"The Way of the Traveller" jorgejuansanchez's Profile
I am writing this page because I love to travel, just like you, and want to read about other's travellers experiences and share mine.
When I was 18 years old I travelled around several Western European countries, hitchhiking, sleeping in the nature, and finding occasionally jobs in Paris, Brussels, Genoa, or in the Isle of Wight, to earn enough money to keep on travelling. After that period I only travelled once a year, during my holidays, for short periods of time.
But at 28 something happened in my inner world and I gave up everything to travel more intensively, until now. Since then I am able to sacrifice everything for the travels, and when I come back home, in Spain, my first goal is to prepare a new trip. Nothing else interests me more in life; I only find truth travelling. The main conversation with my friends is about travelling, the selected books that I read are also about travels, and the particular virtuous music that I listen is mainly about far away countries, good flamenco guitar, old Armenian religious chants, lute music, selected Buddha-bar themes and the like. I save all the money that I can for the travels, I do not even own a car, I walk or take the underground instead, watching the TV channels (controlled by the political parties) and reading the manipulating newspapers do not interest me at all (when I see somebody reading a newspaper, I immediately feel that I have nothing in common with that person). I do not care about delicatessen food, or elegant clothes. Only my travels and especially what I learn thanks to them give me satisfaction.
A thought that assaulted me and did not give me any peace a few years ago is the following: Is spending a lot of money travelling morally justified?
A thousand times I have felt guilty when I refused to give more baksheesh to the many beggars who asked me alms in African or Asiatic countries, but after distributing some coins or notes to them or buy some food and clothes to the more desperate I left them with tears in my face because I could not give all my money away, cancel my travels, and return broke to my country.
Indeed, you will recognize the good traveller in which he is generous with the paupers that he meets along his journeys.
I have observed that many tourists travel to farewell places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people that they ignore at home. With the money that they spend in these journeys, most of them vain, a poor family from Bangladesh, or Mozambique, or Bolivia, could live for one year or more.
In the past only pilgrims, adventurers, some scholars, merchants, sadhus and dervishes used to travel constantly. Tourists (and the so pompously called “travellers” or individual tourists) did not exist.
Why we, very rarely, if ever, find tourists/travellers from Malawi, or Paraguay, or Burma, admiring the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Museum of Prado in Madrid, or the Coliseum of Rome?
Do they not have right then, like us, to admire our common planet and its wonders?
During long time the pangs of remorse in my conscience made me suffer a lot, day and night, and many times I was about to leave my travels and enter a monastery to atone during years my lack of humanity for having spent so much money in my egoist journeys instead of using it to succour the poor.
But one day a simple aphorism from the beginning of the Humankind helped me. This aphorism was: everything that contributes to raise your being is good; everything that obstructs to raise your being is bad.
And then suddenly I attained my inner equilibrium. Then I realized that if you travel with the purpose to learn how to live properly thanks to the observation and conversations with other fellows wiser than you sharing this planet, then travelling becomes an instrument for learning. Then the knowledge that you acquire by travelling justifies morally all the expenses and efforts.
Since then I do not feel a tourist, I do not even feel a traveller either, but rather a monk in constant pilgrimage around his temple, the beautiful planet Earth.
MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE TRAVELERS:
Jorge Sánchez is a contemporary Spanish traveler who has devoted over thirty years of his life to discovering the most remote corners of the planet.
In the first English translation of his twenty books, Meeting With Remarkable Travelers (Encuentros con Viajeros Notables) narrates the experiences of Jorge Sánchez during his journeys with the best travelers of the world, against a backdrop of exotic locations such as the hard-to-reach islands of Wake and Midway in the Pacific, the Lena River in the depths of Siberia, and the territory of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic of Western Sahara.
Across ten chapters, Jorge describes the characters and passions of ten consummate travelers-among them Europeans, Americans, and Asians-who in their youth left everything to undertake the "Way of the Traveler," as well as thirty more who have demonstrated the heart of exploring every wonder the earth has to offer. All of them share in common a drive, a necessity to discover our planet in order to learn from it. Nothing seems more important to them than to travel, having invested a minimum of twenty years net in their vagabond passion. Having lived lives that most people only dream about, the majority of them already know every country represented by the United Nations.
For them, travel means the "education of the road," a meeting of destiny, and the only means to develop their internal being. In return, they have acquired an extraordinary depth of knowledge not taught in any school or university of the world.
here is the link:
A JOURNEY TO EXOTIC SOUTH AMERICA
A "Journey to Exotic South America" tells the story of Spanish traveler, Jorge Sánchez, during ten months of travel through nine countries on this continent. It is a travel book overflowing with exciting adventures in places so off the beaten track few people would dare to set foot in them.
Here he relates his escapades in the encampments of cocaine traffickers and gold seekers, violent towns reminiscent of the Wild West, towns controlled by Colombian rebels, ashrams of esoteric sects, and--more conventionally--the carnaval of Rio de Janeiro. He navigates on the upper reaches of the Amazon, encounters corrupt border guards, bandits, and Indians, hitchhikes to Tierra del Fuego, spends time in a Paraguayan jail, and enjoys romances with every type of woman…
Jorge Sánchez has devoted over thirty years of his life to discovering the most remote corners of the planet, with little money and only the desire to experiment with every kind of adventure. He is the author of twenty travel books in Spanish. This is his second book to appear in English.
Here is the link:
Estos proyectos de viaje los he dispuesto tras una dolorosa y larga reflexion, pues hace años me sobresaltaron las siguientes dudas:
Es moral viajar tanto? No se podria gastar todo el dinero que empleo en los viajes en aliviar el sufrimiento humano? Es que acaso los nativos de Mozambique, Bangla Desh o Paraguay no tienen tambien derecho a conocer su planeta y hacer turismo al Coliseo de Roma, a la Torre Eiffel de Paris, o a la madrileña Puerta de Alcala, como hacen los occidentales?...
Durante mucho tiempo estos pensamientos y reproches no me dejaban ni un momento en paz y mi conciencia me remordia implacablemente, dia y noche.
Observaba que muchos turistas viajaban a paises exoticos para contemplar, arrobados, la clase de gente que ignora en sus paises de origen. Otros se gastaban fortunas en safaris en paises africanos para fotografiar a los animales, en tomar el sol en atolones del Oceano Pacifico adonde llegaban en lujosos cruceros, o bien en desplazarse a paises remotos para golpear con un palito a una bolita para intentar introducirla en un agujerito en unos campos que se llaman de golf. Con el importe del billete de avion o de barco y la estancia de solo uno de ellos se podria alimentar a una familia pobre africana o asiatica durante un año.
Casi todo el dinero que ahorro trabajando lo empleo integramente en mis viajes. Soy recatado en mis escasos gastos, no poseo vehiculo, siempre camino o tomo el metro y el autobus, como poco y solo compro lo que encuentro mas barato en los mercados, visto aun ropa de cuando hice la mili y, por supuesto, jamas compro (ni leo) periodicos.
Mas a pesar de mi vida austera, miles de veces me he sentido culpable cuando he negado limosnas a las legiones de menesterosos tullidos que me han suplicado lastimeramente. Tras distribuir algunas monedas o billetes a los mas desesperados, me reprimia y rechazaba a los demas conteniendo las lagrimas, pues no podia repartir todo mi dinero y regresar a casa. Mil veces he estado a punto de renunciar a mis viajes y buscar un medio de expiar mi falta de piedad ante gente afligida y tanto despilfarro cometido para financiar mis viajes a lo largo de toda mi vida.
Pero un buen dia me inspiro un simple aforismo de principios de los tiempos de la Humanidad, tambien aplicable a los viajes, que reza asi: Todo lo que contribuye a elevar el ser es bueno; todo lo que obstaculiza elevar el ser es malo.
Y logre el equilibrio en mi mundo interior. Ahora se que mis viajes son justificados y conscientes, pues de todos ellos extraigo enseñanzas que me ayudan a vivir correctamente. Ahora solo quisiera poder exclamar alborozado el dia que deje de viajar:
Oh, Dios mio, que rico he sido!
Fui uno con el planeta Tierra, participe en su dinamica,
le hable de tu a tu, escrudiñe todos sus chakras
y vi lugares maravillosos que pocos humanos imaginan siquiera que existen.
Goce de una vida bella e intensa,
senti el mundo entero a mi disposicion,
lo comprendi y lo ame.
Gracias, un millon de gracias!
Blessed be they who never travel and they who scarcely feel any longing to get to know far away countries – for they may enjoy a calm life and one full of delight.
Blessed also are they who take short trips to far-flung parts of the planet during their holidays
for they will derive enriching education and most enjoyable experiences.
But woe to those who dare to set forth on the Route of the True Traveller! This will not leave them with a single moment of mental peace and it will remove them from all other worldly interests;
they will strive in vain to satisfy an insatiable craving for more travel and they will never believe that they have travelled enough.
All that awaits these nomadic souls is a permanent restlessness and an unceasing anxiety to learn about every corner of the earth,
about the natural history of the beings that inhabit it
and to assess the meaning of their own existence.
During my journeys I have met many forgotten travellers, true travellers, no pleasure “travellers” or nonsense tourists.
These were not merchants, nor dervishes or pilgrims, but people travelling for Nature reasons.
Observe the picture besides. I am with a young native of Ghana in the only well in Bir Lehlu beginning April 2007. He narrated me his long exploit along Africa. He travelled during two years to get to Morocco, through the Sahara desert, on foot and on occasional trucks, without money, working along the way and eating minimal food, suffering cruel treatment in some borders by the military officers (for women the treatment is still worst, as you can imagine). In Tangier he was brutally deported and forced to cross on foot the infamous 2000 kilometres long wall (surrounded by 5 millions antipersonnel mines) from the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara to the portion of the RASD (Republic Arab Sahrawi Democratic) liberated and controlled by the POLISARIO. He was there in that No Man’s Land waiting for 18 months so far, and surviving thanks to the generosity of the United Nations bases.
I met other travellers like him in the past in the border between Darfur (Sudan) and Chad. I remember some Nigerians who gave me lessons about the purpose of life, people who become wiser after going through many hardships during their travels to Eritrea trying to jump, in vain, to Saudi Arabia, or from Algeria to Libya or Italy.
The same can be said of the “Espaldas Mojadas” who try to enter USA, a part of their planet.
These are real travellers, people who travel not for the purpose to learn, but to improve their existence, reasons for which the Humankind has travelled since the long past times.
These people are close to Mother Nature and deserve high respect.
Believe me; I felt shame when I was among these brave people, these true travellers.
Because my ticket back to Spain from Cape Town was expired when I returned to Cape Town after one month journey to Tristan da Cunha Island, the immigration officials did not allow me to leave the ship during 3 days and 2 nights. I was confined in the ship without any right. They forced me to sign the document I am showing stating that I was an undesirable person...! Otherwise, instead of sleeping in my boat, without permission to leave it, I would sleep in the Immigration jail.
The officials are rude, Europen origin (I noticed that Black Policemen were more human); they did not want to give me their names, nor to contact the Spanish Consulate in Cape Town. I imagine that they must have done a good job during Apartheid times.
I have observed that several Traveller’s Clubs in the Web have created lists of countries trying to determinate, in a sort of competition, the most travelled persons. Nevertheless, those lists only reflect the quantity of countries and territories (some of them absurd and uninteresting, such as uninhabited rocks), but not the time spent in them. Thus, some members of those clubs have hired a car in Europe and "visited" ten countries or more in one day, or taken an airplane in Puerto Rico and flew, like a ping pong ball, to twenty different airports in twenty Caribbean islands, because just for touching for ten seconds an airport, even in transit, that counts as visited that place, and have accumulated countries "visited" faster than we cook churros in Spain.
But, how to recognize a qualitative traveler from a quantitative one? Or, as we say in Spanish, como separar el trigo de la paja?
I think that I got the idea, which came to me when returning from Tristan da Cunha Island in a fishing boat back to South Africa, and owing to the bad weather and to an additional call in Gough Island, not scheduled, I arrived some days later to Cape Town and my airline ticket to Spain was already expired. The immigrations authorities then, being a Sunday, confined me in the cabin of my ship until a decision was taken about the destination of my deportation from South Africa for lack of a valid ticket. Fortunately, during these days of captivity the custodians of the port premises where from Angola and both Congos, people that have suffered and therefore that made them more humane that the European origin immigration officers that deported me, and after making friends with them and giving them some baksheesh, they allowed me, from time to time, to visit the Seamens Club internet, just at a few metres from the port gate. There, in order to kill time, and rather like a game, I started to create a list of 222 Traveler’s exploits (like the United Nations countries, plus seven) that I show below. The list is, of course, subjective, and I do not want that you think: Oh, this Spaniard is too clever, he has arranged a personal list with the places where he has been, in order to be Numero Uno. No, absolutely no! That is why I invite all the future members to this club to advise me and give me suggestions in order to delete or add old/new entries, or increase the list to, let us say, 320 exploits, like a well known travelers club. Remember that it is not how many places you have visited; it is the quality of the experience that really counts.
The exploits do not have to be of a Superman nature, such as crossing the Antarctica on a burro, or swimming from Buenos Aires to the Canary Islands, but at a humane measure.
Do not be afraid to join this club, which does not promote competition and only has the intention to inspire passion pointing out goals for the travelers; it is rather a Travel Lovers "Cenacle", since the exploits can't be compared. Who can say what is more valuable, climbing the Kilimanjaro or navigating during three weeks from Kinshasa to Kisangani along the Congo River, boarding the Transiberian train from Moscow to Vladivostok or making on foot El Camino from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, participating in the Chinese New Year in Singapore or admiring the Iguazu Falls?...
In order to become a member (of course, free of charge), please, send to my email your name, nationality, year of birth, quantity of exploits and its numbers.
You can find this list of 222 exploits and my email in my web page:
I hope that this list, that will be alive, periodically changing after regular consultation among the members, will encourage travelers to discover more our beautiful and maravilloso planeta Tierra!
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