Who’s counting? Are you? I am not. I don’t exactly know how many countries I’ve been to but I have great stories of my favourite places. As much as I wanted to collect stamps on my passport, I am more eager in collecting memories. I am more interested in how people cook, live, eat and sleep.
“When are you ever leaving Peru? Why are you still in Peru?” they asked. I know it’s been a long time but Peru has such diversity that most places don’t have. Sure, this country is only known for Machu Picchu but believe me when I say there is more to that.
I just received my Peruvian residency visa a week ago and I am becoming more and more comfortable in living here. I am renting a small apartment in front of the beach, I can wake up anytime I want, I have a job and I am surrounded by people who are so different from me. From what I notice, everyday, I am becoming more and more like a Peruvian and I like how I get to be another version of myself while I am here.
How Do I Chose The Countries I Visit?
I don’t. My feet just take me there and Batman will take care of the rest. I don’t sit down and plan these things. As soon as I arrive, I need to get a hold of the place by walking around first — not planning to visit some popular landmark. The first time I felt Brasil was right when I strolled down the busy area of Liberdade in Sao Paulo. Although it’s one of the biggest cities in South America, the madness made me high — busy streets, traffic, trains overloaded with passengers going to work, long lines, etc. At the time, I don’t know why these things made me happy when in fact, most people should hate it by default. I don’t know. Something is right about Sao Paulo.
It didn’t feel right for some places though. As much as I love Peru, I have developed this hate relationship with Lima. Having lived in Paracas for six months now, Lima just made me sick. Imagine traffic, people, high cost of living and awful weather altogether? Hell. F*cking hell.
Why Travel Slow?
Traveling at your own time and pace gives you the opportunity to have your own understanding about a certain place. If you’ve been to Paris and only visited the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph and Champs-Élysées, can you really say you know about the French culture, the language and the food? I have no intentions of mocking your way of travel but why do you keep telling me you don’t have enough money to travel long-term when you can visit Paris for 15 days? Did you know that your 15-day Paris budget is already 1.5 months budget for me?
Ahhh, slow travel. It’s beautiful. It’s very beautiful. It will make you naturally educated about certain things. I didn’t know how to choose the right wine (for every meal) during my first weeks living in Milan. I was like, there’s a ‘proper’ wine for every meal? What? The art of opening a wine bottle also surprised me. As time goes by, these simple learnings become a habit — until you are a full citizen of the world, educated by tangible experiences. It’s a virus. It will stick with you forever, anywhere you go.
Some Amazing Things I’ve Seen and Done By Traveling Slow
There are a lot, I tell you. But in this list, there are some things that I haven’t really told you the story about because of some confidential matters. But everything will be revealed (in a few years, ssshhhh!) when I write a book about my life.
- I was robbed in Rio de Janeiro and this one dude invited me to have lunch in his house in the favelas. He’s living with his grandmother. They helped me. They fed me. They welcomed me in their little home and I was penniless.
- I lived with different host families in Colombia, Ecuador, Brasil and Uruguay. I made sure I stayed with them for a maximum of three months and I learned a lot from living with local families. The experience was so powerful and fundamental.
- I traveled 7 days straight (by land) from La Paz, Bolivia to Sao Paulo, Brasil for the World Cup. It wasn’t easy — I slept on bus stations to save cash on hostels, skipped a meal for almost 14 hours because the bus didn’t stop for food, met a lot of people traveling from everywhere in Latin America just to reach Brasil for the World Cup. I will never forget nor regret this time in my life!
- I am fluent in 5 languages just because of traveling. That, I cannot explain. I just love languages and being able to stay in a place for a long time! Want to hear me speaking in different languages? Check out my Facebook videos!
These are just some. The bulk of my experiences is from Volunteering, to be honest. Volunteering made me the person who I am today — simple, not craving for too much material things and of course, being able to LIVE LIFE. I am not just saying it. I can feel it!
I am not rich. I do a lot of things to keep myself on the road and to refrain from going home. I do this so I will be able to explore the worlds I want to explore for as long as I want. I would rather spend time and money on life-changing and significant experiences than to cross out 100+ countries on my list. Besides, I don’t want to prove anything. I don’t want to be labeled a World Traveller. I want to be called a Road Scholar who is rich in experiences, learnings and life lessons.
FUN FACT: “Road Scholar” was one of the blog name ideas I had in mind. It just didn’t fit well in some aspects.
Now, tell me your thoughts. I want to hear from you: do you want to visit every country in the world? Why? Or why not?
When I am high about life, I often write random thoughts on Twitter. Are you okay with weird? With random? With thoughts that you think you understand but after a while, you realise that you do? Then let’s talk on Twitter.