"Deja que el mundo te cambie, y podras cambiar el mundo"
The trip that changed my life starts with a movie I saw when I was 15 : “Diaros de Motocicleta” by Walter Salles.
This road movie recounts the initiatory journey of 23-year-old Che Guevara and his friend, Alberto Granado, who travelled across Latin America astride a motorcycle called “La Poderosa”. Maybe it was because of the surreal landscapes, maybe it was because of the determining impact that trip had on Guevara himself, but this movie triggered something in me. That day I came out of the theater with two obsessions: 1) travelling the same dusty roads with my backpack and 2) marrying Gael Garcia Bernal. But that’s another story for another time...
And so I did (travel South America), 6 years later. After saving an entire year for the trip, I got on a plane to Buenos Aires. The plan was to travel through Argentina on my own for a month, then to join two of my best friends in Bolivia and continue to Peru together.
I was 21 years old when I landed in BA and spoke no word of spanish. I was incredibly excited, but also incredibly anxious. As a first time solo traveller, I had a lot on my mind: Would I find my way around ? Would I meet people along the way? Could I trust them? Would I be safe? Would the places I’d see measure up to my expectations? Would I be disappointed?
Needless to say that if I were anxious, my parents back in Europe were on the verge of a panic attack, picturing my kidnapping by human traffickers or worse, my falling in love with some argentine revolutionary leader with a weird accent and a pet llama..
The anxiety didn’t last very long though, and it soon made room for a much greater sense of constant gratification. Each day brought its share of discoveries, big or small. I marveled at the immensity and power of nature at the Iguazu falls, tasted heaven with a delicious steak in Palermo, witnessed a quechua ritual in the Andes, shared a dinner with a local movie star in Bariloche, fell in love with the colors of Patagonia, bathed in hot springs in the Colca Canyon, hiked for hours on a steep mountain while being high on Peruvian antibiotics, worked alongside Mother Teresa’s sisters in Cusco, visited a Carmelite convent, surfed sand dunes in Ica…
The beauty of it is: I never planned for any of these things to happen. And what was a source of stress at the beginning of my trip soon became a very addictive daily dose of excitement and wonder. A rare opportunity to discover something new, something extraordinary, everyday.
It took me some time, but I have now realised that “not knowing” is precisely where the beauty of travel lies for me. Not knowing what the hours and days ahead of me hold, what sort of experiences I will live, what sort of people I will meet, what places I’ll discover and how all of it combined will move, amaze, and ultimately profoundly transform me.
For this trip transformed me.
I understood then that comfort was not the point of travel, that not knowing was okay. That all you had to do was to open up your mind and accept to be surprised or proven wrong, and be changed as a result of it.
That is when my trip really began. Not just my trip in South America, but a new life journey as well. To this day I always try to keep an open mind when approaching any new situation. I try to embrace the chaos as I know I can learn a lot from it. Trust me, being the co-founder of a startup, this belief has proven valuable quite a few times already!
I also gained a life motto from this trip, one that hasn't left me since: Deja que el mundo te cambie, y podras cambiar el mundo. / Wait for the World to change you, and you will be able to change the World. I believe it will resonnate with a few travellers out there...