What image does ‘run like a girl’ conjure up in your head? Go on you can be honest now. For me I picture my adolescent self all awkward and self-conscious. Not quite sure where to put my arms so I can hide my body. Also, the throw-away playground insults shouted at boys ‘You run like a girl’! Then I have to dig a little deeper to think about all the awesome female runners there are, which is crazy as there are so many!
Always (yes the ladies hygiene brand!) have a thought-provoking advert which asks a group of teens to ‘run like a girl’, ‘fight like a girl’ ‘throw like a girl’ and all completed the actions pathetically. Yes it’s an advert but it works for me because it resonates. For the first time it’s really made me think about being called a girl as an insult. I’ve heard it so many times and never questioned it or felt offended. I just accepted it as a perfectly normal thing to say and worked hard at being more like a boy!
So, I met Piet in Knysna, South Africa. It was a slightly surreal time for me as I was on the hop from Jeffrey’s Bay (South Africa’s surfing mecca) and kind of in hiding from a fascinating but completely off the wall character – a tattoo artist from Cape Town who spelled TROUBLE. So after doing a midnight flit, I found myself in a beautiful home in this sleepy town with breath-taking harbour views. I was making myself breakfast and in walked Piet with a pram. A pram filled with all his wordly belongings and we started talking…
‘I’ve been a Pagan Witch since I was 5 and I’ve been sent to guard the magic square’ said the guy next to me, as I sat cross-legged in a small but perfectly traditional apartment in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. I looked around at everyone else’s expressions but they didn’t flinch. Hmm I thought, perhaps I’m sat next to a real life Pagan Witch, this is fucking awesome!
I’ve been back on UK soil for two and a half months. Even before I landed I knew I was going to have to do some work to successfully ‘detravel’ without letting the fear set in. By fear I mean allowing old fears to come back, the sadness that my globe trotting had come to an end and the ‘what the hell am I going to do next’ fear. You know what it’s like when you get home from a mindblowingly good two week holiday and you get the holiday blues? Well, I was envisaging that feeling times 50.
Sometimes, someone in life lands right in your path and completely blows your mind. Harold is one of these people and he did this with all he’s achieved, the lessons he’s learned and his outlook and demeanour. A world explorer, in the true sense of the phrase, he’s been pretty much everywhere. Anywhere he hasn’t been is on his list. He’s not only an inspirational traveller, but an inspirational person too.
When I reached South Africa, back in April, I started feeling slightly panicked about my return to a land-locked home town. I always knew I loved the sea but throughout my travels I began to realise I needed it. The sea makes me feel calm, content and ultimately happy. A much nicer person to be around. Reading isn’t very close to the sea… well not by UK standards anyway. So what could I do to get a little closer to this natural wonder that keeps me sane. Sailing was something I wanted to explore, it could be a gateway to travel and freedom.
The beauty of travel is not only the places you see, the experiences you have but also the people you meet. Such a cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason and they’re usually bloody accurate. I met more than my fair share of little gems on the road, many that I wish I could pick up and stick in my rucksack (my recent trip to an osteopath tells me this isn’t a good idea).
This series of blog posts aren’t about my kindred spirits, they’re about those that not only dabble in travel, they make it a lifestyle. I was fortunate enough to meet three totally inspirational humans whilst roaming the earth who’ve taken a leap from conventional living and fully embraced the nomadic lifestyle. I’d like to introduce to you, Simon, Harold and Piet. These three dudes have smashed the mould and I reckon will inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me. Over three blog posts I’m sharing their stories, so sit back and enjoy their journeys.
I left the UK shaky legged and teary eyed a year ago this week. I checked into a Bangkok hotel, leaving my job, my friends, my family, my home, my life all to become a solo traveller. I only had one goal and that was to explore the world. Well as much of the world as I could fit into a year. I never really expected to get this far, in more ways than one. To say it’s been life changing is selling it short and now it’s home time.
As much as I’m desperately trying not to other-think it, live in the moment and savour every second, it’s a fact that I’m now much nearer my end date than my start date. Much, much closer and I’m terrified.