(Photo: Storm in Costa Rica, June 2018)
The weather is something we never take sufficiently into consideration in our life.
We know it is there and it can be really bad or even disastrous at times but we do not care so much in our daily life, maybe because we cannot control it after all. It is a bit like the horoscope; people never take it too seriously but it is statistically proven that they are the first two things that they instinctively look at when they open a newspaper.
Yet, it does not take a shaman to understand that we have always been connected to the sky for this is where Everything started, or else to be aware that the climate we live in is intimately connected with the way we feel, think, say and do.
No wonder that the highest suicide rates in the world are correlated with the places where the sun shines least. And interestingly enough, since silence is not usually assumed as something precious in the Western society, it seems that a majority of individuals speak about the weather in an attempt of making conversation with someone else when they have nothing really important to say in the first place. Well, it is not always true though, and climatology can be a fascinating discussion topic when taken to a more profound level than the usual three-dimensional perspective that we are commonly conditioned to.
We humans are inexorably attached to the places we dwell in throughout our existence even if the weather seems to dampen their spirits. Yet, it has not always been the case in the past as we spirits are naturally nomadic souls.
Of course, it has a lot to do with the evolution of society, hence with capitalism, corporatism and globalisation. In fact, many books have already been written on the inevitable connection between climates and the evolution of our civilisation and our societal model, and it is no coincidence that when we look at a world map, all the richest countries are located in the four-season climate pattern.
Therefore, it is not far-fetched to assume that capitalism has been able to thrive in a four-season climate because it is where people are the most productive and contribute most to the growth of the economy, which is inherent and indissociable from the entire concept of globalisation.
As a matter of fact, this political and economical pattern would not have thrived as we know it if the weather had been the same on the whole planet because it needs poverty and a gap between the haves and the have-nots in order to exist.
(Photo: Hitchhiking in Mongolia, July 2014)
When it comes to travelling, after nearly 7 years of vagabonding around the globe without heading back to France, my country of origin, I have long realised how crucial the influence of the weather has been in my evolution.
It is quite outstanding that even if the material experience reaches its climax in a four-season climate, it is undoubtedly in a subtropical environment that one's spiritual experience thrives most. And again, if you look at the world map, it is between the two hemispheres that you can find the poorest countries and peoples in the world. And as a traveller or an expat, it is often in the poorest places that the authenticity of the human, cultural and spiritual experience can be found at its best.
Organising a trip abroad is always correlated with the weather somehow and my long journey has been no exception to that ever since it started. I mean, the considerable difference is that for my part, it has been a life-or-death factor, at some stage. In effect, when I left France in September 2012, it was clear that I did not want to cross the Middle East (and especially Iran) in summer because this area has some of the highest temperatures in the world (up to 55 degrees Celsius). It would have simply inappropriate while hitchhiking my way through, which is why I had planned to get there in winter.
On the other hand, I also had to make sure that I would not travel too late through Western Turkey (Anatolia plateau) and Northern Iran in the seasonal year for it can be as cold as -30 degrees and it can snow a lot there in the heart of the winter. Then, I had to go through the same thoughtful process in order to get the most out of India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, Alaska, Canada and the United States for it is obviously a very different experience to explore these places depending on the time of the year you are there.
Overall, I was rather successful in my attempt of journeying along with the weather until I travelled, lived and worked in Japan for 9 months (from September 2014 to June 2015), which is where I experienced the worst winter in my life; out of the 90 days of the “official” winter, it rained, drizzled, snowed, hailed and was gray and windy for 85 days in total. You may wonder if I really counted these days and my answer is definitely yes for it was truly indecent to my soul.
Lucky me I was playing and singing in a music band on a regular basis and it really helped my energy move around and it simply saved my sanity throughout my stay. It was also a confirmation that even though people seem to talk nonsensically about the weather all the time, they are very reluctant to share their feelings and be emotionally honest about it.
As I started wondering more about my own ability to cope with the local climate until I figured out that the province (Fukui) where I lived sadly possessed the highest rate of suicide in Japan, and it was no coincidence that it had the worst weather pattern in the entire country.
(Photo: Japanese winter in Fukui, December 2014)
It is commonly assumed that the way we cope with the weather when travelling around depends on where we come from and it can be true that, in some specific cases, it has made us tougher as we have adapted through evolution. But then it is irrelevant to travelling because it only applies to one type of climate and we totally lose our bearings as soon as we get out of it for it is so different from one place to another, even sometimes in a sole country.
In fact, it is scientifically proven that the weather affects us because it induces a substantial change in the way we perceive colours, hence the world around us through the fluctuations of our mood.
In a physiological perspective, the natural light of the sun increases the serotonin level in our body, hence our happiness level as we simply feel more alive. Also, it promotes the production of vitamin D under the skin that regulates calcium and phosphate in the body, and a lack of it would lead to bone fragility and...fatigue, which can end up as depression in the long run.
Then, we could discuss the idea that one may be able to find its own Light within at all times regardless of the colour of the sky, but in an energetical perspective, sunny days also enhance the brightness of colours of our direct environment, which in turn improves the balance of our chakras, therefore the way we are attuned both with ourselves and with others.
(Photo 1: the Northern lights in British Colombia, Canada, May 2016- Photo 2: Rainbow in California, October 2018)
(Photo: camping in Alaska, July 2015)
If we agree that it is not questionable whether the weather affects us, it is just about how sensitive and aware we are of its fluctuations and how much we can take before realising too late that it is too much. Yet, it is never “too late” and everything always comes at a perfect time, whenever we are ready to understand and integrate it.
From there, it is much easier to understand that the collective consciousness of a specific location can be heavily affected by the climatic patterns for we all are connected energetically and it is something quite fascinating to observe when travelling overland.
For example, when I hitchhiked and camped my way through Mongolia and Alaska (respectively in July-August 2014 and July-August 2015), it was obvious that these places are ruled by so harsh a climate that it has to be taken into consideration at all times. In effect, the temperature can regularly get down to -50 degrees in winter and the thermometer remains below freezing level for 5 months a year (usually from November to April).
Consequently, it is no surprise that half the population of Mongolia is nomadic (knowing that the other half lives in Ulaan Bataar, the Mongolian capital and only decent city in the country) and I did not feel so different from these people for my life was a bit the same with my lifestyle and my tent as a portable yurt after all. The winter there is so intense that I even met some locals and expats in Ulaan Bataar (Mongolian capital) who were organising ecstatic dance sessions on a weekly basis in order to keep their energy flowing, to feel alive and hence avoid fatigue and depression.
Furthermore, when I transited through Fairbanks (Alaska) despite the very agreeable weather of the subarctic summer, I could rapidly perceive that locals had to be incredibly tough to be able to suffer the recklessness of Mother Nature as beyond the bone-chilling cold, they do not have any daylight for many months a year in winter because of being so close to the Arctic Circle.
It is no coincidence that not only men have learnt to do just anything in their quest of survival but also that amazingly enough, most women have become carpenters in theirs. Sadly enough, it is neither a coincidence that both Alaska and Mongolia are also two of the places where there is the most depression and alcohol addiction in the world.
(Photo: Camping into the Wild in Alaska, July 2015)
(photo: Jumping manta rays at sunrise, Mexico, December 2015)
After the unbearable Japanese winter, I decided that I would never experience a four-season winter again (at least intentionally) for my way of travelling and living was allowing me to make this choice. After all, I had now crossed North America and was meant to linger in Mexico for a while.
December 2015 marked an essential milestone in my trip because it was not only my first time in Mexico but also the first time my overland wonderlusting was going to enter the subtropical climate. One may argue that I also did that in India but it was for a mere week for a back and forth trip in the South before resuming the actual course of my voyage further North towards Nepal.
Yet, many folks who hear the word “ tropic” would immediately think of warm weather, blue sky and hammering sun but it is not that evident when it is not just for a two-week vacation and when it is about travelling or living there on a more permanent basis. In effect, the subtropical climate works with two distinct seasons; the dry season and the wet season. And the wet season (or monsoon like in Asia) is never a piece of cake when backpacking around because it is when the risk of exotic diseases and bacteria is at stake.
It has now been 4 years that I have not experienced a proper winter and I could not be happier about it. One may argue that it can be truly appreciable to put some different clothes on and feel snug like a bug in a rug at times and I can really comprehend this feeling in my own experience as I myself love the magic of the snow, but I do not miss it.
Travelling is always teaching us, directly or indirectly, what we really miss (or really do not miss) in our life when we no longer have them whether it comes to people, objects or concepts. It often reminds me of the first time I experienced Christmas and New Year in a warm location at the other side of the world. It was in Western Australia in December 2005 and it felt surreal to go to the beach and swim at that time for I had never been accustomed to that. Yet, it also felt like the most natural thing to do ever as well as an excellent reminder that the whole end-of-year frenzy with snowmen and hanging socks is something very relative according to the climate, hence the culture we live in.
Again, we can debate about the idea that Christmas is such a lovely time because the decoration, markets, food and especially people are so kind and loving but for my part, I would rather be in a place where there is no real Christmas spirit but where the people are generous, smiling and happy with their life condition the entire year.
For the last four years, I have completely integrated the possibility of following the seasons as part of my lifestyle, not only in the practical way but also in the energetical one.
In fact, the geographical pace of my long journey substantially slowed down in the meantime because I had to dig up more from inside I reckon.
I was willing to avoid the rainy season in Mexico and Central America although it is something very tricky to achieve due to the narrowness of the stretch of land that links Mexico to South America, hence because of the huge influence of the hot, humid Caribbean weather coming from the North.
What is more, since I was in a cycle of travelling back and forth to Canada and the USA in order to work there seasonally, I could naturally enjoy both the gorgeous Northern four-season summer and the not-any-less wondrous dry season in Mexico throughout the complete solar revolution.
(Photo: Camping in British Colombia, Canada, September 2015)
(Photo: The Colombian Caribbean, February 2019)
I could not dwell forever on that geographical routine between North and Central America for I also needed to move on in my voyage and keep defying new horizons, whether it came to physical or metaphysical ones.
Yet, the climate pattern was to drastically shift again in South America as I was getting closer to the Equator. In effect, from the influence of the Caribbean weather in the North (Colombia) to that of the Humboldt current in the South (Antarctic current that crawls up the Pacific coast of South America from Southern Chile to Ecuador due to the Coriolis force and the rotation of the Earth on its axis), I have been heavily impacted with regards to the course of my quest since I arrived in Colombia last year.
The equatorial climate constitutes a virtual line that spreads out about 500 kilometres on both sides of the Equator around the Earth and it represents an area where the main maritime and air currents meet each other, giving birth to a rather smooth, regular routine throughout the year, yet very irregular and unpredictable in the short term. Indeed, the impact of El Niño and La Niña is much stronger in this area of the globe than in any other part of the planet.
As a consequence, it makes it very difficult to predict the seasons and the colour of the sky. The Equatorial climate usually has only one season but this is only true in the Amazon basin as the heat builds up the humidity of the forest, which then condensates, turns into clouds and falls back to the ground, where it originally comes from (phenomenon of “evapotranspiration” or the short water cycle), pretty much on a daily basis.
Otherwise, the two-season, dry-wet pattern is predominant in the Andes and along the Pacific coast until Peru and then, the cold Humboldt current completely prevents the cloud formation and the already rather barren land gives way to the Atacama desert. It is the driest desert in the world, spreads from Peru to Chile and is the Mecca of astronomy with the most beautiful night sky on Earth.
Furthermore, it is also important to understand that Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are divided in 3 distinct climatic zones and are the only three countries in the world where it is possible to find an oceanic pattern (Pacific coast), a mountainous pattern (Andes) and a rainforest pattern (Amazon forest).
Meanwhile, the direction of my journey has not changed but the way of manifesting it on the physical level has. Indeed, after having hitchhiked through and camped on half of the planet (about 30000 km) in the first few years, and after having driven my own vehicle from Northern California (where I had stopped hitchhiking) and Costa Rica (where I sold it), I then entered a new concept of Teacher on the road with the South American section of the voyage.
I invested in a furnished van in Colombia and travelled the entire country with it until I reached Ecuador and crossed the Equator two months ago. Needless to mention that it feels like a tremendous achievement in my round-the-world voyage after having travelled overland all the way from Northern Alaska, since I first landed on the American continent from Japan in July 2015. I had already crossed the Tropic of Cancer overland in Mexico in late 2017 and the Tropic of Capricorn in Australia in 2007 but it is the first time ever that I cross the Equator line overland as well as the first time that I am back in the Southern hemisphere since I actually left Australia to go back to France in 2007.
(Photo: Driving through Ecuador, May 2019)
(Photo: Costa Rica 2018)
Regarding the energetical aspect of the seasons, putting an emphasis on following them has also assisted me in going along more and more with the flow of the astronomical and astrological events affiliated to them. All in all, it has helped me be more in synergy with myself, therefore with the world around me and it is no coincidence that I intensively delved more into both astronomy and astrology in the meantime.
Subsequently, I have set up my own permaculture gardens and looked after the plants according to the biodynamic principles (influence of the moon) and started teaching again astronomy and astrology. It has inevitably led me to the reading of astral charts and helping people to understand the massive cause-effect influence of the cosmos in their life.
At the end of the day, we should not forget that regardless of whenever they existed in time and space, all the ancestral civilisations had shaped their culture and customs according to the heavens; the sun (equinoxes, solstices and eclipses), the moon (its calendar was adapted to the Gregorian one in the late 16th century) and to the movement of the other celestial objects above their head.
The moon calendar is surely one of the most fundamental energetical aspects that impacts our life at all times and paradoxically one of the most neglected. In effect, if the Queen of the night has the tremendous power to move the massive masses of water of the oceans four times a day (two cycles of high tide and two of low tide through 24 hours), imagine what She can do to our body since it is composed of about 70% of water.
This is no far-fetched spiritual mambo jumbo, this is science for thanks to quantum physics, we know that our emotions are somatised all the way to the cell level in our body. Since the moon represents the emotional body in astrology, comprehending the heavens may help us be more effective in choosing the places where we want (or need) to live and travel, and channelling the emotional roller-coaster we often face in our human experience. We could then feel more attuned with our emotions, our body, our spirit, hence with those of others.
Overall, travelling influences the way we perceive the world around us whether it comes to people, cultures or landscapes and it also works the same when dealing with the intrinsic power of Mother Nature and its climatic patterns, especially when journeying overland. As a matter of fact, it goes even deeper than that when we realise that the weather can potentially ruin all the other aspects of a whole trip.
As I mentioned in the beginning of my narrative, climatology and astrology are both related to the sky and we all are intimately connected with these concepts whether we want it or not. For what lies above our head is a mirror of what we have deeply buried inside us. As above so below.
Thus, since we all are connected through the Eye of the collective consciousness, what lies within us is necessarily a mirror of what lies within others and vice versa. And it has to count for something in our attempt to connect and share with them.
Indeed, taking the time to learn more about the infinite stretch of Unknown above our head may improve our emotional honesty and vulnerability in both our human and spiritual experience. It is essential in our personal and collective evolution as spiritual warriors not only because it rules our existence to such a crucial extent but because studying the heavens is also part of what shamans do.
And despite the fact that we all have a unique Path, we all have the same potential of being a shaman in the first place on the soul level; not a shaman who charges a ridiculous $200 for a trendy Ayahuasca ceremony in the jungle using the flimsy excuse that “we all need money to survive”, therefore perverting the essence and value of the sacred medicine for the sake of money and materialism, but a shaman who observes and explores the flow of the universe within and around him in order to unconditionally share their wisdom and knowledge with his fellow beings, and to feel at peace with it.
(Photo: Mars and Jupiter at Playa Dominical, Costa Rica 2018)
This has absolutel(Photo: Sunset Yoga in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, May 2019. Credits: Robin Braes)
After having driven more than 6000 kilometres in the last 4 months in Colombia and Ecuador (the 29th and 30th country of this journey) all the way from the Northernmost Caribbean coast of Colombia, I have now reached the Pacific coast of South Ecuador and decided to settle and recentre myself here for a while before I keep going on the geographical part of the journey towards Peru, Bolivia, and Chile at the end of the year.
Despite the fact that I keep studying the sky and climate on my way as part of being my very own shaman, the supposedly dry season here is turning to a fiasco, which could not be any more suitable in order to feel like staying in my hut close to the beach and focus on the indoors for some time in this new long-term cycle.
After all, yes, we can also focus on the Light inside and bring up massive amounts of creativity when we are aware of what the sky does to us.
Settling down here on my own after having ventured mostly accompanied by beautiful people on my trip in the last couple of years tends to remind me of the fact that I have put a lot of my personal work and writing aside and I have never been so eager to get back to it.
I have two main projects for the upcoming months; going back to the very beginning of my writings and publish a book as soon as the Universe conspires for it, and organising some courses and workshops with regards to a multitude of varied topics such as yoga, massage, reiki, holistic therapies and coaching, astrology, astronomy, tantra, home-made alternative medicine and emotional intelligence.
It represents a huge shift in my evolution since I have decided not to go back to the USA this year in order to dedicate my time and energy to my journey, whether it comes to its inward or outward perspective. I have learnt and taught all my life and am now ready to share all that I have been learning on my way so that I can become even more sustainable in my way of living and loving.
Only by unconditionally loving ourselves through both light and darkness can we love others and heal them by actually healing ourselves for all energy is utterly balanced in this physical universe. This has absolutely nothing to do with God or religion; This is the eternal balance between the Yin and the Yang, or else between the acceptance of both the human and spiritual experience in our existence on this physical plane and far beyond.
And in a world that promotes more and more duality and separation, the collective and universal unity, which we are inexorably connected with, can only thrive if we have the willingness to change ourselves and accept who we truly are. Only then can we and the world heal.
Journey around the world overland since 2012.