Here I am, once again, trying to reflect on what I am experiencing here in New-Zealand. And in fact, I must say that nothing special has been happening to me for the past few weeks, but I keep meeting new people on a regular basis. Since I am living in a hostel, it is buzzing with people from all around the world, and in this one, I am sharing the area with many South Americans – Argentinians mostly, Chileans and Uruguayans.
By sharing mate and talking about life – work, music, religion, politics, a lot can be covered in a day – I realised that what I love the most about travelling is people. Now, New-Zealand is very quiet in general; apart from Auckland and maybe Wellington (I haven’t been there yet), cities are small, and if there are any, you can see them written on a map without zooming in that much. There are about 17 inhabitants per square kilometre – according to Wikipedia -, which lets you enjoy the green and blue views as well as the silence about 98% of the time. However, the Flying Nun is not New-Zealand – this ‘backpackers’, as they call it, is an old and grey building with a surprising rainbow-coloured inner life.
Let me explain: there are many types of travellers – we all come from different countries, even continents; we have different backgrounds and have experienced different things along the way; we got here for different reasons and with different expectations. Not only does this make me see the place I am in right now as very colourful, but this is also what, in my opinion, is the most interesting part in travelling.
What are the chances for you to meet an Argentinian history teacher who left it all to see if he could regain faith in his job? What are the chances for you to meet a Japanese make-up artist who is now doing gardening in a remote surfing town in Kiwiland? What are the chances for you to meet a German girl who grew up in Africa, studied accounting and is, so you just discovered, passionate about nutrition and health? What are the chances for you to meet a 21-year-old English cook and surfer who has been on the road for the past three years of his life?
What are the chances for you to meet them all at the same place?
And when it all somehow settles down, when you think you’re starting to know people, when you think that tonight, you’re just going to enjoy a beer and laugh about the events of the day, you realise there is an amazingly talented photographer, a quiet bracelet-maker and a virtuoso pianist in the crowd. People are full of surprises, stories to tell, jokes to make, emotions to show, theories to elaborate, recipes to share – and the best part of it is they often don’t realise it.
Finally, I have come to realise – yesterday night at around 1 o’clock in the morning GMT+13, to be precise – when in a joke, someone told me that “si la vida es genial, lo va a decir el libro” (the book will tell if life is amazing), that one’s actions are not what makes them, but what one makes of their actions – this is what matters.
And when you’re travelling, it is when you can truly experience the freedom of being who you want – or rather, who you truly are. You can decide that your book, even if you’re not the only one to write it, is yours to be considered amazing or not. In fact, I truly believe that the feeling one gets after reading a book is what one should remember – just like words sink in to be reflected on, events happen for one to make something out of them.
Just by being themselves and making something out of their stories, travellers are precious sources of inspiration. They broaden up your vision and lead you to paths of opportunities you would never have thought of before. And actually, travellers are not – people are.