Now, this post is mainly for those in their 20s and 30s but are out there living like they are 70. Relax. There will always be time to be everything you ever wanted to be. Even though you are nowhere near where you thought you would be at your current age, relax. Even though other people your age seem like they have everything figured out and you do not, relax.
The story below is from one of the most inspiring people I have met in my life. We had long conversations (okay, I did the listening – I barely talk 😜) and while she might not know this, it changed my perspective on how I see and deal with a lot of issues. I am generally very ambitious and want to have everything in a certain way, but sometimes (actually most times) life happens, and it is never straightforward. When that happens, it is easy to get discouraged. It is even easier to feel like what is needed is more effort from you. What is difficult and uncommon is knowing when to relax.
She travels without a phone, her traveling backpack is smaller than my gym one 😐, she’s been using the same pair of shoes for years… She is beautiful, simple, loving, caring, empathetic… I’ll stop. Read below the conversation I had with Veronica Perez. Hope someone gets inspired. Let’s go!
1. How long have you been traveling?
Since march 2014
2. Where do you get the money to keep traveling?
At the beginning of my trip, I sold all of my belongings (they were not as much) including my clothes. I regularly leverage my skills for what I need, say, lodging, food, and transport. For instance, I’ve done a number of empowerment talks in the countries I have visited. In Romania, I worked for Summerside camp, receiving, in exchange, everything I needed to keep traveling in the country. I have also been hosted quite a number of times by people I met randomly in buses.
3. Best country? Why?
Difficult to say but Switzerland’s countryside is very beautiful. Ethiopia and Tanzania were both very enchanting as I got a chance to visit and interact with primitive tribes. Namibia was also something thanks to the Himba people and their constantly-changing landscapes.
4. Worst Country? Why?
No worst country each one has its own enchantment.
5. Best experience on the road?
The spontaneous hospitality the unexpected acts of kindness, the solidarity from strangers.
6. Worst experience on the road?
Ahhh looking at some photos from Peru and Bolivia… I remember what could have been a bad moment…when I hiked a mountain in the North of Peru to see a lagoon at the top. I fell and broke my wrist 😢. I was walking alone and was very far away from any town. I did not know what to do, so I asked the universe to help because I was also very afraid of being lost. Out the blues, another traveler appeared. He had gotten lost and I had to guide him. It was a very chaotic and weird situation. I never received medical attention, but my wrist healed quite fast, albeit out of place. Two months later, my host in Argentina secured me a booking at an internal lab. According to this lady who was a doctor, our bodies produce many chemicals when you have high expectations or are very excited about something. Those substances boost our immune systems, and speed up the healing process. I was very excited about to see Lake Titicaca; this helped me to recover without any medical intervention.
7. What is the first thing you do when you go to a new country?
I try to relax; I am very afraid of getting lost.
8. Worst culture shock?
i would not say that was “worst”; it was simply a big shock to witness the primitive practices among the tribes in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. The tribes there endure pain as a way to show their love for their families. The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was also unusual.
9. Ever fell in love on the road?
As a traveler, a person in constant movement, I am not open to that.
10. Scariest moment?
That must be that time when I broke my wrist.
11. Any regrets?
12. Do you hope to settle some day? If so, where?
I would definitely like to go back to my native land, Cuba. However, that will only happen once peace reigns.
13. Greatest lesson from traveling?
I have learned to let things go as that provides room for better opportunities. Also, no plan is a good plan. Be daring; the uncertainty makes you realize just how many choices you have in life! It is also unbelievable how much strangers are willing to help. Don’t watch too much TV: TV reflects a very tiny part of what the reality is, and often want you to believe some fallacy.
14. Which country has the best food?
I always cut my food budget to have adventure.
15. Worst experience at a border?
It was between Peru and Bolivia. The bus did not wait for me because immigration was taking longer than they had hoped.
16. Is there a certain degree of privilege linked with traveling with an American passport?
Holding an American passport definitely has its perks. There are many countries I can access without worrying about going to the embassy for a visa. The challenge was mainly in Africa where the visas were very expensive.
17. How old are you?
I am 55 years old almost 56. The best medicine for staying healthy is to travel. Traveling is the best recipe to stay young and look great because it works on both the inside and the outside. On the other hand, when you decide to go to a beauty salon in a certain countryside to do some highlights on your hair, you will most likely end up with some weird colors… 😄😄
18. Mountain or beach?
19. To fly or to take a train?
I take a bus most of the times.
20. How many countries have you visited?
Around 75 countries.
21. Where do you stay when you travel?
Mostly dorms and places I am offered on CouchSurfing. I have also stayed with strangers after a spontaneous interaction, say, in buses.
22. How do you book your flights?
I mostly book through SkyScanner. I search for the cheapest place from the country I am in at the moment.
23. Have you ever had a bad experience with any of your hosts?
I have been hosted by probably 150 people around the world. Almost half were spontaneous; no CouchSurfing; no bad experiences. Once, however, I walked away from a home because I did not like my host’s energy. .It was totally just the impression that I should not be there. I have become like a dog… I “smell” people through their body language, their tones, and looking directly in people’s eyes… I just sensed that was not my place… I only follow great energies.
24. Traveling as a woman; how is that?
As a woman it is wonderful because everyone wants to help or “protect” you… because the road is “dangerous”. I would say that common sense is always needed. As woman traveling alone, crossing Africa or South America by public transportation makes one very strong and wise, enough to detect potential troubles.
To stop and have a “routine” is totally necessary. Otherwise, the traveler will burn out. That is why I am currently in Egypt. This is the only country where I have visited thrice in this journey of almost 5 years. This country is very affordable, visas are easily granted for one year, people are very hospitable, and the history & landscapes awesome.
26. Best travel quote? Parting Shot? Word to aspiring travelers?
If I was able to do it after leaving everything behind in my country Cuba, my home, family, and career, arriving in Puerto Rico wearing just shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops, anyone can do it. It is just a Matter of having the inspiration to do it. When your dreams of traveling become an obsession, then there is not way back; you simple do it.
Here are bonus words I found very thought-provoking:
… now I am teaching salsa in the Sinai Peninsula. This is the last thing I would have imagined. In your country you are one more, in the rest of the world you are different and special. Just find what people like about your culture, and that is it. I always took dancing for granted since it is something we do since childhood… that knowledge is now serving me.
**Takes back the mic**
I never write a post unless it resonates with me, which is probably why I sometimes take ages to do one. Probably also why I never write about certain destinations. Or maybe I am just lazy. Anyway, doing this was very edifying and I hope that, to the very least, at least one person is encouraged to relax and live life. Do not over-think it and do not compare your journey with that of anyone else – especially not to the edited lives you see on social media. Set your mind to something and work hard towards that; laziness pays off pretty well, too.
Follow her journey on Facebook: just click here.
I’m out of here. Which other questions would you like answered? Dig such a post?
Cheers to staying inspired!