Leaving Africa

I spent a long time thinking what to write about my move.

I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to most friends. Or maybe I didn’t want to say goodbye, so that I would have to go back and have a proper farewell party. Or maybe, I never wanted to have a farewell party.

In any case, after three years, I chose to move to Washington DC.

I love South Africa. It thought me a lot and it gave me so many great memories and stories to tell, and today I see the world in a very different way than I did three years ago.

It made me more compassionate, more understanding, more independent… and it definitely kept me out of my comfort zone.

Of course, I cannot say that it was an entirely positive experience either: living in one of the major South African cities always comes with a lot of dangers and getting a work permit is like going through the nine circles of bureaucratic hell.

But at the end of the day, no place is perfect. And while South Africa certainly has some serious problems, it still remains one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen and definitely one worth visiting.

I could write for a very long time but it will be a better idea to instead publish some articles about the safaris and other places I went to in the last few months.

All things considered, it wasn’t the risks or limitations that made me take a decision to move. I see this move as a great new opportunity and I’m very happy to begin a new chapter of my life.

I will never forget South Africa and it will always remain in my heart. As they say, “Home is where your heart is” and in that sense Africa will always be my home in one way or another ❤️

Stay tuned as I’m planning to write about some amazing adventures with leopards, lions, elephants and more 😊

Lions, elephants, warthogs – the traffic jam you don’t want to avoid

Living on the other side of the world makes it a bit challenging when it comes to keeping in touch with your friends and family.

Even though there are many ways to communicate online today, one cannot fully explain in details the life and atmosphere in Africa, and especially in the case of such a big and diverse country like South Africa.

However, the last two months have been very busy: two groups of friends came over, and each time we spent about a week on safari in Kruger Park.

The second time I even got to practice my ranger skills as we mostly did self-drives and I have to say that it went much better than we expected: we managed to spot all animals from the Big Five (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo) in one day!

This was the first and only time I saw the Big Five in one day for more than two years of living in Africa!

Yaaayy! Lekker!

Also, it’s also pretty amazing that my cute super low city car survived the whole experience without a single scratch! ( but driving an old pickup truck is the way to go really).

We mainly explored the area around Crocodile Bridge Gate, and this is also the area with the highest density of animals in the park. My friends got a bit confused after we saw the Big Five in their first safari ever and then it got a bit more difficult in the next few days – but each day was very different, and we had many amazing close encounters with different animals.

For a self-drive, the most popular morning safari route is Crocodile Bridge Gate to Lower Sabie – I definitely recommend it because it’s always easy to spot the animals and there is a high likelihood that you would see a whole herd of 30-40-50 elephants as you get to Sabie River, especially around noon.

The cats typically start hunting in the evening, eat until sunrise and then usually go to sleep.

Lions are relatively easy to find as many of them move in prides but leopards are really, really difficult to spot.

A small lion pride feeling lazy before the evening hunt.

Elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and sometimes rhinos like to stay close to the road, and you can even see them walking on the main roads – so it’s very important that you stick to the speed limits. The picture below shows a herd of elephants crossing the road on their way for a mud bath.

Spotted hyenas are also likely to stay close to the road.

This is a very pregnant hyena sunbathing on the road. I don’t know how many puppies she’s expecting but it looks like a big litter:

Staying in a tent is another useful safari tip: there are some very basic ones, as well as really beautiful luxury tented camps, but in both cases the tents have one big advantage: they are bug-proof! Now of course I’m sure a lot of girls would appreciate that, especially since it also keeps the mosquitoes away – pretty important as there are some malaria cases in Kruger Park.

Hearing the animals walking around your tent at night is also pretty exciting , as it is seeing a bunch of monkeys fighting on the roof of the tent. Or simply waking up from the roars of a lion.

The picture below shows a warthog mom looking for her babies. They’re not in my tent lady!

Millennial Filmmakers

If you have ever read any articles about millennials, you probably have noticed that they are usually portrayed in quite a negative light.

Many journalists like to make statements like: “Most millennials have never read a single book, grew up in front of the computer, they’re on Instagram all the time, suffer from ADD and would be lucky if they ever get to keep a job in call center for more than a month”.

I’ve been having a very difficult time explaining why I chose to live and study in South Africa despite the fact that I’m from Europe and why, although my film was shot in South Africa, it is heavily influenced by the Japanese arts and culture and that a lot of people here find this style interesting because they are very interested in the Asian world.

So it’s something like a South African-Japanese-European mix. And although my crew was way too diverse to describe, I can say that it’s made up of 100% very dedicated and educated millennials that have certainly read a lot of books and I can guarantee that none of them suffered from ADD.

You can check out the trailer here:

Two Arrows 2017

Since this is the first real movie I get to write and direct, I am really excited about it and with every day I’m learning more and more about the film industry.

I hope you enjoy it!

Danza de los Voladores – Dance of the Flying Men

I’m walking through the park on a sunny day in Mexico City, and what do I see – flying men!

Well, more precisely, four men climbing a 30-meter pole, then tying themselves with ropes and jumping off the top of the pole, while another man sets the pace of their air dance with his flute.

This is a popular ancient religious ritual in some parts of Mesoamerica, and it is a form of asking for rain from the gods.

Today, the Flying Men are especially popular in Veracruz, but you can probably see them most Mexican states.

No matter how much time you’ve spent exploring Mexico, there is always something new to learn about the local culture.

The county is divided into 32 states and all of them are completely different – each state has its own unique geography, history, traditions, and ethnicities.

I took this video next to Museo National de Antropología in Mexico City. They seem to be performing the ritual frequently, so make sure to look for them in case you are visiting the city, especially since the museum is, at least in my opinion, the best in the country.

The Friendly Ghosts of Mount Kōya

The Ichinohashi Bridge separates the world of the living from the underworld.

Thousands of lighted stone lanterns illuminate the path that leads to the mausoleum where Kobo Daishi, the founder of Koyasan, is resting in eternal meditation.

Most visitors choose to walk through the Okunoin, the largest cemetery in Japan, at night.

The weather in Mount Kōya is usually cold, humid, and misty – just perfect for a late night meeting with the ghost of an old samurai – or even maybe with Kobo Daishi himself.

Legend says that the monk chose to build a Buddhist temple in Koyasan after once meeting a hunter walking with a black and a white dog.

The hunter was actually the spirit of Mount Kōya and he gave him a permission to build a temple.

Today, there are 117 temples in Koyasan.

Although they were originally built to accommodate travelling monks, nowadays about a half of them are also open to tourists who wish to live the Buddhist monk life for a while.

They only serve vegan food and the meals generally consist of different types of tofu. Almost all restaurants in the town are 100% vegan, even the ice cream stores (expect tofu ice cream).

A good number of the monasteries have their own private onsen – the only option for a bath in many temples. Visitors are also expected to join the prayers at 5a.m. in the mornings – maybe it’s a good prevention from meeting evil spirits on the way to the mausoleum?

Although many people would definitely find the monk life to be quite tough, it is also a  beautiful one:






Sailing the Ionian Sea

I grew up far away from the sea.

My parents were very overprotective but I guess that wasn’t enough to reshape my adventurous personality.

I’m an explorer at heart and so is Captain Fox who didn’t stop believing in me even for one moment (mainy due to the lack of more suitable candidates for the co-skipper position).

Carried by the wind and water, on a 34 ft Beneteau Oceanis, the two of us crossed the Ionian Sea, explored many of the islands and even conquered the mighty Ithaka – the kingdom of the ancient hero Odysseus.

This journey certainly required some sailing skills and a good amount of courage, so here I’m going to share our experience in navigating around this beautiful and legendary part of Greece.

Day 1

Vliho to Meganisi

We chartered the boat from Vliho Yacht Club. Vliho is a small but important bay on Lefkada Island and many people start their sailing holidays from this place.

Meganisi island is quite close to Lefkada but considering my limited sailing experience, we decided to take some baby steps until I managed to learn more.

The water was smooth and the wind was about 15 knots in the afternoon. One thing that makes Greece a sailing paradise is that the wind is very predictable – 1 to 5 pm is the ideal time because there’s almost no wind before noon but it gets too strong after 4.30.

We spent the night next to a village called Little Vathi – highly recommended!

See the first pictures from Two Arrows – my first South African film 🎥

I always knew that there were many talented South Africans and I always believed in the skills and creativity of my team, and yet I was still surprised by their enthusiasm and level of competence.

We're just done shooting and starting the post production process but I wanted to share a few pictures from Two Arrows.

I suppose this is the right time to say thank you to the South African Kyudo Dojo and to our film school AFDA, and of course to all of our good friends that supported this project.