Traveling has always been part of my life, and I always dreamt of a long trip, but I did not take it seriously. I never thought it was actually feasible. It was one of those unattainable things, so probable as winning the lottery or spending a weekend in the Moon. An idea that was just that, an idea, a dream. Then, in October 2012, something changed: there was a spark (actually two), and the dream of traveling for one year became a small flame, the hope that it might be possible.
I was on holidays visiting a friend in Brazil. We had been in Rio de Janeiro, and we were traveling along the coast in direction to São Paulo. We spent a couple of days in Ilha Grande, an island with no cars, with small houses and pousadas* and paradisiacal beaches. Two days of calm, isolated from the world, from the noise, from the stress.
After these two days we took a local ferry to go back to Angra dos Reis, where we had left the car. There we met a French couple who were carrying very big backpacks. They were taking a sabbatical year to travel around the world!
Great coincidence, they were going to the same village than us: Paraty, a Portuguese colonial town by the ocean. Since we had a car, we offered them a ride, and we discussed a lot about their trip. I took the chance to ask them about the process to apply for a sabbatical year (I was working in France as well), how much they thought it would cost… and started believing it was possible.
That was the first spark.
In the evening, we met our new friends in a beach bar to drink a caipirinha by the sea. Another big coincidence, the owner of the bar was from Barcelona! I talked a bit with him. He told me that he had moved to Paraty six month ago with his wife and two children. The children had adapted very well to their new city and learnt to speak Portuguese very fast. I was surprised to learn that around 30 Spanish people lived in Paraty, who often met in his bar (some of them were there at that moment). He finished his story with one of the sentences that has inspired me the most:
‘here we will not become rich, but look at the place we work’.
I looked around me: it was a beautiful beach, with white sand and dancing palms, like in a paradisiacal dream. Of course not everybody’s dream is to work in a beach, but I understood that there are a lot of ways to live and to be happy, and they are all valid and good. Having a successful career in a big company, singing in a music group, teaching at the university, working in a beach bar, or taking a break to discover other things and widen your horizon, it is only a matter of living the life in the way you feel it.
That was the second and final spark.
* pousada = guesthouse, inn