Aloha dear readers, supporters, and friends both near and far,
I did not see it coming. And I bet, you didn’t either, right?
All the collective crazy vibes of topsy turvy, of collective emotional tornadoes galavanting around all the way back since March 2020… And while I was, just like all of you, riding the ocean waves of how that energy of disruption and profound change manifested in my own life, I chose to take a step away from blogging for the last 6 months. Sometimes it’s healthy to step away from whatever storms are causing mayhem, and to focus on whatever brings solace, serenity, and sanity in these times of contorted mirrors, is what I found. And yet, I have missed connecting with the wonderful souls within the WordPress community: with your heartfelt pieces of writing and kind comments.
Back in November, I wanted to see whether the idea of creating a membership- platform would work – it didn’t, lol. So from now on, and in true artist-spirit façon, I will post whenever the creative Gods grant me both the inspiration and the pull to publish, and I welcome any loving interest and support with open arms:)
To start, I am re-publishing the post I created back in November – “Bewitching Yangshuo part II: Loving and longing along Li river“. Think mesmerizing landscapes, deep and intriguing insights into the fascinating Chinese culture, humor, and of course, one of the most important topics ever – love. Ah, and snake-booze. Shouldn’t leave the most important thing for last hey? 😛 Snake booze aside for a moment – soul love, as in love that transforms you, that captivates you to a never before experienced degree, and that has the potential to surmount all obstacles, takes center stage here. For such deep soul love, or really any kind of more substantial love, to manifest, it seems imperative to recognize the uniqueness and, more than that, the sanctity of each soul.
I know it might seem idealistic to ponder this in the current times, but I invite you to consider: How precious is every single minute spent with another soul you cherish? How special is it, if another being chooses to open their heart to yours, after having braved the human journey with all its challenges and heartbreaks for a while? And I am not only talking romantic love here but all types of love: the love for our friends, for our animal friends, for Spirit…
It’s time we cherish each other’s preciousness to a much stronger degree and leave behind any behaviors that disrespect the sanctity and amazingness of each soul on this beautiful planet… For more inspiration on this plus a fabulous Chinese adventure-time all mixed into one, please head to Bewitching Yangshuo, part II: Loving and longing along Li river and in-joy!
Maria Elena 💚/ A Gypsy at Heart
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Dear readers, supporters, content-scanners, spammers, and friends,
Hopefully, everyone is well and in good spirits, without ingesting too many spirits.
As you might have noticed it’s been a bit quiet here for a while, so I wanted to take the time to say “hello again” (cue song by Adele)
and keep you in the loop as to what my Gypsy heart has envisioned for this blog and community for the upcoming months!
Are ya ready? Oki dokey, don’t be mopey, here we go, let the good news flow:
Winter is coming. Nope, that was Game of Thrones. Ah well. Next-level-stories from around the globe are coming! In time for Northern Hemisphere Winter, too.
First of all, I have a lot of fabulous new stories in the pipeline: Of an astral-traveling Hindu priest I got to meet at a vegan hotspot in Ubud, and another one, whom I got to teach about Yoga and meditation and who invited me to a private tour of his family temple, on the island of the Gods.
There will be tales of dancing dervishes and arriving in a snowstorm in thongs/flip-flops in Istanbul. Of visiting a sandalwood fabric, getting up close and personal with koalas, and learning from an original Crocodile Dundee- crocodile-wrestler-meets-Spiritual-Teacher in Down Under.
Of swimming with dolphins and exploring mind-blowingly beautiful limestone cliffs in Portugal, and of witnessing Scream-mask-clad Qatari on their national holiday processions in Doha. Plus many more stories, including the best insider tips on exploring Southern Spain and much, much more.
Become A Gypsy at Heart VIP- supporter and in -joy in-depth, never before published posts and fun bonus-material
We will from now on mostly be showcasing high-quality, in-depth articles that will be accessible for VIP (Very important pasta lovers)- Gypsy-at-Heart- supporters only! Inspiring, exciting in- depth-articles will take you on fascinating adventures around the world. The posts will offer you top-notch insider perspectives, healing input as well as lots of fun, laughter, and depth. There will also be exciting bonus material, exclusive for VIP-supporters only.
I would absolutely love your support to keep this blog thriving and support our mission of a media outlet that’s loving, healing, fun, and informative all at once! Our mission is to spread love, healing, kindness, and heart/mind-opening through words and images, and to show that the times are ripe for new forms of media as well as new, kinder ways of being and interacting with each other! The frequency of posts published will depend on the level of interest in this offer.
Back to you, dear reader: How do you feel about this change? I am looking to add as much value to this community as possible. Is there anything else that you would love to see featured in the VIP- community?
Thank you so much for your input and continued interest. And stay tuned: You don’t wanna miss our first-ever VIP-supporter- post, that’s going to be published this weekend. Think rural China, shocking drinks with astounding healing effects, insane stories about monkeys, deep soulmate-love-musings, and so, so much more!
Until then, stay well and curious:)
With love, your Gypsy mate/ Maria Elena
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You smell… deliciously enchanting. You lure me in with your seductive beauty and your one-of-a-kind magnetic force field. You are sincerely one in a billion and there could never be another that speaks to me the way you do… And even among an ocean of beautiful other creatures that sparkle in their very own magical light, it´s you who dives deep into my soul and makes me feel a resonance of a thousand lifetimes past that all lead to us merging in this sacred moment in time.
“Ready to keep walking? It´s getting late and they are gonna close soon!” My travel companion doesn´t seem to notice my special moment with the deep red colored tulip that I have just connected with in the midst of a sea of gorgeous flowers while exploring the mesmerizing beauty of the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, Netherlands.
All these oceans of flowers exude effortless elegance and playfulness at once, is what I’m thinking while I’m trying NOT to think. Being in the moment is what the hype is all about, isn’t it? To bridge the barriers between ourselves and the object of our desire, or contemplation-admiration, to let ourselves fall fully into the magic of the unrepeatable moment. So why the f… am I still thinking?
A short sigh escapes my throat. I blame the thinking-overload on the long car ride of the past days: The Keukenhof gardens in Lisse are namely just one of quite a few stops of the road trip through the Netherlands that my travel companion and I had embarked upon five days prior. The adventure had taken us from Hamburg in Germany over lively student town Groningen in Northern Holland, picturesque beach town Wijk aan Zee, and Holland’s cosmopolitan capital Amsterdam to the world-famous tulip gardens named Keukenhof, located a mere 30 minutes from the life-affirming capital.
And we have only just arrived at Lisse, where sweet countess Jacoba Van Beieren (1401- 1436) once gathered even sweeter fruit and scrumptious veggies from the Keukenduin (kitchen dunes) for the kitchen of Teglingen castle, and in this way lay the foundation for what would become the world’s largest and most famous flower park. The longer I meander along seemingly endless rainbow-colored fields and inspirational gardens full of mesmerizing tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, and lilies, the easier it seems to get for my thoughts to dissolve into nothingness. And the more the joy in my heart and soul take center stage, allowing me to deeply absorb the rejuvenating, sparkly beauty that’s all around me.
How often do our thoughts pretend to protect us from what we are observing, while in truth just creating concrete walls between the artificial life and projections of our minds on the one hand and whichever facet of life we are interacting with on the other hand?
“The art of living and the art of being must be intertwined“, I hear a majestic yellow-golden tulip whisper as I bend down to admire her unique beauty from up close. “Is that so?“, I ask her softly and with a hint of barely withheld scepticism, carefully watching out for the nearby Asian tourist group that’s taking happy snaps all around me.
“And the art of being is what exactly? “, I dare to throw another question at the flower-queen. My journalistic zest for inquiry cannot be halted, not even by a whispering flower. She remains silent, just gently swaying her head in the soft breeze as if mocking me a little.
The art of being is maybe, so I ponder while spotting a giant pair of traditional Dutch clogs in the distance, journeying beyond thought. Journeying to that place within that is always still, always at peace, always-eternal. That place that doesn’t know anything that’s not peace. That lies deeper than all the events and worries of this life, deeper than any losses we might experience, deeper than any heartbreak or pain. A holy, wholy place that can be reached when we become still, slow our breaths, go within.
I have arrived at the pair of giant yellow Dutch wooden shoes and swiftly jump right into them, a bubbling laughter paving its way out of my throat, a little piece of me entering the world like a joyful mandala of hope and trust.
And for a moment, all else is forgotten. Everything that was weighing on me before is healed by bathing in one of life’s best medicines, spontaneous, free laughter – a colorful and healthy pill we could pop much more regularly by simply getting playful, silly, grateful, and carefree. Who told us that being serious and restrained was more important than creating enough time to just be, and enjoying ourselves and our world with an open heart? That might be another question for the mighty flower friends to answer… Because nature is and has always been one of life’s wisest and arguably quietest teachers. And quiet brings forth truth… universal truth as well as the truth of your own heart.
Back to you, dear reader: Where in the world do you most feel yourself? Which surroundings bring you back to a peaceful, content state? As always, I would love to hear from ya! Stay well and curious:)
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We are in the midst of a storming sea of crashing sounds, water thundering down, endless cascades of nature´s glorious fury surrounding us and giving us a taste of a might that´s usually forgotten.
Do you really wanna keep driving like this?!, I ask my travel companion slightly stressed out and pretty freaking flabbergasted. I need to ask twice, almost screaming my question the second time around, as he can barely hear me through the thick sound wall of relentless heavy raindrops that are crashing onto the roof of our tiny car. Were cars built for this type of storm at all? We can barely see the highway leading us from Baden-Baden in Germany to Basel in Switzerland in front of us anymore. I need some of that Swiss stoic demeanor now, presto/quickly! And a piece of Swiss chocolate wouldn´t be a bad idea, either.
Road ruminations, Basel bound
One hour later, and the black and heavy layers of thick, electric clouds are still weighing the atmosphere down. Which is not always a bad thing- a concentration of dense and heavy matter can beckon one to re-center, become still, and look into the depths of one´s own being/ soul again, to re-encounter yourself in a world that constantly tries to pull you away from your very own essence and truth.
Is that what I did? Probably not. Rather, I pressed my nose against the cool window-pane to my right, watching the ephemeral traces of rainy water-circles build and dissipate again, observing in awe as the storm washed over the huge ash trees which were dancing wild and carefree in the heavy winds.
The storm was still with us when we finally arrived in Basel for a late night stop-over. The rain was pouring down as if heaven was on water-fire, so we decided to seek shelter in a dimly lit, sweet little Swiss restaurant in the heart of the northwestern Swiss city.
Swiss cuisine and savory exhalations
My meal of choice was a traditional Swiss Rösti, a dish made of potatoes in the style of a fritter. Seriously good stuff, by the way! Originally conceived as a breakfast dish, it was commonly eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern, but is now enjoyed all over Switzerland and around the world. Sometimes breaks can really be the most important part of any journey, right ? Just as we cannot just breathe in all the time without breathing out, so is traveling best enjoyed with a generous dash of rejuvenating time-outs, adapted to your individual nature, preferences, and needs.
Along those lines, the hours we spent in Basel enjoying the local cuisine and meandering through its inviting streets afterwards were a much needed break after the previous five hours of storm-driving. A short yet warmly embraced out breath after the exciting hours on the road!
Crazy enough (in hindsight :P), we decided to venture on that same night. The storm had lost most of its ardent flavor, and the rain was glistening in wet and slippery ways on Basel´s broad roads.
Following Carl Gustav Jung´s thought-trains to Geneva
The next four hours gave me a taste of how Switzerland´s kinesthetic essence, of how the land of wild mountains, calm and composed people, and mind- fortresses of neutrality and containment felt in the dark. It felt dangerous, a bit nauseating and pretty darn dizzying, if you allow me to be frank with you. Quite the opposite to the picture-perfect daylight vistas of the picturesque Swiss mountains. Thinking back of these impressions, two quotes by Swiss genius and founder of analytical psychology Carl Gustav Jung spring to mind:
“I´d rather be whole than good”
“Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries.”
Jung points to wholeness as a more whole-some thing to aspire to, or rather, reconnect back to, than to try and live up to the always-out-of-reach concept of the consistently “good girl” or “good boy”, of living up to external expectations instead of connecting to our own truths. And wholeness does include our light parts, and our shadow parts – which might, ultimately, also just be disguises for more light, beckoning us to embrace all of ourselves, all of our flawed-yet-perfect humanness on our journey through life.
Oopsie, drifting of! Well, that´s what the land that marked Jung, Einstein, and Hermann Hesse, one of my favorite German-speaking writers, can do to you.
Geneva night impressions and Mary Poppins soundscapes
240 minutes of dizzying mind-roulette and dark mountain-silhouettes later, and we found ourselves in Geneva, the second-most populous city in Switzerland. The pointers of the Swiss clock at the nearby train station showed exactly 3:30 AM in the morning. The streets of central Geneva were eeriliy quiet.
Just a few dubious looking men were roaming the streets looking for solace. Or maybe something else starting with S. To sum things up, I was more than happy to reach our hostel for the night: A teeny tiny itsy-bitsy apartment on the fifth floor with a view over the rooftops of Geneva. The quaint views reminded me strongly of the chimney-sweeper-dance in beloved movie “Mary Poppins“, and so I fell into a short yet deep slumber with sounds of Chim-Chimney resounding sweetly in my mind and soul…
…Until the Swiss alarm-clock shrilled me out of my dreams in a rather strict “Common, be-a-good-grown-up-now–just-like-the-Swiss“- manner.
We checked out of our teeny-tiny place (I knoooow, damn short stay!!) and went off to explore Geneva, known as worldwide center for diplomacy and host of the globally highest number of international organizations.
Find out why Lake Geneva seemed to have a Caribbean flavor to it, how I ended up in the middle of the French Alps with no clue as to where I was during a looong night, and which French town is a well-kept secret paradise that wows like no other in the next post 🙂
Back to you, dear reader: Have you ever been to Switzerland and if so, what were the highlights of your visit? If you haven´t been – what´s the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of this country? Random answers are more than welcome, too 😉 As always, I would love to hear from you!
Healing tip: I officially declare this a healing and inspirational zone. Let´s focus on topics that feed the soul. From now on, I encourage lovely beings who wanna keep mentioning CV to reframe the very charged word into carrot cake 😛 Thank you!
Also: Check out this GORGEOUS meditation by Self-compassion guru Dr. Kristin Neff to increase self-compassion and compassion. A wonderful tool:)
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“What are we gonna do about tonight?”, I ask my travel companion as I´m heading back to the van after a long day out at Kalbarri National Park. The cold is starting to creep up on me as the last rays of daylight are fading. Practical matters are suddenly taking center stage after a full day in non-stop-marveling-mood. “No idea“, he answers in a nonchalant way while scratching his beard. “What about checking into a hostel in town?”, I suggest. “Let´s give it a crack. She´ll be right“, he agrees wearily. Ah well, the German part of me will never get used to the Aussie spontaneity and utterly carefree attitude – but the Spanish part within just freaking loves it!
Kalbarri: Meeting persistent lovers of the law
A point in favor of German conscientiousness and over-planning: That spur-of-the-moment idea really did not work out. Like at all! All hotels, and hostels, and even camping spots, are booked out. On to the next idea! My travel-companion still doesn´t seem fazed one bit, as I suggest to just park our van in a quiet street and snooze right there.
Barely thirty minutes in, and an overeager Kalbarrian (Is that how you call an inhabitant of Kalbarri?) zestfully knocks on the driver side´s window. We get politely, yet very diligently told to f…venture off. It´s about 1 AM in the morning, so we decide to wing it and drive back to Kalbarri National Park, where theoretically, any kind of camping is kinda forbidden. And probably, practically as well.
“She´ll be right“, I mumble wearily to myself. After over a year of living in Australia I know this idiom by heart now – whatever is wrong will right itself with time. After a short deliberation, I head to the back of the van and bundle myself up in my jacket and a rather scratchy blanket. Two hours later, and I wake up pretty bloody almost-frozen. A diligent ranger proves that even at 3 AM on a weekday, you shouldn´t mess with the Australian love for safety, rules, and regulations – and off we go again.
Kalbarri to Shark Bay: Dramatic sunsets and darn old Stromatolites
In the end, there´s not much sleep to be had that night – but on the upside, a pretty perfect sunset greets us while we make our way up towards the infamous Shark Bay World Heritage Area. My mates, in case you didn´t know: Western Australian sunsets are basically the VIP´s of sunset phenomena – they warrant an extra dosage of attention for their drama and the multilayered explosions of color they bring to the table.
After driving for around 4,5 hours along the North West Coastal Highway, humming along to some relaxed tunes, we reach Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Our first stop is Hamelin Pool, a protected Marine Nature Reserve. It feels amazing to say cheerio to the van, and take in some new, thought-provoking sights and sensations. If you`ve ever felt as if you are getting old – which in our warped culture can probably already happen when you are like 12 – , there is no better place to hang out than Hamelin Pool. Why?
Well, you´ll be able to visit the insanely old Stromatolites aka the oldest life forms on earth – living representatives of life over 3500 million years ago, when there was no other complex life on Earth. That´s right, even if you are currently 105 years of age, you´ll still be like a toddler compared to these so-called living fossils! How´s that for a win-win?
If you feel overwhelmed by today´s round-the-clock-availability, stop by at the Old Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station. Built in 1884 as part of the communication line between Perth and Roebourne, it will make you feel as if you just beamed yourself back to a time where communicating through the distance was quite a feat. Also, the original building is now a museum housing many curious artifacts which definitely do not overwhelm the senses.
Shark Bay World Heritage Area: Shell beach, a pristine piece of paradise all to yourself
Our next stop isn´t far away at all – 44 km away from Denham and just a short drive from Hamelin Pool, Shell Beach awaits us with millions of tiny automobiles. No, of course not, just checking you´re still with us 😛 Located within Francois Peron National Park, Shell Beach is a true gem of a beach made up off trillions of tiny cockle shells. There are even shell deposits around that are 10 meters deep in places!
Stepping out of the van, I am immediately engulfed with a sense of deep peace – it´s almost eerily quiet, and as is so often the case in Western Australia, we have the beach all to ourselves. A glorious and enlivening feeling! Playing around with the shells, admiring the deep, still, shallow waters and breathing the incredibly pure air is more than enough to get me feeling vibrant and alive after the long car ride from Kalbarri.
Shell Beach´s second characteristic besides its abundance of shells is the water´s hypersalinity, which means that the water here is twice as salty as the sea. Better not drink that stuff! Not that I usually go to the ocean to drink. Anyways, moving on. Despite feeling pretty damn alive after our visit to Shell beach, my travel mate and I decide that it´s time to head to Denham and check into our hostel for the next two nights. There are some pretty special beings to be met early the next morning, after all! And we definitely do not feel up for another frozen van night.
Monkey Mia: A different kind of beach date
Early the next morning, we get ready for a very special date. This date is a tiny bit different to other ones, though- we are about to meet a very wild, extraordinarily enchanting, highly intelligent, always optimistic, eternally kind and helpful fella after all! It´s basically the kind of rendezvous with the kind of being you get once every ten years – if you´re lucky. And boy, are we lucky indeed. Once we arrive on the agreed-upon location, the pristine and picture-perfect beach at Monkey Mia Reserve, we get to hang out around other admirers from all over the world, until our date´s PR-entourage announces his imminent arrival.
We are extremely fortunate – not only because meeting beings like him in their natural habitat and in a pre-agreed manner is a rare occurrence. But also because this being, voted the cutest mammal alive by Animal magazine for 100 years straight, does have the decency to bring all his extremely adorable friends along! As we learn through their well-briefed PR-peeps, their stunning home, the waters of Shark Bay Marine Park, host a gorgeously diverse population of animal species, from mellow dugongs to cheeky loggerhead turtles.
Keep your cool: Meeting dolphin-royalty
But it’s -obviously- the irresistibly playful Indo-Pacific bottlenose-dolphins that visit Monkey Mia nearly every morning which bring home the bacon: they draw more than 100,000 admirers to the beach each year. Some wild dolphins have been known to visit Monkey Mia since well before 1982 to be hand-fed by friendly humans – which led to a big scientific investigation of all things dolphin. Find out more about this fascinating story here.
Back to our very own dolphin-date, though: The volunteers pick a few especially hysterical, sorry, especially enthusiastic admirers each morning to feed some members of the dolphin royalty clan their favorite brand of tasty caviar, no, sorry, fish it was. Maybe my forceful, dare I say fan-girl-inspired attempt to hypnotize the dolphin-volunteer into picking me worked somehow (I swear, there was no bribery involved – they have bodyguards for that stuff) – because in the end, I have the honor of feeding a gorgeous wild dolphin. And I am positive – he winked at me! At least he smiled the whole two minutes through. And I get a tad emotional as I sense the expansive joy and profound gentleness that this exceptional wild creature irradiates through his sweet eyes, smile, and whole being.
Stay tuned for our next post, when we´ll learn more about the incredible wonders of Shark Bay, including a meeting with a highly charismatic Indigenous Australian leader and tour guide, who shares some of his ancestors secrets with us (sorry guys, just the parts that are allowed obviously!). We will also head to a far-off paradise. I swear, I am not exaggerating here! You´ll see…
Back to you, dear reader: What´s your cheekiest travel-adventure? And: Have you ever been on a road trip, and if so, where did you explore?Thanks for reading, and as always, would love to hear from you!
If you enjoyed this content, you can support A gypsy at heart here – thank you, danke, gracias, merci, grazie, arrigato, dhanywaad, xièxiè, shukraan... in advance!:)
Copyright: You can feel that one in your bones probably. Yes. Again, the rights to written words and pictures belong to meee/ A gypsy at heart. Because: You did not endure that bloody cold night in the van.
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a notion that might be pretty clear-cut and easy to define to folks who still live onthe same beauty patch they were born and raised. With millions of songs, poems and quotes out there trying to capture the essence of every possible association with “Home”, the answer to the question What the heck does “Home” really stand for? remains presumably much more challenging to those who have been given a good cultural shaking in and through their upbringing.
Be it having emigrated at a young age from their natal country to find their luck in a completely new environment, physically giving up their roots to find a new “home” far away from their original one, like my friend David from El Salvador. Or be it embodying two (or even more) different cultures and therefore almost owning two different heartbeats, like many of my mates and myself. Or it can even be not feeling comfortable at the place you were born and therefore rejoicing every time you are being asked: “Where are you from”? And maybe heading off into the world in order to find a more appropriate “Home” due to this.
Whatever the nomadic variation it may be in your case, it remains clear that “Home” can be quite challenging to define for some of us!
Lets throw a few ideas out and make our brain cells dance a little instead of giving them the Facebook information intake overkill:
Is “Home” necessarily the place you were born? Or where you were educated?
Creating one’s own home
Is it something determined by outer factors like the previously mentioned ones? And therefore really just another intent of the naturally obsessive compulsive mind to put everything and everyone (including ourselves) into predefined drawers?
Or is “Home” a term which needs to be understood through our internal world, our innermost longings and our intuitive knowing?
Would love to hear your thoughts on this! I keep coming back to this question and can’t wait to get some different perspectives on it.
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Traveler, Writer, Artist, Journalist, Language and Yoga teacher, Cultural Scientist. The author of "Speak in Spanish- Fun and motivation on your learning journey" as well as the multicultural novel "Von Fischbrötchen, Sangrianächten und Chaoswelten". Love animals, the arts, laughter, traveling through inner and outer worlds, the healing arts.
Weltenbummlerin. Reisende in inneren wie in äusseren Welten – in Gedanken, Büchern, Filmen, Meditationen, im Schreiben – sowie in fremden Ländern und Kulturen.