When I was a little girl, I used to hold the atlas on my lap and stare it for long hours to the geographical descriptions of cities, mountains, rivers, oceans and wondering how they really look. I knew they were much more than brown, green, yellow circles and dots on a piece of paper.
When I learned that I actually needed a passport to see the rest of the of the world, I was utterly surprised. We were all born on this planet and it belonged to everyone who lives here so why should I need a special permission to live somewhere else or moreover just to visit there? Why I wasn’t allowed to live in Australia or China? My child logic was far from grasping the idea of nations and borders. I was dying to see the rest of the world, become an explorer, having a mountain named after me.
Then of course I grew up… Like everyone else I forgot. I went to university, I found a job, started working like as my life was depending on it. I got married… Meanwhile, I traveled of course. Frequently… I visited US and most of the European countries. But they were no longer than 2 weeks. I wasn’t a traveler, but a tourist. Every time I got back from one trip, I was starting to plan the next one. Over the course of time I found myself curious about the cuisines and the flavors of those countries as much as the sights.
I was dashing in the supermarkets, visiting the grocery stores to see what they have.
To discover how people in other countries feed themselves. Instead of buying magnets, I found myself buying spices, wines, cheeses from the countries I visit.
I hardly knew, this curiousity would bring me where I am now.
In the fall of 2014, I was suffering from a huge burn out in the office and a bad heartbreak from my last long-term relationship. I had started hosting travelers via Couchsurfing system a while ago because the apartment was big enough to host people and I thought it would be a great way to meet new people and do some cultural exchange. Over the course of time, meeting with all those travelers started to remind me my childhood passion and encouraged me to consider traveling solo across the world. If they could do it, why couldn’t I?
So, in october 2014 I decided to take a month leave from my office. My first stop was Buenos Aires. I had never traveled this far by myself. I was terrified with the idea of being alone in a continent that was so far away from home. It turned out that my fear was for nothing. A month in Argentina and Chile, seeing amazing sights and meeting great people showed me that I can do it. I was stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. After spending a month with limited number of clothes and personal care items in my backpack, I came home and when I opened the door I realized that I trapped myself into a mess made of shoes, bags, cosmetics, furniture and electronics. I had trapped myself in the cycle of consumption even though I could have saved Money for a much greater purpose: Traveling.
I realized I wasn’t living the life of a person who I wanted to be when I was a little girl. No mountain was ever named after me instead I had created a mountain of unnecessary items. That day onwards, I stopped consuming. I started to save every penny for traveling. After one year, I ended up having enough funds that would sustain a year of travel.
I gave my leave to my office, cleared my apartment and put everything in a storage.
I wanted to travel and while doing it to stay focused on food, my other passion. So I created the “Eatravels” project aiming to gain a closer perspective to the local cuisines of the countries I visit. I left Istanbul on October 23th for Delhi. It has been 4 months and 3 countries now. Hopefully many more to come.
Now I carry an offline atlas on my phone and I am not just looking at it and wonder.
I wander in the streets as I hold it in my hand, looking for new roads which will lead to my destination: To myself…