A YEAR ON THE ROAD

Time: 6pm. Lo­ca­tion: Some­where in Morocco, be­tween the At­las Moun­tains and the Sa­hara Desert. Phys­i­cal and emo­tional state: An odd mix­ture of ex­haus­tion, thrill and an­tic­i­pa­tion. The usual, one could say.

Say Yes To Adventure - - Features - Car­men Huter

TO TRAVEL IS to live. Words – ad­mit­tedly, some­what forced – I re­mind my­self, while the fuel warn­ing's high-pitched noise makes it harder and harder to con­cen­trate. Stop­ping doesn't seem like an ap­pro­pri­ate op­tion, given the fact that we – my bet­ter, equally ad­ven­tur­ous, cur­rently care­less half and I – are driv­ing through the Moroc­can desert. As the sun sets, we con­tinue to push the lim­its of our rental car. Petrol sta­tions, let alone houses are a rare sight down here. The free­dom of the open road (in this case, a dirt track) is se­duc­tive, serendip­i­tous and lib­er­at­ing. How beau­ti­fully en­dear­ing the views in front of us are. Scenes filled with end­less shades of brown and or­ange; a mix of rust, rock, and sand. Enough with the day­dream­ing, I re­mem­ber. Fuel is what we need, not some in­spi­ra­tional In­sta­gram cap­tion. Now, where does one get fuel in the mid­dle of nowhere? My name is Car­men. I was born in Aus­tria, and ever since I first sat on a plane to the other side of the world, namely New Zealand, a few years ago, I've had dif­fi­culty keep­ing still. There's much to see, so I made it my mis­sion to ex­plore. Let's be hon­est, such am­bi­tions aren't par­tic­u­larly re­mark­able com­ing from some­one born in the early 1990s. The priv­i­lege of con­tin­u­ous ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, to coun­tries near and far, and to po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity for many western mil­len­ni­als has sparked an ever-grow­ing sense of wan­der­lust. What it has also sparked, how­ever, is an at­ti­tude of mas­sive con­tent con­sump­tion. In an ef­fort to shift my very own par­a­digm, I in­tend to cre­ate, not con­sume. Or at least cre­ate more than I con­sume. Hence my year on the road. Never in­tended, it just so hap­pened that I found my­self in a for­eign place for most of 2016. I nearly ran out of fuel in Morocco with my part­ner in crime. I solo-hiked many walks across my beau­ti­ful new home Aotearoa as well as my name­sake's home­land Spain. I hid from moose in Canada and learned about Fado in Madeira. I won­dered and wan­dered in Is­rael and gal­loped through Pe­tra. There were tur­tles in Aus­tralia, too much wine in Italy, and days on end in French mu­se­ums. But there was some­thing else, too. There was a shift, a change of mind­set.

Shar­ing tea with cus­toms of­fi­cers on my Moroc­can ar­rival un­rav­elled laugh­ter, not weari­ness. Ex­u­ber­ant palaces in Por­tu­gal let the most colour­ful dreams come to life. But, most im­por­tantly, walk­ing the end­less streets of such coun­tries cre­ated a

kalei­do­scope of ex­pe­ri­ences with in­sight I would have never even dreamed of gain­ing. In­sight such as the im­por­tance, no, the mon­u­men­tal weight any­one and ev­ery­one must place on do­ing so­cial good. On pay­ing it for­ward and look­ing after those most vul­ner­a­ble. A year on the road, filled with a di­ver­sity of ad­ven­tures and cul­tures, made me un­der­stand what it takes to build a com­mu­nity; to cre­ate a so­ci­ety, oth­ers, like my­self, are so in­trigued by they might just visit. A com­mu­nity like the one in Lis­bon's old town. One where neigh­bours share bread and wash­ing lines frame the streets. One where the home­less are an in­te­gral part of so­ci­ety, be­ing ac­tively of­fered not just shel­ter, but re­spect and jobs, like in Van­cou­ver.

One where re­silience and hos­pi­tal­ity are indis­pens­able, even after megaty­phoons wip­ing out thou­sands of homes, like in the Philip­pines. In­sight such as this in­vites a new at­ti­tude. An at­ti­tude of not merely see­ing, but exploring the places I, we, go. Spend­ing a year on the road showed me that it's not in­di­vid­ual suc­cess or ma­te­rial ac­cu­mu­la­tion that leads to hap­pi­ness. But it's much rather the idea of a re­silient, con­nected com­mu­nity, col­lec­tive in­tent, and ac­cess to na­ture that per­fectly links up with in­di­vid­ual and so­ci­etal sat­is­fac­tion. Now, read­ing and watch­ing it from our per­ceived com­fort zone is the easy part. How­ever, one will never truly grasp such ideas un­less one has felt it in per­son.

By do­ing so, the act of trav­el­ling be­comes more per­sonal and mean­ing­ful to me. I talk less and lis­ten more. I move with more in­ten­tion and learn to em­brace un­cer­tainty. All the while, my soul is filled with ever-more pas­sion for exploring, ad­ven­tur­ing, learn­ing and see­ing more. I be­gin to cul­ti­vate a reper­toire of ex­pe­ri­ences, un­der­stand­ing and net­works alike. In the end, that's what it's all about. Let's all say 'yes' to ad­ven­ture. Yes, to la dolce vita; yes, to a rus­tic fare in the shadow of snow-capped moun­tains; yes, to mem­o­rable es­capades in the jun­gle; yes, to a new pace of life and yes to liv­ing out your heart's most vi­va­cious, wildest de­sires.

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