Looking back at the last five years, I realize how much I’ve learned. Being a host at the Travellers House Hostel has always put me in touch with realities from all over the world. It really put to the test some notions that were key to my formation as a person, especially open mindedness and cultural awareness. For that I am thankful. At the same time, seeing the backpacker pass by, this constant hello and goodbye, made the will to travel grow within me. Of course I had always traveled, but what grew was a permanent desire to embrace the world. To have a first person perspective of what’s going on in the world. Reach my own conclusions, making the world my backyard.
With eager feet and restless fingers this project of travelling and writing took form. The idea of being on the road, pen and notepad in my hand held an irresistible appeal.
And so it started, my path taking me to New York, Gotham, the city that never sleeps. There, I had the opportunity to live in the city as a bit of a local. I went to the five Boroughs, from Staten Island to the Bronx, but I adopted Brooklyn and took a piece of it as my own. I stayed in the projects in Bushwick, meandered the hip streets of Williamsburg, overlooked Manhattan from Green Point and saw the children play in Park Slope. I felt a bit like a Brooklyner, and that’s something I’ll never forget. The road also took me to Washington DC and Virginia. There I found a totally different reality and the sheer American diversity hit me for the first time.
Just like the great American ideal, I also felt the urge to go West. Los Angeles came first, with Hollywood and its quirky people. This latent cult for the superficial following my steps everywhere I went. That’s where I spent Halloween, and the West Hollywood parade was a bizarre, but unforgettable experience. Half a million people dressed up in the most eccentric ways possible. In LA and Orange County I also found beauty in the Pacific waves, in the sunset of Venice beach, in the mind-blowing views from Griffith Park and in a dish of shrimp ceviche savored in good company.
San Francisco soon followed. Encounters with Barry the Blacksmith and the whole vibe of the city quickly conquered my heart. At the same time, San Francisco is a beautiful, but also decadent city, a kind of “Never Never Land” where everyone seems to insist on living the Peter Pan dream. Nothing beats the sight of the San Francisco bay from above, but walking down the Tenderloin district and talking to hobos and crack heads also makes the day for a traveller.
Soaking in the West, I headed to Las Vegas. Gambling is not my thing at all, but I wanted to witness that sensorial overload which is to walk down the Strip. Nevertheless, I was shown a totally different side of that Sin City. I didn’t really think that there were actually natives from Vegas, so I can’t be thankful enough to Angela, the one that showed me the decadent, run down Casinos and illustrated my stay with episodes of growing up in such a city. The Mojave Desert and the Great Basin fulfilled my desire of a road trip. Looking for UFO’s in Area 51 was a good reason to immerse myself in one of the most dazzling landscapes I’ve ever witnessed. Immensity is the word to describe it, miles and miles of straight forward roads, and a huge sense of nothingness that makes you feel so small.
San Diego, my darling, I’m sorry I didn’t have that much time for you. I really felt like you wanted me to stay longer, since we really got along. Searching for a Creationist Museum was quite an adventure, as it gave me the opportunity to commute, to drift towards the suburbs, just like any resident from San Diego.
My experience in the United States was a great start for my trip. It gave me a sample of what I’m looking for, human diversity. To the ones that crossed my paths, that in any way made my trip so rewarding, a big thank you. This is just the beginning, but you’ll always have a place in my heart and on the tip of my pen.
So, here I am, in one of the largest metropolis’ of the world, Mexico City. A chaotic amalgamation of color, movement and noise. Just the bus ride into the center showed me a totally diverse traffic experience. It’s insane how a small, packed bus can overtake three lanes without a blink from the driver. The noisy havoc that followed was something I can only describe as a dissonant symphony of chaos.
A city where the simple act of crossing a road can be somewhat an adventure, but the simple smile of a street cleaner makes your day. It reminds you that travelling is not an expense, it’s truly an investment.