On the Road Again...
I celebrated my fifth anniversary on the road on September 22nd 2017 in California. Five years; as I have often said in my writings (whether it comes to the blog or my books), it feels like it was both yesterday and a lifetime ago.
However, I had never truly applied this concept to such extent; I can easily picture myself getting my first rides and waits on the European roads, surrounded by the chilliness and dampness of the winter looming at the horizon, with my shorter hair and glasses that I still had not lost at the time (I mean, the glasses especially of course). And it does feel as if it were yesterday indeed.
Yet, it also feels as if I had experienced an entire lifetime on each and every single day of the journey, lifetimes that I have already lived sometime, somewhere, in another dimensional plane or galaxy, which have connected me with my true essence all the way to when I was still drifting in the cosmos as stardust. Because that is when everything started for each and every of us at some point.
Do not worry. I am not going to intend to tell you what has taken place in my millions of lifetimes since the time (although time had not been invented by mankind yet) I was hanging around as an atom amidst Nothingness. However, I just wanted to share the idea that 2017 (a number that does not mean much but that is very useful in order to express time since we have been conditioned to believe that time is something linear) has been a truly fascinating Gregorian year in terms of re-attuning myself regarding where I come from, where I am and where I am going.
Of course, we are not only talking about geography and countries here; going places in order to become free and independent has definitely been a huge part of my journey but only as a tool to achieve my personal and collective growth in an indissociable way from one another.
It may sound pretty obvious that we all personally and collectively grow when travelling around but I believe it makes a substantial difference when growing becomes a priority over travelling itself. After all, I also do have to often remind myself that when I left Southern France in 2012 (after working as an English teacher and especially as a political activist for the Zeitgeist Movement in Amsterdam for a year), my only goal was to set myself far apart from materialism, consumerism and corporatism by leaving my conventional life in Europe and doing a complete hitchiking trip without money around the world in two or three years.
At least, that was what I was telling people when they were asking me about the timing of it, for I had myself absolutely no clue about what was going to happen from the very moment I would set my first foot on the tarmac and start my quest.
Since then, I long realised that I would not want to be that guy who would go to every single country of this planet as quickly as possible just for the sake of it because there is something about travelling that goes way beyond physical borders, whether it comes to those of a country, a culture, a language or of a human body.
I closed my bank account and kept 400 Euros that I did not want to use before getting to Asia for I did not want to get stuck without money somewhere in Eastern Europe or in the Middle East. I finally managed to travel without money for eight months from France to India, but after all, the whole concept of the journey had already “failed” when I could not cross Pakistan overland (I first wanted to do it without travelling by plane at all) from Iran for geopolitical issues at the time and had to illegally sleep and play the guitar on the streets of Dubai in order to buy a plane ticket to New Delhi.
Of course there are no “failures” in life and only experiences to be lived and lessons to be learnt, and it was already high time I shifted cycles for I was already so physically and psychologically exhausted; I had to accept that travelling around the world without spending any money would simply cost me my life. At the end of the day, travelling without money is surely feasible within the borders of a country but it is also simply impossible by definition since money is necessary at some stage when crossing overland borders and getting visas along the way. It may be doable to sneak through a couple of borders on the way but definitely not through forty or fifty in order to make it a round-the-world trip.
Overall, I had heard about some of the rare people who had intended to have a similar experience but they ended up giving up or else being sponsored and finally spend money, but I was not interested in neither of the two. Therefore, I needed a transition that would allow me to adjust the whole concept of my journey and keep going with it in a more viable manner, whether it would come to reconnecting with myself or with the people I would bump into along my way.
I had already understood that my journey was all about people and the tremendous lessons I would learn through their presence and guidance as much as they would from mine, whether it would be for the time of a glance, a smile or a lifetime and beyond.
Many things have changed since I left France and I believe that despite the fact that there have been many crucial turning points taking place in the last 64 months away from what I used to call home, one of the most fundamental ones happened when I arrived in Alaska from Japan in July 2015.
For the first time in years, after having travelled alone for so long, I realised that I now needed to share more on a physical level with people (not in the way you may think though). Consequently, for the last two years and a half, I have put the intention to manifest this concept in my life and, like Chris McCandless, I was meant to understand into the wild that happiness is only real when shared. However, unlike him, I was grateful to be able to cross the Teklanika River on my way back from the bus and to keep being alive on this physical plane as I can share my own story.
Paradoxically (or not), it has been since then that my communication with the outside world has also been completely failing, regardless of whatever intention I have put in the process. I have just been inexorably taken into the vicious circle of being willing to share all my stories but not being able to do so because of learning and growing in the most insightful places yet the most remote ones in the meantime.
Can you imagine that I spent 21 of the last 30 months isolated in nature (including 9 out of 11 in 2017) since I arrived in Alaska? What does it take to a human to be completely secluded, alone or not, and to camp and coexist with nature with just the bare necessities for such a long time?
Because I am personally still having a hard time fathoming it. Yet, it has been during this time that I have grown the most and that I also could not share it with my beloved people in the outside world. Because as I mentioned in a post last year, I have spent most of this given time in what has felt like a well-advanced dream stage (like in the movie “Inception”) through which I fulfilled the goal to extract myself from any sort of conventional structure and live and travel utterly off the grid. Because it is part of my intimate convictions to believe that living in a responsible and sustainable way is one of the answers to the masquerade of our current political, societal and economic model.
In fact, 2017 has helped me put the pieces of the Puzzle together; maybe not all of them and it may still be a long way to go but at least those that now allow me to perceive the bigger picture of this present incarnation on Earth and especially to understand it.
When I first got to Mexico in December 2015, I had hitchhiked from Alaska to San Francisco and stayed and worked in many sustainable communities along the way. Even though I was truly emotionally exhausted from my journey (that had started three years before at the time), it took me another entire year to eventually be able to materialise the context of actually fully chilling out without having to think of where I was going to go and what I was going to do next.
Overall, I had never thought that I would be capable of saying or writing that one day but I had completely lost my travelling mojo and whatever motivation to hit the road again; not because I no longer wanted to travel but because before doing so, I needed to digest all the intense emotions that had taken place into my life since the beginning of this journey, which I had never really had the opportunity to do.
Subsequently, going back to Mexico and Chacahua in December 2016 and spending five months there, after experiencing the ultimate self-sufficient adventure in the North-American forests (see previous publications) has allowed me to sit back and do nothing and not worry about it for the very first time of my life.
Of course, the term “nothing” does not have the connotation that one may think about in the first place simply because I still learnt a myriad of things in the meantime like I had never done before and the main difference was that I could finally process and integrate all the feelings that had taken place into my life until that very point of my existence. It does not mean that these emotions were “good” or “bad” for I have long taken anything that would come to me just as an experience as it should be; it means that I just needed to embrace and process these emotions for the very first time at long last.
For instance, you have to try to understand that some events had been so intense and I had had so little time to assimilate them that I was sometimes feeling unsure about whether things like travelling without money, hiking 300km alone in the Himalayas or going to the Magic Bus in Alaska had really happened for real. I mean, I had never had the opportunity to just appreciate it for what it was because I always had to make a decision according to a situation given to me and then move on so quickly.
On the other hand, everything that I have done in the last five years is absolutely surreal, especially when put together; travelling without money all the way from France to India, working as an industrial photographer in Iran, busking with my guitar in Istanbul, Dubai or China, parading as a Samurai in Japan, working as a University professor in Kathmandu, panning gold in Alaska, picking mushrooms for a living in Canada or working with some of my friends as a marijuana farm director in California, which does not even include the myriad of travel anecdotes that are affiliated to the (beautiful) madness of backpacking around the world overland for an indefinite amount of time.
For a long time, I could find my salvation and the possibility to let go through the process of writing my journals (and then books by the same occasion) since I realised it had long been like a “therapy” for me, also considering that I may not have been ready to share these emotions with the outside world at least at that time. And it makes sense; I was not ready to share them because I had never taken the proper time to fully integrate them anyway.
In fact, this is what my second stay in Chacahua eventually gave me the opportunity to do; to sit down and have a deep introspection about all these events, to take the time to figure out where I had been going with my life and to perceive and observe all the interconnections between each and every synchronicities that had occurred in the meantime. Since Alaska, the intention of my journey substantially changed because my personal and collective growth through my quest drastically overcame its geographical aspect for whatever it would mean and however it would impact my experience on Earth.
For the very first time of my life, this life, I could have the time to write as much as I wanted, share my passions and philosophies through teaching English, French, astronomy or astrology, without any involved money and only in the context of exchange of services, to look after my body through yoga, running, swimming and other poi choreographs the way I needed them, to learn how to make handcrafts and macrame and to make my own jewelry to give to the people I love, and I could do all these things in one of the most breathtaking places that I had ever seen in 15 years of travelling.
2017 has also been a year of other wonderful achievements in terms of human experiences.
Of course, there have always been outstanding human experiences at all times through my epic adventures but that year was special in a sense that I could see my father for the first time in five years (see previous post).
Along with the blood family connection, I had the opportunity to also reconnect with some more cosmic family and ancestral knowledge along the way, and despite the fact that I have had more time to share with my people in the last couple of years (especially since I arrived in Chacahua), the substantial difference is that I have had some inspiring companions travelling with me most of the time. Love also played its part of the game; because this is what we all are down here to remember and do.
At last, I got privileged enough to see my first total solar eclipse in my life in Oregon, USA, after having waited for that moment for 26 years, since I had started to study astronomy at the age of 12. It was well worth awaiting it and driving 30 hours in three day in order to enjoy some of the two most mind-blowing minutes in my entire life.
As I wrote these few lines, I was finally about to leave Northern California and head back to my beloved Mexico. I bought a 4x4 car and a new camera, and I had never been so excited to hit the road again, which is a truly awesome feeling after nearly two years of working on reconnecting with myself and on digesting and balancing out some of these energies and emotions that I discussed before. And it takes a lot of time and dedication in order to do so.
Interestingly enough, it is the first car I bought since New Zealand 2006 and the first camera since 2009. Regarding the former, it is mainly because when I started my journey, I wanted to hitchhike all the way from Alaska to Patagonia and even though I made it between Northern Alaska and San Francisco in 2015 and did a lot of hitchhiking in Mexico in the meantime as well, I had never been able to make it overland from San Francisco to Mexico City ever since.
In fact, the trip from San Francisco to Mexico became even more meaningful through the idea that it was eventually extended all the way to Chacahua, my paradise island in Oaxaca, where I am now doing the proofreading of my text so that I can share it with you as soon as possible.
Yet, I do not know how long I will keep Rudy, my car, because evolving and growing personally and collectively and using the spiritual tools that we run into on our respective Paths does not mean that we have to change our convictions and values; We can accept, adapt and readjust but it needs to have a balance in the long run, like everything does in this universe. I am surely not willing to give up on the way I love travelling in the longer term, which has always been about hitchhiking, camping and connecting with the locals and sharing with them in the most genuine, insightful manner as possible.
During these long days being “lost” in the remote Californian forests throughout the summer and fall, I long pondered about the evolution of my journey and the actual concept of Teacher on the Road. At the end of the day, life is a different journey for each and every of us and yet, our paths and souls always cross and intertwine with each other over and over through an ocean of infinite quantum possibilities. Life is not about having principles and getting stuck with them; it is all about having values and faith that help us accept, learn and go with the flow of every single experience that comes to us on our way.
Indeed, the fact of having travelled without money five years ago and of now having manifested money in my life through alternative jobs in the last couple of years does not have to be compared; they are just two very distinct experiences in themselves yet both truly amazing ones. Most importantly, my values towards money have not changed and I mostly travel in the exact same way that has allowed to get out and keep distant from my comfort zone and to remain open to the magic that have been taking place in my life ever since.
Furthermore, the global concept is still also the same; striving for the ultimate freedom and independence from materialism and consumerism along with all the values attached to them. And as you already know; Love is the Answer.
Overall, it is the same regarding my journey and that, I believe, of any human being on this planet; finding an equilibrium between the light and shadow that we all have within us, and embracing the short and longer-term cycles that allow us to get there.
The American adventure has granted me with the possibility to observe my evolution in terms of the many sustainable communities in which I stayed and/or worked in the last four years in Japan, Alaska, Canada and Guatemala as well as those I developed and ran with some of my companions in the States and Mexico in varied contexts.
Being sustainable as a community in any possible form is surely the future of humanity as a necessary evolutionary process in order to thrive but it is “only” a tool that we must learn to handle in the most efficient way as possible in order to implement a new, free educational and healthcare system for everyone. Only then will our kids become the seeds of more aware and emotionally intelligent beings that could happily and effectively co-exist with each other through unconditional love and compassion, healthy food and useful technology without neither necessarily being dependent on paper money nor be labeled as a hippie for doing so.
For my part, I eventually managed to travel the overland section of the road I was missing between California and Mexico in a couple of weeks through Nevada, Utah and Arizona, and all the stunning deserts and geological wonders on the way. I am now back in Chacahua and have finally been resting and reconnecting with the peacefulness of the ocean for a while. Talking about my future possibilities at that stage would be far too speculative to be really interesting but what I know is that I am going to focus on taking a lot of time for myself in the next few weeks before hitting the road again through central America.
I wish you to spend some outstanding once-in-a-lifetime moments with the people you love in the places you want to be with them. Sure thing is that one of these gorgeous places is definitely our heart and I always keep in mine all the wonderful people and places that have allowed me to get to this very point of my life. I keep telling myself that I would do exactly the same if I were to do it again; because I truly enjoyed the lessons I have had to learn until now regardless of how harsh they were and I look forward to the next ones for whatever they are.
Thank you to all of you who have never ceased to believe in what I am doing and that have given me so much faith and love for five long years and so far beyond.
“Like Solzhenitsyn, labouring in Vermont, I shall beaver away in exile. Unlike Solzhenitsyn, I shan't be alone.” (Timothy Cavendish in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell)
Photos USA Road Trip 2017
Journey around the world overland since 2012.