The first post I ever wrote in English on this blog was almost exactly three years ago – I looked back on the first half of my (South-) Eastern European adventure and took stock. That post centered around travel quotes. You can read it here.
Years later, I am still a big fan of words that encapture what travel means to me. I find them in so many places – in what a friend says to me. In a song that I hear on my iPod looking out a bus window. In a book that I have read. Written on buildings, monuments or the pavement of the cities I visit. All I have to do is open my eyes and my heart to them, and they will fall into my soul and move me.
I set out on my trip back in the days with this quote by Polish travel writer and journalist Ryszard Kapuściński on my mind:
Podróż przecież nie zaczyna się w momencie, kiedy ruszamy w drogę, i nie kończy, kiedy dotarliśmy do mety. W rzeczywistości zaczyna się dużo wcześniej i praktycznie nie kończy się nigdy, bo taśma pamięci kręci się w nas dalej, mimo że fizycznie dawno już nie ruszamy się z miejsca. Wszak istnieje coś takiego jak zarażenie podróżą i jest to rodzaj choroby w gruncie rzeczy nieuleczalnej.
A journey does not begin the moment when we set off, and it does not finish when we have arrived to our last stop. In reality it starts much earlier and practically does not ever finish, for the tape of memory runs on inside of us, even though we have long stopped moving from the spot physically. There is indeed something like the contagion of travel, and it is a kind of illness that is in fact incurable.
When I found it, just before I was about to leave Germany to travel for 5 months, I focussed most on the part about the journey starting before it starts – now, stuck for the most part of my days at a desk (even though it is at a job I quite like!), I think more about how true it is that it never stops. I still think about my big trip almost every day, and how it has changed me, and how I wouldn’t be the same person today without it. I dream about the places that I will go to next. I try to travel in my day to day life whenever I can – be it for a day on the weekend, or even just to a different neighborhood, or in eating exotic food. I am branded incurably and for life with the contagion of travel fever.
When I was in Bosnia, one of my favourite travel acquaintances, Bata, taught me the following Bosnian quote by famous movie maker Emir Kusturica:
Svakoga dana u svakom pogledu sve više i više napredujemo.
Every day in every respect we move forward more and more.
I have had this sentence on a note card above my desk for a very long time. While travelling it is quite literally true. We move. All the time. And while travelling, it is also metaphorically true more than usually. We see so many things that change us, we experience so many things that add to our knowledge. I try to keep it in mind every day to make it true when I am at home as well. I try to improve as a person every day and move forward. And it is so much easier for me to do that with much sensual and intellectual stimulation – so I try to learn and see new things all the time. The world is my market with thousands of fruit, cheeses and spices to try.
Only recently I fell in love with the music by Gerhard Gundermann, a singer songwriter from the former GDR who passed away far too young. His lyrics have captured me from the start. This song is called „No Time Anymore“:
It is a song about our daily struggle in life between obligation and choice, between the things we have to do and we want to do, and it is about the feeling of not having enough time to do it all. He sings:
Und ich habe keine Zeit mehr Räuber und Gendarm zu spiel’n
Den Ämtern meine Treue hinzutragen
Und rauchende Motoren mit meinem Blut zu kühl’n
Und nochmal eine Liebe auszuschlagen.
And I don’t have time anymore for playing cops and robbers
For bringing my loyalty to authorities
And for cooling down smoking engines with my blood
And for turning down another love.
What are the things that I don’t have time for anymore? There is so much to see and try, and so much life to live. I hope that the travel fever always burns strongly inside of me and provides me with the drive to move forward and the desire to be led astray.