Are travellers running away? What are we running towards, what are we running away from?
Not sure why, but there’s a perception that anyone who travels on long trails, travels to escape “real life” and responsibilities. There is a perception that anyone who travels for more than one or two weeks, travels because he or she is not prepared to “settle down”, to find a “real” job, pay bills and plan a family.
Once I got a comment on my blog from a girl who wrote me that it’s OK if I don’t “travel all the time”, because sometimes, I need to live a life.
I wrote her back that I travel because I like to run.
Left in Colombia
Traveling is running towards a better version of me. I run, not to make my fears and insecurities disappear, but to face them. Let me explain. If we’re always in the safe vicinity of our family and friends, how will we ever find out how to be on our own? Why is it so important to spend time on your own?
We are born and die alone. At night when we close our eyes, we are alone. Other people cannot make us happy if we haven’t found happiness within ourselves first. Love. We cannot love other people if we haven’t figured out what is meaning of love for us. That’s why I travel far and wide. Demanding destinations guarantee personal growth. When my Colombian friend left me in the middle of Cali, the world capital of salsa and in of the most violent cities in Colombia, I wasn’t indifferent. Colombia was for more safer from his car and guidance.
– You have to overcome fear. You travel to meet the world and to document it – he said and literally threw me out of his car with handwritten instructions on how to get back to him.
Except for the last trip to Morocco, on each trip I went alone. All alone. When I was twenty something years old, I sat on the flight of Croatia Airlines. Destination was Istanbul. Plane ticket was cheap and Istanbul was a world I knew nothing about. I was hungry. For different worlds. For far away. Istanbul found me. It was chaotic and raw and majestic. It was perfect.
Hunger for the East
In Istanbul, I ran from the police and the water cannons and the pepper spray. I went to karaoke where I met a native American. I chatted with Turks over endless cups of tea. I went in and out of trams. I spent hours bargaining and getting lost in the Grand Bazaar, a labyrinth of about 4,000 shops selling spices and teas, pots, clothing, lamps and sweets. I sat in the Blue Mosque. Alone.
Upon graduation from college, I flew more than 8,400 kilometers away from Croatia. Alone. I put my whole life into a red backpack. One-way ticket had one name on it – Thailand. Again I was hungry. This time for the worlds that were even further. I went from one temple to another. I admired the lanterns in Bangkok Chinatown, I ate spicy foods and stared at the palm trees during long train rides. Alone.
In spite of fear, I dived into the mad sea in search of glowing plankton. I chased fireflies and sunsets. I was cycling around the island of Koh Phangan until my feet couldn’t take it. Or until I was being chased by dogs. I followed a Buddhist monk into the woods. He felt my presence but said nothing. I knew he was smiling at me. This childish game brought me to a mango stand. I bought two and tore them with my bare hands, enjoying their sweetness. Alone.
You never lose by giving your time
People do volunteering jobs to make a positive difference in the world, to see other realities, save money and to make a change in the world. Yes, you give your time and don’t receive money but you never loose. With volunteering you can only gain.
Because I wanted to save money during the trip itself, I decided to volunteer in exchange for bed and if I was lucky – food. You choose a country, a job and voila, your resume is enriched for a new experience!
In the end, it’s all about the people we meet. Wherever we end up we recall our crazy days, endless nights and journeys to new frontiers, literally and metaphorically. We might know each other for ages or we met by chance, but we become friends for life.
It has been going on for ages.
We pack our backpacks and in this constant motion we respond to, our wings spread. By leaving the well known world, magical gates with the sign „Wanderlust“ appear. Behind them is a parallel world where life is lived in a different, more rapid and more intense way. We can’t see it until we become part of it, though the doors are always slightly open.