It seems that the whole world is divided between those who love to travel and those who don’t seem to understand it choosing what is considered a rather conventional life. However, if you ever read travel magazines and blogs, you will come across quite a few articles about the importance of travels and all the benefits that come from it. Especially from and for female travelers.
I cannot speak for others, however, I can speak for myself and what I personally feel and think about it. For me, travel is all about the connection of whys and hows of travels. Why do I even travel? Is it running away? Or is it evolving, moving forward and actually living?
What exactly makes us discover the world? And yearn for deeper connection and spiritual experiences of understanding places and people, immersing in other countries, cultures and languages? Become Global Citizens and feel at Home in the world?
This is one of many reasons why I travel. And one of many reasons why education and travel are so important. At least I think so personally.
Besides the most evident factors, like being myself, Autonomy and Liberty to travel the way I want to, what comes from education and travel, are Reasoning, Questioning and Independent Thinking.
I might not be the smartest, friendliest and the most lovey-dovey traveler and blogger out there: I do not speak German, don’t have millions of supporters, dollars, and was not the first one to crack the grey scheme. However, I observe, and think, and learn a lot from my travels. These places actually become important and meaningful to me, and it is so much better experiencing them in person.
Would it be the same if I read about Amaru, Sacred Cerro La Raya and Tucume, as experiencing them on my own?
Thinking of multicultural identity in Acadia National Park? Recognizing languages and cultures as part of who I am, and honoring them?
Or all my steps to the top of Mount Monadnock, celebrating authenticity and everything real (emotions, feelings, songs, people and partners), singing Vysotsky?
Would any of these places become meaningful to me without my personal experiences? Probably, not.
So Today I am celebrating all those blissful, gorgeous, meaningful and important places I have experienced during my travels this year. And all those places where Education, Travel, Questioning and Reasoning are Independent Thinking in itself.
If there is one place which resonated with me the most, it would be Crater Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the world. No, there were no profound quotes taken out of context, no words of Osho, or Rumi, or Buddha. There was this magnetically and naturally gorgeous place and I. And nothing else mattered. What mattered was being authentic, real and honest to the core of how it is even humanly possible, to myself and to another being. Equally and mutually exchanging ideas, energies and thoughts, bringing out Authenticity, Depth and Quality of each other, layer after layer building up a real connection and understanding called Relationship. This is when Respect, Integrity, Liberty of Speech and Equal Rights are natural and authentic to the core just as breathing.
“Where you from?” This question was asked while I was talking with a charming couple about hiking trails in Acadia National Park in Maine. Since I have been calling the whole world My Home and my last point of reference is still Connecticut, this is what I said. “And before that? You have an accent”. Since it seemed quite neutral to me, asked out of curiosity rather than anything else, I replied, Belarus. And then the famous and talented Belarusian tennis player and champion came up in the conversation.
And I wondered, should I have asked the same question also. “And before that, where are you from?” After all, this is the country of immigrants, and was based on different values and ideas, at least in their idealistic kind of way.
Equality. Justice. And Liberty. For all.
Interestingly enough, I am writing this in Acadia National Park in Maine, USA. The whole region was named by Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazano. L’Acadie, or Acadia. It is believed to be a Wabanaki word (ancient native people of the area who inhabited the island long before Europeans), while others believe it is named after Arcadia, a scenic region of ancient Greece. There are many other reminders that pinpoint how interconnected and culturally diverse this world and this area are. Many of the islands and towns have the names of the first European explorers and settlers of the region. From the name of the Island itself (Mount Desert Island) to the island’s mountains (Cadillac and Champlain Mountains), named after French explorers, Samuel de Champlain and Sieur de Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (the one who also founded Quebec in Canada). This is just one of the examples how the whole world has a multicultural identity of its own.
May be, having a cultural awareness and sensitivity is recognizing and accepting the fact that we are all from somewhere. After all, it is not where we are born, it is who we are that matters the most.
And before that, where are you from? Do you speak your heritage language?
“I offer no apologies for any departures from the usual style of travel-writing that may be charged against me – for I think I have seen with impartial eyes, and I am sure I have written at least honestly, whether wisely or not”.
With all his travels across Atlantic, Europe and Mediterranean, Mark Twain could be easily considered a pioneer of travel blogging. Supported by a Californian newspaper, the young author ventures out to observe and explore the world and immerses as a talented writer. His letters for the Daily Alta California, of San Francisco, and portions of his letters written for the New York Tribune and the New York Herald become a literary masterpiece which could be considered the first book of travel blogging. His witful commentary, travel notes and writing express a full range of human emotions of the places he visits along the way. From sarcasm, irony, humor to insightful information and observations noticeable only to a curious and impartial eye.
Although from humble beginnings, his writing executes the presence of Nobility that strangely enough doesn’t come from origin, titles and fortune, but rather immerses from his mind, character, heart and soul, expressed and felt in every word of his writing. It is during this trip that young Samuel Clemens falls in love with the love of his life, partner and his future wife, Olivia. Travel notes and letters from his travels across Atlantic, Europe and Mediterranean become so popular with readers that these newspaper reports turn into his first book and bestseller, The Innocents Abroad. Obviously, Mark Twain lives and writes from the connection of his mind, heart and soul, and in return his book, talent, travels and the world launch his prolific and successful literary career. Extraordinary, indeed.
I am writing this in, probably, one of the most romantic places in the world: Medano Beach Cabo, or more specifically La Playa del Amor in Cabo San Lucas. With all my travels along Pacific coast it seemed to be an appropriate place to end my travels along Pacific, and at the same time to start another one, just as important and meaningful as the previous one, and to start it with Love.
After boating around it and experiencing beauty of nature from far, I embarked on la Playa del Amor. A few steps in, I looked around. The place looked and was absolutely gorgeous, and with every step I liked it even more. Since it was way too crowded for me here (and no wonder why!), I took a few pictures and decided to explore the rest of the territory. What else is here besides first appearances, impressions and names?
In a true spirit of explorer, I was approaching the center from where I could clearly see them both, Love and Separation: so gorgeous and so meaningful at the same time. Having experienced both, and feeling no need to pretend and be anything other than myself, I crossed to the Pacific ocean and walked along the coastline. It seemed I had the whole place to myself with plenty of space and privacy to be my playful self. And I thought: La Playa de la Libertad, as I was cheerfully playing among serene ocean, sunny sky and blissfully laughing content with my newfound freedom and privacy.
With only a few solo travelers, love birds, and a few brave enough couples encountered along the way, I returned to the center clearly distinct by natural formations. From here I was more aware of them both. So close to each other, side by side, with very opposite emotions and feelings coming from the same place, my soul. I did not take any photos, choosing to be fully there, immersing myself in writing and admiring nature around me: gorgeous, bright and natural colors of the land and sunny sky, graceful birds flying above me, the wind gently caressing surroundings with its warmth and serene sounds of the ocean and sea waves, forming a perfect union of a blissful paradise.
As I was making my way from the center to Playa del Amor, I noticed that the crowd was gone, and now it truly felt like my kind of place: natural, serene, private, blissful and absolutely gorgeous. Inside and out.
I do not know what makes us fall in love, and why some places become more important and meaningful than others. Whatever it is, it is the ability to authentically feel and being able to see past first impressions, appearances and labels what matters the most and makes all the difference. Being able to feel authentic essence of the place, its Heart and Soul, and appreciate it for what it truly is, a Genuine Diamond.
Millennium Tree, Bosque de Pomac
Here I am, at the Millennium Tree, with its centuries of Integrity, Greatness and Wisdom.
– How were you able to remain intact and whole through all these years? How do you get to be like this? Is there a particular secret to it all?
The tree seemed still, with its brunches and roots spread far, covering much of the ground, as if with the whole presence it was claiming its right to this space and its Liberty. And with a slight wind gently caressing its brunches, and movements in unison with the music of nature, I could feel tree’s manifestation in every possible way of its Greatness, Majesty and Uniqueness.
Lake Titicaca and Origin of Sun Civilization
Origin of Sun Civilization, Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca
Travel is not only about change of scenery, countries, cultures and languages, it is also about connection. Authentic connection that actually means something to me and the other person also. Today while exploring one of the islands in Lake Titicaca, I noticed a little boy who was crying. He was alone, at least it seemed this way, and then I noticed a woman who was carrying something while walking far ahead of him. He was obviously trying to reach her, and we were walking on the road that was definitely not built for a toddler. Not knowing what to do at first and instinctively feeling and understanding him, I reached my hand, he grabbed my finger and instantaneously stopped crying. We were walking like this: hand to hand, culture to culture, generation to generation on this path and I wondered. We are obviously worlds, generations and cultures apart, but we understand each other without speaking any words at all.
Besides being one of the largest archaeological sites in the area, Tucume, or the Valley of Pyramids, was the most important center of political, religious and cultural power in the Lambayeque region. Conformed of 26 adobes, as a reflection of society’s complex social structure, this is the last civilization in the world to build pyramids of mud.
Sacred Mountain Cerro La Raya is the geographic center of the area, it is also regarded as protector of people, place of magic and great power. It is not a surprise, that this is where people came to find their answers. Ancient Peruvians had different Gods associated with the Earth, the Sky, the Sea, the Stars, the Mountains, etc. with Pantheon of the Gods comprising Underworld, Our World and the Upper World. Each was represented by an animal: bird, feline and serpent, with the same importance and hierarchy. All of these worlds could be described in one way, as the figure of the mythical Amaru: a fantastic serpent that could fly and had feline features.
As I was writing this article here, in the USA, I remembered a talk I had not long ago. It all started with the same: where you are from to the person deciding to guess, naming all neighboring countries. Russia, Ukraine and Poland, since I was told that this is how my accent sounds like )) Not having guessed, I said “Belarus”. And I heard a brilliant reply, “Well, you are Russian”. “What makes me Russian?” I asked. “You obviously speak Russian, right?”. “Yes, I do, but I also speak English and Italian, does it make me American and Italian at the same time?” “Where you born here?” – “No, but I was not born in Russia either”.
As amused as I was, I started thinking about it. Does knowledge of languages, cultures and literature actually make us a little bit part that country and culture? Do we start to relate to that culture in a personal way? Do we actually start to consider it our own?
Travel makes it easy to understand that there are distinct worlds, civilizations, cultures and languages. It also makes it easy to comprehend that there are those of us who transcend these civilizations, countries, cultures and dogmas. Just as Amaru, we belong to different worlds at the same time. We lived, studied and worked in quite a few places in the world. More often than not we speak several languages and love our native language and country not less, and maybe, even more. We hold legions to Humanity as a Whole, we Respect Global Equal Rights and Honor the Whole World as Our Sacred Home, Our Temple.
“Why are you here?” This was the question I heard once I approached Mount Monadnock State Park. Confused at first, since this is not the way I approach nature and mountains, and separate words like “Cardio” or “Nature” seem a strange concept to me said separately in a park, and in life in general. So I replied “Both”, meaning “All”, and everything that this experience means to me.
Not all mountains are the same, and each of them is unique in its own way. Some are easy to climb, while others it is a few minute ride in the car, and I am already at the top of the tallest peak of the US Atlantic coast, and some turn out to be incredible experiences worthy of celebration. There is something magically unique about their atmosphere, energy and wisdom. Whatever it is, the mountains bring out the Greatest in you. Me. Us. At least the real mountains do, anyway.
While I was going to the top, and in some places it was real climbing, I remembered Vladimir Vysotzky song about The Real Friend, the Mountain, Connection, Bond and Trust.
Who would I take with me?
“…Парня в горы тяни – рискни!
Не бросай одного его…
Там поймешь, кто такой”.
“…Я дышу – и значит, я люблю!
Я люблю – и, значит, я живу!”
As I was thinking of who I would take with me, singing Vysotsky song in my mind, then another, the closer I was getting to the top of the mountain, the more I understood that there is no yesterday or tomorrow in real mountains. There is only today, this present moment, right here and now, where every step is already accomplishment. Where concentration is real. Where Bond and Trust are essential and important.
New step, new height, breathe…
Here and now, here and now…
Moving forward to the top,
A step, another…
Here and now, here and now…
Oh, Sun, what are you?
The warmth, the breath, and Love…
And Life itself.
I think I started writing this post from the very first moment I experienced Machu Picchu with one of the great female travelers and a natural smiley sunshine. She was the one who introduced me and guided me through majesty of Machu Picchu and great wonders of sunny Inca Civilization, and with her positive attitude, witty commentary, unique charm and stories, it seemed the perfect place to be. And for that I am very grateful. Thank you!
Ever since then, Machu Picchu was one of the places I for sure wanted to experience on my own, and it became one of My Grand Dreams! So today is the day of one of my Grand dreams coming true, and it feels incredible and absolutely amazing. Bliss is…
I am writing this after hiking to the top of Machu Picchu mountain, while breathing fresh air of its surroundings, marveling at remarkable culture of Sun Civilization and its absolutely gorgeous and colorful nature. Overwhelmed by the whole experience, so many thoughts and stream of consciousness coming from my heart and soul, I start writing a few sentences trying to make sense of it all. After a few minutes I put down my pen, look around me, and then I realize that this particular experience has always been very private for me. A very personal and spiritual experience, a kind of look into myself. More than anything it is a spiritual connection with the Universe: a candid talk Heart to Heart, Soul to Soul, Civilization to Civilization. Equal to Equal.
Teotihuacan and the City of Gods
Besides the Moon, there is also the Sun. Besides the Sun, there is also the Moon, and the whole Divine Universe for us to acknowledge. Wise are the ones who believe in all…
Teotihuacan with Temples of the Sun and the Moon stands out from all the places I visited during my travels. Besides the belief that this is the City of Gods where the Sun, the Moon, the Universe and the Gods were created, this is one of the most remarkable, important and influential civilizations of its time. It greatly distinguished from others for being so much ahead of its time, its uniqueness, mysterious and advanced culture. No wonder the Grand Temples of Teotihuacan are in accordance with celestial movements, significance and balance. It predated Aztecs and Maya by centuries, was very respected by them, considered as a Sacred Place, and one of the reasons it is greatly preserved through the centuries.
While I was at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun overlooking the Pyramid of the Moon and the whole ancient city with a little glimpse of this mysterious civilization, and at the base of the Great Pyramid of Cholula where layers of different centuries, civilizations and belief systems are so evident, I couldn’t help but think of everything and everyone who helped me in some way or another to be here. All those meaningful for me encounters that layer after layer build me up and all those altruistic, philanthropic, intelligent and talented people who inspired me along the way. I could’t help but think of everything and everyone who inspires me to understand the importance of Balance, Love and Spirituality as the most essential components of being, breathing and living… Everything and everyone who inspires me to be AUTHENTIC ME.
Be the Change You Wish to See in the World
– So how do I know who my people are?
-They have the same values: Authenticity, Depth, Greatness, Justice, Honesty, Honor, Humanity, Independence, Integrity, Love, Privacy, Quality, Reason, Respect, Truth, Trust. Today. Honor Code of the Deep Ocean, Deep Sky and Deep Minds. Honor Code of Depth. They live them. These are your People, your Mountain.
All opinions and experiences are, as always, my own.
Liberty, Peace, Love, Bliss…