Eva Zu Beck Was Born on April 26, 1991 in Poland. and Back when She Was Younger, It Was Frowned Upon to Live Like a Nomad. but She Would Dream About Escaping the City Life and Told Her Father That She Would One Day Live in a Camping Truck.
In Everything I Do, I Seek the Experience of Being Alive. I Look for That Beautiful Confluence of Fear, Excitement, and Wonder.
My Greatest Passion, Pushing Past My Comfort Zone to Tell the Stories of People and Places You Would Never Otherwise See.
1. the Beginning of Mobile Life
I Had Always Dreamt of Eventually Ditching Airplanes, Rejecting the Idea of “flying Over” Places, and Travelling More Slowly, Gradually, Deeply. Some People Do It in Vans, Calling It Vanlife. Some Do It in Special Rigs, Calling It Expeditions. but the Idea is the Same: to Take Your Time. No Rush. Work, Rest, Travel, Explore - and Repeat.
The Seed Had Been Planted a Long Time Ago, but It Was on My 30th Birthday, As I Hiked Through the Zagros Mountains of Iran with the Bakhtiari Nomads, That I Sealed the Deal in My Head: It Was Time to Change the Way I Travel. It Was Time to Go Overlanding. and So, the New Goal Became Clear Very Quickly. to Get a 4x4, Equip It, and Set off on a Free, Undefined Journey. Just Go.
2. My Dream Truck - (odyssey)
Hello from My New Travel Companion, the Subject of My Secret Project over the Last Weeks, My Dream Truck - a Beautiful Navy Land Rover Defender (110, Td5, 2006). Odyssey - That’s Her New Name ❤️ She’s Named After the Mythical Journey of Greek Hero Odysseus Back to His Homeland of Ithaca.
Over the Next Few Weeks, I Will Be Converting Her into an Overland Expedition Vehicle and Documenting the Whole Journey. You Can Expect Elements of Vanlife, Plus a Lot of Off-roading Action.
Once the Conversion is Finished, the Two of Us Will Be Setting off on a Grand Odyssey to the Ends of the World... 😉
3. Overlander Build
There’s a Lot More Coming, but I Really Wanted to Share Our Progress So Far! My Tiny Home on Wheels is Finally Starting to Take Shape.
I Find It Amazing How You Can Build a Liveable Space Using Under 50kg of Materials, Fewer Than 50 Screws, and within a Matter of Days.
4. the Fresh Exterior
I’d Say She’s Almost Ready to Go, Wouldn’t You? 😉 After 5 Weeks of Work on the Interior, the Mechanics and the Electronics, It Was Finally Time to Crown Odyssey with a New Roof Kit.
Thanks Friend for Creating This Masterpiece: the New Roof Rack Holds a Roof Tent, Recovery Tracks, a Pull-out Awning, Solar Panels, a Powerful Light Bar and a Mountable Shower Cabin.
When Everything is Set Up, Odyssey Feels Like an Actual 2-floor Tiny Home 😂
5. First Days Living on the Road
I Drive Everywhere with a Smile on My Face, That’s the First Thing. I Feel Free, Knowing That I Could Stop and Stay Just About Anywhere. There’s No Pressure to Do Anything or Go Anywhere Specific.
My Main Concerns of Each Day So Far Have Been: Where Do I Go? when Should I Eat Something? Where Shall I Spend the Night? There’s Something So Very Liberating About Focusing on These Basic Things As a Matter of Priority. Everything else Comes Second.
That’s It. Full Freedom from the System Might Not Be an Option, but I Think This is Getting Pretty Close to It. Simple Things.
3 Years Ago, I Couldn’t Drive. Today, I Live and Travel in My Defender. Contrary to What a Lot of Experienced Drivers Would Have You Believe, Driving Isn’t a Skill You’re Born With. to Become a Driver, Everyone Has to Go Through the Same Process.
It Took Me a Very Long Time to Get My Driving License: I Told Myself I Wasn’t Cut out to Be a Driver and I Could Probably Just Get by Without It. a Lot of People Teased Me That I Would Make a Bad Driver, Which Put Me off Even More.
But the Collapse of My “old Life” Made Me Rethink a Lot of Things, and I Realized That a Driving License is Really a Ticket to Independence.
Over the Last Week, I Crossed Several Country Borders on My Way to Southern Europe. As Always, Border Checks Went Smoothly, Immigration Officials Joked Around, Checked My Documents and Wished Me a Safe Trip.
I Never Get Questioned at Border Crossings. Even My Visas from Countries That Might Raise Suspicion - Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan - Don’t. and I Know Exactly Why: I Have a Standard European Name, Look “normal” and Approachable by Conventional European Standards And, Importantly, I Have an Eu Passport.
These Are All Powerful Privileges. Many of Us Take Them for Granted, and It Takes Seeing “the Other Side” to Truly Understand How Much Power They Give Us to Move Around the World Freely.
Solo Overnight Hike in the Wild Mountains of Croatia 🏔🏕
Very Excited to Have Partnered Up with Friend for This One, As Part of Their Sayyes Campaign. Their Shell Backpack Has Been in My Essentials Kit for the Last 2 Months, Performs Super Well in Everyday Settings and It’s Just the Perfect Size for a Quick Overnight Adventure.
My Favorite Thing About It - It’s Expandable and You Can “build It Out” Using the Matching Add-on Accessories. That Means You Can Use One Single Backpack for Lots of Occasions - a Big Win 💪
9. Montenegro. Attacked by a Cow
This Morning, I Made My Coffee at a Lovely, Peaceful Campsite in Montenegro. Next to Me, a Big Cow Was Picking Leaves off a Tree, and the Campsite Dog Was Running Around Her Barking.
I Love Cows! I Walked Past Her, and Passed Her a Twig, on My Way to the Restrooms. Before I Knew It, the Cow Rammed into Me with Her Full Force and Knocked Me Over. I Think It Was at This Point That Her Horn Cut a Hole in My Forehead (contrary to What I Said in Stories - Memory is a Bit Foggy).
Soon After, I Went to the Hospital in Podgorica with a Very Kind Taxi Driver, Got a Few Stitches from a Hilarious Doctor, Amused a Bunch of People with My Cow Story... All in All, It’s Been an Interesting Day Here in Montenegro 😂. Some Stories Are Made to Be Told! This is One of Those, for Sure. Stay Safe out There and Beware of Cows 🐮
10. Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
I Was Born Here, I Was Baptized Here. and I Will Die Here. Baba Gania Has No Doubts About Where Her Home Is. She Has Lived in the Same House, in the Same Village, for 88 Years - Apart from One Brief, Almost Negligible Period...
That Time when the Nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Exploded and Gania Was Evacuated from Her Home, Alongside 100,000+ Other People.
She is One of the “self-settlers” Who Had Lived in the Villages Around Chernobyl Before the Nuclear Disaster, Who Were Evacuated from the Area, but Who Subsequently Came Back to Their Homes. Despite the Obvious Threats That Come with Contamination.
11. the Dogs of Chernobyl
You Don’t Get the Perfect Shot Every Time. Sometimes, You Simply Don’t Feel Like Taking Photos. Other Times, Your Co-model Would Much Rather Play with an Old Mattress Than Pose for a Picture. This Puppy Lives in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Alongside Hundreds More Stray Dogs.
Immediately Following the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in 1986, Most Domestic Animals Were Shot to Prevent Them from Carrying Contaminated Waste Outside of the Zone. but Some Survived, Others Wandered In, and Now the Canine Community Thrives in Chernobyl.
Nobody Knows Whether They Actually Pose a Real Risk to Humans Right Now, but the General Consensus Suggests Not. Most Guards Working in Chernobyl Feed Them, Take Care of Them, Even Vaccinate Them.
12. Zagros Mountains
I’m Going to Be Honest with You: I Am in Awe of Shepherds. I Find So Much Rawness, Poetry and Honesty in Their Work, and Feel a Deep Sense of Nostalgia for Their Disappearing Craft.
But I Know That by Doing That, I Run the Risk of Romanticizing Their Lives: Seeing Values That Aren’t Really There, Interpreting Their Lives Through the Prism of My Own Biases, Imagining a Fairytale Where There Isn’t One.
When You Over-romanticize Someone’s Life, You Run the Risk of Stripping Them of Their Humanity and Authenticity, Just So Your Romantic Idea Can Thrive.
Raw Travellers Don’t Seek the Comforts of Home on the Other Side of the Globe. Instead, They Dive Deep into Other People’s Cultures to Grow Their Understanding of the World Around Them.
They Know That in Order to Learn, They Must Go into the World with Open Minds, Prepared to Be Proven Wrong, Ready to Change.
Raw Travellers Are Aware That They Know Very Little About the World. Their Strong Suit is Not the Knowledge They Possess, but the Openness and Flexibility They Use to Navigate the World Around Them.
14. Kas, Turkey
“alive” Feels So Much Better Than “important”, “rich” or “successful”.
It’s That Wild Uncontrollable High of Being in Love. It’s That Sense of Becoming a Gust of Wind As You Run Down a Forested Trail. It’s Standing on a Mountain Peak After Hours of Climbing, and Taking in the World Around You. It Happens when Our Senses Sharpen. Our Souls Tune into the Secret Song of the World. Our Body Stands Tall and Proud: the Statue of You, of Mankind.
At That Moment, Your Thirst for Life Awakens, and You No Longer Feel Like a Shadow of Yourself. You Are No Longer Indifferent to Your Own Existence. No. at That Moment, You Want to Drink from the Spring of Life, Intoxicated on the Purity and Joy of Something As Simple As Feeling Alive.
I Know Now That Whatever Happens in My Life, My Greatest Mission is to Seek the Experience of Being Alive.
How I Gave Myself a New Job... Or, How to Take Your Personal Goals More Seriously.
A Few Months Ago, I Decided That in 2021, I Would Run an Ultra Marathon. I Like Running, but Despite Having Done Two Normal Marathons, I Had Never Put in Any Disciplined Training. Somehow, I Could Rely on a Mix of Fitness and Natural Athleticism to Get Me Through 42km (but Barely Just).
But I No Longer Wanted to Just “wing It”. I Wanted to Develop a Discipline That Would Help Me Get Truly Stronger. an Ultra Marathon Was a Perfect Choice, Because There Was Simply No Way I Could Run 250km Without Challenging Myself and Putting in the Work.
16. Band-e Amir National Park
It’s Not Your Typical Destination. Most Travellers Would Probably Avoid It - and I Can Totally See Why. Truth Be Told, I Didn’t Even Tell My Family I Was Going Until I Came Back Safe and Sound.
I Experienced a Very Privileged and Temporary Perspective, and It Blew My Mind: Skiing, Hiking, Staying in Local Guest Houses, Roaming Through Ancient Ruins, Buying Local Handicrafts, Meeting Amazing People... All Things That, Despite Being Accessible to All Tourists, Should Also Be Accessible to All Afghans.
What else Can I Say? So Much, and So Little. It’s a Damn Beautiful Place.
17. Buddhas of Bamiyan
Twenty Years Ago, Two Giant Buddha Statues Stood in the Niches You See Behind Me. in 2001, the Taliban Blew Both of Them Up, Leaving Only Traces.
All Those Centuries Ago, This Part of the World Was Buddhist - Which May Seem Surprising Given That Afghanistan is Now Strictly Islamic. All Those Centuries Ago, the Famed Silk Route (or Rather, One of Its Main Arteries) Passed Through Here.
When I Think About Travelling Back in Time, I Picture Myself As a Merchant on the Silk Route, Crossing Asia in a Caravan. I Imagine Meeting People Whose Languages I Had Never Heard Before, Hiding Away from Snow Storms in Caravanserais and Encountering Sights Like This in Remote Mountain Valleys: Gigantic Stone Sculptures and Cities More Impressive Than Anything I’d Ever Seen Before.
The First and Second Time Around, My Trip to Afghanistan Got Cancelled. the Third Time Around, They Said It Would Be Difficult to Get a Visa Because I’m a “woman Travelling Alone”. but This Time, I Wasn’t Gonna Give Up.
Thanks to My Dear Friend and Guide Gull, I Finally Made It to Afghanistan, a Country I’d Been Dreaming of Visiting for Well over Two Years.
I Want to See with My Own Eyes the Peaks of Those Endless Afghan Mountain Ranges. Taste with My Lips the Green Tea So Symbolic of Afghan Hospitality. Experience, on My Own Skin, Traditions That Might Vanish within a Generation. Meet the Change-makers Fighting Peacefully for a Different Kind of Afghanistan, and Share Their Stories with You.
19. Ol Doinyo Lengai- International Women's Day
I’m Not Here to Wish You a Happy International Women’s Day. but I Am Here to Make a Wish for Women and Men Everywhere, Every Day of the Year.
May We, Women, Surround Ourselves with People Who Empower Us, and Who Never Say “you Can’t” or “you Shouldn’t”, Just Because We’re Women. May the Presence of These People Become a Given, Rather Than a Blessing.
May We, Men and Women, Raise Men Who See Women As Equal Members of Society: Equally Smart, Equally Worthy, Equally Treated. May the Issue of Equality Become a Given, Rather Than a Trigger of Debate.
And to Everyone Who is Already Working on Creating This Kind of World: Thank You ❤️
20. Socotra Island
Why Do Some Places Fill Us with Fantasies and Reverie? How Do They Enchant Us So, Injecting Us with a Spontaneous and Naive Thought That We Could Live There Forever?
I Think It’s Because in These Places, We Conjure Up an Ideal Vision of Ourselves. That Is, a Vision of Ourselves Stripped of What We See As Mundane, Without the Hassle of the Morning Commute, or the Duty to Pay the Monthly Bills, or the Responsibilities That Come with Having Friends and Family.
Those Places Provide the Perfect Setting for an Alternative Vision of Ourselves That’s Crowned with an Extraordinary Existence.
We Love Travel Because She Removes the Dull Filter of Everyday Affairs from Our Eyes, and Sets a New, Vibrant Perspective in Motion.
We Love Travel Because She Changes Us from Adults, Weighed Down by the Hand of Time, into Children Again, Carefree and Curious.
We Love Travel, but She Can Be a Flimsy and Dangerous Lover. After an Exciting Affair, She Leaves Us Back Home, and the Moment Our Filters, Adulthood and Reality Catch Up with Us, We Begin to Dream of Her Again.
Just Some Musings Today As I Sit Here Listening to the Sound of the Rain in Istanbul ✨🌛
22. Fairytale Forest
All the Stories You’ve Ever Watched or Read Have Tried to Manipulate You.
Humans Share a Universal Love for Stories. and That’s Because Good Stories Hold the Keys to the Mysteries of Being. Through Stories, We Come Closer to Identifying Our Place in the World. Through Stories, We Laugh, We Cry, We Learn, We... Feel.
We Feel. Filmmakers, Novelists and Advertisers Are Masters at Using Age-old Storytelling Techniques. Their Goal: to Manipulate Your Emotions So That You Respond to Their Story in Specific Ways.
When I Asked Yayai Why the Maasai Practice Polygamy, She Responded with a Question Back at Me: Why Don’t You?
She Explained to Me All the Advantages of Having Co-wives: Company, Help Around the Boma, a Support Network. She Talked About Her Co-wives with No Ill Feeling or Jealousy, None of the Feelings I Was Ready to Ascribe to a Relationship with More Than Two Partners.
Of Course, I Look at Marriage from a Point of View Influenced by Romantic Novels, Jennifer Aniston Movies and the Christian Church. Yayai Looks at It from the Perspective of a Maasai Woman Whose Ancestors Have Always Taken a Very Different View on the Function of Marriage.
It’s Not All Roses and Butterflies, Don’t Get Me Wrong - for Example, As You’d Expect, Maasai Polygamy is One-directional. I’m Sure There Are Many Things I, a Mzungu (white Foreigner) Will Never Hear About or Understand.
24. Usambara Mountains
A Lot of People Ask Me a Lot of Questions Every Day, but This is One of the Most Common Ones. and Even if It’s Well-intentioned, It Can Come Across As a Little Bit... Holier-than-thou. So, Let Me Share My Perspective.
My Job As a Filmmaker Takes Me to Meet Some of the World’s Most Interesting People in Some of the World’s Most Stunning Places. Without This Job, I Wouldn’t Have Had the Opportunity to See So Much of the World. So Rather Than Treating It Like a Restriction That Prevents Me from Enjoying the Moment, I Thank It for Creating Those Moments in the First Place.
There is Not One Single Recipe for Enjoying Life, or an Experience, or a Simple Moment. Joy is What Plucks at Your Heartstrings, and Every Heart is Tuned a Little Bit Differently. ❤️
25. Mount Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Peak
For the Last Two Hours of Our Climb, a Giant Smile Settled on My Face. I Knew That at This Point, Nothing - Bar Some Freak Accident - Could Stop Us from Summiting.
I Don’t Know if It Was the Altitude or Simple Joy, but I Felt Like I Had Been Given a Pair of Wings. I Made Up Silly Songs, Thanked the Mountain for Letting Us Get This Far, Hummed Britney Spears Lyrics. I Felt Like I Was on the Verge of Bursting from Happiness.
After Everyone Had Started Their Descent Home, I Stayed Behind for a Little While with Mike and Our Guide Hosea. and I Let Myself Scream, into the World, with Happiness.
26. Mount Kilimanjaro
It’s a Deeply Personal Experience, Climbing a Mountain or Going on an Expedition. the Call of Adventure, the Rush of Adrenaline, the Revelations on the Way... It Can All Make You Feel Like the Hero of Your Own Journey. Rightly So.
Probably Even More Heroic, in Fact, Are the People Who May Walk Alongside You, Without the Glory, but Helping You to Make the Journey in the First Place. These People Often Stand in the Shadows, Even Though Their Journey May Have Been Just As Difficult - Often, Even Harder Than Yours.
Here in Tanzania, It’s the Guides, the Support Staff and the Porters Who Accompany Most Tourists on Their Hike to the Summit of Kilimanjaro. *especially* the Porters.
27. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Some of Us Know the Feeling. a Primal Urge That Originates Somewhere Deep Within, Telling Us to Go into the Unknown, in Pursuit of Something Extraordinary. an Adventure. or an Expedition. or a Life Change.
It’s the Thought That Won’t Leave Us Alone. It Attaches Itself Firmly to Our Mind, Enchanting Our Thoughts and Reducing Our Current Reality to a Pale, Grainy Projection.
I Have These Dreams in My Head All the Time. and the More I Connect to Individuals out There Doing Extraordinary Things, the Louder I Hear the Call of Adventure.
Out There, Beyond the Limits of Convention, in Full View of Infinite Possibility, is Where You Are Truly Alive.
28. Davos Dorf, Graubunden, Switzerland
I Was Four Years Old when I First Slid Down a Slope with Skis Attached to My Feet. That Means I’ve Been Skiing - on and off - for the Last 25 Years. Thanks, Mom 😉
I’m Not the Most Technically Skilled Skier on the Mountain, but if You Kept Track of People’s Pure Enjoyment of the Process of Skiing, I’m Pretty Sure I Would Be in the Top Three 😅 It Fills Me with So Much Joy.
Skiing is My Instant Trigger of “flow”. the State of Flow - a State of Full Immersion in What You’re Doing, Where You Mind and Body Are in Perfect Sync, Each Thought and Movement Flowing Seamlessly into the Next.
It’s a State of Absolute Focus. All Distraction Falls Away: There is Only Your Vision, the Mountain Surrounding You, and the Next Motion of Your Skis.
29. Northern Areas of Pakistan
Attending a Traditional Wedding in the Mountains of Pakistan.
Over a Year Ago, a Wakhi Family I Befriended in the Remote Gojal Valley Invited Me to Attend and Film Their Eldest Son’s Wedding. They Took Me in Like Their Daughter, and Invited Me to Learn About Their Lives, Language and Unique Wakhi Culture.
The Year I Spent There Was One of the Most Formative Years in My Life, and I’m Aching to Come Back, Explore, and See My Friends Again ❤️
A Huge Thank You to the Posh Family for Letting Me into Your Hearts and Being a Part of Mine.
Not Much of a Caption Needed Today. Just Lots of Very Simple Love for a Fellow Earthling, a Human’s Best Friend, My Favorite Animal in This Whole Wide World.
Dogs Are Beautiful. Whether It’s a Golden Retriever or a Mixed Breed, Whether Big or Small, Whether a Puppy or a Senior, They Are Just So Special and Loyal and Sensitive, and They Deserve Our Love, Care and Respect ❤️
I Got a Pretty Big Tattoo. It Tells the Story of My Journey.
Something Filled with Meaning, Symbolism and Imagination. Something to Tell My Journey, and Remind Me of What’s Important.
And then I Found @szela_szelasta. I Shared My Sacred Images with Her. Revealed the Chapters of My Journey That Make Me - Me. Told Her About Who I Thought I Was.
She Composed a Painting out of My Words and Thoughts, and Spent a Painstaking 16 Hours Inking It into My Skin, to Stay There Forever.
32. All My Love to You This Christmas!
Not That I Wouldn’t Send You Love on Any Other Day. but I Thought I’d Jump on the Bandwagon 😉
I’m Very Lucky to Be Able to Spend Christmas with My Whole Family, While I’m in Poland for a Few Days. Here, We Celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, During “wigilia”, Which is Our Christmas Eve Dinner.
Things I’m (still) Learning About Hospitality, in Albania and Beyond.
To Me, One of the Best Things About Travel is Getting to Know People Around the World and Seeing How They Live - and a Lot of This Happens Through the Hospitality of Strangers.
Why Do People Get So Suspicious when You Tell Them You Want to Spend Time Alone? (my Hiking Story)
I’ve Always Loved Spending Time Alone. Just with Myself. I Love Hanging out with People, Because They Usually Charge Me with a Positive Energy, but I’m Equally Happy Spending Time Alone with My Thoughts, Reading, Writing, Dancing with Myself, Before Re-emerging into the World of People Once More.
But Here’s the Thing: People Often Find It Weird That I Would Want to Be Completely Alone. to This Day, in Every Country, I Still Have to Make Up Excuses for Why I Don’t Need Company.
As We Strolled Through the Old Bazaar of Krujë in Albania in Search of Stories, We Chanced Upon a Small Store, Where an Older Gentleman Was Selling Antiques and Vintage Traditional Dresses.
Walking Through the Store, I Didn’t Know Where to Look: Vests Embroidered with Gold Thread, Majestic Black Skirts a Century Old, Woolen Vests Once Worn by Girls in Mountain Villages... Real Memories Woven into Clothes That Once Belonged to Real People.
As Albania Emerged from Long Decades of Communism 30 Years Ago, Many People Sold off Their Traditional Clothes: the Extra Income Was Much-needed in the New Capitalist Order.
And That’s How a Lot of These Items Ended Up in Bazaars Across the Country. As the Years Pass, and Collectors Buy Them Up, Soon There Won’t Be (m)any Authentic Pieces Left.
And of Course, I Bought the Dress and the Vest. One Day, They Will Grace the Rooms of My Future Home.
The Moment Stefan the Car and I Crossed the Border from North Macedonia into Albania, Everything Suddenly Changed. I Sensed We Were Entering a Completely New Adventure.
And I Saw That Sudden Transformation All Around Me: in the Villages, Which Suddenly Became Paved with Cobblestone and Populated with Men Riding Donkeys Between Stone Houses.
In the Drivers, Who All of a Sudden Stopped Using Indicators and Started Driving Much Faster (sorry, Albanians, but You Know It’s True 😅).
In the Presence of Bunkers Like This One, Which Used to “defend” the Country from Foreign Intrusions During the Communist Regime. in the Incomprehensibly Epic Landscapes That Started to Emerge from All Directions.
This is One Special Place. I Feel It in My Bones. Let the Adventure Begin. ✨🔥
37. Lake Ohrid
Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania. I Haven’t Even Been to All the Countries in the Balkans Yet, but This Region Proves That “even” in Old and Rusty Europe, There’s So Much More to Travel Than What Meets the Eye.
Yes, There’s Insane Nature and Scenery. Yes, There’s Tons of History. Yes, the Food is Amazing and the People Very Welcoming.
Probably One of the Most Underrated Countries in Europe.
Let’s Be Honest: Bulgaria Doesn’t Exactly Grace the Front Pages of Travel Magazines. Those That Know About It, Tend to Come Back... but It’s Still a Bit of a Hidden Gem.
With a Hectic Filming Schedule for @euronewstravel, We’ve Just Completed a Whirlwind Tour of Bulgaria. if I Were to Describe My Experiences of This Country in Three Words, They Would Be: Tradition, Pride and Natur(al Beauty 😝).
24 Hours on a Cargo Train in the Sahara Desert.
Riding the Iron Ore Cargo Train in Mauritania Wasn’t Just a Once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity to Cross the Desert on a Train. It Also Got Me Thinking About the Reason Why We Do These Crazy Things.
The Serbian Word That Doesn’t Exist in English.
Some Translate It As “spite”, Others As “prickly Pride”. There Isn’t Really a Direct Translation, My Serbian Friends Explained, for “inat”.
They Told Me the Word Describes the Serbian Mentality Perfectly, Defining It As “doing Something Because Someone Says You Shouldn’t, Even if It’s at Your Own Expense”. Sounds Just Like Me when I Was a Bit Younger 😅
41. on the Road
This Has Been a Year of Major Soul-searching for Me - and I’m Sure for Many of You Too. I’ve Been Seeing a Massive Shift in My Interests and Goals over the Last Couple of Years, and Finally Now I’m Starting to Find My Way and My Purpose.
The More I View What I Do As Art, the More I See My Own Travels As a Journey Towards Something Deep Inside of Me. Yes, I Travel to Meet People, See Places and Tell Their Stories.
Travelling Can Be a Door Towards an Inner Journey - I Know It Sounds Like a Cliché, but I Really Feel It Can Be True if You Acknowledge How Your Wounds Have Shaped You, Recognize That You’re on a Journey and Open Yourself Up to Learning from Others, No Matter How Uncomfortable It Gets.
I Also Have to Remind Myself That This is a Journey with No End. a Continuum, Not a Straight Line with a Destination at the End. This Way, I Can’t Give in to Impatience - Because I Know That Everything Will Change and Flow, As Long As I Live.
And That’s the End Goal in Itself. the Place I’m Looking for in This World Doesn’t Actually Exist Yet, Because It’s Not a Physical Destination Where I Will Arrive and Rest One Day. No. the Place I’m Searching for is an Ever-changing State of Mind, a Lifetime of Experiences, a Search for Belonging in a Giant and Confusing World.
And Just to Leave You with This Extract from Ulysses, a Poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the Only Poem I Can Recite by Heart 😉
42. Somewhere in the World
Here’s to Navigating the World Without a Map.
Here’s to Dreaming Big and Letting the Current of Our Dreams Guide Us, Even when the Waves Carry Us to Stormy Seas. Here’s to Finding Our Purpose Through the Highs and Lows of Our Soul As We Trek Across the World.
Here’s to Giving Ourselves to the Adventure. Allowing the Passage of Time and Events to Transform Us, Gently at First, but Radically Across the Years.
Here’s to Fear, As Without Fear There is No Courage. Here’s to Grief, As Without Grief Joy Loses Its Sweetness. Here’s to Uncertainty, the Force That Moves Destiny.
Here’s to Striving, Always Striving for the Summit, Knowing That the Climb Never Really Ends.
Here’s to Seeking Our True North As Long As We Live. Here’s to Never Resting, Always Searching Even when the Compass Fails Us. Here’s to the Unknown, and Here’s to Knowing Only That the Journey Ahead Leads Far Beyond the Path We See in Front of Us Today.
This is Us. This is Bravery.
The Romanian Folk Shirt That Costs As Much As a Car.
Every Time I Visit a Traditional Home in a Village in Romania, the Lady of the House Leads Me into Her Special “celebration Room”, and Shows Me Her Collection of Handmade Clothes and Accessories. Almost Every House Has a Celebration Room, Where the Family Display Their Most Precious Heirlooms.
Romanians Are Extremely Connected to Their Heritage. and the Most Powerful Symbol of That Heritage is the Formal Shirt, Like the One I’m Wearing Here.
Traditional Shirts in Romania Are Always Hand-woven and Hand-embroidered. Some Embroidery is So Fine That It Might Take a Couple of Women an Entire Winter to Finish the Shirt.
Of Course, if You’ve Spent So Much Time Making a Shirt, You’ll Keep It Forever. That’s How Some Shirts I’ve Seen Are 100+ Years Old, and Still Worn Today by the Great-granddaughters of the Women Who First Wore Them.
Given the Time Investment, and the Historic Value of Some Pieces, Prices Run High: It’s Not Unusual to See Shirts Sold for Upwards of $1000.
But You Might Be Hard-pressed to Find a Seller. Most Shirts Are Treasured Family Heirlooms, and Sources of Great Cultural Pride.
44. Somewhere on Planet Earth
For Me, That’s How It All Started. but over the Last Two and a Half Years, Things Have Changed. I Have Changed.
Because Anyone Who Says “stick to Travel” Clearly Doesn’t Realize That Travel is People. It is Society. It is the Real World.
45. Maramureș County
To Live from the Bottom of Your Heart, to Find Purpose in Your Being: This is the True Meaning of Life.
Or, at Least, That’s the Interpretation I’m Slowly Coming Around to 😉
Wisdom from a Romanian Shepherd.
I Spent the Last 3 Days Living with a Family at Their Sheep Station High in the Hills of Maramures, Romania. Ana and Ion, and Their Sons Ionutc and Mihai, Live Right Here with Their Herd of 400 Sheep.
It May Seem Romantic, but It’s a Hard Life. I Watched As the Family Worked from Sunrise Til Sunset Every Day, Milking Sheep, Making Cheese, Going out on the Pastures, Sorting out Affairs in the Village.
But when I Asked Ion Whether He Would Swap His Life for a Life of Comfort in the City, He Shook His Head Decisively and Said with Absolute Certainty: ‘no, I Couldn’t Do It.’
He Said, ‘i Love the Hills, the Mountains, the Forest. Water That Comes Fresh from the Spring. Hearing the Birds Sing Every Day. Listening to the Grass Growing. the Flowers Blossoming. This is Therapy.’ ❤️
47. Life & Travel Advice from My Late Grandfather
I Found This Passage in One of My Grandfather’a Travel Books. I Think He Was Making His Way Across Tanzania in a Minibus in the 1980s when He Scribbled the Following Lines.
I Noticed Something Changing in Me: I’ve Lost All My Rush. the Miles No Longer Impress Me. Whether There’s One Hundred, Two Hundred or Six Hundred of Them, They Leave Me Indifferent, Because I Must Cross That Distance Anyway.
So I’m Not Afraid of Distances Anymore. and the Same Applies to Time. Whether I’m Due to Be on the Road for Five Hours or Seventeen - What’s the Difference? Either Way, I Must Reach My Destination.
I Don’t Get Anxious About the Slow, Tortoise-like Pace. I Simply Get into My Vehicle and I Ride So Far and for So Long, in Absolute Peace, Until I Finally Reach the Destination That I Have Set for Myself.
I Also Don’t Let Myself Get Bothered by the Discomforts, Such As a Hard Seat, Heat, Dust, the Lack of Water. All of This, in Its Own Way, is Beautiful and Wonderful.
Whoever Cannot Adapt to This Kind of Life; in Fact, Whoever Cannot Come to Love This Kind of Life, Cannot Be a True Traveller.
48. Tatra Mountains
How Can Traditional Crafts Survive in an Automated, Fast World?
‘when All These Old Shepherds Pass Away, I Don’t Know What Will Happen to the Craft’, Janina Confided in Me As We Sat in Her Cheese Maker’s Hut Overlooking the Peaks of the Tatra Mountains.
A Traditional Shepherd and Cheese Maker. a Craft Typically Undertaken by Men, Janina is One of Only Two Female Bacas in the Country. and She is Worried for the Future of the Craft.
‘it’s Very Hard Work. Rain or Shine, from April to October, You Have to Stay with the Sheep in the Mountain Pastures, Guard Them, Take Care of Them, Milk Them Twice a Day, Protect Them from the Wolves. and Young People Today Would Rather Do Easy Work.’
890km, 10 Days and a Whole Country Later... I Made It!
I’ve Just Accomplished My Mission to Cycle Across Poland, from the German to the Ukrainian Border, Using Paper Maps Only. I Still Cannot Believe It!
Most Days, I Spent 10-12 Hours on the Bike, Riding, Pushing, Smiling, Screaming, Crying, Thinking, Navigating, Wishing-for-it-to-finally-end. the Last 3 Days, I Spent Much of the Time Promising Myself That I Would Never Ride a Bicycle Ever Again.
On the Last ‘big’ Day, I Was So Exhausted That I Didn’t Even Cry Anymore: I Wept with a Furious Helplessness, My Body Shaking from the Effort, As I Pushed the Bike Up Another Hill, Alone, in the Dark.
Those Are the Moments That Make Us. You Tumble into the Deepest, Darkest of Pits, Thinking You’ll Never Recover, Thinking You Cannot Take It Anymore.
But then You Realize That You’ve Been Through Worse. That You’re Resilient. Brave. and So You Get Yourself Together, You Get Up, and You Keep Moving. Step by Step, out of the Pit. Up and Down the Hills, Rain or Shine, in the Darkest and Brightest Moments, You Keep Moving.
Truly, the World Belongs to the Brave.
350km in 3 Days. Ouch.
The First Day Was Pretty Tough Because I Was Still Figuring out the Route and Getting Used to the Bike. the Second Day Hurt, but at Least I Got out of the Hills. on the Third Day, I Rode for 12 Hours Until 10pm, Growling and Screaming at the Road Ahead, Wanting to Give Up at Every Pedal Stroke As the Sun Began to Set.
It’s Hard. It’s Hard to Move That Kind of Distance, and Even Harder to Do It with a Giant Pack That Tries to Drag You Down Every Hill, Topple over Your Bike at Every Stop, and Make Your Life Miserable.
But You Know What? Experiences Like This Really Do Make You Tough. It’s Not a Cliché.
51. Góry Stołowe
How a Bad Photo Can Ruin Your Outlook on Life.
The Other Day, I Went for a Tiny Hike in the Forests of Poland’s Table Mountains with Some Friends. We Strolled Around, Breathed in the Fresh Air, I Hugged Some Trees, Picked Up Wild Blueberries. So Many Childhood Memories of Hikes with My Family Came Flooding Back. I Felt Serene.
52. Stajnia Podolin
Let Tiny Acts of Joy Define You.
It Could Be Cuddling Baby Horses. and Puppies. and Sitting on a Meadow.
Or Looking Up at the Sky and Guessing the Shapes of Clouds. or Listening to the Raindrops Dancing on the Rooftop.
Or It Could Be Sitting in a Cafe and Watching People Walk By. Re-reading a Chapter of Your Favourite Book. Sketching a Precious Memory to Remind Yourself of What It Was Like to Experience It.
The Scariest, Slowest, Best Thing I’ve Ever Done.
Last Summer, During My Third Trip to Mongolia, I Bought Two Horses, and Rode off into the Wilderness, All Alone.
It Was Hands-down the Scariest Thing I Had Ever Done. Being Responsible for Two Horses While Riding in an Unknown Land, Far from Cell Signal or Human Settlements, and Fending for Yourself... Yeah, Scary.
But That’s Also What Made the Journey So Rewarding: It Forced Me to Tune into My Surroundings and Focus on Every Tiny Detail, Every Brief Moment.
I Felt Like I Was Tapping into Something Primordial Just by Being So Deeply Alone with Two Animal Companions.
54. Somewhere in the Universe
You Know How They Say That We Travel in Order to Find Ourselves?
That's Not Always True. in Fact, It Can Be Dangerously Misleading. Take It from Someone Who Made This Mistake.
Two and a Half Years Ago, I Left My Previous Life to Travel Full-time, Half-expecting Travel to Fix Me. How Could I Not? After All, Hollywood Told Me Pretty Frequently That when Their Hearts Get Broken, Young People Should Turn to the Big Unknown to Help Them Heal. I Had Internalized That Messaging.
And So I Went, and I Travelled for a Year, and when I Stopped to Re-assess Myself, I Realized I Was the Same Old Me. the Same Insecurities, Fears, Fixations.
You Could Wander for a Lifetime and Still Not Find What You Seek. You Could Stand Still for Just a Moment, and Find Yourself Complete.
55. Arabian Sea
14 Days on the Sea. Without Being Able to Leave Your Tiny Floating Platform.
I Didn’t Really Miss the Internet That Much. I Didn’t Miss Talking to People Other Than Those on the hip. I Didn’t Miss Dry Land. I Didn’t Even Miss Exercise.
I Knew I Was Very Privileged by Being Able to Take the Ship at All, and Take It As a Passenger. I Watched the Crew Work Hard to Keep the Machine Oiled and Running, Where I Could Spend All Day Reading and Sunbathing.
56. Stajnia Podolin
It’s Hard to Believe I’ve Been Back Here for Two and a Half Weeks - and Maybe Even Harder to Believe That over the Last Couple of Days, I Got to Experience Places in My Own Home Country That I Never Knew Existed.
I’m Unbelievably Excited to Share with You a Part of Me That I Never Got to Fully Explore, Given That I Moved Away from Here As a Kid. This Will Be a New Journey for Both of Us 😊 and Given the Travel Situation in Europe These Days, I’m Not Sure How Long It’ll Last!
I Am Home. Here Are My Roots.
I Walk Barefoot on the Grass. the Morning Dew Glistens Around My Ankles Like Diamonds. I Wade Through the Meadow. the Nettles Gossip with the Reeds and Sting Me Sweetly.
I Pick Up a White Chamomile, a Red Poppy and a Blue Cornflower, and Weave Them into a Wreath. I Place It on My Head Carefully, Slowly... and the Story of This Land is Born Again in My Mind.
I Stand Facing the Sun, and Breathe In. the Smell Hasn’t Changed in Decades. the Wheat, the Smiling Petals, the Memory of Yesterday’s Rain, All Dance in My Senses.
58. Shiraz, Iran
So How Well Do You *really* Know the World You Live In?
Over the Last Couple of Years of Travel, I’ve Been Unlearning and Re-learning the History I Had Been Taught in School. I Quickly Learned That Eurocentric History Textbooks Simply Don’t Reflect the Complex Historic Reality of the World We Inhabit.
5,500 Years Ago, Writing Systems First Appeared in Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq) with the Cuneiform. Further Writing Systems Developed Independently in Egypt, China and Mesoamerica in Subsequent Millennia. Today, the Most Important Cuneiform Artefacts Are Housed in French & British Museums.
59. Arabian Sea
Eight Days Ago, on the Island of Socotra, I Boarded a Cargo Ship Headed for the Uae. I Had Been Working on an Exit for a Month, and It Came Unexpectedly, with Just a Few Hours’ Notice.
My Final Days on the Island Were Riddled with Anxiety. on the Last Morning, Looking into the Clouds Gathering over the Mountains and Shivering in the Cold Rain, I Cried, *really* Cried, for the First Time in 3 Months. with Personal Threats Sliding into My Dms, Social Media Had Become Too Dark a Place.
I Was Wiping the Tears from My Eyes, in Silence, As Fatima, My Host Mom, Knotted My Hair into a Tight Braid That I Kept for Another Two Days. She Ran Her Firm Fingers Through My Hair and Grounded Me.
At That Moment, I Didn’t Know That a Few Hours Later, I Would Be Leaving. I Received News of the Ship’s Early Departure and in What Now Seems Like a Flash, I Was Kissing My Host Family Goodbye, Leaving the Keys of My Motorbike to Their Son, and Driving to the Seaport.
I Didn’t Fully Grasp the Reality of It, Until the Island Started to Disappear Before My Eyes Under a Blanket of Sparkling Stars. One of Them Shot Across the Sky in a Final Farewell.
Over the Last Seven Days at Sea, I’ve Tried to Process What the Three Months in Socotra Meant to Me and How They Changed Me. I Think I’m Slowly Starting to Understand. I Hope to Write About My Personal Journey in Long-form Sometime.
For Now, Here We Are. After a Week at Sea, I’m Looking at the Abu Dhabi Skyline, Still on the Cargo Ship, Still Anxious, Waiting for Immigration.
I Miss Her, I Am Relieved to Be Away from Her, I Love Her More Than Ever, I Long for Her. and I Know That One Day, when the Time is Right, I Will Return to Her Shores.
60. Socotra Island
79 Days on the Island. in Socotra, when You Greet Someone, You Don’t Ask Them How They Are.
An Older-generation Socotri Will Ask You “aull Gu’ur?”, Which Translates Roughly to “is Anyone Sick?”. the Standard Answer and Reassurance is “bithli D’gu’ur”, Or, in Plain English “nobody is Sick”. for a Simple “hello”, This May Come Across As Pretty Fatalistic.
To Add to This Somber Mood, when You Bid Someone Farewell, You Ask for Their Forgiveness. Forgiveness, Just in Case You Said Something Wrong, or Expressed Yourself in a Way That May Have Hurt the Other Person’s Feelings. This Way, in Case You Never See Your Interlocutor Again (because They *might* Pass Away in the Meantime), There is No Bad Blood Between You.
The Tradition Goes Back to the Days when Disease Was Common on the Island, and There Was Never Any Guarantee That Another Meeting Would Take Place.
Of Course, Things Have Changed in the Last Few Decades, and for the Better. Disease is Not So Prevalent Anymore That It Enters the Daily Turn of Phrase.
These Days, when You Bid Farewell, the Only People Who Might Ask You for Forgiveness Are the Very Eldest Generation of Socotris.