Month: October 2016

Life is a Series of Letting Go

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After getting a small job in Berlin painting a fence for 200 Euros (three days work) I headed towards Poland. In Poznan, I met a couchsurfng host. He told me about the concert he was attending and, of course, I wanted to go as well and besides, it started at 8pm so I thought we would be back at his place around 9 or 10pm- how wrong I was.

We got to the concert, an electric and EDM styled joint, and after a little while I had to get some fresh air. After spending an hour or so talking with some interesting people, I went back in to find my host gone! Vanished! I became a little worried after a few hours since it was getting late and all of my things were at his flat. Two Portuguese women began talking with me and reassured me that he would be back- they were sure of it. Their confidence really made me feel at ease and after a little while, I came to accept that I had potentially lost my things, and even began to wonder that this was somehow a blessing. After all, I had the essentials: Passport, money, credit cards, camera, etc. The only thing I really missed was my journal. Well, the two girls, Ana and Carlota, offered me a place to stay in their apartment if he really didn’t show up, but thankfully he did. That night taught me something: I am no longer afraid of being robbed. A thief may rob me if they want- they can’t take what travel has given to me. I don’t really need my backpack (even though now I keep a closer eye on it).

Poland is cheap in cost, and rich in culture. I can’t believe how beautiful Krakow is, or how breathtaking the Zakopane Mountains are.

I have been couchsurfing AND staying in Hostels: 4-8 dollars per night. I met Cindy Ji Eun here, the traveling Korean. Headed down to Zakopane (a two hour bus ride up the mountains for less than 3 dollars), where I started working in a Hostel. I’ve been running into this group of Americans left and right ever since Krakow. I played guitar in one hostel while they slept on a couch, I saw them walking through the streets, and after we saw each other again in another spot it was just too much: I had to meet them- how could I not, right? Turns out they are all really wonderful people. We separated, but while walking through the streets of Zakopane I heard my name called, looked up, and there they were again. I felt like we were friends at this point. Natalie, Maggie, and Josh were their names- together along with an incredibly funny Lithuanian, Marius, we hiked up a mountain through blizzardous conditions.

Work at the hostel here has been really great. If you ever come to Zakopane, I definitely recommend it to everyone. Super-low key, great service, and you feel like it’s your home, not a hostel at all. I have met so many people from all different nations, some of which have become surprisingly close to me- how can this be? Have these sort of persons always been around me and I just didn’t realize it, or have they been running around, like me, destined to meet like-minded folks only while on the road of uncertainty?

In other news, I have climbed several peaks of the Tatras, and everytime I feel the same indescribable power overtake my soul. I feel so alive, as if I am bursting with energy- so strong is this feeling that I am unsure how to take it all in, as if I were a child stumbling from the ever increasing speed of his bicycle. Indeed, the Tatras make me feel like a young boy, new, and very naive. Everytime after I get down from the peaks, I have to take the day slow in an attempt to calm this ocean roaring in my heart and soul. I did not know that God’s earth could have such a profound effect on me; I realize, now, that I am incredibly small. And how small everything around me now seems…

It is truly amazing how many unique individuals one meets when they travel, the places and experiences, and the changes that come through them. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like this trip has been some sort of therapy involving self revelation, discovery, and courage.

If I had to take a lesson from Poland, it would be to give meaningful goodbyes. Yann Martel says,

“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go. But what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye”

It is here, where I meet such beautiful people like Natalie, Maggie, Josh, Matias, Sophie, Jess, Helene, Cedric, Olivier, Michael, and so many hundreds of others that I must say “goodbye,” knowing that I may never see them again- relationships, friendships, and whole communities that may never be developed and explored. Our lives only meet for the briefest of moments, here and then gone; this same fate that brings us together also takes us away down different paths of life. Additionally, for every hopeful “Hello” there is an equally valuable or somber “Farewell.” And yet, is it not the disapearance of friends that makes their company so precious in the first place?

With this in mind, I have been trying to say goodbye as if it were my last- to let others know that I truly loved their companionship, if even for a day of hiking up to the peak of Giewont, wandering through a blizzard, or just dining together. May we always fulfill the potential end of any friendship, and may we cherish those who cross our paths- taking no one for granted.

And so, I say farewell to you all. I’m off to explore the world and disconnect myself from the others for a bit. I’ll keep in touch, but who knows what can happen? After my experience on that peak, I feel as if I am a different person; it’s time to explore this new opportunity- see who I will be. See you later, peace out ;D


Traveling Solo As A Woman

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“It’s dangerous for a woman to go traveling alone! That’s why I don’t travel. Sure, you can travel the world, but that’s because you are a man!”

I have heard this sort of phrase from so many people; it seems to be the ultimate justification to live a life that does not fulfill one’s dream. They let this common myth decide where and how they go- but that’s all it is: A myth. While couchsurfing in Krakow, Poland, I met the inspiring and admirable “Cindy.” She was a nurse living in Korea and decided one day to travel the world to get a break from her “heavy” job. “Working everyday and seeing people die was very hard for me,” she says. And so, she took a break. A very long one: two years. She travels very similar to the way I do- Hitchhiking, couchsurfing, walking, carrying all her belongings in a backpack and experiencing everything there is to experience in this world. She has traveled throughout East Asia and Europe, and now says she is ready to go back home.

Cindy Ji Eun looking cool with her travel bag.

When asked how she would assimilate back to a stable and routine life, she replied, “I don’t think I am done traveling. I will go again.” Cindy recalls only once when she had a bad experience hitchhiking. But even then, she did not feel in danger- the guy was just a little creepy, asking for “Favors.” There is no doubt that when you travel there will be dangerous situations, obviously. Nevertheless, we need to remember that there will dangers around the corner of our neighbor hood, perhaps more severe than those on the road. I’ve been reading a book about Jessica Watson, the 16 year old Australian girl who sailed solo around the world, and in it, she stresses these exact same points: You can’t let fear of danger stop you from living an extraordinary lifestyle. John A. Shedd says,

“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for”

Yes, it’s scary to go out of the Harbor. But Shedd wisely points out that we were made for more. Cindy is now finishing her first journey, and I couldn’t have been more excited for her and her adventures. Let us see these women for what they are: Powerful, but utterly and completely human. Normal, weak just as we all are. Even so, they still decided to take the “risks”  (which are no more risky than staying home) and they both regret nothing. Cindy would like readers to follow their dreams, take into account the consequences and dangers, and then travel. As she says, “You will not regret it.”