LXII/ You can’t put a price on a lifestyle

“There is no tragedy, only the inevitable. Everything has its reason for being; all you have to learn is how to distinguish what will pass and what will last.”

And so one day you wake up and it’s time to leave Canada after a surreal adventure that will have lasted 3 months. That’s the moment I should shed a tear but I just can’t. This country has given me too much joy for me to cry when it’s over, and there might be a reason to that.
My trip to Canada is not just an ordinary trip; it’s a symbol of achievement and perseverance despite life imperfections and struggles. This world was made to be traveled, near or far. Anything is possible to a willing heart – and life has just begun.

Another Xmas among expats, another Xmas among wrinkled shirts. One of those night when you end up passed out before dinner because you had to beat the shit out of that dude that challenged you at that international Punch-Pong tournament…
Next thing I know is that I’m super hung over and it’s time for me to leave Banff, and to leave my travel companion too… When you travel alone you must deploy two times more energy than when you’re two. Sounds like it’s time now to put my fate in the hands of chance and take risks again.

When it came down to the presentations in the van that picked me up towards Vancouver, I found it bizarre to tell about my trip using “I” and no longer “we”… I got so used to our good old story we’d be rehashing every other day – using my most impressive auto-pilot mode – that I got all confused when I had to adapt to the fact that I was hence forth back on the road by myself like that old lone wolf that I’ve always been. And man, what a ride! 18.000 km through the road, and through the road only. No bullshit flights whatsoever, I wanted to feel the distance and so did I.

“They didn’t know it was impossible so they did it.”

As always, if you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.
Just made it to one of the very last step of this amazing Canadian journey, staying at some guy that lives on the boat out in the water. We ended up fishing some crabs for munchies less than five minutes after I arrived… One love.
Though just to be clear let me remind you that we’re talking about a 1970 32 ft sail boat that is not in the best condition. For the record, it’d take us on average two and a half hour to turn the engine on. When you find out that the Captain has learned to sail only 3 months ago, learning by…watching Youtube tutorials…… puts you in the mood!
Anyways, we were soon to be joined on board another two pirates freshly recruited on CoushSurfing to sail away from the shore and celebrate New Year’s Eve out at sea..!
2 is company, 3 is party. And  4 is piracy.

We would refer to ourselves as The Headlamp People, High Class Bums or simply as Pirates. On such boat everything becomes a mission and you gotta go through so much effort to get anything done that it makes you reconsider what your priorities are.
The good old difference between what I need and what I want, remember? Much more fulfilling that any regular kind of lifestyle and quickly makes you forget your first world problems, guaranteed. Basic needs only; you quickly get back to what’s really essential.

“Throw me to the wolves and I’ll return leading the pack.”

Obviously no shower or bathroom on board, limited drinking water, not much that allows you to be connected with the rest of the world. But who would miss that? No internet access for instance. If you need it, you gotta wait till the day you anchor at a marina, get to a café and you rush whatever you have to do because you most certainly don’t wanna spend the day there. As a reward, you get some spare time to do real things such as chilling around the fireplace late at night, sail, listen to music… And here I’m not talking about listening to some music whilst doing something else – no – here it’s all about you sit down, play a track, shut your eyes and focus on the music. I swear to god I genuinely discovered the real meaning of several tracks that I’ve had on my playlists for years doing this. You know you’ve immersed yourself deeply enough when you notice an enormous difference between the land life and the sea life.

“Self employed with lots of time for the important things. I spend much of my life absorbing media from previous eras.”

In Vancouver at winter time when you ask about the temperature they talk about “minus” or “plus” something. Found out the reason for this is that the temperature never really goes under below 2 degrees, so if you say minus we understand that it’s the coldest it can ever get – ranging from -2° to -1°. For the record my body couldn’t follow such weather change after the -40° we’ve had in the Great North, got sick as soon as the temperature got back to positive and when the snow turned into rain.

And so the crew sailed offshore from Vancouver towards the islands – drunk like pirates – at the end of the world.. Generally speaking I found ridiculous the amount of things you could fit on a photo in British Columbia, where the Rockies meet the Pacific Ocean. Snowy mountains, sail boats, seaplanes, ski resorts, docks…. All at once on a picture. Getting high on life, chasing a simple one.
Later you just let the waves rock you to bed… Some times are just too good for you to put words on them, sometimes words fail. Life isn’t perfect; but there are lots of perfect moments in life.

“This is why I love big cities; you can find anything – from Chanel to Heroin.”

Time to sail to Seattle to start my road trip through the West Coast and get closer and closer to New Zealand.  By the way, you wanna know something? Canada is an Australian sized New-Zealand. Big time compliment eh!
Now every time I catch myself drawing up a report of everything I’ve accomplished, everywhere I’ve been since the beginning of this North American journey, I just see a meaningful smile growing upon my face and – damn – that feels good.

Among a million other things, during those three first months on the road I have seen;
– A Halloween bong carving contest (using an actual pumpkin), winner gets a real big time bong.
– A drunken woman blowing her nose in my pal’s t-shirt in an Irish pub (they never exchanged a single word before)
– I seen folks smoking 9 meters of pure weed joints in 5 days
– I crossed Canada hitchhiking from East to West and then from South to the Great North up to Alaska at winter time.
– I seen a (clearly intoxicated) mid-forties Asian dude coming in a knife shop by 3 pm asking for a double blade sword… and an armor.
– The most badass trucker with a massive Shrek tattoo on his belly.
– A piss drunk British “chick” pissing over the girl that was sleeping right underneath her in the same bunk.
– Heated public benches in bus stops in Regina.
– A suicidal “big whale” in Quebec
– A hostel with its own movie theater indoors free for guests
– A ninja’s nightclub

But most importantly…… I have seen my long awaited Northern Lights… And I’ll never be grateful enough for having made this dream come true. Sounds like I’m all set to turn a page and write a new one.

“The best things in life are unseen. That’s why we close our eyes when we kiss, laugh and dream.”

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LXI/ Traveling is staying one step ahead of reality

“There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here and those who come here to escape something. I wasn’t born here.”

Day 1 (or 54 in fact…) – Manning, Alberta; smoking a last cigarette before to pass out in the bathtub of our room in one of those shitty anonymous motel you always see in old American movies – after having driven our badass Chevrolet Equinox all day under some heavy snow fall.
No doubt, this time the great adventure has just started and I can nearly smell the Auroras hiding around the corner.

Drive, drive, and drive again through the most breathtaking scenery that The North has to offer. For you to figure how far north and remote this trip has taken us, here we’re looking at another 8.000 km in two weeks, which makes an average of 600 km a day. And yet we haven’t driven daily. Seems like I clearly broke my personal record out here! Some days we’d have so much distance to go through that we would only take breaks to tank-up…

“Why would you need a map of the Northwest Territories for? There’s only one road out here, and it leads North.”

5.000 miles through the Northwest Territories, B.C., Yukon and Alaska… And you end up the night writing whilst waiting for it’s late enough to have a chance to view the Auroras from some hot springs right in the middle of nowhere…. Life is wonderful.

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

I truly believe that to travel will both make me a better person and the world a better place. It indisputably improves your capacity to make instant decisions, to be a problem solver and to set priorities in life.
The two major things that traveling teaches you is that nothing is forever and how important it is to be able to relish the best moments as we’re living them. The third one would be something like ‘life is unfortunately not long enough for you to see all that this world has to offer, but you’re still welcome to give it a try.’

“Have big dreams. You will grow into them.”

The farther you gotta fetch, the more space you have to grow. I’m at peace with myself. I had to face it; I am not done with my traveling yet – and everything I do, everywhere I go just comforts me in my decisions. The best version of myself. Love that concept. Since we’re continuously freely hosted and often even fed, I feel like the least I can do towards our generous hosts is to offer them the best version of myself. And believe me, this is a full time job!

Day 55; December 7th – Hay River; I shed a tear, the nature was too gorgeous…The number one thing right on top of my bucket list just got real….. Very first Aurora display above our heads tonight… A once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is it, we made it. Nailed it even!! A picture that speaks 10.000 words – painfully beautiful. This moment is forever.
Only this is just the beginning, now I’ll never stop hunting them down wherever I find myself! A wonderful new addiction has just seen the light that night.

And so one day – despite what you once might have believed, you find out that everything is bound to start over. Your smile gradually becomes the only master on board again because you know that a whole new cycle has just started and your new purpose in life is to be here now.

“Sometimes we are pushed to the edge only to be shown that we can fly.”

So today thanks to CouchSurfing, again, we’ve been invited to that 7th grade class, 12 years old, to talk about Europe and to chat with these kids from the Great North. Quite a unique travel experience, AGAIN!! It’s been so interesting to see what kind of random questions those pupils had for us. “Is the music translated in Europe?” or “Was it painful to get your tragus pierced??”
But I guess that day those kids have answered just as many questions as they have asked.
Generally speaking, what I love about this trip is the way it’s deep and authentic. We get to genuinely experience the Canadian culture from the inside.

As the miles were passing before my eyes on the breathtaking Alaska Highway, I remembered that line from the movie Insomnia; “I can’t judge. There are two kinds of people in Alaska: those who were born here and those who come here to escape something. I wasn’t born here.”
I assure you that it makes a lot of sense when you actually are up there.
For some reason before the start of the journey I thought that the people we’d meet in the far North would be quite reserved and perhaps even distant to the only few travelers who’d dare to adventure themselves to such remote place. Well you’d be surprised to see how much most of them needed to talk quite badly.

Most of them were incredibly open-hearted folks with a desperate need to talk to someone who was coming from a different part of the world. But there were also some people you couldn’t just get any closer to. Some people that have made the choice to run away from something that they’ll never tell you about. Some people that just wanted to be left alone, intending to live a simple life, far from our overwhelming civilization. That I can understand.

Those mysterious folks combined together with those really harsh weather conditions really make the Great North a particular and intriguing place. Did you know that in the North, they skip the “minus” when they talk about the temperature? Like for instance a “-30°” becomes just “30”. It’s like they’re just so used to negative temperatures that if someone says “it was 35 this morning”, he of course didn’t mean +35° but below 35°.

Something else that has played a lot in reinforcing that very special vibe were those long long nights at that time of the year up there. Indeed, we randomly picked the period of the year when the nights are the longest and the days the shortest. The solstice being on December 21, we would have the sun coming up around 10am, going down around 2pm and most of the time it would be completely dark by 3.30pm. Meaning that you never only get about 4 hours of daylight, better not miss them! But even so, the sun wouldn’t show up daily… And even when it would, the sun doesn’t rise up above your head but just only a little bit above the Horizon line. Puts you in the mood! But thanks to all those hours of darkness, we’ve seen the most gorgeous starry skies. So many shooting stars that you’d literally be running out of wishes after a few minutes.

Another unique thing that we’ve been given the opportunity to do was to… experience silence. I had never in my whole life been so far away from the civilization. No cars, no people talking, no city noise, no airplane, not even a branch cracking, no nothing. The real ultimate silence.
Well let me tell you that an average human being like me is just not used to that. The longest I could take standing still – making no noise at all – right in the heart of the silent woods was perhaps two minutes tops. It is just so unusual that it gets disturbing very quick and soon it feels like your brain starts to make up all sorts of sounds to compensate that nearly awkward pure silence. What an experience!

Just like we could have expected, the North isn’t only about the Auroras, it’s so much more than that. A world apart, I heard them call it “Winter Wonderland”. Winter Wonderland, literally where the road ends. Any other tiny village further north has to be reached either by catching a flight or dog sledding.
Winter Wonderland, the place where some adorable locals took us on snow machines on the frozen Great Slave Lake – 2nd deepest lake in the world – in the middle of the night to view some Northern Lights. Winter Wonderland, where they have the most stunning freely accessible hot springs lost in the mountains, surrounded by ice and snow. -20° outside, over 40° inside; you better run back to your towel when you get out if you don’t want your feet to freeze and literally remain stuck on the ground..!

DSC00952

When I look twice, I think to myself that I might be having the time of my life. I mean I’m so in harmony with everything that happens to me here… It’s fairly simple; I love everything up here. I love the fact that every person we stay at got pets – been counting about 20 of them so far – so much positive energy. I love to be traveling with no pressure whatsoever, no return flight and no place to be at any certain date, footloose as the wind. I love the 15 minute clothing ritual imposed twice a day in the North – both in the morning when you put every one of your layers on to confront that relentless cold and in the evening right before you jump under your blanket. Love that lifestyle.

“I don’t wanna try to get a work visa in Canada now because the day I do so, I settle down in this country for good.”

And you wind up spending the night in a cabin in the woods, right in the middle of NOWHERE, 30 km away from the place where a lady has been eaten alive by a grizzly that broke into her cabin a week ago… Plus it’s not like if that same grizzly and a random lynx had been seen 10 meters away from our cabin’s front door the past night.

“What do we do if that bear shows up?” “If he eats you, fight back. Otherwise I got some bear spray but it’s frozen in the trunk of my car… I’ve got a gun but it’s just some sort of a hand gun. If it was bigger I would definitely take you guys for some cross country ski tonight!” Right on!
I remember going out for a smoke with an axe in my hand. So let’s put things back in their context; this is SICK. And definitely not normal like those people seem to say!
“You thirsty? Go get some water from the creek.”
Only with great risk comes great reward. And today, because tomorrow isn’t promised.

Though I find it hard to get used to the idea of leaving Canada soon… I feel so at home here, it’s insane… I haven’t felt that way since I was living in Spain or Portugal several years back.
Yet I live nowhere – and everywhere at once! I never spend any longer than a few days per place I visit, per house I crash at – yet the whole country feels like home to me. See, even without a home port, I still manage to feel at home anywhere I find myself; what a beautiful country eh!

I am now more or less half-way through my trip, nearly three months that I’m on the road, and I still have at least another two more months coming. In any case I will never forget Canada, a country that has just climb on top of the podium and is now sharing the title of number one country with New Zealand!! Well that’s good, this is precisely where I’m headed! Why wouldn’t I live in my favourite parts of the world when the only thing that stands between me and those places is never only just a flight… So screw it bru, I’m going back to New Zealand – and for one year this time!

I like loud music, adventurous people, White Russians, spontaneous road trips and you. Anything else you need to know?

LX/ If traveling was free, you’d never see me again

“Dance like no one’s watching. Because they’re not. They’re checking their phones.”

“An Extreme Cold Warning is issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach levels ranging from minus 30°C to minus 55°C for at least two hours depending on your location. Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.”

DAY 46; Edmonton; An Extreme Cold Warning is currently active for next 14 hours, just enough time to lock myself indoors and take time to write I guess.

Given how North we are now, just the idea that some Auroras could should up anytime makes everyday life surreal. How many years have I been dreaming of this moment and it’s about to go down any minute now… Canada, you’ve blown my expectations away since the very first day I have to say.
Up here just to go out for a smoke in the cold is enough in itself to literally refresh your brain and make you feel alive. I perceive this cold is a blessing, an accomplishment almost. I love it. How exciting is it to think that each step you take is the farthest north you’ve ever been in your life? All this snow outside is painfully beautiful and – quite paradoxically – here I find the cold charming and extremely relaxing.
A few weeks ago I even surprised myself finding it real hot outside by -5°… Here we are, I’m becoming Canadian! Can’t seem to remember the last time we’ve seen a positive temperature around here captain!

Only the thing is we’ve had to face the fact that the hitchhiking was over for now. Sometimes you hit the road, sometimes the road hits you. We’ve had many issues on our way up here – partly because the weather’s becoming too extreme and far too dangerous by now – mostly because matter of facts, no one heads North from this point, no traffic, no bus, no train, nothing but us actually. We’re at the Great North Gates – minus 22° to minus 35° with the wind chill today – and it’s time to adapt the way we travel to the harsh environment that surrounds us. So we’ll be renting a SUV for the coming weeks to explore the Great North, another page of the trip that’s being turned!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10.000 ways that won’t work.”

It’s funny to think that we’ve traveled like thousands and thousands of kilometers just at the cost of a few bananas… Only this has indisputably made it mentally difficult to accept to pay for a bus ride now… For once, I’m not even traveling on a budget but it symbolically bothers me to the highest point to have pay for a ride or for accommodation. I guess it’s mostly due to the fact that we got to a point where to pay for transportation is lived as a painful failure given our “travelstlyle”. Especially to the fierce adventurers we’ve become crossing the continent side to side in a few weeks only – exclusively hitchhiking & CouchSurfing – over 9.000km.

So be it, thank god there isn’t one only way to travel. What I’ll never forget is the awesome realization that you can still travel on people’s generosity and kindness these days.

Today our host is pretty random for the least I can say; mid-forties, unemployed but living well, some sort of a perfect combination between Woody Allen and Hank Moody. Though tonight I had what felt a lot like my first family dinner in a long while with this guy plus a bunch of Swedes and other expats – all only “passing by” this house, brought in by the innocent travelers’ wind I guess. It’s probably just that it’s been a while since I actually sat around a table for dinner with folks being twice my age but still, felt nice in a way.

Last night I slept on two inflatable mattresses placed on top of each other in a tiny dining room where I had to take everything down and pack all of my stuff up daily so we could eat, tonight I get a really decent futon all to myself in a cozy basement and god knows where I’ll be sleeping tomorrow.
See this is the beauty of CouchSurfing, you never know where you gonna end up but at least you can be sure that the people you’ll meet have all been bitten by that same travel bug.
CS is a travelers’ Facebook. More than that, CS is a real revolution in the ways of traveling, my generation’s contribution to this enchanted travelers’ world.
After having traveled around for over a month only thanks to people’s generosity I’ve come the conclusion that the more you trust strangers, the more life rewards you.

“If you were a girl, you would be my destiny.” Did any Korean dude ever told you anything like that?? See, this is why I made my life an on-the-road journey. Like that one day in a knife shop when all of a sudden an Asian lad in his early forties pops up clearly intoxicated asking for a “massive thick double blade sword”..… “and an armor.” But this is another story eh!

Yesterday I was taking off for a few month adventures through North America. Today I woke up to an email from the New-Zealand immigration department saying that my application for a work visa under the Working Holiday Scheme had been approved.
Don’t ask me why for even I am not too sure on how i got there….. Was meant to be traveling around for a couple months, finally embarking for something that sounds a lot like a 2 year round the world trip…
Feels good to realize that the travelers’ universe will never cease to surprise me.

“What we lack in pay, we make up for in lifestyle.”

Young, wild, free & living in a LIMITLESS WORLD. These days… Let the good times roll… The power of nature combined together with the flavor of achievement. Sometimes when everything tells you that you’re on the right way you just gotta embrace it. Because I know I’m doing the right thing, being exactly where I wanna be, doing what I love.
Clearly I’ve arrived to a turn of my life and I have no intention whatsoever to miss it.

“Traveling is staying one step ahead of reality.”

I was 17 the very first time I’ve watched Into The Wild. I guess I seen it like 20 times by now, but today, as I watched it again I almost shed a tear during certain scenes.. I’ve never meant to reproduce what Chris does, my story is different, everybody’s story is different. “We have to walk different paths so the whole world can be explored”, remember?
But still, when you look outside the nearest window and you see the exact same scenery as the ones in the movie, I assure you that it does something. I don’t know, perhaps your heart just gets lighter for a second, or maybe it is just because I’m currently walking in a dream – my dream.

Along the kilometers I learned that if you wanna see signs, then you will see signs. You’ll see them everywhere even. Nothing has and ever will beat a positive attitude.
Life’s a plan B, C, D even. Sometimes you gotta go for an E. Life is limitless once you’ve set those fences on fire. So we’ll keep on hanging in the Canadian wind for another weeks, only in a hummer from now on. “Fuck you”, that’s why. My new drug is precisely that impulse supplied by these almost daily address changes.
You know shit just got real when you have “buy a shovel” down on your to-do list.

“Your backpack didn’t get any lighter buddy, you just got stronger through the days.”

More than ever my soul’s looking for adventure. Lucky you! Today’s your lucky day and you’re gonna ski in the Rockies..!
Damn, my bucket list is getting lighter and lighter every day!
What I admire most about travelers is that way they have to make things happen, to get shit done. That ability to overcome any obstacle and carry on even sometimes in the most overwhelming and hostile environments.

And if you think you’re a bit lost at the moment in your life just remember that so far we got no idea whatsoever on where we’re spending Christmas this winter. Not like “I’m not sure whether this is gonna be at my parents’ or at my sister’s” but rather like “We’re not sure of which state we’ll be at by the 24th… ” Could be anywhere. Will be something to remember, that’s for sure.

“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.”

“You boys aren’t from up here now are you??”
Not really. In fact we’re here to view the Northern Lights,
or die frozen trying.

LIX/ The world’s my playground

“There’s no better feeling than setting a courageous goal for yourself and defying the odds to achieve it; jumping headfirst into the unknown with an open heart and an open mind.”

After a 32 hour bus ride non-stop across the country (OUCH), roughly 2.300 km away west from Toronto; we just arrived in Winnipeg – crashing at some outstanding CouchSurfer for a few days!!
And since my electric shaver doesn’t work here, I just had to shave off my beard with a pair of scissors because that’s all I had, and I couldn’t keep my so far non-shaved beard growing forever… Gotta look friendly to enhance your chances with the hitchhiking! Damn, life’s fantastic… and the adventure has just started!

Since the beginning of this trip I really feel that it all fits together perfectly, that I always meet the right person at the right moment and that everything always shits for the best. Harmony, sweet harmony… Where have you been all my life?!?
Each second day I get to do something for the first time of my life. Each second day I get to cross something out of my bucket list, like I did for the Niagara Falls yesterday. I smile because deep down I know I definitely found my promised land and this really feels like it is the trip of maturity. Believing we control everything is foolish, knowing we control very little is much more wise.

If you wonder if today is not too late to start something new, remember that today is always better than tomorrow. You always gonna disappoint someone so screw it. Too many people let fear of the unknown stop them from taking chances and forget that only with great risk comes great reward.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

And so the real adventure just started this morning when we had to stand in the cold for one and a half hour to hitchhike our way across the country. Got picked up by some awesome truck driver for what’s been the best ride we’ve been offered so far..! Life gets more and more unreal as we go and every step we take makes us feel like we’re getting deeper and deeper in the good old America that you usually only see in movies. From the middle of nowhere – Regina – with love!

“A comfort zone is a really beautiful place where absolutely nothing gets done. The only adventure you regret is the one you didn’t take.”

Hitchhiking: see where life takes you, and just let it decide. Hitchhiking really is the ultimate acceptance of leaving things to chance.
Ain’t no place where you could feel more alive than when you’re standing thumb up by the side of an open road – with no specific destination in mind – waiting for the random stranger that will pull over and offer you a free ride to wherever he has decided that the next step of your life should take place at.

Hitchhiking and CouchSurfing sound a lot like the best way to fetch the last bit of generosity and kindness of the people you come across, no matter where this is gonna take you. An addictive way to travel, a unique way to live. Not only that saves you a lot on accommodation and transport but mostly because this is one of the best ways to come across the most stunning and endlessly surprising people. Of course it sounds easy once put up this way, but it can get really tough or sketchy sometimes like that time got picked up by that Native Indian… But when you have no choice left, well you just trust people. And whatever may happen, you’ll always end up grown up from that experience.

It’s like living in a whole new world every day – much worse than any addiction, the addiction to Life. It’s like falling in love daily, you just can’t go against that. So screw it, I’ll only hang up my backpack the day I cannot lift it up anymore.

“The human spirit was meant to fly into the horizon. Meant to see sunrises from different latitudes. Meant to see sunsets from different longitudes. It’s the natural curiosity in us. We’re all birds at heart. I’m high but I’m grounded.”

Of course one of the major factors that make the hitchhiking tough is that COLD… It’s funny because as we go so far, we drop about 5 degrees each second day and we just got to -15° yesterday. Feels like we travel in fast forward through the winter..!
Everyone that picks us up tells us that we’re completely insane to be standing outside by such temperatures, waiting for a potential ride that we’re never even sure to catch. Some told us that we’re most likely the only one hitchhikers in the country by now. I never tell them but really I reckon they right… Again, this is typically one of those things I would never do back home. I’m pretty sure that if I happened to be behind the steering wheel myself and I was to see hitchhikers along the road in the middle of nowhere at winter time in such a rough country, I’d call them crazy as well.

I swear sometimes you get cramps because of the cold, like a sort of paralysis and it hurts so bad that you can’t even tell anymore whether or not your member is actually frozen. It’s like basically you have to have everything within easy reach, your map, your chocolate bare, your pre-rolled cigarettes and so on because if for a reason or another you gotta take off a glove, you’re doomed boy. You know you really hold on your cancer when you know it’s below 40° outside but you still gonna light this cigarette up anyways.

I guess I’ll always remember what my pal from Quebec told me over the most unreal night out as we were crossing the Saint Lawrence river over some sort of ferry late at night, all alone and drunk over the deck with not much protection on by a chilly minus 20°; “YOU GOTTA EMBRACE YOUR COLD!!”
It’s funny because turns out I actually love this cold, it is such a major thing in this trip. I truly love to go out and feel this cold embracing my cheeks, makes you feel alive.

“Love your pain and you’ll win this game!”

Whether we like to admit or not, we all have an American Dream buried more or less deep in our hearts – and mine has just begun. Step by step, I’m irremediably becoming more and more American in a way. Dear Heart Attack, sad news for you this morning; turns out I love America!
It’s like you’re in a video game. Everything is just so ridiculously huge. Everything is awesome and gigantic just like in movies. You literally live and evolve daily in a movie set.

But as always, the real great moments of life we experience, the outstanding highlights of a trip are often implicitly forbidden to be materially captured. You just can’t break a moment of such intimacy with someone that has “big whale” for a nickname telling you about how he just tried to kill himself over some overweight issues grabbing your camera outta your pocket right in a middle of such intimate slice of life. And why would you??
No, really you just gotta be there and live it yourself.

“Something good comes with the bad, a song is never just sad, there’s hope, there’s a silver lining.”

‘FREE RIDE = FREE BANANA!!’ So is written on one of the signs we use to hitchhike. This concept was born as we were trying to catch our very first ride in Canada. As I was struggling to keep my fingers warm in this terrible cold even though I had mittens on, I was gonna have a banana while waiting for someone to pull over and I suddenly thought that it could actually be a better idea to hold the banana in my hand instead – pretending it was my thumb – instead of keeping my actual thumb up and risk to lose it. And real quick, anyone that would drive past us would smile looking at me waving that banana. 5 minutes after, a truck stopped and picked us up, the big guy was more than delighted to have that (slightly frozen) banana and the Banana Hitchhikers were born!

So we no longer are just regular hitchhikers, besides epic travel stories we got something fun to reward you with if you stop by! Plus, between us, who would fear two lads asking for a ride shaking bananas and shit along the road as you pass them by?? On the contrary, banana is the international symbol for smile!!
Basically we haven’t stopped to use that technique since then, we even had some of our hosts to make us a proper sign to display our deal along the roads!! Damn, you know you’ve just reached another level of intensity when you have your hosts drawing your hitchhiking signs for you..!
Our signature. Our very own ‘How to make it in America’ – and after 1 month and over 6.000 km traveled this way so far – I guess we can officially declare that our technique rocks. Clearly, you can’t put a price on memories.

“One the road no one day is like another, each tomorrow has its special miracle, its magic moment in which old universes are destroyed and new stars are created.”

And always that old same question that haunts me; for one road you take, how many others do you leave behind?

LVIII/ Punching in a dream

“We have dedicated our hearts to the road. Even when we’re not on it we’re working to save up for our next trip, every time we hear an airplane, we look up, smile and imagine ourselves on it.”

Turns out today’s my turn and I have no apprehension whatsoever this time. I’m so ready to rock this new continent, I’m in such an adventurer mood. It’s because deep down I know that nothing can stop me, I’ve longed this moment for far too long for I let anything stand in my way. Dear destiny, I’m ready now.
To those who leave and those who arrive. To those who will leave and for those to come. Travel blessings. Here’s to the end of all that shit endured this year, here’s to the date I got with some sexy adventure on the other side. Ain’t nothing stopping me now. I’M OUT.

“When the winds of change blow some build walls, and others build wind mills.”

Montreal; genuinely open-hearted people living in an Americanized city with Australian prices where everyone speaks a chilled French… turns out I just happen to love it!! Couldn’t tell you how much of a relief it is to finally be back on track, to dream aloud and to discover daily again. Life on the fast lane, great vibe and open happiness – one love, one heart.

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?”

Your adventure is yours and yours only, you don’t have to justify your choices. I don’t owe anyone anything. This really is being my daily motto ever since I set foot on this new continent and I’m so glad I decided to take this new approach to life, really makes everyday life decisions easier. Now I interpret absolutely everything as a sign. Either a sign telling me that if this or that didn’t work out, it’s because it wasn’t supposed to happen, or either if I meet this random person and get sidetracked, it’s only for the best and life is about to reward me for having followed my intuition. Try this and life will have a much better taste believe me. Positivity allows you to genuinely embrace a culture. You know you’ve reached that point when you no longer try to reproduce what you do back home but adapt your lifestyle to the country you’re in instead.

“I just keep on keeping on.”

Now that I deliberately chose to interpret absolutely everything as a sign, nothing can harm me anymore. Even a bad news would be interpreted as a “only means it wasn’t the right time for this” or “stuck in Montreal because my bank card still hasn’t been delivered? No worries, it’s only because I still have things to do around here, peeps to be met”, turns out it’s been so damn right… Well, just try this and you’ll never be a victim again. Remember, fortune always smiles on those who smile on her.

I’m so comfortable here… I’m so in tune with myself, doing what I dreamed of doing for a damn long time, sometimes I feel like my heart really could stop any minute so I feel like I’m punching in a dream. Ain’t nothing like feeling this alive. Now more than ever, happiness is a choice and freedom a state of mind. I don’t need to justify my dreams; after all they’re mine and that’s all.

“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.”

What concerns me most so far is that even locals are kinda chocked by the aim of my trip, saying that I’m reckless and all to be headed that far north. Prior coming here I really thought that I’d meet several people that would have taken the same kind of trip or at least considered it, but so far I met none. A Canadian lad told me that even him – being from here would never consider going there; “these people are so not used to see any kind of stranger that they’d see me as an alien! So you, as a foreigner…” But guess what, this turns me on to the highest point!

“The danger and adrenaline of an adventure is worth a thousand days of comfort. The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It’s a wonderful way to live. It’s the only way to drive. And if you eat and sleep good, exercise and always drink water, you will die anyway.”

To travel off season really is the best way to ensure you’ll come across genuinely interesting people, folks that dare to get off the safe trails, people that have a story to tell.
Sincerely after all those years traveling the world I’ve acquired such a level of mental, physical and material preparation that I can truly see a difference and an improvement in the way I travel, always as stress-free as possible. Being wiser and having accumulated a decent amount of diverse knowledge has changed me deeply.

After a long while spent traveling meeting new people daily, one develops something quite bizarre. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon that makes you associate any new encounter you make with someone you once knew in your life, whether you’ve been close friends with that person or not. It’s just a matter of a face, a laugher, a character trait, any little thing that is for some reason forever engraved in your memory when you think of a person in particular. Sometimes it may also come out as a mixture of several persons you already know, it’s like this, you can’t really control how it goes.

You know that impression of recognizing someone in the street when abroad?? Well it’s kind of the same thing on a daily basis when you’re a nomad.
At a certain point you may identify what I call “patterns of people” that kinda repeat themselves anywhere you go. Such statement could seem sad at first glance – I know – and even if I’m not sure how I feel about it, all I can say is that any new encounter I make that doesn’t fit any patterns yet identified will be golden in my eyes.

“Happiness is not a priority for me. I prefer the dangers of being madly in love – that is dangerous because we never know what we may find beyond. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.”

One might think that this attraction is superficial but there’s nothing deeper; we are ready for anything – we accept faults – we forgive imperfections; we are even looking for them with wonder. I’m all right now because deep inside I know you are out there, looking out.

“I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers, take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter.”

No idea on where I’ll be sleeping tomorrow – not concerned about it at all – been going on for about a week now – still alive and desperately in love with Montreal. All my expectations have already been blown away anyways; the intensity of this trip is far higher than what I expected, and guess what, this is just the beginning… In travel I trust.

And so last night I really didn’t mean to do anything but rest, I accepted ONE pint, one only pint… Last thing I remember I was dancing on the podium in the largest gay club in town at 7am… Damn, I realize this city really did absorb me. Definitely lost my heart to Montreal and its daily batch of surprises.

“Every man is torn between two needs; the needs of the Canoe, that is to say the need to travel, the wrenching to oneself – and the need of the Tree, which means the rooting, the identity. And men constantly wander between these two needs, sometimes giving in to one, sometimes to the other; until the day they understand that the Pirogue is made out of the Tree.”

I meant to say that I so love all those tracks I’m posting here and there, they definitely are the official soundtracks to my voyage.
“With the right music you can forget anything. Or remember everything.”
This is why I love music so much; because people just come and go, music remains and follows everywhere you want it to.
“This land is your land and this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.”

Before that I was just living my life like I knew everything, and suddenly this bright light hit me and woke me up. Sincerely breaks my heart to leave Quebec but a wise traveler knows there always comes a time when we must leave. As always, the hardest thing won’t be to leave but rather not to regret being gone. I haven’t felt home anywhere ever since I left Sevilla and Faro. Montreal you really are a relief to me, thanks for existing – I’ll come back one day and settle in – that’s for sure.
Oh and…Whaddup Toronto??