This post is also available in Greek
Everyone has their own reasons, those that make us take this first step towards the shortest to the most distant journey. Perhaps they can be epitomized on a card postal picture of an exotic destination. Some may hide behind expectations of amorous adventures in a foreign land. Eventually they can all be simply summed up in that feeling of escaping from our daily routine.
So here I quote ten of my own personal reasons and passions that put the backpack on my back and make me leave not for a destination … but for the journey itself!
1) Airports’ public bathrooms
Everyone has their “thing”, right? Well I have a major “thing” about airports’ WC. Maybe because they provide irrefutable proof that all people are basically the same, since everywhere in the world, and with no exceptions, everyone needs to use the John! This multicultural urination, united we brush our teeth, our hair, fix our make-up while sharing feminine solidarity looks and holding a kind smile on our lips, always exited me! One more reason is, like all animals marking their territory and stating their presence in the premises, whenever I enter a new country I find myself subconsciously feeling the irresistible need to leave my mark!
2) Waking up in another land Sleep can be a real luxury when you travel because every minute becomes so valuable while visiting another country. But even though you crave for those 5 more minutes of sleep, it feels so amazing before you even open up your eyes to realize that there is a whole different world out there for you to discover! The different colors in your sky, a different taste for breakfast, a different aesthetic, different languages, words and songs that are coming from the corridor outside. Along awakes your childhood curiosity that runs to open the window and absorb this new world, like a kid opens its presents on a Christmas day …
3) Foreign life’s daily routine However beautiful and glorious sights can be, no matter how much safety the tourist zone provides, or how graphic and exceptional urban centers can be, there is no experience alike discovering the real life of the place you visit, inside their neighborhoods, along their public transportations, within the local restaurants, in-between their joys and sorrows. Understanding culture by observing the laundry that is drying under the sun, through the smells coming out of kitchens and from the greetings as you meet each other at the corner of a street. How differently alike can we all eventually be?
4) The clothes that magically combine It’s one of life’s great mystery how, when you have a whole closet filled up clothes, you cannot achieve one decent combination, but when you have barely 5 clothes in your suitcase, they all can match beautifully and plus, you feel amazing when you are wearing them. Maybe this happens because you choose wisely, or just because having too many options can be so confusing. But maybe, just maybe it’s not about the clothes, it’s about you. Travel does change the way we see the world, but can also change the way we see ourselves.
5) The unfamiliar smells Images can be captured on photographs, sounds can be recorded, but what about the smells? It could be the smell of humidity in the streets of London or the spicy fumes from the stalls of Asia, but even the worst of smells will become tied up with your memories. After all It is known that the sense of smell is connected to memory more than any other sense. And later on this one little hint of a smell will wake up thousands of memories in a way that no sound or image can ever do.
6) The markets I am not talking about department stores or malls. I’m talking about those secret, weird little shops which you may find hidden, inside a quiet alley, the ones you cannot find on any map and you have no idea how to reach them again. From there you bought that ankle chain you are wearing every summer, that pashmina that you put over your shoulders when it’s chilly, the delicious spice that you used in all your dishes and that bottle of wine that got you drunk one night while you were watching old travel photos …
7) Body language Spontaneous smiles, eyebrows in contemplation, intense gestures, spelled phrases, explanatory head posture, expressions and glances all used together for you to understand and to be understood. It is the bridge between two worlds that makes them meet, the universal language. What could be more beautiful that to discover that to know you can speak this language?
8) The little transformations. When you become more polite than you normally are. More tolerant. More spontaneous. More sociable. More adaptive. More real. When your identity is not defined by your possessions, your circle of your friends or your job. When you discover the world and you also discover yourself within the world. And then you can transform, from all that you are to everything you can be.
9) “Memorable Moments” Eating breakfast and watching the sunrise through the clouds while flying over the Bay of Bengal. The first time you dived in the Indian Ocean. Eating a warm soup in a shelter after hours being lost in the rain while hiking in Nepal. There are moments where you may not realize them at the time they occur and moments that will leave you breathless the time you experience them. These form the puzzle of your memories, still in time, where you will always refer to when you count down your accomplishments. You can never forget the moment you realize that you’re Alive, Present, Human among Humans.
10) What you come back with A journeys passing leaves you with more than souvenirs and happy memories. You come back with a deeper knowledge, a broader point of view, a wider horizon. The town you live in will never look the same to you because now you know how to view it like a mysterious, unknown city. Different cultures , religions and beliefs are now feeling less strange to you, as you begin to understand how strange your own culture, religion and beliefs may appear for some. Maybe some situations that used to frustrate you in the past, you are now able to handle them in a calmer manner, just because you came to understand that the world is much bigger than you thought and time is more limited than you’d like . Maybe you can humbly admit that you do not know what the right answer is or that you cannot be absolutely sure about it, just because you realized that you have not seen, learned, and experienced enough to answer correctly.
This post is also available in Greek