Now that I’m face to face with the start of a nomadic life, I can see that preparing for this change goes beyond travelling light; it means starting from scratch, learning to do things in a different way, and being more spontaneous; it means allowing myself to be guided by what’s inside of me—that thing that doesn’t allow me to sit still. It’s essential that I accept and be content with the (perceived?) insanity that drives me to leave behind stability, and instead choose an uncertain and mobile life.
It probably all started in childhood, on my first birthday, when I took my first steps on the black sands of the beaches of Cartagena, walking toward the sea, hypnotised by the water. I imagine it as some sort of hypnosis or magic spell, because ever since then, I can’t stop chasing tropical waters. All my life I’ve been running toward the water; always going to the sea, or searching for waterfalls hidden behind mossy rocks, or exploring marble caves through which cold rivers run on their way down the mountains.
My fixation with discovering the Earth’s hidden secrets grew with the first maps I pored over, fascinated by the idea that the world expanded further than my house, my city. The first books I devoured were full of animals and exotic places, inhabited by fantastical people, living lives so different to mine, enveloped in other colours and smells, wearing different clothes and speaking different tongues. I’ve always wondered what life would be like on the other side of the world, and I’ve tirelessly searched for the answer, making this question the thesis of my life.
An inflatable plastic globe from the days of the Soviet Union stole infinite moments from me, allowing me to dream that someday I would step foot on those oddly shaped countries. Some captivated me more than others, like Sri Lanka, that tear-drop shaped island that hangs off the Indian subcontinent; or the islands of Polynesia, scattered across the South Pacific like emeralds lost in the infinite blue of the ocean. I’ve been especially fascinated by oases and desert islands—two natural paradoxes found in tropical landscapes. It might have something to do with the implicit loneliness of these remote places, places I saw in photographs that looked like paintings made by artists from other worlds.
I was passionate about geography and my head was filled with questions about these faraway places—so foreign and familiar at the same time; places I could look at but couldn’t touch; places I could study but couldn’t smell their air. Not knowing them, walking on their soil, smelling their smells, was never an option for me, my stubbornness abolishing any doubts that reality dared impose.
Travel, the tropics, the jungle, and the ocean, are passions so deeply rooted in my being that they are now part of my very fibre, making me feel that I am made of sand and saltwater. I roam around possessed by the need to see the world; obsessed with holding on to the memories of the warm breeze of every beach I’ve visited; with tattooing on my soul the sound of the ocean crashing on the rocks. I’m so entirely lost in maps and dreams, trapped by hallucinations of turquoise waters that run through seas and rivers, that I have finally decided to let myself be taken away by my attraction to movement, to change, to the unexpected.
In a week, I will set out on a journey through the Amazon, from Colombia to Brazil, from the Caribbean to the Andes and beyond, toward the great rivers that cross the jungle. I’m off looking for who knows what, travelling over the black waters surrounded by every shade of green imaginable; waters that will take me to the sea, to that magical Atlantic coast that still holds the shape that fits into Africa. I want to be there, on the shores of that bellybutton, of that mouth that juts out as if signalling to the old continent, calling its motherland, begging the seas to bring the lands together once again.
I hope to share my journey, from the physical process of leaving it all behind to the dark waters of the Amazon and the enigmatic Atlantic coast. I will document my experience of letting go of material possessions—well, except for my indispensable aromatic spices and tiny wooden spoons—; of the three-day journey from Leticia to Manaus; of the impermanent beaches of the rivers of the Lençóis Maranhenses; of the unexpected and the magical that only the road can reveal.
I’ve been lucky to know many of these places I dreamed of; I’ve been lost in several continents already, falling deeper in love each time with the infinite possibilities that exist when I’m travelling and learning. And soon I will fulfil another one of my dreams—conjured one day as I looked at a map—of knowing what exists between those thin blue lines that transport water from land to the ocean.