Finding a way to stop travel was an evolving process. When I booked this one-year flight a decade ago, a year's journey appeared, an epic bike all over the world that would fulfill my dreams to see more of the world and also prepare me to return to Los Angeles with satisfaction. I had no idea that ten years later I would move to Barcelona instead. I also did not know that this decade will fill my memories with painful moments and allow me to find my passion for writing and photographing while also bringing a number of unexpected health and emotional challenges.
When I took this trip, I had great expectations. I did not like all the aspects of myself and my life when I left – I hoped that travel would support those persistent doubts, fears and uncertainties. And I hoped that after the adventures, the great adventures beyond the United States, and the cultures I had not seen yet, I saw them in countries I saw only as a child in magazines.
Six years later, depression, the penetrating edges, and the banal thoughts, came to my life. I could not talk much about it because, frankly, it was not a great year for me. At first I just deviated from blogging. I needed a few months to travel to the world.
I just needed space.
A tiny break and I would be right as rain.
Even then, I thought it was not just a blog that had to change. I needed a home base. Within five months, I moved to the beach in Mexico and helped. I made night walks on the beach, my taste to write returned to seizures and cuts, and my apartment settled me. But she did not shine. By choosing the country with a promising visa policy – six months free on arrival for the Americans – it allowed me to treat this as a spectacular lark. When the good friends I did move, I did it too. I traveled again, but I deferred from my written travel. Instead, I returned to my hometown in Florida to get in touch with my old friends and find new ways to deal with the quiet darkness of depression that would never grasp its invisible tentacles; his darkness came to every part of my awakening.
Eventually I moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, with a beast who was also a long-distance traveler looking for a place in the world to call home. It looked promising. I definitely wanted to hang a hat there and officially ended my peripatetic decade.
When my six-month visa expired, I offered him forever. During the spring of Oaxaca, I experienced the most serious allergies I've ever had – a fever so terrible that I would run away with my friends for an evening dinner to shower and hide under my covers, the only place I found relief from the urge to get she wiped out my last skin from my face. By the end of my time, my activated immune system will develop a permanent allergy to my contact lenses, which I have been carrying for 20 years without any problems (I still suffer a bit).
I'm tired of Mexico. Every year on the road, my allergies seem to have worsened, which I associated with almost dying from my first year's deviation on the way. I needed to stop traveling, but I was on the run, where was the place to call home. It had to be perfect if I finally chose a city to see every day of my life.
So, of course, I went back to the old patterns and I traveled when I responded. Traveling has been my starting point since I left in 2008, and I tried to stop moving, pulling the trigger for a decision like buying furniture again and car. Partly because I felt the decision, but also because it was cheaper for me to travel around the world before returning to LA. I am horrified that I am again in debt, I felt desperate for a few years from college when I sank under your low pay and ever-increasing interest on credit cards. Debt was complicated; it was not all of "keeping up with Joneses," it was a series of unfortunate events that created a teetering tower of debt that threatened to crush me if I was constantly running on my rotating lap. Travel arrested this process. Three and a half years into my paths and I cleared this ominous tower. I did not make a lot of money but I was without debt and the idea of returning to a lifestyle that would return me under such circumstances was not on the table.
The next year on the road almost did not notice me; I was a sheet captured in a thin river and in the smallest stream. I live in southern Spain, spent a few months with friends in Australia, and then I'm sick of that, three weeks I went back to Vietnam. It was not my best time to go, but the next year of the journey somehow brought me closer to where I am now. Closer to Barcelona.
When I left Vietnam, I went back to the states to meet one of my last big promises of traveling: to take my remaining niece of adventure. Over the last decade, I've been able to calm Southeast Asia for seven months with my horrified pre-school niece Anna, and then followed her along the Mexican Peninsula of Yucatan with my two naughty nephews (cute but naughty). Children are so sensitive at the time of high school, and I wanted to show everyone deeply what I loved in our vast world at least once before they entered adulthood. Last summer, my niece Jinnai joined the five-week 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain to Camino de Santiago Frances.
Our long, long walk is a story for the next day, but just say that in the end we wanted nothing more than sun, sand and good food. We headed to Barcelona. One day during our week of exploration, we passed through the charming neighborhood of the working class called Barceloneta. Dockworkers here lived in the past and now has a "village inside the city". The lint dripped from the wrought iron line that dragged into the sky, and the narrow streets of the street led to the water. I looked around and realized that it was so; in stuttering my heart I decided to move to Spain.
Searching for a home
I record this expedition from my apartment in Barcelona – a small six-storey exit with piles of sunshine and ocean views if I lean over my balcony. And I feel calm. Friends and travelers asked why I chose Barcelona, and my answer is usually: "I realized it was good enough."
There are people who fell in love with Barcelona at the moment. It was not me. When I visited in 2012, I thought it was a beautiful city, but little to convince me. I did not do it do not like city - I'm not sure how anyone could not like! – but I did not fall as people suppose.
Instead of my second visit, I realized that this little neighborhood near the beach, in the city where I speak the language and enjoy the culture, was enough. It is not perfect for the Spaniards to laugh when I tell them that I have moved to Barcelona, which will rise up with visitors in summer – but all these years I have been looking for the impossible: an idyllic place that combined the best aspects of each city. when he loved it.
Barcelona instead meets most of my checklist requests; it's a lively town with a young population and seeing more sunny days on the beach than not – like the born and resurrected Floridian, I'm fanatically devoted to warmth and water. The only thing that has kept Barcelona out of my list for a long time was that I know almost no one in town. I'm not just tired of traveling, I'm tired of being away from the connections, from the people I know and love in this world.
It always seemed like going home to Florida, it was the most common choice because most of my dearest friends and my family live here. Even when I asked for my long-term Spanish visa – a demanding process – in the autumn, I looked at real estate near my hometown and thought about where I should settle because it will happen in 2018 no matter what . For many reasons, however, Florida is an unhealthy place for me. One day it might be true – after all, I have never seen the curve approaching that I will live on my way for nearly ten years to write about responsible travel and have friends ripping the world. When I received a letter in the post just after Thanksgiving, giving me the right to live in Spain for one year, I knew it was a good step. Which does not mean I was not scared because my panic is falling in my chest that I made the wrong choice and had to break the boat.
I did not leave the ship.
Here in my small apartment I have created the balance I have since I left Los Angeles in 2008. I write furiously every morning, and my mind is dizzy with a lot of creative projects I'm inspired to – without constant travel planning and a non-stop movement, my mind has room for new ideas. I write a book design and an idea of what I wanted to put into the world that I can not believe I was interested in it. And now I have time to make this project and this blog a bigger priority in my life. I can work but balance is also with other aspects of life that is not in the way. There are also joy.
On weekends I go to the nearby market, and the retailer knows she weighs half a kilo of cherry tomatoes while I go through a selection of peppers. An old man who lives in his building while walking down the street and the owner of my local bodega gives me a mini chupa chups ticket for free when I stop for chat and a bottle agua con gas.
And friends come! This is new to me, because I'm usually the one who goes through the fast command. Victoria and Steve brought the smallest increment to the family and we had great fun in the park, strolling along the beach and attending many cups of gelato.
It is fun. Better yet, it's good.
My friend Louise lives in London and we have been to Cuba many years ago – he has rarely managed to cross the route. Now that I live in Europe, she invited me to a weekend in a teenage girl next week to Lisbon. And in June I will go to Morocco with my friend from Florida – I have these great tours scheduled from October to October! Instead of feeling heavy on the chest of the burden of planning new paths, there is no pressure – I put myself in a mug a little, and I'll put the others in the drawers when I get back.
Because I live here now.
I live in Barcelona.
Maybe not forever, but now I live here and that's enough.
This travel story (A Little Adrift … Barcelona Expedition: Finding Home) first appeared on Travel with little enemies
Blog, thank you for the trip. 🙂