My name is Chanti Mai and I am a global surf yogini, an upcoming mandala artist and a passionate dancer with flat feet. I am truly delighted to be part of the Salt in my Hair team and excited to share my first blog and personal story with you:
They say everything comes in threes and I guess my journey has had three big moments.
The first is when I fell in love with travel. I was a teenager and every week I was looking forward to watching the most successful Dutch television programme at that time, ‘De Wereld van Boudewijn Buch” -Reports of a journey around the world by Boudewijn Büch.
Büch was a Dutch writer, poet and television presenter who travelled all around the world to show and give his views on various places, people and phenomena. I don’t remember when exactly… it’s just been too long… but I do remember that he visited Norway one time. In this episode he showed us Norway’s natural wonders, stunning cities and fascinating history. I fell in love and travelled by myself at the age of seventeen to Norway. I became hooked: I had the travel bug. And as everyone with the bug quickly learns, this ailment had no cure and every trip I took after just made it worse.
The second big moment happened three years ago. In 2013 I got pregnant unexpectedly, and at the same time I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I also became to be homeless. Due to all the stress I had through my miscarriage, and the treatments for cancer caused an early menopause. All these emotional and physical, yet natural, experiences changed my view on life. I realized more how precious the physical body is and how fragile we still are as human beings. I also realized that nothing is guaranteed, even when you live healthily and enjoy life fully. My own yoga and meditation practice were great tools to keep me in form both physically and mentally. To recover I moved with only one bag to Morocco, for the second time.
I lived in Morocco for two years. It was bittersweet and I have faced new challenges: I learn, I have broadened my horizons and I have also unlearned. And after coming down and embracing a few lessons, I started growing in humility. I evolved, sometimes I felt homesick. At the same time I shaped memories that will stay with me forever; this strange and magical conjunction of the right place, the right moment with the right people.
But all the things come to an end sometimes, which brings me to today, my third big moment: my life and desires have changed. I desire a “home”.
I once wondered if it was possible to travel for too long. Could one spend too much time traveling alone? Could one live without roots for so long that they became rudderless?
Traveling alone doesn’t mean you get lonely. You learn that there’s nothing wrong with eating dinner, seeing a movie or going out for a drink by yourself. But being alone isn’t driving me home. I’m simply tired. Many of the people I know and met who travel like I do slow down after their third year. They stay in destinations longer or revisit like I did in Morocco. Yes, in a certain way I had a home base here in Taghazout. Many have a partner with them who helps keep them anchored, but I didn’t. I pushed past that and kept on going even when I knew it wasn’t what I fully wanted.
The heart wants what it wants and for now my heart no longer wants to be a nomad. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t even know if I am fully ready for the next step of my life. Will I be able to adjust in a modern Western lifestyle?
I still love travel and have no plans to stop for sure. It has become too much a part of me, too much of who I am. There are still plenty of trips in my future, so there will be plenty of new stories, photos and tips this blog will continue to show. But it’s time for me to put down roots and have a home. It’s time to become semi-nomadic. The woman without a home will finally have one to return to.
In a few hours, I will board my flight to the Netherlands and start to get ready to move back to Amsterdam. It’s a new day and I don’t know what it will bring. But whatever happens, the future is NOW, as AMAZINGLY UNCERTAIN and FILLED WITH PROMISE as it was when I was that teenager watching “De wereld van Boudewijn Buch”.