the worst my bike handled the obstacles pretty nicely, and before I realized it brought me to a flatter spot some 50 meters away and above from where the ruts were. My ribs started to hurt, probably now the adrenalin wore off in my bloodstream, and slowly but steadily I made the trip up and down the slope to collect my gear laying next to the track. It was just then I realized I forgot to take a photograph of my fallen bike, but apparently my priorities laid elsewhere during my ordeal.

The rest of the trip back to Agios was uneventful, except for some dog getting upset with my motorcycle and snarling at the engine when handling the dirt road, but no limbs were lost nor bitten in the course of that event. Finally my luck was turning for the best when I found some people present at the house the man guiding me showed me previously. I introduced myself to a young couple of Germans, who had spent the last two weeks volunteering for the Telaithrion Project, and we talked a while before one of the permanent members of the project turned up.

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The little hidden paradise where I wanted to set up camp the third night (Agios, GR)

Manthos explained to me their goals, the workings, the projects and seminars, and the setbacks they had by last unexpected harsh winter. We also talked about finding balance in life, about politics and the monetization of society, of the greed of people and companies, and of little and big things important to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Quite a nice chat in all honesty. But the pain in my ribs was growing, and I found myself unable to breathe deeply, to cough and sneeze, and even to laugh without much pain. Some movements caused a sharp pain that took away my breath every time it happened.

When Manthos offered me to spend some time with them, as long as I wanted, and maybe help them out with some construction work on the dome I saw when I rode up the mountains, I knew I would not be of much help in my current state. I apologized. He offered me a place to rest and to be cared for, but I also politely declined, stating I really felt more comfortable being on my own when hurt or ill. “Ah, you are just like an animal” he said, “they also isolate themselves when ill to show up when completely recovered”. I never thought about this but his description seems to fit me quite right. All my life I have withdrawn when ill or wounded, not liking the company of others around me during my ordeal. Maybe I do not like others to see me suffering, or is it because I do not want to burden others with the extra care they want to give me at that moment? I don’t know, but that has been my way as long as I remember.

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It takes some strength and agility to handle this bike off-road, especially when fully loaded up. I unfortunately lacked those skills.

So I got up on my saddle with some sharp pangs of pain, and rode back to the heavenly lush valley where I thought I would find some rest and speedy recovery. Heaven was with me during this ride, nothing happened, except for the dirt road taking some toll on my ribcage. But nothing I could not manage. The pain reminded me of a decade ago, when I fell in a stupid way – just like falling always is – and the hospital showed me three broken ribs on the ultrasonography. Except from giving me the advice to rest a lot there was not much they could do to help me.

Once arrived in the little paradise I changed into more comfortable clothing, but when I started to set up my tent the thought of sleeping on the hard ground seemed not so attractive to me any more. I doubted wether I would get much sleep that night, though the place was magical to me and offered me everything I could dream of. So I changed my mind and packed again. Slowly and painfully ? I called the KTM dealer in Sofia (BG) to set up a maintenance appointment the next day, and punched in my gps the fastest way to Sofia. As my motorcycle dealer is about a four hour drive away from my home, I thought it would be more practical to let them perform first the due maintenance on my bike before returning home.

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My garden at home as it found it back (BG)

I left the island by boat at around 6PM, and once on the mainland my old enemy the wind was partying again and trying to push my bike off the road with strong gusts over the open plains. Once in the mountains approaching the Bulgarian border the wind appeased and let go of me. The time getting close to midnight, the tiredness and pain getting the most of me, I found a hotel not far from the border on Bulgarian territory. Well, they advertised themselves as a hotel, and it looked like an enormous hotel, probably built in the better Soviet-era when everything had to be bigger and better to extol the glory of communism. It even boasted an open-air swimming pool beating all standard olympic dimensions, but the next morning I saw it was filled with muddy water. Once I took off the bedspread I found out I would be sleeping on a mattress without sheets, so I took my sleeping bag out. But at least it was a soft mattress, way better than the floor of my tent. Getting into the sleeping bag and closing the zipper took away at least five minutes of my hard-needed sleeping time and cut my breath short several times by the sharp pangs in my ribcage, and as fate always wants it, I had to get out and back in during the night to visit the bathroom, not really adding to the quality of my rest.

tsar buba
Tsar Buba showing his happiness with me being back home (BG)

At seven AM I got out again, a bit rested, and drove on towards Sofia, enjoying the magical views of snow covered mountains, wild rivers and narrow mountain passes along the way. As long as I rode and could sit still, without too many bumps in the road (which is a rarity in Bulgaria), the ribs were not really bothering me. I took some sedatives in the morning to help appease the pain. In Sofia the garage worked fast and a few hours later I could drive on towards home where my pets, bath and bed where happily waiting for me. (Most people will be astonished reading this, as I was at first when I came to live here, but Bulgarians always fix things in record speed. Administration, while looking archaic, is easy and fast compared to other countries I lived in, especially Belgium. Rebuilding houses also, as is making appointments with instances, be it official or commercial ones).

After having been received by the howls and yelps of my excited dogs, and the infinite cuddles of Tsar Buba the cat (who even came to sit on my lap when I laid in my bath filling it with hot water and soapy bubbles – I got him out against his will when his tail and hind legs were soaked with the mounting water), I now rest, as it is the only thing I can do to save me from pain. Still it frustrates me for I see how much more work I could do in and around the house and garden. But that will have to wait.

Summed up: I was gone for four days, drove some 2000km of which about 300km were highways, it was a wonderful but due to circumstances a too short experience where I met some interesting people and learned new things. Topmost of those lessons surely is to be more humble in regard to nature, and its forces, including wind and gravity… ?

Take care, be safe, and love❤️

yann.

The Telaithrion Project: http://en.telaithrion.freeandreal.org/

Icarus’ dream

mexico zonsondergang PP
Flying in the Mexican sunset

Many of you know the mythology of Daedalus and Icarus fleeing their captivity by King Minos on the island of Crete. Daedalus, the father, made wings by covering frames of wood with feathers that were held together by wax. During the flight Icarus became haughty and flew – against the explicit warnings by his father – too close to the sun so the wax started melting, resulting in his death by crashing into the Aegean sea.

DCIM100GOPRO
Flying over the cliffs in Portugal

Fortunately this era we have had many technological advancements that enable us to fly freely trough the skies. Without fuselage or enclosed capsule, without engines, but with a maximum of safety and comfort. The paraglider was developed out of the square parachute, with more stable and better gliding qualities. The two have not much in common nowadays, except for the fabric of the wing and the lines connecting the pilot to the wing. The harness, the area and form of the wing, the gliding ratios, and many other things don’t have much in common. Where a parachute is meant to enable someone who jumped from an altitude (from a high obstacle, airplane, helicopter, balloon, etc..) to land safely, a paraglider is meant to enable a person to effectively fly in the air, eventually taking him to higher altitudes if the winds and thermals are favorable.

DCIM100GOPRO
Croatia

Paragliding world records have been set where hundreds of kilometers have been crossed, and there are many competitions all over the world where men and women strive to complete a pre-defined course via a set of waypoints in the shortest time. The course cannot be completed without taking time to gain altitude in thermals (air that is rising), just like sailplanes do, so tactics and skill are the main requirements for a would-be champion. World championships are held, where the best pilots from over the world battle against each other in the blue sky.

IMG_1901
Elke flying in the Mexican mountains

But as with all sports, the majority of enthusiasts are just paragliding for recreational purposes. There are rules, like areas to avoid (eg. airports and reserved air spaces) and how to behave when flying with others, but due to the lack of over regulation paragliding is often called ‘the anarchistic sport’. This is also due to the mentality of the people engaged in this sport. Everyone is helpful, champions are easily approachable, and every one abides by the rules of nature and winds.

jan start el penon mex
Ready for take off – Mexico

The accessibility of paragliding for all people makes that everyone, regardless of age, gender and certain disabilities can learn to fly and enjoy hours in the air. There are pilots who are missing legs and manage to start and fly as well as able-bodied persons, blind people do fly in a tandem with a guide sitting in front of them, and I have known a man of 78 in my former club still flying on a regular basis.

During my wanderings all over the world with my paraglider as luggage I met lots of people. In this regard the most remarkable certainly is Marko Hrgetić. Five times Croatian paragliding champ, vice World Champion, holder of many titles and achievements (but too shy to admit it), he was the guy who really learned me to fly. I did my basics with a Belgian flying school, but unfortunately the focus was on earning as much money as they could from the students by postponing flight independence of the apprentices as long as they could. Fed up with this I found Marko in Croatia.

DCIM100GOPRO
The North Sea coast in France

The extraordinary thing about his method is that, once the pupils are proficient enough to handle the basic stages of flight safely, Marko flies together with his students. This way he, for example, can direct them towards a thermal he found to gain altitude, and monitor them from nearby flying in the same conditions his apprentices are moving in. And thus teach them the finer skills of flying and becoming one with the air carrying us trough the sky. All with utter respect for the safety and security of his pupils.

Apart from his flying and teaching skills Marko is a really nice, dependable guy. A bit shy and wary at first, but warm, open and welcoming once he gets to know you. And once friends, always friends, just like friendship is meant to be in life.

tandem Marko
Marko Hrgetić and me during my tandem pilot course (Croatia)

The hoard of beautiful Croatian women did not seem to satisfy Marko’s tastes, so he got himself hijacked by a wonderful Mexican women named Alma who made him her husband, and together they just became the proud parents of a little son. Having noticed that Mexico was abundant with commercial ventures to take tourist in tandem flights, but lacking high-level flight schools, he started a paragliding school with his wife: Escuela de Vuelo Flumen (Flumen is also the name of the paragliding club near Rijeka, Croatia, that Marko set up and of which he still is the president for the members did not accept his resignation ?). So now Marko is helping hundreds of people to fly the Mexican skies, be it locals or tourists coming especially for his high reputation and the favorable flying conditions in this sunny country.

flumen girls
‘The Flumen Girls’ – Elke sitting on the left, Alma is next to her

If you are travelling to Mexico, or you just want a special and very proficient teacher to learn this amazing sport, contact Marko. If Mexico is too far, you can safely make your first ‘steps’ in paragliding with the Flumen paragliding club in Croatia, where Marko educated himself new instructors by his high standards. I can warmly recommend Ivana, she is a beautiful person and a hell of a woman! ? Also for tandem flights to get a taste of free flight you can always contact them (below).

Love, yann ❤️

Flumen for flying in Mexico

Flumen for flying in Croatia

note from the author: I am not sponsored by Flumen, Marko Hrgetić or anyone else, nor affiliated to them in a commercial way, but I wanted to write about my experience with this amazing and safe sport, and with those wonderful people I got to know well over the years.

Icarus’ dream

mexico zonsondergang PP
Flying in the Mexican sunset

Many of you know the mythology of Daedalus and Icarus fleeing their captivity by King Minos on the island of Crete. Daedalus, the father, made wings by covering frames of wood with feathers that were held together by wax. During the flight Icarus became haughty and flew – against the explicit warnings by his father – too close to the sun so the wax started melting, resulting in his death by crashing into the Aegean sea.

DCIM100GOPRO
Flying over the cliffs in Portugal

Fortunately this era we have had many technological advancements that enable us to fly freely trough the skies. Without fuselage or enclosed capsule, without engines, but with a maximum of safety and comfort. The paraglider was developed out of the square parachute, with more stable and better gliding qualities. The two have not much in common nowadays, except for the fabric of the wing and the lines connecting the pilot to the wing. The harness, the area and form of the wing, the gliding ratios, and many other things don’t have much in common. Where a parachute is meant to enable someone who jumped from an altitude (from a high obstacle, airplane, helicopter, balloon, etc..) to land safely, a paraglider is meant to enable a person to effectively fly in the air, eventually taking him to higher altitudes if the winds and thermals are favorable.

DCIM100GOPRO
Croatia

Paragliding world records have been set where hundreds of kilometers have been crossed, and there are many competitions all over the world where men and women strive to complete a pre-defined course via a set of waypoints in the shortest time. The course cannot be completed without taking time to gain altitude in thermals (air that is rising), just like sailplanes do, so tactics and skill are the main requirements for a would-be champion. World championships are held, where the best pilots from over the world battle against each other in the blue sky.

IMG_1901
Elke flying in the Mexican mountains

But as with all sports, the majority of enthusiasts are just paragliding for recreational purposes. There are rules, like areas to avoid (eg. airports and reserved air spaces) and how to behave when flying with others, but due to the lack of over regulation paragliding is often called ‘the anarchistic sport’. This is also due to the mentality of the people engaged in this sport. Everyone is helpful, champions are easily approachable, and every one abides by the rules of nature and winds.

jan start el penon mex
Ready for take off – Mexico

The accessibility of paragliding for all people makes that everyone, regardless of age, gender and certain disabilities can learn to fly and enjoy hours in the air. There are pilots who are missing legs and manage to start and fly as well as able-bodied persons, blind people do fly in a tandem with a guide sitting in front of them, and I have known a man of 78 in my former club still flying on a regular basis.

During my wanderings all over the world with my paraglider as luggage I met lots of people. In this regard the most remarkable certainly is Marko Hrgetić. Five times Croatian paragliding champ, vice World Champion, holder of many titles and achievements (but too shy to admit it), he was the guy who really learned me to fly. I did my basics with a Belgian flying school, but unfortunately the focus was on earning as much money as they could from the students by postponing flight independence of the apprentices as long as they could. Fed up with this I found Marko in Croatia.

DCIM100GOPRO
The North Sea coast in France

The extraordinary thing about his method is that, once the pupils are proficient enough to handle the basic stages of flight safely, Marko flies together with his students. This way he, for example, can direct them towards a thermal he found to gain altitude, and monitor them from nearby flying in the same conditions his apprentices are moving in. And thus teach them the finer skills of flying and becoming one with the air carrying us trough the sky. All with utter respect for the safety and security of his pupils.

Apart from his flying and teaching skills Marko is a really nice, dependable guy. A bit shy and wary at first, but warm, open and welcoming once he gets to know you. And once friends, always friends, just like friendship is meant to be in life.

tandem Marko
Marko Hrgetić and me during my tandem pilot course (Croatia)

The hoard of beautiful Croatian women did not seem to satisfy Marko’s tastes, so he got himself hijacked by a wonderful Mexican women named Alma who made him her husband, and together they just became the proud parents of a little son. Having noticed that Mexico was abundant with commercial ventures to take tourist in tandem flights, but lacking high-level flight schools, he started a paragliding school with his wife: Escuela de Vuelo Flumen (Flumen is also the name of the paragliding club near Rijeka, Croatia, that Marko set up and of which he still is the president for the members did not accept his resignation ?). So now Marko is helping hundreds of people to fly the Mexican skies, be it locals or tourists coming especially for his high reputation and the favorable flying conditions in this sunny country.

flumen girls
‘The Flumen Girls’ – Elke sitting on the left, Alma is next to her

If you are travelling to Mexico, or you just want a special and very proficient teacher to learn this amazing sport, contact Marko. If Mexico is too far, you can safely make your first ‘steps’ in paragliding with the Flumen paragliding club in Croatia, where Marko educated himself new instructors by his high standards. I can warmly recommend Ivana, she is a beautiful person and a hell of a woman! ? Also for tandem flights to get a taste of free flight you can always contact them (below).

Love, yann ❤️

Flumen for flying in Mexico

Flumen for flying in Croatia

note from the author: I am not sponsored by Flumen, Marko Hrgetić or anyone else, nor affiliated to them in a commercial way, but I wanted to write about my experience with this amazing and safe sport, and with those wonderful people I got to know well over the years.

Unfriending Facebook

facebookFacebook took a prominent place in my life, as it undoubtedly does in many lives. It acted for me as a kind of gateway to the world, and allowed me to feel connected to the world, or at least it gave me that feeling. True, Facebook also reunited me with long lost friends, people I sometimes thought about and wondered what had become of them. And Facebook acted like an important outlet for my thoughts, worries and frustrations.

But over the years Facebook started to worry me. It made me think about the system behind Facebook. And it made me realize more and more, as the rules were regularly modified, that Facebook was not free, but I was the product sold.

Some people irritated me, like some guy fulminating on the ‘wall’ of an American ‘friend’ of mine about the immigrants flooding the United States, his words covered in a light sauce of ‘white supremacy’ and a hint of Christian crusaders’ spirit. I just replied that he was right: all immigrants should leave the States at once! He seemed quite happy about that. But when my next comment was asking him when he would pack up and go, because he was no less an immigrant on the territory of the Natives, he disappointingly was no friend of mine no more ? His reply was meant as a threat, which I shall not reproduce her for the vile language, but in short he wanted me to leave the States immediately for I was a traitor and an anti-Christ and some other despicable denunciations. Until my Facebook ‘friend’ wrote that I was not living in the States… It sounds silly, but he made me laugh so hard at his narrow-mindedness. Probably he imagined Facebook to be an exclusive all-American community, preferably just for white Christians?

“Facebook, please use this for your publicity” – Sharon ©yannbastiaans

But yes, I got irritated quite often by posts of people on Facebook. Probably people got irritated at my posts too. Gradually Facebook started to take a central place in my life, and I lost more on more time on it busy doing.. nothing really. And I started to feel ‘being followed’. Not in a psychotic way (I hope so ?), but the knowledge that Facebook used my posts and especially my ‘likes’ to make an accurate profile of me gave me the creeps. When I discovered later that Facebook also tracks me on internet such as my visits to other websites, even when logged out of Facebook, that freaked me out.

Slowly I started to contemplate the idea of leaving Facebook. Honestly, the idea made me feel insecure. When Facebook announced they claimed the right to use all images posted on their system for commercial purposes, without needing explicit permission, without notice, and without any remuneration, that was a step too far for me. Frantically I cleared my work as photographer from my profile, and put some back online but with a text trough them. Stating silly stuff like: “Please Facebook, invade my privacy!”, or “Yes, use my image Facebook!”, supposedly making it impossible for them to use my images for their commerce.

Then I announced with a message to all my ‘friends’ I would leave Facebook by the end of January 2015, to avoid the new ‘terms of usage’ Facebook imposed on its users. The replies I got were dual in content. Some pleaded with me to stay, some others admitted they were thinking about leaving too. But as the day came closer I grew more anxious, and it felt like I had announced to the world the day I would die.

invade my privacy
“Yes, please Facebook, invade my privacy” – self portrait with model ©yannbastiaans

When the 30th of January woke me up with beautiful sunrays, it could not cheer me up. I felt a bit depressed. A bit stubborn I set myself to the task of emptying my profile: saving pictures others had posted and tagged me in, noting mail addresses of people I might be interested to keep in touch with, and slowly clearing my whole profile. It really felt like dying at that time! Knowing I would lose so many contacts I had made over the years (at my pinnacle I had almost 2000 ‘friends’, mainly contacts because of my photography), especially the long lost friends I found via Facebook, made me feel so sad. I encouraged myself by the mantra: ‘there is a real world outside Facebook’, which I kept repeating to myself for the past weeks before my Facebook-death.

After my account was terminated I felt deprived. Whenever something funny happened I wanted to post it on my profile. Whenever politicians and their rubbish talk angered me I wanted to write about their stupid views. Whenever I wanted some contact with a friend I wanted to log in. But I knew Facebook does not ‘terminate’ your account right away, even if you decide to do just that. They keep your profile intact for the next two weeks, and whenever you log in, even by mistake, your profile is activated again. They seem to count on it that departing users will have regrets and will come back to them.

Slowly my life adjusted to a universe without Facebook. And gradually I started to realize I had become more balanced. No irritations, no longing to check my profile, no dependency on this system where I was used as a product. Yes, my life has become quieter, my mood has become more enlightened, and I seem to appreciate the world outside even more, maybe because I have more time to wander and wonder.

mexico zonsondergang PP
Me flying in the sunset in Mexico – photographer: Marko Hrgetić

So on the final question if I do miss Facebook, I can answer from the deepest of my heart: NO! I do not miss Facebook. Yes, I do sometimes miss some friends and the ease I could contact them, and being kept up-to-date about their lives, which on the other hand also brought some stress to me when I still was a friend of Facebook and kept myself informed. But I remember not having Facebook in my youth, and was I unhappy then? Of course not, just as I am not unhappy now, on the contrary. I am proud of myself I unfriended Facebook, and nothing or no one can convince me again to join a company designated as a ‘social media’, but being all but a social media. I feel free! ?

There is a real world outside Facebook….

Love, Yann ❤️

Freedom…

I found this quote that completely expresses my thoughts on living in Western society:

“As to when I shall visit civilization, it will not be soon, I think. I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown, to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities. Do you blame me then for staying here, where I feel that I belong and am one with the world around me? It is true that I miss intelligent companionship, but there are so few with whom I can share the things that mean so much to me that I have learned to contain myself. It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty….
Even from your scant description, I know that I could not bear the routine and humdrum of the life that you are forced to lead. I don’t think I could ever settle down. I have known too much of the depths of life already, and I would prefer anything to an anticlimax.”

Everett Ruess on November 11, 1934. The last letter that was received from him before disappearing at the age of 20.

Though I have to admit that the conditions in which he spent his days were not comparable at all with the relative luxury I live in.

Love, Yann ❤️

Cruisin’ the country

Kostandenets moto
View over the valley (Kostandenets – BG) ©yannbastiaans

For people on a quest for freedom Bulgaria is a wonderful place to spend your life. I have to admit that for most Bulgarians this is not true. The low wages and high unemployment are a shame for the European Union, of which Bulgaria is a member state.

 

Emenkloof brug3
Bridge trough the Emen Gorge (BG) ©yannbastiaans

If you come from abroad, what little money you have can be put to good value. Not surprising if you know that the average wage here is around 200€/month. Many Bulgarians have to manage with less. The fact that everything is – in our Western eyes – cheap, reinforces that feeling of freedom. A good meal in a restaurant, drinks included, costs around 5 euros.

Silistra fort
The fortress of Silistra overseeing the Danube (BG) ©yannbastiaans

But what I really wanted to talk about is that the notion of ‘property’ here has not (yet?) evolved as it did in Western Europe. Fences and barbed wire are, outside of the conglomeration, almost non-existent. Dirt roads and paths trough the fields and woods are open to all, making it a huge open and free countryside for hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders, off-road motorcyclists and 4×4 enthusiasts. Everything is accessible, nobody will chase you away stating it is ‘private’ property.

So the youthful adventurer’s spirit came back to me when I first crossed this country from West to East. That made me decide to buy a motorcycle. To explore, to travel, to visit new places, to discover the rich culture and the great past of this country. Romans, Greek, Ottomans and Thracians all left traces of their rich culture here.

Communist congress center near the Shipka pass (BG)
Communist congress center near the Shipka pass (BG) ©yannbastiaans

Driving off-road I found an old paved road, half disappeared and overgrown, winding it’s way trough a gorge near a river where kilometers away stands an old castle. My first thought was that this was a Roman road, but I am no archeologist. Now I think this road could possible date from around the 4th century, around the time the castle and fortified town further on was built on a high rock.

Svalenik moto
Very old trail trough the valley near Svalenik (BG) ©yannbastiaans
Omurtag Mig
Mig on display at Omurtag (BG) ©yannbastiaans

Besides the rich past the nature is also overwhelming. Plains, hills and mountains roll over into each other, painted in the brown, yellow and green colors of the vast agricultural fields, or in the light green colors of the fields with grass on the hills that are grazed by the flocks of sheep, goats, horses and cows, and in the dark colors of the cool forests. High rocky cliffs protrude from valleys, and force the rivers below to cut their path trough the country.

 

 

It makes me feel young and adventurous to explore and discover. The knowledge that, despite its appearance, Bulgaria has to offer everything available in every European country, reassures me. I am talking about internet, hospitals, good restaurants, supermarkets, luxury goods, etc.. So from that point of view it maybe makes me a couch-adventurer? ?

Love, Yann ❤️

 

 

Tryavna
The old town of Tryavna (BG) ©yannbastiaans

 

Why I put my photography on hold

Lazy men - Emmely & Mike
Lazy men – Emmely & Mike ©yannbastiaans

During many years I really enjoyed taking photographs, especially of women. Despite popular beliefs it is not very erotic to work in the presence of a scantily dressed or naked model as a photographer.. It is hard work! ? It truly is…

The direction my photo shoots went started to ask too much of my energy, of my time. As a starter I had the greatest difficulty to find women willing to pose for my camera. Nudity, even partial, was out of the question. My work was um.. not really up to standard. Slowly my photographs improved a notch, and my contacts grew. More and more women were prepared to make an appearance before my lens, but it still was very amateurish.

The next hurdle to be taken was the scarcity of MUA’s, or MakeUp Artists willing to assist me. As my work improved, I managed to get some professional models to work with me. For free that is, I never paid for a model to coöperate. But those pro’s demanded a MUA to be present. Again it was a slow process to find good ones willing to spend their time, energy and money (a MUA has to do a big investment in materials) on my projects.

I had the chance that my partner decided of her own accord to follow evening school to get her certificate as MUA. So from then on we worked together, which was very pleasant ? She knew me, she understood what I wanted to achieve, she could feel how I felt during photo shoots.

Contortionist - Erika
contortionist – Erika ©yannbastiaans

But then the projects started to grow, in ideas but also in frequency. Even for outside shoots I packed all my studio flashes with battery packs. And then all the props needed to be transported and carried. So assistants were needed, to help with the carrying, with the lights, with the props. Fortunately there was no shortage in men willing to spend a day working with me. I wonder why? Surely the reason could not have been the chance to be next to a naked woman? ?

For some projects I needed a hairdresser, a stylist, and in my biggest production I had to direct 6 MUA’s, 4 hairdressers, 2 assistants, 9 models, 12 soccer players and their trainer. Behind the scenes the soccer team also had their staff for serving food and beverages to the players and models. This shoot took me 2 months to organize, 3 meetings with the soccer team management, and a lot of sweat. The shoot was done in 3 shots, and I felt I had captured the image I wanted. Two months of work for less than 5 minutes of shooting..

Football club Zulte-Waregem (Pro League Belgium)
Football club Zulte-Waregem (Pro League Belgium) ©yannbastiaans

After each shoot I spent hours and hours behind my LCD screen with my Wacom-tablet previewing my images. Leaf trough them, selecting the best ones, which was never an easy choice. And then followed the tedious work of correcting them. Correcting the colors, the light, sometimes removing disturbing objects in the image, eg. a wall plug that appeared in the image but didn’t belong in the picture. On average I spent 30 hours sitting behind my computer for each photo shoot.

This slowly grew over my head, this was draining too much energy from me. Coordinating a shoot takes at least three people – sometimes more – to agree on a date, on a place, and then wait in hope the weather will be favorable. And before even thinking of shooting I needed to come up with fresh and exciting ideas, nothing worse than standing somewhere with a model without any inspiration. The youthful rashness, the improvisation suffered under this working method I had adopted.

Never did I really like my images. Nowadays I am sometimes amazed by this or that image, and then I wonder if it was really me who made that picture. But most of the time I still do not appreciate my work. I started to see them as too artificial, too set up, not nonchalant enough, too planned, too smooth.

So I just put my camera back in it’s bag, where it is tucked away since two years, almost untouched, despite it being very expensive. When I take a photo nowadays, I do it with my mobile phone. And my motivation to make an image from time to time is my partner who often says I should make more pictures as souvenir. Of the dogs, of the house I am rebuilding, of my life, of my travels. But the spirit is gone, photography has drained me in the end.

The egg - Yentl
The egg – Yentl ©yannbastiaans

Of course I think about photography a lot. I follow many photographers whose work I admire. I buy books, surf on internet. I still cannot stop looking at people or places with a photographer’s eye, judging poses people unknowingly strike, evaluating the ambient light and shadows. And sometimes I dream about starting my hobby again. But on a different basis.

What form it will take I am not sure yet. Sometimes I think about inviting someone to spend some days with me, or to go and spend some days in their house. And to be free to take photos along the way. Not the way a normal shoot is proceeding, just more natural and spontaneous. Images with more of a story in them. With ambient light. Without special makeup. Without restrictions or taboos. A model that is 24 hours a day at my disposition without limits. Under the shower, sleeping in bed, working in the garden, hanging up her clothes, dressing and undressing, peeing on the toilet, cooking in the kitchen. Nothing explicit, as I believe my work never was. No pornography, I have no interest in that. Just day-to-day images, but a bit more special, with a special atmosphere. And no more women selected exclusively for their body and for being photogenic. But just normal people, people in all their beauty because they are normal.

Of course some images would be posed. But that would just be because I saw the model perform something and I missed the moment. Or to do that pose again but under better light conditions, in a different room or another place in the garden. But nothing artificial, just natural. With more heart and soul.

Maybe… ?

Colors at the beach - Charlotte
Colors at the beach – Charlotte ©yannbastiaans