Many people have asked me how I could just leave my job and seemingly travel perpetually. How can I afford it? How do you find places to stay for free all the time? How do you find places to volunteer? All questions I’ve received by email, and now I’m sharing the secrets in a series of posts about how The Happy Nomad Tour Rolls and what things are like behind the scenes.
In airports it’s all the same. They have the same sterile environment, the same shops, the same security paranoia.
Land borders is where it’s at. What a great feeling it is to enter a country on foot. Some borders show no outward signs of change, crossing from Germany to Austria with minimal or no change in language, culture, and currency. Some borders have almost no protection requiring the foreigner to actively seek out the immigration office, Mexico/Guatemala and Nepal/India come to mind. Some borders are the scene of incredible pageantry and one-upmanship, the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan being the most classic example. Some borders are small cities with a thriving business catering to the tourists who pass through on a daily basis. Others are no man’s lands with strict security.
On this trip I’ve had bad border experiences in Latin America seen here for Costa Rica-Panama and Colombia-Venezuela. I’ve been adopted by families as well. It all evens out and generally crossing a border has been uneventful. Or has it?
Maybe it’s the explorer within me. Maybe it’s my unending thirst for knowledge. Maybe it’s making the unknown known. I don’t know. But there is an indescribable feeling when getting your passports stamped and taking your first steps into the unknown. It’s a moment of clarity, of sheer bliss to take those steps from the border into undiscovered territory. Sometimes the high remains, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the experience, but when learning is your goal it’s impossible to fail when traveling.
The problem with traveling so much is that the low-hanging fruit has already been plucked. I generally have a good idea what awaits me on the other side of a border, but people have never let me down – that is, my conversations and what I learn from people have perpetually whetted my appetite for knowledge and understanding.
In closing, perhaps the biggest thing you learn by crossing borders is how similar things are on both sides regardless of the wall that may separate the two countries. On both sides people look for love, moms hold their babies and smother them with love, morning newspapers are read, kids play and make the best out of any situation, and food and drink brings people together. In the end, we’re all human and all other classifications are man made.