Stages of a journey

If someone asked me (or even if no one does) I would say that within a travel a person can experience three stages: projection, transition, and immersion. The first stage <<Projection>> is what we imagine that we will find during the trip, our expectations, what we think we will find, do, think, know, the plans for the future. When we arrive to a brand new world and we look at everything with surprise and amusement, when we find gestures and the other people face structure weird and somehow incomprehensible, when we feel like we don’t belong to that new world, like total strangers. The first walks, the first interactions with the inhabitants of this new place that we are visiting… All the dreams that are generated from a small idea of what we think we will find.

I would call the second stage <<Transition>>. That’s the moment in which we feel that we are starting to understand a small part of this world, when we feel we are getting closer to the answers we were looking for, but we start to forget what the question was, when we just began to create a routine, to have preferences about basic stuff: cookies, milk, bread, wine, beer, pubs, parks, paths… when we start to do what we really want and not what we think “we have” to do. We began to walk certain streets instead the most known avenues, go to certain dodgy pubs instead the regular cultural areas. We began, without being aware, to taste this brand new world, without the pressure of being an other tourist that walk the streets just taking pictures and buying souvenirs, we don’t look at the buildings with the same amusement than the beginning, and little by little we stop comparing the world we came from with the one we live in.

Irlanda

The third stage would be <<Immersion>>. When the immersion takes place we barely realize, it happens when our days start to flow with the city’s rhythm, we begin to get used to the people’s movements; we forget in a corner, the expectations that we had at the beginning of the trip. We start to flow with the new sounds, new rhythms, we start to use new words, new filters to process reality … It is an imperceptible (or almost) metamorphosis in which we end up sink into this new world.

Little by little we stop feeling  strangers, we begin to take the sounds, gestures, language, understand the looks, the rhythms, the words, we get used to the taste, sound, buildings, streets, faces and even the skin tone of the inhabitants of that world …

And just when we believe that we had conquered the new world we have to go back, we must leave a part of us there, and take with us just a small (and distorted) memory, because memory is capricious, memories that do not fit in a picture , or accumulated words.

We must go back, trying not to take too much, you know, the excess baggage, worried not have done or said enough, frustrated for not being able to take with us these people, these places, smells, emotions, traits, gestures, songs, streets, alleys …

But in the end is the people and not the places (contrary to what might wrongly think) from which we fell in love, we learn, and, of course, miss.

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It is only through people that we can live immersion stage, sink into an alien world; when someone shows us fragments their world, allows us to meet them, see the world through their filter, from their angle, language and words, when we move from the place where we had always been; is with them when we decide to try something different, with whom we discover new colours, sounds, flavours, tastes, rhythms, dances … a new beer, a new song, a new area, a new perspective, a new angle, a new language, new colours, a new world …

And that’s when the time is over and we have to go back to our own world. Away, leaving behind everything, people, places, times, buildings, bars, singing, dancing, and of course, always the promise of re-view allowed.

The wonderful thing about this promise is that it makes it easier to say goodbye, because it feeds the hope of the possibility sharing a moment again. But inside we all fear the questions:  when? How? Where? These questions that we try to leave for the future, we don’t want to have an answer, because the answer (that everyone always has) is the same: I do not know. And not knowing kills hope, and with it a part of us wither.

Immersion is the best part of a trip, the most ephemeral, the most valuable and the most painful, but that gives us the most valuable things that are so hard to find nowadays: teachers, experience, inspiration, motivation and hope…

It doesn’t matter the 25, 36 or 48 hours it takes to be on a plane, airport or truck, because it’s worth, we all know that in the end, despite how much it may hurt out of this world, say goodbye to those places and these people, despite the pain and the need to see a chiropractor, we would do it again, and again and again.

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