?> The eternal traveler syndrome


A few days ago I got this short film sent to me by Rob, a fellow traveler friend. It puts a lot of the things a traveler’s mind goes through beautifully into images and words. Check out their blog: algoquerecordar.com.

The following text featured in this video:

Today is not an ordinary day. I’m leaving again. I’ve been waiting for many months to go in another of my long trips. All the essences, colours and flavours that I had freshly kept in my mind…were starting to become diffused memories, that mixed altogether turning into a set of places where to return. I need to go back to lose track of time and so that every day of the week is called the same way…not knowing the month I’m living in. It is incredible, but it happens. I need Sundays not to be depressing, nor Wednesdays to be movies’ discount day. I want thinking what to do in each moment to be the most important thing: where to sleep every day, how much money I can save in eating, how to get to the next city, what would be expecting me when getting off from the next bus…from the next boat…from the next train…I don’t like flying but it’s the price I have to pay if I want each day from now on…not to be an ordinary day.

The best thing about being away from everything I know, is that every step I take, I will find something different. Not having a fixed itinerary in which I know every streetlight, every store, every corner…makes me pay attention to everything that surrounds me. It makes me be aware of everything. This is when I get this feeling to be living a unique moment…and that everything else doesn’t matter. I must recognize that I’m addicted to this way of living. I’m here, in someone else’s place…now…and I might never come back. I have to enjoy every moment. Save it in my internal hard drive, for a few years time, get back to any particular moment. Any second that has survived over time and that can bring me back here for a moment. I can’t remember anything that happened three weeks ago in an ordinary working day, but I do want to remember…that I was here.

It’s always the same thing. I find it hard to get used to change. Even though I’ve been to so many places…at the beginning I normally pay some sort of toll. It is like some sort of decompression…or maybe…a small release. Other people’s habits, that catch me off guard at the beginning. The same ones that in a short period of time, I get used to and make them mine. The ability of adaption of the human being will never cease to amaze me.

I admit that I don’t like meeting other Spaniards around the world. When this happens, I usually try not to talk and this way I can go unnoticed. In some way I feel bad for doing this…but the truth is that I can’t stand nationalistic exaltations far away from our nation. It also leads us to a situation that makes everything seem…less authentic. Less special. And to be honest, when you are thousands of miles away from home…bag in hand… looking for new experiences… trying to live new adventures…the last thing you want to talk about is ham and Spanish

omelette with people you don’t even know. At least, not in your own language. I don’t know…it is like there’s a necessity to start a conversation just because we are both Spaniards, which will only take us back to the same place we came from. It is something that I have never understood. If we found each other in the subway in Madrid we would never talk…why do he have to do so here?

What a curious thing is curiosity. I feel that people stare at me and are surprised just because I stop to stare at things that they don’t pay much attention to. All this is normal for them. It is…their daily basis. But it is not for me. For me, a dog with a rice bowl inside a cage is not normal. It deserves two or three minutes of my time and even a few pictures. That’s why, I stop and stare anything that is “normal” here…and I feel observed, what I actually think it is very funny…I’m sure that more than once in Madrid, I’ve stopped and stared at someone that was just taking pictures to a stand selling churros…What a curious thing is curiosity, specially when it doesn’t intend to be so.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”…probably one of the most famous phrases that create in me love and hatred at the same time. I hate it because although it sounds great and it is used by almost everyone, the reality is that very few people practice what they preach. It is some kind of language abuse, which is socially accepted…and I like it, because it is a complete truth itself. Probably the best advice you can take with you when traveling. An advice that doesn’t taste always good, that might smell bad and even sometimes, is not very confortable…but that normally helps you integrate a lot more and lets you understand the reason and meaning of many things. A 40-degree soup in the morning instead of a simple toast? There must be a reason why.

Night. I get hooked to the night anywhere I go. On the one hand it is very similar everywhere, and somehow, it is like glue connecting one place to another. On the other hand it’s like a time machine…or maybe like a space machine…although a bit dangerous. It brings me back and forth without telling, making me dream of other many places that I want to be in. Liberty and censure under the light of neon. When I travel, I try not to repeat destination. I still have a lot to see and I’m lacking time to visit all the places I have in mind…well, and money, of course. But actually, there are places that have touched me so deep, that I always have them with me. That feeling depends a lot on the first thing that happened when I was there. The people’s behaviour towards me…the experiences I lived…I like to think that I can always go back and find everything just as I left it. But this doesn’t happen. Each trip is different. I always end up apotheosizing the places after I’ve been there. You change, people change, experiences change. The places I keep storing in my mind…are projections of these experiences. They are all good memories, even though at the time, they weren’t that good.

Even though I’m certainly more tied up to Madrid as it’s where my family and friends are…my home is where I am in each moment. It might be the necessity to be in so many places what makes me feel that I don’t have a particular place which could be called my home…those four walls where you keep storing things that tie you up to a city. The thing is I don’t need to live for a long time in a same place in order to feel part of that place. Or maybe I just don’t like to be part of something for a long time. I don’t know.

I live in a state of constant contradiction…When I’m in Madrid, I do everything I can to disconnect with everything that surrounds me: work, people, situations…and now that I’m here, I like to be connected. Know what’s happening there…and tell them what I’m doing here. It’s curious but…I even talk more with my friends when I am 10000 kilometres away, than when I am just two blocks apart.

Today, I’ve woken up with just one main objective: watch how the sun goes down. I’ve spent the whole day asking where was the best place to see the sunset. I was so excited, that I’ve arrived two hours early. But here I am, hoping without hopelessness…letting go of myself, unhurried. Because I really don’t have anything better to do right now, and in fact…tomorrow I’m definitely repeating.

Going from one city to another…from town to town…moving from one place to another and in any kind of transport like people do here, makes me feel…not as if I was just having a look around. When I was little, I hated any kind of bus trip that was more than 50 kilometres long. Now, I easily do 14-hour trips without even noticing. In buses without bathroom that spontaneously stop in a smelly road bar and they don’t stop again for the next 5 hours. With moving or non-reclining seats.

I know, that it sounds as a pretty bad plan, but I like it. I like to live this from the inside. When you somehow go a little bit out of the usual…of the routes and traced paths…when you get lost…is when things actually happen to you and you really get to know a country. It is much more confortable to go by plane from one city to another…but you don’t get lost, you lose everything that happens around you.

It’s incredible how the way of watching life is different depending on where you were born. Even though generalizing is not fair and comparisons are horrible but unavoidable…depending on the country you are in, you see people more or less lacklustre…more or less communicative…more or less open…even though it is true that in their way…they obtain that bit of happiness they need. They get to be

happy with what they have. With what they know…I think that the key is that if according to my point of view, they look happier to me, more pleasant or attentive…than me. That’s the yardstick. What one knows. That is why I think that the more I travel, the more I value other ways to see things and I’m more objective with how I must understand life.

I like Madrid. It is a city that I end up missing as much as I miss all this when I’m over there. I’m always locked up in a continuous state of “dissatisfaction” that in another way, it constantly frees me. For many, I’m just crazy…I’m unstable, irresponsible and reckless…They wouldn’t be able to stand this way of living. They don’t understand it or they don’t want it. For other people, I’m…like an adventurer, because they have sometime felt, the necessity of breaking with their life to start living other things. For me, staying still in a single place watching time pass, is resigning to all I know. Time to settle down will come…or maybe not. Yes, I do want to form a family…well, that’s what I think. But I don’t know when or where. What I do know is that I would continue travelling…but with them. I would show them all these places I will always want to go back to and would discover many others together. I’ve met couples with their kids travelling around the world…Two big backpacks, two small ones and a lot of enthusiasm. That’s how I see myself in twenty years time.

Dreaming awake is a very difficult load to carry. I think that someway…I’m a prisoner of my anxiety for constant liberty, and I don’t know if that is good or bad. I know a lot of people that are happy after working for ten years in the same place, with their mortgage, their vacations in Menorca summer after summer…They don’t need anything else. In a way, I feel some sort of envy. They are happy with what they have, and every day I see it clearer: I am not that happy. Sometimes I think that I can’t be happy in just one place. I will have to be so in that city that doesn’t exist. In that city that I’ve built up in my mind with thousands of pieces of the different places I’ve been to and the ones I have left to see. I know…I’m confused.

The eternal traveller syndrome is the feeling you get of not being comfortable anywhere you go because you always want to be somewhere else

It is the anxiety you feel when thinking that you will never be happy in just one place.

It is an illness… that saves your life.