2013. The Year of the Heart. Nothing is Black and White.

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Finding the balance with friendship, support and love in 2013. At Grootbos.

Every year delivers special memories and a renewed look at life.

If we’re lucky – and I am very lucky – there are adventures, travel, destinations and wonderful friends too. The more significant years bringing revised trains of thought, growth, acceptance and understanding. For me, 2013 did all of this and more. 

I started 2013 with a post aptly titled The Year of the Head after a pretty challenging 2012. Boldly naming 2013 The Year of the Heart and taking my first enthusiastic yet tentative steps into a year that more than delivered.

There were flights.

Cape Town – Dubai – Ho Chi Ming City – NhaTrang – Dubai – Cape Town. Cape Town – Johannesburg – Tintswalo. Johannesburg – Cape Town. Cape Town – Johannesburg – Antananarivo – Johannesburg – Cape Town. Cape Town – Dubai – London – Dublin – Dubai – Cape Town. Cape Town – Johannesburg – Cape Town.

Places old and new.

Cape Town. Pringle Bay. Stellenbosch. Matjiesfontein. Arniston. Papkuilsfontein. Cederberg. Loeriesfontein. Wupperthal. Franschhoek. Ho Chi Ming City. NhaTrang. MuiNe. Tintswalo. Johannesburg. Greyton. Manyaleti. Kruger National Park. Antananarivo. Maromango. Palmarium. Andranokoditra. Wellington. London. Eynsford. Dublin. Kilkenny. De Kelder. Grootbos. Hermanus. Hoedspruit. Weverdient. Stanford. Overberg. Among others.

My various modes of movement.

Bicycle. Plane. Car. Boat. Canoe. Motorbike. Bus. Taxi. Train. Yacht. Helicopter. I swam, hiked, walked and climbed.

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Life altering experiences.

Walking with the Trec1000 team in the Kruger National Park. Attending the Tsaboraha Festival on the Palmarium Coast of Madagascar. Winning the travel writer’s competition with Travelstart for my story Benin. Formerly Dahomey, Forever my African Queen. Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels – and shooting an AK47, in Vietnam.

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Coming across a poached rhino with the Trec1000 team in Kruger Park.

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Crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.

Meeting the incredible creatures of Madagascar.

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Walking the streets of London. Falling head over hills for Dublin whilst attending TBEX and feeling ever proud to be a travel blogger. Watching The Taming of the Shrew at the Shakespeare Globe. Meeting the 94 year old head monk in NhaTrang and being gifted prayer beads by him.

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London Bridge in the Autumn.

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NhaTrang, with the 94 year old head monk.

Seeing family and friends from around the world, around the world. 

Joining the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve family as a contributor to their blog, was indeed a gift that enhanced my life. There was cave dwelling, 4×4 flower safaris, being a bee whisperer in the making and precious time spent at De Kelder breathing in the sea air whilst watching the whales at play. Grootbos remains one of my favourite destinations in South Africa and I hope to spend more time there in 2014.

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At Grootbos with my dearest friend Marie and guide Chumani.

It has been ever rewarding joining forces with Ishay of Food and the Fabulous to present our Fab Food Tours. Starting with the Irish Bord Bia group in February and culminating in a day out on the town with a group of American journalists in December. It certainly fuelled my love affair with Ireland – and our local producers of fine food.

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The American group Ishay and I hosted in December.

I changed my views on shark cage diving and recognised how it can be used effectively to convert people to allies and protectors of our vulnerable sharks. Won a free-diving course with Hanli Prinsloo and Clemengold, took to swimming in the ocean and joined a few beach clean-ups. Not to mention following The Black Fish and The Seals of Nam with dedicated interest and admiration.

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Shark Cage Diving with Marine Dynamics of Gansbaai.

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Beach clean up mode in Rooiels.

I cried for slaughtered rhino, poisoned elephants, the canned lion hunting, stray dogs and animals used in scientific experiments. For battery chickens, mass produced life stock and the way man treats the creatures of this earth. Over bottled snakes, dried out seahorses and shark fin for sale at Madagascan markets.

I cried for the loss of our beloved Tata Madiba, yet felt ever proudly South African as the country united to say good-bye and I was offered the opportunity to talk about what Mandela meant for me.

I had my heart warmed by newfound hope, individuals striving to make a difference and friendship at first sight. Precious family and friends looked out for me and patiently supported my dreams and ideals – I thank them all.

I was humbled by my involvement in the Bake a Difference – Save7Lives organ donor awareness campaign. Have followed the example of good people, supported their worthy causes, protested against circus animals, fracking in the Karoo and for the dolphins of Taiji.

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Paying my respects to Nelson Mandela in front of Cape Town’s city hall.

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As part of an international campaign to Stop Belo Monte Dam in Brazil.

Through it all I learnt again and again that in this diverse world of ours, nothing is black and white. Complex situations cannot be judged at face value, and nor can people. I now know that the best I can do is keep learning, talking, finding compassion and trying every day to make a positive contribution to the world. However insignificant it may seem, all the little things must add up. I have realised that I cannot change the decisions made by others. Even when they affect me deeply.

I look towards this year’s travel with a focus on Africa and will be fulfilling a life long dream when I head to Kigali and then Gorilla Trekking in Uganda with Nomad Adventures in February. There are Incidental Tourist videos in the making and GoPro have equipped me with all that I need to be a TravelHero.

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I look forward to exploring more of this mysterious continent I call my own and to sharing my discoveries with you here. Also to further growing my freelance writing career.

As for the greatest challenge I am setting myself in 2014? To register The DJ Foundation, a Non-Profit which I plan to develop over the next few years with the purpose of raising money for a hand selected group of organisations that I support and the promotion of conscious living. Ambitious I know, but to quote a man I respect and admire: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ Nelson Mandela. This idea was formed with Lemor Weiss who has prompted me to believe in myself.

I am wow’ed by all that 2013 brought me and unutterably grateful for the lessons and opportunities. In 2014 my wish is to meet more children, clean lots of beaches, learn to free dive and to find my worth. I hope for laughter, happiness and more relaxed time with loved ones. For swims in rivers and oceans. Yoga, bike rides and long mountain walks. Fresh air and time with my pups. Lots of fencing too!

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Beautiful boys in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

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Children in Madagascar.

I’m counting my lucky stars and know that 2014 will bring me the purpose I need to make it the Year that Matters. Both for me – and for those that I love.

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A beach in the Palmarium Reserve, Madagascar, that I long to return to. I do hope that heaven looks like this.

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Resolutions as I climb out and look to the world. NhaTrang, Vietnam.

TRAVEL! Write. Breath. Explore. Be a better friend. Be a better communicator. Be assertive in promoting my work. Get my Hebrew on! Spend more time outdoors. Be fit and healthy. Don’t overcommit. Love. Hang out with my parents. Hang out with my people. Just hang out. Be brave. Be strong. Be me. We’ll see how I get on.

With much thanks to all the special people that make my life truly extraordinary.

Read about my previous year end posts here.

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Dawn JorgensenDawn Jorgensen
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The Incidental Tourist

The Incidental Tourist is a Personal Travel Blog of a conscious traveller with a deep love for Africa, its people and the environment.

Here I bring you narratives, stories, video and photographs from my travels around the globe, including accounts of gorilla trekking in Uganda, tree planting in Zambia and turtle rescue in Kenya, accommodation and restaurant reviews, as well as details of the conservation efforts that I support.

A self proclaimed earth advocate and beauty seeker, I invite you to join me and share in my love of sustainable travel – and the rich offerings of our beautiful world.

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