Traveling the world: May it change a person?

Let's start at the beginning. I am a Venezuelan immigrant just turned 39. The current situation took us (me and my sister) out of the country 18 months ago.

Don't worry I am not going to write about it here. But I mention this because until then I had never set foot outside national borders (Oh my God!).

So when I left Venezuela and said "Good Bye" painfully from my parents (my lifelong companions) we embarked on an adventure that filled us with both emotion and nerves.

Before traveling, I researched as much as I could about my destination country (Peru). Its food, its climate, its bank of jobs, the receptivity of its people towards Venezuelans (because it is one thing to be a foreigner and another very different thing, is to be a foreign Venezuelan).

Exploring the new path

I wanted to inform myself of everything that would be useful for me to live there, in fact, I subscribed to several groups on Facebook where other compatriots related their travel experiences and reported the prices of the rent, the food and some local customs that I should know if I planned to fit on my arrival.

Since at that time I had been working as a Freelance Writer for more than 2 years (and still do), I understood that the best way to make myself understood in this new scenario would be to speak using neutral terms and words, in the same way, as a I did in my paid assignments, because this would guarantee a better level of understanding with the local inhabitants. (I was right)

However, before commenting in detail on this experience of living in Peru, I want to share what was the trip to there, because we did not travel by plane, which would have been great but it did not fit into our narrow budget; instead, we travel by road, changing bus regularly, crossing borders, going up and down luggage.

Traveling on bus
Traveling the world on bus

The trip by plane would have taken 4 hours by direct flight from Caracas to Lima, but when traveling by road, we delayed a week (we were lucky, other people lasted 15 days!). Our trip started in our hometown Valencia.

From there we traveled 12 hours on the way to the border state of Tachira. In that town, we had to spend the night in a 1-star hotel because the tickets for the bus terminal in Cucuta (Colombia) to the city of Lima were sold out.

So, we wait until the next day at the terminal. Surrounded by hundreds of other families who, like us, would leave the country, they would part with tears in the eyes of their loved ones and embark on different destinations in the name of God.

The trip is summarized as follows:

  • Five buses. Each one of a worse category than the previous one except for the first and the last.
  • 3 countries traveled.
  • Food lost by assault in Rumichaca (border between Colombia and Ecuador).
  • Endless desert passing Tumbes (Peru).
  • Vomiting, insomnia and swollen feet.

Here's what that 7-day trip plus 3 suitcases and 2 bags taught me:

  • No matter how adventurous your spirit is, it is always better to travel accompanied than to travel alone, because on the way you will need someone to watch your back (especially when it's your turn to bathe at the inn for renting in a restaurant next to the road in half of the night), and also because it will be less easy to break down emotionally if you have someone to lend your shoulder to rest.
  • Good and bad people also exist outside of your country. Even if you are led to a paradise in other lands, keep in mind that you must be cautious, prudent and with a bit of malice (avoid unpleasant moments).
  • Make sure that one of your traveling companions is God. He does not occupy space, he does not generate expenses, he does not need to sleep and he will take care of you when you need it (I know why I tell you).

I need many more countries to travel to. Many other cultures to know. Many more stamps on my brand new passport but I want to share what this trip has taught me so far:

Learned Lessons from the trip

• Although the country you visit speaks your own language, you will have to learn its phrases, its accent and include in your personal dictionary the synonym of words that in your country meant one thing, but in this other mean others.

• If you come from a tropical country (like me), you will discover by yourself what the seasonal diseases are and the care you should give to your health if you want your travel experience not to be spent in a hospital or tied to a bed.

• Your palate will be expanded by new flavors.

• You will recognize humility as a valuable virtue and gratitude as a necessary good especially when you must start from scratch.

• If you have university degrees, credit cards, and a 5-star profile, you will not be superior to those who you know to, just different.

• You will become Tech-addicted if you want to keep in touch with your family or locate yourself on the map with GPS.

• Tiny House and Minimalist concept will be your new housing ideal.

• You will feel in your flesh that there is no good more precious than the love of your family and the memories of a life well-lived.

Traveling around the world may change a person. It may change you because it will fill you with experiences and learnings that you will not get through books or movies, and the more you travel, the more knowledge you will acquire, the more values you will collect and the less luggage you will carry, because if you want to continue traveling you will discover that there are other things that are not necessary, from which you will have to detach in order to travel light.

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