What you probably do know about me: I am Lotte, a polyglot born in Belgium, currently living as a digital nomad. I work as a freelance online language teacher, translator and voice-over artist. My work is multilingual, I speak German, English, Dutch (and Flemish), French, Spanish and Italian.
So far the basics!
Other than that…
One. Cycling is my all time favorite sport. In spring 2012 I solo cycled from Belgium to Turkey, from Antwerp to Istanbul. It took me seven weeks, through the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy again, Greece and Turkey.
Two. I would love to live in a tiny house. Last year I decluttered for real, and I don’t have much left. I kept one piece of furniture (a wooden drawer that has been with me since I was a kid), lots of paintings (that don’t take up much space but are great for decorating a space and give it atmosphere straight away), some clothes, some books and 5 bicycles (see fact number one).
Three. I am an amateur birdwatcher, owner of 2 pairs of binoculars and tons of books about birds. A few years ago, I spent 6 months in the Gambia to look for birds…. which resulted in a total of 210 local species observed, and lots of excitement! Any other birdwatcher will be able to tell you what that feels like 😉 The thing is, I don’t only watch birds in forests and parks. I watch birds literally… every second. Whether I am inside or outside. A bird moves, I have seen it.
Four. In 2007 I met Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, on my third day in the country. He was delighted to hear that I was from Belgium, his wife is Belgian too and he studied there as well. We talked for about a minute only, but it was one of the highlights of my visit. How did that happen? My couchsurfing hosts turned out to be leading the youth section of Correa’s political party. They took me to a congress and by surprise the president paid a visit.
Five. Since 10 years I have been suffering from tinnitus and hyperacusis. Ok, that is not a fun fact. But I have learned to live with it, use my ears carefully and not let it spoil my daily life.
Six. Other than the 6 languages I speak fluently and almost daily, I have learned some more in the past. Quechua in Peru. Mandinka in the Gambia. Hebrew in South America (I know that sounds weird, but there are lots of people from Israel traveling in South America). And Russian in, well, not Russia unfortunately, but Belgium and Germany. The thing is, when I am visiting a country, and staying for a while, I HAVE to learn the local language. In the Gambia for example, I soon after arriving decided to learn at least one of the local languages. I found a book English-Mandinka and studied every day. Soon enough I could have basic conversations, greet people on the street (the greetings are very important and follow the same basic structure every time), and even do grocery shopping at the local market. Even if I might not use this language ever again, it still was worth learning to me, because it really helped during travels, especially in remote areas.
Seven. When I was 24, I took a plane to South America with a small backpack that weighed no more than 7 (seven) kilos. For one year. That means: I am a member of the “light weight traveler” club. Not that a club like that exists – let me know if it does. What I really want to say is: try it out! Pack light! Leave all the “just in case” stuff home. And pack only the things that really really are necessary to keep you on the road. Traveling light weight means: freedom. And safety. Because you are literally free to walk and run wherever you want, with all your belongings with you. Without having to store your stuff for a city walk or walking around like a mule below the weight of your giant backpack.
Eight. I love sleeping under a tree. It is my favorite thing to do in parks and forests. When I was still working at the public broadcasting company in Brussels, I used to take naps in the afternoon, when I came home from the early shift. I would finish at about half past one, get in the car, and drive most of the 70 kilometers north, to where I lived. But a few kilometers before home, I would stop at a nature park or forest, take a walk, and find a cosy spot under a tree. I would just lay down on my back, no blanket or anything, enjoy the view of the sky and treetops, the birds around, and then close my eyes and fall asleep. Half an hour or an hour later I would wake up a different person. So relaxed. So happy. Ready to go home.
Nine. My favorite bird is the Kingfisher. “Eisvogel” in German, “ijsvogel” in Dutch, “Martin-pêcheur” in French. A few years ago, when I was working in an IT company in Germany, I had a desk on the first floor of an office near a river. I could see the river from my chair – no kidding – and I could even see the kingfisher fly back and forth and take a seat on a tiny branch over the water, to catch little fish – still no kidding! The best office view ever! Binoculars in my upper drawer. And colleagues frowning their eyebrows. Oh well…