September 14, 2014

Jalan Jalan

(Sorry if this is messy. It was a draft for far too long.)

I don't know where I am.
Well, okay, maybe I know where I am. I know the name of that street and the tree at the corner where the javanese come and sit at night, smoking kreteks that perfume the air of cloves and pepper. I know the name of the sea whose waves lick my feet slowly, as the light goes to sleep in the horizon. What I don't know is, where is my head. Where is my mind, lost in movement and translation and endless succession of roads, curbs, doors, bus and railway stations, every morning opens a new landscape and everything gets blurry before my eyes. I reached this point recently where the places you stay stop feeling like home. The only place that feels like home is the road. The only moment that feels safe and known is when the vibration of the motor beneath my feet lulls me to sleep, when the zenith comes to crash on the bus window and gently warms my forehead, when my shoulders tense up under the friendly weight of my backpack. There is no home anymore. There is only motion and stillness, night and day, serenity and febrility. I don't know where I am.

I hesitated in writing these words as if I had a duty to tell you the story you want to hear : the story of a girl who's traveling the world with confidence and joy, following a path so clear that it can only be attributed to destiny. And most of the time, no matter how arrogant it may sound, this is how I feel. Travel does this to you. It changes you into this brave, adaptable, daring person – you have to be, if you want to do this. It grows on you, being that person. But it doesn't mean I know what the hell I'm doing, where the hell I'm going. And this is the truth : I don't think I'm going anywhere, really. I always wanted to be a wanderer and that's how I live these days : I move without goal. It's like dancing with a blindfold : thrilling, poetic, terrifying. I would lie if I said that I didn't love it.

Before I even formulated the thought of going in Indonesia, desire had already built a fantasy inside my head. I could hear the music of strange insects piercing through the red bark of the trees. I could see myself sliding through a gorgeous forest, meeting kind-hearted people with dark glimmering eyes and amazing smiles. Walking on the crest of ancient volcanoes and feeling the fury of the earth dancing beneath the soles of my feet. Standing under pouring rain and feeling the crimson flowers come alive around me. And it came true, all of it, almost. The only thing different from the dream is me. Among all this beauty, the only thing I was, for sure, was lost. Utterly, completely lost.

It took me a long time to understand that feeling. I think I get it now. I think we get lost when we take down the barriers. When we look at the directions someone carefully wrote on a piece of paper and tear it in two. When we decide that the rules don't apply to us. But then again, what's the point of traveling by yourself if you're going to follow the rules ? I was afraid of messing up, of missing out. That's a mistake. Who can tell what missing out is ? So what if I want to talk to people instead of going to that amazing sight ? So what if you just want to lay on a beach for a while, without thinking about anything ? So what ?

To travel, especially when you do it alone, is to experience an incredible unknown. I would write in my journal : « When does travel starts feeling like something you know ? » Maybe that's the point. It doesn't. It stays this uncontrollable, wild, fiery beast that won't play by any rules and always bring something you don't expect to the table. Travel has terrible manners. The more I live this way, the more I accept that I am not the one in control. I'm okay with it. It makes space for more life in my life. Make what you want of me, world, I whisper. I know you won't hurt me.

Here, people who greet you in the street often ask where you're going. Nobody really answers the question.
Instead, you say « jalan jalan ». I walk on.

(These pictures were taken between Yogyakarta, the old capital, and Kaliurang, on the slopes of the Merapi.)

1 comment:

  1. This trip of yours is an act of fusion with the world... Amazing.