Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The best home there is

We sold our beloved Casa yesterday, eleven years after we gave it its name, "home" in Spanish, as we drove away from Abu Dhabi, setting our eyes on Patagonia. And what a home it has been for us. This is my love letter, to Casa, the best home there is.

First of all, when riding through places with Casa, we were travellers, not tourists, almost warriors like. We feel absolutely invincible. It was like having your most experienced and reliable ally with you all the time. Casa was always ready to spring away at your heart´s desire, negotiating difficult roads and crossing tiring borders

Together, we have enjoyed some of the most breathtaking views one can imagine, over and over and over, sampled some of the most delicious food, shocked by some of the cheapest gasoline, and endured harsh conditions - oh Bolivia, Casa (and us) probably still shakes its head at Bolivia. For a home that can travel, Casa has lived to the fullest. 

Of course we could not have gone as far as we did if not for Casa carrying all our stuff for us. All the tools, gadgets, food, tent, we crammed as much as we could into the trusty panniers on Casa. I will forever treasure any day when I have only two sets of clothes within reach. Trust me, you can get very creative with various combinations, but I digress. In short, life was beautifully and unapologetically simple on Casa - as long as the pannier does not fall off

There are definitely times when one of us gets impatient, and that is okay with Casa. We took roadside time-outs, stretching our legs a little, waiting for dusts to roll by before hopping back on it and continuing with cooler heads. 

When Casa breaks down - and this happened again and again and again - we sat down and worked them through together. Not to mention some of the most intolerable environments, Casa was there to witness them all, in Iran and in Argentina. Oh, all the stories we still tease each other fondly after all these years. 

And most of all, we loved meeting people with Casa, many of whom were just curious and adventurous. They always asked us where we come from: UAE, Germany, China, The Netherlands, Canada... "What? But why does Q look so Asian?" Oh yeah, the Philippines is also in the mix. Casa and us, we were an inevitable cultural bomb wherever we rolled. All the while growing together, more capable, more groundedmore connected, more gentle, more heart.

My huge gratitude to Q for God-knows-how-many hours, days and weeks that he has spent tweaking, fixing and improving Casa. They have been best buddies for each other in ways that I probably can never fully comprehend, and I am grateful for the chance to have witnessed this unique friendship so intimately. 

And now, 170,000 km (!) and 40 countries later, we part ways with Casa. Unfortunately it is getting increasingly less reliable for our travel needs - hey, you try carrying two full-sized grown-ups on your back and see how far you get. ;) 

We saw off Casa wishing the next travel companion would also enjoy and treasure it. We will miss it dearly and move on with the many many many life-changing moments we shared together. Casa, thank you, for being the the best home there is. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Five winter jackets

I have a total of five winter jackets and I did not wear any of them this winter. It is time to decide what to do with them, and for that, I need help, your help. 

First of all, why I haven't worn any of the winter jackets. It is not just because I am slightly mental (you should know that already), but also because of my practice with Wim Hof Method. That means with the cold exposure practice, I have been walking outside all winter in my regular indoor clothes, so just sweater and jeans. Contrary to my deeply-rooted Chinese cultural belief to always dress warmly, I have not gotten sick from doing so. Those diaphragm hyperventilation and hypoventilation breathing exercises really turn on an internal heater, and I feel very comfortable with keeping a healthy core body temperature without wearing a winter jacket. Yes, my fingers do get cold, and I need to make sure they are protected by gloves, but other than that, I love how refreshing it feels and the fact that I can just leave the house any time without having to stop and getting completely covered. In fact I feel physically stronger coming out of this past winter season than any of the past ones, so that is really nice! 

Okay, enough of cold exposure. Let's talk about the real issue here: the jackets and why I need your help. To say that I am quite sentimental is probably an understatement. I cried when I had to let go a pair of old hiking shoes right there in the middle of a shoe store where I found a new replacement pair. That was 2010 in Abu Dhabi, and now these jackets living in the Netherlands. All of them are all dear to me in various different ways. Below I will give a run-down. In chronological order of their acquisition - of course there is an order. 

Side note 1: please ignore my bare legs. I asked Marjolein, a neighbour, to help take the photos since Q was not home that day. And I was in a bit of rush after a quick run, that's why. :)

Side note 2: Sorry to bring up this "luxury problem", but it is also something that has been on my mind for a while now, so I am sure it carries more significance to just jackets, but maybe also lifestyle?

Jacket A - Zara black

Material: Rayon, polyester

Cost: CAD 100 ? (EUR 70)

Purchase situation: Bought it new when I started my first full-time job in Toronto in 2002, so that is more than 18 years ago. It has endured the harsh Canadian winters.

How does it make me feel? Chic, invincible, efficient, that I can cut a dash. In a way my default feeling with clothes is not one of posh, so this one sorta fills a void of some sort. 


Jacket B - Canadian motorcycle 

Material: "Genuine Leather" as the label proudly announced. Also "Made in Canada".

Cost: CAD 40 ? (EUR 25)

Purchase situation: Got it in a vintage shop as my travel souvenir when Q and I visited Quebec City in 2013. This was my phase of visiting second hand clothes shops during travelling. I have reduced that habit to just visiting and rarely buying. I have more than enough. 

How does it make me feel? It is a motorcycle jacket. I feel extremely sturdy and tough wearing it. Also the padded lining makes me feel warm instantly.  


Jacket C - Canada Goose heavy 

Cost: SEK 100 (EUR 10)

Purchase situation: Got it in Malmo at a Saturday morning flea market with two of the best shopping companions one can find, Pernilla and Madeleine. None of us could not believe how good a bargain it was and it fit me the best, so I got it. 

How does it make me feel? So warm and ready for any winter storm. It does leak feathery strands along the inside linings, but since my sweaters are grey and would not show, so that is no longer an issue.


Jacket D - Austrian green

Material: 80% schurwool, 20% alpaca

Brand: Het Jagerhuis. Himalaya De Luxe. Baur Loden, Tirol. Made in Austria. 

Acquisition situation: It belonged to my mother-in-law. I came across this jacket during the massive clean-up effort post her funeral in end 2019. My husband and I have never ever seen her wearing it - although Wads was quite a fashionista and probably had enough clothes to cover the entire Celebesstraat (her street), so it really shouldn't surprise us that much. :) Anyway, back to the jacket, the original sleeves were too short, so I extended to the best ability I could.     

How does it make me feel? Wads had a very elegant and stern presence, channeling a bit of Jackie Kennedy. I feel very much wrapped by her presence wearing the jacket. Not to mention the cool and high Austrian mountain flare.   


Jacket E - Arcteryx water-proof

Material: Down-filled and Gore-tex

Cost: EUR 150? 200? 300? €420 (just found the receipt)

Purchase situation: My Canada Goose was too heavy for the Dutch winter. Since I don't like shopping and Q does, Q volunteered to help me find one. He found this jacket online, ordered it, and it fits - voilà! (N.B. This was in September 2019, so just before Wads passed away, so I got the order of D and E wrong, doh!)

How does it make me feel? Super functional and practical. Also somewhat feminine with the tailored shape.


Would you help me? The help I need is your advice on what I should do with the jackets. Which one(s) should I keep? And which ones should I let go? 

On the second note, if you are interested in getting any of them, let me know. I am American size 8-10, Medium. 

Much love and happy spring cleaning! 💓