I grow restless when I’m in the wrong place and, more often than not, the western countries has proven to be the wrong place for me. Time after time I’ve tried live the 9 to 5 life. I’ve tried to navigate through life with my sanity intact in situations where possessions and appearances often matter as much or more than human interactions.
Before I got too numb, which we often let ourselves become in todays society, I decided to break free once and for all. I quit my job, got rid of my stuff and left with only one goal in mind – not returning.
How will that work when I run out of money? No idea. Isn’t that scary? Not yet. How can it not be? Well, when you sit on a picture perfect beach in southern Nicaragua, soaking in the sun and drinking coconut water straight out of the coconut – Hakuna Matata sort of becomes the essence of your being.
This does not mean that everything is always easy when you backpack – shit will always happen – but when you get to close your eyes and listen to all the exotic birds in San Juan del Sur, or just step onto Ometepe the volcano island, or gaze through a bus window as the magical forests flies by outside… those are the moments you will think of the next time the journey doesn’t go as planned. The rewards. And they are many.
My biggest reward during my travels has always been the people I meet. Whether it’s a friend for a minute or a lifetime, I always learn the most from listening to other people’s stories and asking questions. This is where the social cliques merge into one – travelers – where university degrees, jobs and things are secondary to the story of whatever cool adventure you had today. This is also where you meet people you never would have met if you had stayed at home, this is where you gain experiences and realize that the western way of living is only one of many, many ways.
There is no single right and wrong for the entire world. There’s many different rights and wrongs, for many different kinds of people.
For me, the right have always been challenges and adventures. Can I travel solo through parts of Central and South America? Can I handle being on the road day after day? What do I do if I lose my passport or money?
I’ve actually never been less solo than when I travel solo, because people tend to draw in and out of my life as frequently as I go from place to place. Life on the road takes a bit of getting used to, but for most backpackers, it quickly becomes as natural as going to school or work every day. There is always solutions to the problems that might occur, and then, when you solve them, that’s when you realize your own strength and potential. That’s how you learn that you can count on yourself, and you will find that problems are not always problems at all, as much as they are a chance for you to grow.
Especially in a time when the world seem to be growing colder, I’ve found it extremely rewarding to get out of my safety zone, free fall into any and every adventure, and feel myself be caught by people – strangers – from all over the world. Even in the most rugged and poor places, I’m constantly met with kindness, warmth and smiles. And that is the world I choose to live in.