XXXII/ Stop the world, I wanna get off

“Any guy with a normal constitution would have run after her. Me I didn’t move. Or, rather, it’s the train that moved. I just let it.” Russian Dolls.

Thus I’ve been to Holland for two weeks to celebrate my birthday. However nothing went the way we planned it.
There’s something about the impending feeling before a big storm that makes you feel alive.
“Age only matters if you’re wine, cheese or scotch.”

So yeah, this trip has been slightly particular, people I used to care a lot for have managed to disappoint me as a birthday gift.
One should never put anyone on a pedestal. Some things should remain in the range of memories or maybe even fantasies.
And I guess that being someone easy to love makes you incompatible with something that lasts.

Generally speaking, I think that people just don’t know how to be in a relationship, how to behave, I find it ridiculously sad. And this one is for many people around me.
But whatever, I’m not here to settle accounts. As they say in Spanish “Hay que perdonar y perdonarse para pasar pagina”; “One must forgive and forgive oneself to turn a page.”

Put on a killer track such as the following, turn your back to what your consider being no longer part of your life and turn up the volume.
Let go and let yourself go, music never betrays you.

The other day, watching a documentary about backpacking, I picked up a fun quote from some random traveller:
« On the road your relationships happen a lot faster. I met a girl, I was with her straight away and our relationship went from honeymoon, to couple, to she’s driving me crazy we’ve gotta break up within four days!! »
Shit happens every once in a while I guess, just makes you appreciate even better your true friends.

Only the problem is – if you remember well – my job at the hostel ended up making me more than tired of making new encounters…
When I left 3 years ago, hell was the French. Now it is the travellers who compare their stories and achievements. OVERDOSE.

In fact I’m just tired of saying the same thing twice to two different people. At first it was only in the context of a new encounter, but now it’s extended to everything…
Comes to a point that I understand mythomaniacs; in fact it is just not to get tired of their own lives (as good or bad as they may be) that they invent stories or eventually “polish them” on the edges. Hell is other people.

The hostel we’re staying at downtown Amsterdam is quite good in itself but the smocking area is desperately full of walking garbage… Sorry to be that crude but some day it got to a point that the following sentence went through my mind:
“People disgust me and exhaust me. I just dream of interesting and unusual people. My plan is to dance until everything is resolved.”

“My mother always told me if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
And some people wonder why I’m so quiet around them.”

So tell me something, what’s to be done in such odd situation?? Well I just decided that a few fucks would not get me down and spoil my Amsterdam Birthday ’13.
So from that moment on, I would go on my own and it would be all about me and what I initially came for: chill, take perspective and most of all get high as fuck, no matter what.

So here we are, I’m Amsterdamned for good, slowly drowning in hazy reflexions and I suddenly have hard-core reminiscing about the past three times I’ve come to this city; life is an approaching farewell.

Warning : some parts of what you’re about to read are based on notes I’ve taken on my cell phone whilst being really high on diverse stuff; those were my well-deserved vacations, don’t ask.

“A forbidden fruit from the lost world. An extremely visual and colourful adventure through all dimensions simultaneously. Recommended for experienced travellers.” Greetings from Atlantis.

“Forbidden fruit” wasn’t meaningless, what I ignored is that this dangerous black magic had the power to reopen wounds from the past.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Enjoy your mistakes.

Before to head back to my mountains and especially after this summit of sin I’m currently reaching in Amsterdam, I’m purposely trying to put myself off drugs by abusing of them. A mean like any other.
“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. They wake up in the morning and that’s the best they are going to feel all day.”

Generally speaking, I spent quite a lot of time lost in my thoughts during this trip, staring at people in coffee shops; I love those moments of communicative silence between two random stoners.
What I love the most is that after five months of a “full speed life pace”, time has finally stopped when lost all by myself in a corner of the trippiest coffee shop of Amsterdam.
For here or to take away? This could have been the title of this chapter.

“Dancin on, doin the boogie all night long
Stoned in paradise”

And when I sobered up, after some hallucinations took me in an igloo on some northern ice floe (…), after the smoke has dissipated, it suddenly all became crystal clear; I knew that my next step would be L2A.
L2A is a stunning ski resort near my hometown; it’s one of those towns that I still have a score to settle with. I just found out that what I wanted now was to go get a job in any ski resort back home for the winter season in order to save up money to finance my upcoming trip: Canada & eventually the States. Besides I bloody miss the snow after those two years of summer…
I have a dream today, and I’ll do everything in my power to achieve it.

And for the very first time in over three years I was really excited about the idea of going back to France.
In the hallway of the airport after having stubbed out the very last joint of a spooky serie, I suddenly felt like this flight was finally taking me home after three years spent wandering the world… What a feeling… So far I was usually catching flight back to France once or twice a year more like “a duty” towards my family but not this time. I actually meant to come back. The end of an era, a new page was being turned out there.
Return to live in France after 40 months spent abroad; what if the real change was all about this now??

Anyways, my 4th “mini-life” is well and truly over now, and to me it only means one thing; my 5th move is about to start and I’m just so excited about it!!!
The other day someone special told me “Lucky you are to be able to build up your own little paradise wherever you are”, just hope this is gonna last..! =)

“Life is a river. A beginning, an end, a million different ways in between.
And no matter what direction or how it’d move or what it’d look like, the point was that the river always moved forward.”
Life cycles.


XXXI/ Young, broke & talented

It’s funny when travelers can’t find the bathroom, when it’s actually in their dormitory. I wonder how they go about exploring a city.

I have to say, I’ve been really tired lately. Mentally exhausted. Guests tire me. Slightly sick of hostel life these days.
I mean not everyone is pissing me off but still, more and more guests are getting on my nerves lately…

So for instance, after having stayed at the hostel for 2 nights about 15 days ago (and be such a pain in the ass), we have that (twisted) guest that called the reception over than 10 times through the past week in order to get some of my colleague’s phone number, that guest continues to harass us through our email address this time…..

“Dear XXXXX,

it was nice staying in your hostel as well as in all other hostels in Portugal I stayed in. Unfortunately these 2 days were last days of my 2 week trip. It’s too little for Algarve, ria Formosa, ilha Deserta… Next time I will come and stay more.

Norbert (my boyfriend) noticed that your English is very good!!!

I just wanted to ask a telephone number of the ukrainian man Nikolai who is working at your hostel. Or I give him my number (0043 699 182 46 XXX). If he is interested, he just needs to send me a flash and I’ll call back.

I just need to thank him for his help. Or maybe we can arrange an appointment at the hostel when I will call at a certain time at the hostel phone number and talk to him.

yours sincerely”

Can you believe this?? What shall one answer to that?!?….
In my parallel universe, where professional courtesy doesn’t exist, this is what I would have answered:

“Yo, this is NOT a dating site. I’ve already been nice to give him your phone number last time. MAYBE he just doesn’t want to call you back? MAYBE he just (purposefully) lost your phone number? What planet do you live on?
We’re trying to run a business out there, do you understand?
So please DO NOT even answer this message. Have a nice life.

I’m not even kidding; some people are worse than bed bugs.


I mean c’mon!! Some guests are so not street smart AT ALL. It’s unbelievable…..
Like that German girl the other day, coming up to me at 8.30am (end of another endless night shift after I’ve been up all night) and ask:
– How does that work for breakfast?
– It’s been served in the kitchen behind you so you can just help yourself! =)
– Ok but how do I do that?
– Well it’s right there; you have everything set on the table in the kitchen, please have some!
– Yeah but how does it work?? Like do I grab a plate and then just sit? Where do I sit by the way??
– …………………. .

Gosh…. SERIOUSLY?? DO YOU WANT ME TO FEED YOU OR WHAT?!? For fuck’s sake… Sometimes I genuinely wonder how did such retards even made it to the airport on their own…
Someone please write “Traveling for dummies”.

Ow boy, it’s just like Erasmus people… Damn I hate myself for writing this but the Erasmus students we’ve got here early September have been just……..”Exceptionally tiring” I’d say in order to remain polite…

I mean, when I first met some Erasmus people at the hostel who were literally just starting their adventure, I was so glad just to be able to help them out, assist them in their first steps in their new city/life… It of course reminded me of me, arriving in Galway three years ago, excited like never before, looking for adventure!!
But sadly, they all really quickly turned out to be so annoying persons… So immature, cheap and again, not street smart at all…
Damn, I can’t help thinking; was I like that too when I just started my Erasmus year?!?
Just makes me sad; so far I was always supporting any Erasmus thing…

Like that guy, Awkward boy as we baptized him (…), who I’ve been dumb to tell I could read Portuguese… I’m not lying, the guy made me translate no less than 50 adds through the afternoon that day…

Later on, as if it wasn’t enough:

– How can I find a flat?
– Well if I were you I’d had a look on Facebook groups such as “Erasmus Faro 2013-2014”, I’m sure there must be heaps of adds out there. Besides it’s for sure gonna be in English instead of Portuguese.
– Where do I find it?
– Well just type in something like “Erasmus Faro 2013-2014”, on your Facebook research bar.
– Could you show me?

Okay, maybe it’s just me that have no longer any patience but sometimes I really wonder… Don’t you wanna go explore the city by yourself, wander, get purposefully lost and discover by yourself what’s your new playground’s like instead of harass me all day long with your stupid questions such as “Is there a bus going from the parc behind my uni to the beach after 8.35pm on Tuesdays?” or even “May I have some Nutella for breakfast since I’ve been staying here for over than a week?”

As an old colleague of mine used to say: “You’re wasting my life.”

Yesterday I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I’ve momentarily lost the strength to speak to new strangers. I need some time off, and not only a weekend away or just a week off. I guess I need a few weeks off hostel life so I can come back to it later and enjoy it again.
Though I’d give anything to talk, share moments, create new memories with people I do already know. Colleagues, friends, basically anyone I wouldn’t have to get introduced to.

Enough encounters for now, I’m about to explode. It got to a point that I cannot even stand someone’s story anymore. Where they from, where they’ve been, all that shit, even when it is not even addressed to me…
Pleeeeeease, no more commonplace things, my ears are bleeding banalities… And I’ll soon lose the ability to pretend to be nice to everyone; my casual face needs some fresh air.
Distress call from a hostel worker; someone please call 911.

Okay guys, enough complains I’m sorry. Just had to let it out. I’m leaving next week anyways.
Thank god, we also still have some good cats among the guests, such as these Belgium lads who later wrote:

“94% – Everything was very tide, the staff are just amazing friendly peoples especially the Australian girl; they were nice to talk and to go out with. Vinz has a great taste for music. So it was just great staying there in Casa D’Alogoa.”
=> My DJ skills finally rewarded in a Hostelworld review, now I can die in peace.

“If you think adventure is dangerous try routine. It is lethal.”

Working/living in hostels is synonymous with sacrificing your private life. But still, it isn’t to be forgotten that beside all that shit I’m going through in my “professional life”, I also gotta put order in my private life from time to time…
And I’ve been letting it aside for too long I guess… Such a mess in there too.
So many decisions I’m expected to make lately… Sometimes I wish I was a kid so I could tell the world: “Leave me alone, I don’t wanna choose!”
Moral conflicts Vs insurmountable dilemnas.

“You have to make the right choice. As long as you don’t choose, everything remains possible.”
I cannot choose between a sunset and a sunrise. Is that so hard to understand?
From the roughest struggles come the greatest rewards. The higher is the mountain you’ve climbed, the most phenomenal the view gets.

I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid I haven’t been alive enough.
The past is dead. And now I see nothing really that proves me that it actually happened.
I guess I’m in love with a shadow or just slightly lost.

Time to hit my legendary joker, my favourite way out when facing any bad vibe growing up: a one-way ticket to anywhere.
Destination => AMSTERDAM.
Need to space myself out.

Pack up your stuff again, get rid of the superfluous again.
Somehow it’s like pruning a tree. At first glance you might think that hurts the tree, but in fact it just makes it start up with a renewed vigor.

“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’”

XXX/ Collect moments, not things

“It’s silly that the iPhone 5S unlocks by fingerprint recognition. Sheeps have no fingerprints.”
Well whatever. Better to be dead misunderstood than to spend your life explaining.
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

“I travel a lot. I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”
Sometimes I wish I lived in a parallel universe, where it would actually be up to hostel workers to leave reviews to guests…..
Don’t try to please everyone, or else you will lose everyone’s respect.

“He liked wandering in the street, experiencing new things, cheap bottles of red wine and when the rest of the city would sleep, he wrote.”
I’ve always wondered when does a person begin to write one’s autobiography, now I know.
I’ve never really had a literary background; I’ve studied business not literature and actually I’ve never really read any book either… Look at me now, writing has become my obsession. Sure that business studies weren’t made for me. Though I won’t deny that I’ve learned some useful stuff, plus it also sent me on my way requiring me to spend a year in an english speaking country… You know the rest of the story don’t you?

In life you gotta get your ass kicked every once in a while. Collect moments, not things.
And old feelings die hard, I’m telling ya… I guess it’s important to take a break from time to time and thank the ones that make you so happy and who – somehow – have contributed to pull you where you are now. I’m grateful, really.
Shoot-out to all of the different helpers I’ve been working with at the hostel since May. As one of us said once: “Live with them, work with them and love them anyway.”

This summer, I would have been fortunate to see the most beautiful smiles I’ve ever seen in my life, priceless laughter & unforgettable moments. Et ça vaut tout l’or du monde. Too bad that this expression cannot be literally translated.
It is very important to realize some of one’s dreams every once in a while. This is pretty much what keeps you alive on a daily basis.
Hard-core reminiscing Vs unfinished love stories.
Reminds me of a good old one:
“The only thing that motivates people more than fear is hope. But too much hope is a dangerous thing. A little hope provides a spark that keeps people going, striving.”

Well well well… Remember my classic “Plans are made to be changed”??
Well guess what… I’ll soon be leaving my beloved Faro heading to some place I don’t know yet in order to make some money during the winter season.
Torn between the need to travel some more to know where I wanna settle down to make money to then travel some more. Relatively complex phrase but it’s basically simple.
Money can’t buy happiness… But it can buy flight tickets, which is basically the same..!
Sometimes I genuinely feel like I’m jet-lagged from my life.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Well I wouldn’t have found what I was initially looking for by coming here but I’ve got something else though. Something bigger, some more learning, some spectacular discoveries and a whole lot of love. That sort of thing that allows me to leave without feeling any bitter. A move before the fall.
The ones that walk away are only making room for the ones that won’t.

I guess everything happens for a reason. “We must die to one life before we can enter another”.
So this is it, about 5 months later and after having checked in a couple of hundred guests through the summer, I’ll leave la Casa d’Alagoa early October… Just a see you later though..!
And now that the summer is over, “let’s hangover together..!” and drink ourselves to sleep for one last time. Forecast for tonight: Alcohol, low standards & poor decisions.
Wake me up when September ends.

And as a sort of film credits that comes out through the silence of a beautiful story that ends, I close my eyes and I can hear a guitar riff ringing out on a deserted beach during one of those endless and unforgettable summer night…..
And poof, in the twinkling of an eye everything vanishes. And as in a sweet old forgotten dream, for some reason I see my boys Max, Gab & me leaving Bondi late at night for a two month road trip through Australia…
Don’t look back, turn up the music and hit the gas baby!!
“It took a lot of courage in life for me to say “Maybe” when I thought “No”, “We’ll see” when I thought “Yes” and “See you later” when I was leaving for good.”

“The shortest distance between two people is a smile.”

XXIX/ The wall

“Love is a beautiful disaster. Knowing that we’re running into a wall, and still accelerating. Running to ruin, with a smile. Awaiting with curiosity the moment where it will screw up. Love is the only programmed disappointment, the only predictable misfortune of which we want more.”

Play that track and let yourself go…
Music is a language that everyone speaks.

Life is kind of like a party. You invite a lot of people, some leave early, some stay all night, some laugh with you, some laugh at you, and some show up really late. But in the end, after the fun, there are a few who stay to help you clean up the mess. And most of the time, they aren’t even the ones who made the mess.
Up to you then to draw the right conclusions.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
“I would rather own a little and see the world than own the world and see a little of it.”

So last week I had three days off and as a last minute decision, I jumped in a train heading to Porto. Turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve taken this summer..!
Lost in Porto then, using my instinct as a GPS, my feet as only carriage and my good mood as a guide… In short, I’m in love with my tickets to anywhere.
This city is so gorgeous, so authentic… Next time you do some sightseeing in some speechless spot; for a minute don’t take pictures, don’t talk, don’t move but open your eyes and see.

One of the main conclusions I drew during that trip is that I wanna learn Portuguese, I feel like I owe it to the country I’m living in. Besides they say the easiest way to learn a new language is love. Well I haven’t found a beautiful Portuguese lady yet but I’m definitely in love with the country so…

Just realized that I’m always learning from the toughest (in terms of accent); I mean I’ve learnt English in Ireland, Spanish in Andalusia and now Portuguese in Portugal (would have been much easier in Brazil, their accent is so much clearer/easier to understand).
Languages are the keys to the world.

Porto Porto Porto… What can I say?? It’s been a good run; I’ve loved your Francesinhas, Caipirinhas, wine, nightlife, vibe, your people & off course the beauty of the city… I’ll be back fosho and I can even tell that, apart from your shitty Super Bock beer, I could easily live there..!
Muito obrigado para tudo but Faro is calling me back already..! So see you next time i guess!!
This is by the way one of those new things. I mean now, no matter where I go, I always wonder if I could live there. Eternal footloose traveller in the soul..!

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

Damn, time’s flying so fast…
Everything moves so fast here that I tend to lose track of what day it is… One of the things I hate to do and that scares the shit out of me is when I gotta check what the date is on my phone in order to put a tag on the food we store in the fridge at the hostel, I always freak out when I suddenly realize the actual date… Every single time there’s that voice inside my head going like ‘Oh really??? ……’
Scared of time that flies so fast, scared of the times that are changing, scared of me changing too…
It’s quite simple, when somebody says “10 years ago” i think about the ’90s instead of 2003…

Summer is about to be over and it makes me feel weird, because looking back, I’ve basically been following the sun/summer for 2 years on a row now… Damn, I wonder how winter’s like?? I haven’t seen the snow in ages… And remember that I’m initially from Grenoble, the capital city of the French Alps…
Actually you know what, next time I’ll be in touch with the snow might be in Canada this winter..! Where it gets to something close to minus 30 degrees……! What a shock it’ll be!! Ahah

This is another one of those new things; the more French Canadians I meet, the more I wanna live in Quebec. It has been growing in my mind since the beginning of the summer, over the course of so many priceless encounters I’ve made, little by little I can see it coming, someday I’ll get myself a (one-way?) ticket to Canada.
And I’m sure this is gonna roll out the same way as Oz…. I was dreaming of it for too long that someday I just went nuts and flew over there for a year. I know I’ve got a good situation down here in Portugal but as I heard last night; “Forbidding is lighting up the fire”..!
So far I’m still not sure how I’m gonna do it, what I’m gonna do over there nor even when I’ll go but someday I will, that’s all I know. So many good friends to visit in Montreal… So excited!!!

I actually wonder how soon I will give in on that one… Because as I told you last time, these days I’m just unable to show any kind of patience…
But you know what, since I’ve lost patience, I’m generally so much happier in my life.

There are only three things that tell the truth: kids, drunk people & leggings.
Oh you’ve got enemies? Good, it means you actually stood up for something.
Video games have taught me one thing, coming across new enemies actually means you are on the right way.

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
And never forget that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

But for now, it is August 29th and I’m pretty sure that this first rainy day in Faro (since I’ve arrived late May…) has been the crucial turn that will pretty much mark the end of that incredible summer 2013…
I don’t know, it’s something in the air, something we all can feel, that emptiness, the general lack of energy, things are slowing down and we undoubtedly have less and less guests…
It feels so weird because actually, all summer long we’ve been begging for the things to slow down to be able to breath a minute, and now that it is actually happening, I nearly feel sort of nostalgic…
I guess it’s just another of those periods of transition that are never really easy to handle.
What if life was all about taking your time for life itself not to slip away from you?

“I thought about all the girls I had known, with whom I had slept, or even the ones I’ve only desired. I thought they were like Russian dolls. We spend our whole life playing this game. We’re curious to know who will be the last one, the tiny one, which was hidden from the beginning. You cannot get it directly, you have to follow the path. They must be opened one by one, wondering every time ‘Is she the last one?’ ”

As they say in Spanish; “Jamás perdonaré al azar.”
I will never forgive the chance.

And someday you wake up and it’s September already… What can i say?? … Apart from that I am so damn grateful for the summer I’ve had in Faro, unquestionably the best summer of my life… Unforgettable encounters, unforgettable moments, laughter and exceptional people…..
I love la Casa d’Alagoa & I love Faro. Not as you can love a city or a person – no – more like magical places, places where you feel home, a home that does not stop to surprise you on a daily basis… I am infinitely grateful and if today were my last day on earth, I would have no regrets whatsoever.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

And thank you for being more and more numerous to read my blog, almost 3000 views since i started last January back in Sydney, I sure appreciate it!

“You write so beautifully, the inside of your mind must be a terrible place.”

XXVIII/ And the living is easy

“That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing with marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.”

I’ve learnt how to read between the lines. Do you want the truth or something beautiful?
A study shows that each 7 years you lose half of your friends and you replace them by new ones, and guess what? Life goes on. I found that article particularly interesting and quite full of truth.
Although even if it may sound a bit harsh the way I say it, one shouldn’t only see the negative side of it. To me it also means that you can and you should live really intense moments with the people who is surrounding you at the moment.

And so last night at 3am we left for a spontaneous last minute road trip, the 11 of us in our friend’s camper van, destination unknown, and we ended up jamming on the beach under an avalanche of shooting stars till the sun rose… Freedom at its best.
Once again, getting high on life until the sunlight hurt our eyes. One love, one heart.

“I don’t even expect anything, I’m just getting high on the present moment.”
Dancing barefoot in the sand under an insane starry sky, loud music & priceless friendship moments… “I’ve got the love to keep me awake.”
What time is it?? I don’t care o’clock.
Life’s so damn short so do whatever the f*ck makes you happy for f*ck sake.
“If the opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

“I have just seen a shooting star, I made a wish. I’ve wished that shooting stars actually grant wishes. I’m waiting.”

People say ‘Oh, you’re so lucky!’. It’s not lucky, it’s about attitude.
“Be happy. It drives people crazy.”
Again, happiness is a choice my friends and “if nothing goes right, go left.”
As Voltaire said: “The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.”
I mean c’mon, what do you think?? You think this kind of life has only bright sides?? You think that’s all about going out, drinking, beaches, never working, never be concerned, not having any issue ever..?? …
You know what, sometimes it gets to the point that I feel like I’d really need a day off to rest from my days off…

After a (perhaps) too long while spent in hostels you get to a point where you may wonder: “Are you actually talking or are you in autopilot mode?”
I’ve become master in the art of skipping the 5 first questions with guests now. Ok, let me clear this up for you;
No matter where you are, who you are and what do you expect, in hostels, your conversations will aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalways start by the same 5 questions:
– Where are you from?
– How long have you been traveling for?
– Where have you been?
– How long are you here for?
– Where next?

These questions are my obsession….. I cannot take them anymore, and I’m not ashamed to confess that I actually am in an autopilot mode when I answer those questions, whoever you are…
It’s only once you’ve past those 5 questions that the conversation start to be interesting, once you’ll have find a common ground with the person, once you finally get to a “personalised conversation”.

So my thing is to try to avoid those 5 questions as much as I can with guests. I mean, of course if they ask me I’ll answer, but, I’ll lay a totally different look upon some stranger with whom I’d start a conversation different than those common place questions. I’d be like ‘Oh you, you must have been through quite a lot of interesting things and on the road for long enough for not giving a damn about the countries I’ve seen..!’
And it very often turns out to be very interesting encounter.
But don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do start conversations that way too, but it’s just because you gotta be polite, and also because with some people, you just cannot really avoid the “usual formalities”.

But despite various and creative technics, sometimes the “mingling with guests” sometimes gets really heavy to your mental health. I mean it can be felt as a frustrating thing to not always going deep in your conversations with people you meet, and as you can guess, the worst is when it stops around those damn 5 questions. Then all you can do is to start over with someone else.
And what’s up when I cannot take more??
I just catch a boat and find asylum on one of the wonderful islands that are nearby Faro, my shelter.
I couldn’t tell you how relaxing it is there, no vehicles, no pollution, no noise and most of all, far away from the continent… You get that particular feeling when you’re there, especially at night time, when you know that ain’t no more boat till the following morning, it’s like ‘Nothing can touch me now, I’m safe on my island!’

One of my favourite things is actually to float on my back away from the shore, ears in the water where you can only hear the sound of the waves, no music, no loud stupid kids, no annoying tourists yelling but just the sound of silence. It heals me, it heals my ears and my lack of privacy.
Even just to sit by the water, having your life momentarily paced by the waves… Priceless quietness.

Last time I went to Lisbon, I’ve been talking for a long while with a good friend of mine who’s been working in hostels for a long while too, and he told me that on his time off he would just go alone in a park where no one could find him just to enjoy his “well deserved loneliness” for hours…
‘Rest your head, take a break. Don’t become a sponge that always absorbs loads of shit without ever spitting out anything in return.’

“Life is not a spectator sport. Win, lose, or draw, the game is on whether we like it or not. So go ahead, argue with the ref, change the rules, cheat a little.
Take a break and heal your wounds.
But play. Play. Play hard, play fast… play freely. Play as if there’s no tomorrow.”

XXVII/ The science of dreams

I remember there was a time when I kind of enjoyed myself spending time on my Facebook home page, see what was happening in my friends’ life, to press the space bar over and over again for hours, find some original stuff, cool photos & even some useful info from time to time.
Now I’d rather take out the trash or even to piss in a violin, clearly more entertaining.
These days, scrolling down your Facebook homepage is like looking into your fridge when you’re a student; you may be starving but you’ll always end up staring at a bunch of non-edible shit.

I see waste, shit loads of waste. I see jealousy, I see time being wasted. Ignorance & flippancy. What exasperates me is to see people too busy being doubtful at a point that they don’t even notice how fast is the hand of their watch turning.
“We always romanticize that our elders are wise, because of their years of experience, but you know what?? Stupid people get old too.”

So yeah, as you can read – and for several reasons – I’ve had several mood swings lately.
The lack of sleep, the too-much-drinking, the never resting; I guess it’s just an accumulation of all that. It is also probably due to a fairly complex mixture of strong feelings and emotions.
“The others are a constant struggle.”
Life is definitely not a long quiet river.

I meant to take a break with my travels to get closer to the people I love, to see them again, to have an address where to be found.
Unfortunately, receiving the visit of some of my bros is precisely what messed me up. In a way, it just made me wanna spend more time with them… And at the same time, still living in a hostel, I keep on making stunning encounters on a daily basis, either staff or guests becoming real friends over time. Again, some more folks to be added in the category of people with whom I would want to spend my whole life… How to stop the bleeding? The vicious circle of travel…

But at the same time, I must confess that guests also actually make my mood up. Sometimes I really don’t feel like being sociable or so but I come across guests and they simply change my mood whether I want it or not. It’s turning into an addiction… An addiction to strangers…. You force the first smile and then it becomes natural after not even 5 minutes and your own problems go away as quickly as they came because now you have to be the one who help people and who’s not really allowed to let his private life affect the job. In such a good hostel, a receptionist isn’t allowed to be in a bad mood, and all the better. What if I told you that a fake smile can lead to a real good mood? All in all happiness is just like an illness, a laugh or stupidness, it’s contagious.

And i found out that it actually works the other way around too. Whenever some guests arrive pissed off for some reason –like their flight have been delayed by four hours or so – and I still manage to finally get a smile and a ‘thanks a million!’ once that I took care of them, showed them around and took them to their room. It’s all about the ability to make them feel well and cosy in a fistful of minutes in our wonderful & homey house. To me, getting a smile out of people who initially got here upset for any reason is one of the best rewards I can ever get doing my job.

Another reason for my current “mental disorder” are the dreams that I’m doing lately…
This is so bizarre really… Every night i dream of random people i know from different places and who definitely don’t know each other, all involved in really fucked up stories… My subconscious is seriously starting to concern me.
The science of dream, such a fascinating mystery to me… Even though some of those dreams are starting to freak me out. These dreams seem so real, so much detail, i really feel like I’m living them for real, and suddenly i wake up with a start… You know those first five minutes when you just wake and you’re still able to perfectly remember the dream you had?? What the fuck do they mean??
Maybe better not to know i guess.

If I’m not sure what do they mean, I nevertheless can guess where they come from; the cumulative fatigue.
Indeed we’re partying a lot down in Faro. In theory it’s three big parties a week organized by the hostel but in fact, every night is someone’s last night; so “you have to go out!!”…
“I sleep in because I’ve been up all night. I’ve been up all night because I sleep in.”

The only fruits i have in Portugal are dissolved in cocktails. But let me tell you one thing; I’ve never had so much fruits in my entire life…
“At the moment my problems are smaller than my pint” said a guest once. Just answered: “If you put on a table everything that i drank last night, you can open a bar.”
Live for the day, plan for tomorrow, party tonight.
And I know it may sound dumb but a lot of partying can be life teacher too in its own way. Learn about yourself, about your ‘friends’ and people in general.
“Drunken words are sober thoughts, listen carefully.”

If there is one thing that truly helps me whenever i don’t feel well, it is music, over and over again. The power of music… Did you know that it has recently been proved that music can be as addictive as some drugs?? Doesn’t surprise me really!!
Music is one of the few activities in life that utilizes the entire brain.
There’s a quote i love in ‘Café de Flore’, a movie i’ve watched lately, that goes: “That band puts me in a good space, it’s as if they play just for me.”
The guy is really upset at this moment of the movie and then he plays that particular song he loves and you can feel how emotional he gets…

Some songs definitely have a power on me, the power to heal me, to take me away, to make me ‘fly above my problems’. Some songs are so perfect that, as this guy says, i truly feel like they’ve been made just for me… I love that finally someone managed to put the right words on that feeling.

Besides, I’ve also started again to play music. From time to time during the parties we throw at the hostel we have some live music and i often play some percussion, Djembe or Cajon. I’ve been deprived for too long of that sensation you get when jamming together with some other musicians, this osmosis, this complicity, or when one only look says it all.
Have you ever played music so intensely that it actually hurts your hands?? Well you should. It rests your head and makes you feel alive.

Frankly after years abroad you can actually get used to farewells, really. I mean it becomes part of your daily routine after a long while working in hostels. Doesn’t mean you get heartless though.
Actually for the first time since I’m back in Europe, I really feel like I miss the old helpers who have left us already, the initial crew that has set up the summer in da house early June. I guess it’s gonna pass and the new ones are gonna turn to be legendary too, as always..! =)
“No one can change a person but a person can be a reason someone changes.”

What if I were smiling and running into your arms? Would you see then what I see now?

XXVI/ I want a ticket to anywhere

“You wonder if you’re a beast or a saint.
But you are both at once. And so much more even.
You are infinitely numerous.
The one who despises, the one who hurts, the one who loves, the one who seeks. And everyone else together.
Fool yourself, be reckless, not everything is fragile.
Expect only from yourself, because you are sacred. Because you’re alive.
Because the most important thing is not what you are, but what you’ve chosen to be.”

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”
Still struggling to know what the important days are eh?

Well, I still love that hostel life but from time to time I really feel like I’ve gotta breathe out. Even if I’m aware that from an external point of view, it may seem like in hostels you hardly work rather than you could be working hard, that’s a real lack of spare time that I’m facing on a daily basis.
Above all, I have no time to write and this is what frustrates me most. I’m currently writing with almost a two month delay… Pffff this is ridiculous really… Always have to hide away whenever I wanna put some words together or do anything for me… Which I find quite sad….. So now why don’t you understand??

In fact, what happened is that some day I woke up with a sentence floating in my head over and over again; “I want a ticket to anywhere”, coming from the Tracy Chapman’s song “Fast car”…..
Sometimes the unconscious does things well..! Really felt like I needed some fresh air, to leave the hostel for a while… So I did.
Do you know that feeling??? When you have no clue where you wanna go – and you don’t give a damn –but all you know is that you want/have to go somewhere, anywhere.

Pieces of heaven have to be found progressively, not all at once. They will come up one by one at a special moment of your life. This is how I ended up in magical Farol Island.
Once you free yourself, you’ve found the key to happiness. Ending the day watching the sunset laying down the beach with that feeling that nothing could touch me now that I was away from the good old continent… Getting high on life, living the present, I just keep falling in love with simplicity over and over again.
“Love can’t sleep.”

One day, some guest asked me about how did I feel about having not any kind of steady relationship because of traveling, and I just answered: “This is not a choice, it’s a sacrifice.”
Do you really think I’m happy not to be able to stay in contact with all of the amazing people I meet?? It’s so much easier to smile rather than being happy.
“Sometimes you have to be your own hero.”

“Relationships are like garage sales. From a distance it looks like it could be interesting. But up close, it’s just a bunch of shit you don’t need.”
I’m aware that this statement can sound a bit harsh but there’s a part of truth in it if you think about it. As Bob Marley said; “Love will never leave us alone” – I find pretty true too.
What’s the right balance between both then??
I’m not sure, and I’m not sure I wanna know either… At the moment all that matters to me are the sparks in people’s eyes.
“It’s not something you just take, it’s given.”

“My goal is not to wake up at 40 with the bitter realization that I’ve wasted my life in a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”

And guess what, this is all about the small things. All about being attentive and aware of those smallest things. This is about being happy to lay down on the sand at night time, being able to improvise a last minute trip, to follow your instinct, to let go from time to time, to be aware that the sun’s gonna rise up every day no matter what your mood’s like, to take time to enjoy a strawberry Caipirinha, to get high on life on a daily basis…
And at some point you’ll understand that all of those small things put end-to-end are in definitive much more than a break, it’s a lifestyle.

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

“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”

XXV/ Another day at the office

“It’s not Monday morning that sucks, it’s what you make out of it.”

Random clapping:
New concept that has seen the light in the house for the first time last Saturday night during our BBQ party.
Basically, people gonna random clap for no reason at any random point and everyone is gonna do so, following the group movement.
This is a lot of fun believe me and it always gets people together..!
So next time you’re coming over to the house, if you hear anyone clapping, don’t try to understand, just clap along!!
For the record, the entire house applauded in unison for the first time when a French guest we had said she was gonna quit her job after having spent a week with us. She is/was a cop.

“Ain’t no staying one only night in this hostel..!”
Ow Robin, I couldn’t agree more..! Thus loads of guests here are extending their stay over and over again, and all the better!! Loads of them are also coming back only a couple of days after they checked out, just cuz “they missed the house too badly..!”
Sometimes I feel like this is the reason why I work here, just to make people happy to know that they will always have this “home away from home” to count on, no matter what.
Such a great vibe in this house..! As some of us sometimes say, the hostel is better than the city itself, and let me tell you, the city is still not too bad..!
Under the blazing sun of Portugal it is only raining great news..!

You know you work in hostels when you don’t sleep anymore, you only pass out eventually from time to time.
Yes, the compensation of having such a good job at such great workplace is that it’s a very demanding job. As we use to say, it’s a 24 hour business, believe me you don’t get to sleep much when working here…
But at the same time, no one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep.
Cuz let me tell you one thing, in this hostel, boredom is a crime. And when we throw a party here… Things get limitless & shit gets real!! You know you work in hostels when you can’t remember the last time you’ve been to bed sober. Would also work with: You know you work in hostels when you can’t remember the last time you had a full night of sleep…

“Growing old: needing to take a nap before to go out.”

On the other hand, being constantly in touch with so many travellers, I’ve been fortunate to make so many beautiful encounters. As we say; work in hostels is like traveling through people.
Same thing as “we never stop learning in this house”, guests bring so much to my life, they teach me so many things on so many various areas.
I love that diversity we have, so many different nationalities, backgrounds, ways of thinking. And as I use to say, sometimes I can really appreciate someone not because we’ve got something in common, no, rather because “I love the way we hate the same things”.

But “We’re travellers”… I’m starting to hate this phrase really. Just another sad synonym to “Nothing lasts forever”. Travellers are definitely one of the most interesting species but also one of the most painful encounter to be made because we all know that nothing really can stop them anywhere. See the dilemma??
Therefore over time I’ve learnt how to live day to day, with my surrounding. Travelling is definitely the best university.
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect.”
Men have feelings too, but who really cares?

Quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, never return.

XXIV/ Building steam with a grain of salt

“Life is not a spectator sport. Win, lose, or draw, the game is on whether we like it or not. So go ahead, argue with the ref, change the rules, cheat a little.
Take a break and heal your wounds.
But play. Play. Play hard, play fast… play freely. Play as if there’s no tomorrow.”

So first of all, let me put things in context. Basically about two years ago when I used to live in Spain, I went over to Portugal for a week off. I’ve been road trippin’ with the most unexpected team ever through Algarve, south Portugal.
At the time, I had no idea that this trip would pretty much change the course of my life…
I guess it’s hard to know what the important days are.

The thing is that on the way, we made a stop @ Faro, at la Casa d’Alagoa Hostel, and THIS has been the starting point of everything. A beautiful, long & intense ‘love story’ has seen the light on that day… At the time, the hostel was brand new, just a couple of month that it was running and I feel like I’ve been extremely fortunate to be “part of it” since the beginning.

We all had such a blast during those days that my travel mates and I ended up changing our plans, cancelled the next stop and extended our stay at this hostel instead..!
Then the inevitable happened, I’ve become closer and closer to the owners of the hostel. During that year, I went back to that place very frequently, and at some point, the owners have started to come to see me in Seville too.

I’ve always known that I could have start to work with them at Faro directly after the end of my year in Spain, but at that time I had another dream stuck in my head for too long to be put aside… This dream was called “Into The Wild @ Australia..!”
After weighing the pros and cons, I made the choice to go live my adventure in Australia. I find it important to realize some of those old sweet dreams that have been on your mind for too long.

Facing the dilemma, my point has been;
– I’m gonna go train myself working in hostels in Australia, pick up the best of each one of them I’ll visit on my way.
– Besides, I know that if I start working in this hostel now, there’s no way I’ll move my ass to Australia later on
– I don’t wanna have regrets
– I’ll be back in a year, more ready & full of energy than ever to start making business together
– I have the character of an old stubborn Spaniard, no time to think or to explain, time to make a move.
So I did.

[ One year later ]
Portuguese, Italian, American, Irish, French, Canadian, German, Latvian, English, Japanese, Australian…..
“Meet the new staff crew 2013 of Casa d’Alagoa – Faro Hostel, all here to make you spend an unforgettable summer..!”
Pretty much about 12 helpers, 12 nationalities… How awesome is that?? I remember once we tried to count how many languages we could talk all together and it roughly went up to 18..!
This is a good overview of what my Faradise has started like early June 2013.
“If we can laugh together, we can work together.”

Here I’m working as receptionist, community manager (Facebook page of the hostel etc), party organizer, photographer, cook… A bit of everything in the end. But probably a mix of everything that I’m good at..! So even if it’s a very demanding work, it suits me well in the sense that you have a pretty vast autonomy in the way you have to get things done.

I finally feel like I’m with the right people, at the right place, right moment. Exactly where I belong, doing what I love, in a total harmony with myself.
No one sucks amongst the staff crew, they all have sparks in their eyes and somehow it makes me think of that quote from One The Road:
“And I shambled after as usual as I’ve been doing all my life after people that interest me, because the only people that interest me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.”

And it is so much happening here on a daily basis that every day feels like a week.
All together, we’re building steam with a grain of salt. As one of us said once, “we cook up a storm on a daily basis for our guests”. We don’t have much means, but thanks to our different backgrounds and a boundless creativity we make the magic happen. Teamwork makes dream work baby!!

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

XXIII/ Journey of a lifetime

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

So before to get started with my new job in that incredible hostel in Faro, I needed to get some stuff done. It’s been mostly about going back where I feel like I belong – in Spain – and also meet up with some good old friends again.
“It’s the people, not the things.”

El otro día alguien me dijo ‘Desde que te conozco, ésto es lo que siempre has dicho que querías.’ Es una suerte tener claro lo que uno quiere y conseguirlo. Y mayor suerte, tener gente que cuando dudes te lo recuerde.
The other day someone told me ‘Ever since I know you, this is the thing that you’ve always said that you wanted.’ This is a chance to know what you want and to manage to get it. And it is even better to have people to remind it to you when you doubt.

So I first spent a week in Lisbon partying very hard with my boys and another one in Seville, city where I’ve been living at for a year before moving to Australia.
“I don’t wanna go to heaven. I’m far too afraid not to know anyone up there.”
“Boys are back in town”; it’s been the answer to pretty much everything during that first week… Anytime we were like “Shall we really have another shot?? It’s already half past seven in the morning dude….” “Boys aren’t back in town every day man..!” “Ok fuck it, let’s do it!!”

My time in Spain has been way more productive in terms of reflexion and emotions. Not that Lisbon hasn’t, but as I said, to me Spain is very particular, and especially when it comes to my beloved Sevilla…

« Hace tiempo que no te veo. » This phrase gave me goose bumps. It only means “Long time no see” in Spanish but the fact that I heard it in a street of Seville on the first day I was back in Andalusia directly took another dimension in my heart…

And of course, I couldn’t go back to Seville without dropping by La Casa Loca, the house where I’ve been living all year long when I was working in Spain. La Casa Loca, a mythical house (that even have its own Facebook page, 17 housemates, only foreigners, 3 floors, 3 terraces on the rooftop, house parties gathering like 180 people at once… In other words, the place to be.

So I went back there with one of my old housemate who was traveling with me during this week in Spain and when the two generations met and have been partying hard together, let me tell you one thing; it’s been epic!!!
It’s still quite hard for me to find the right words, kind of the same as when I went back to Galway, Ireland one year after I left, a sort of mixed feelings, between nostalgia and excitement, a feeling that I’ve just baptized “a beautiful sadness”. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about revival events, it’s also been shit loads of fun believe me!

The first day has been so weird. You know that feeling to come back to a city you’ve been living at for a year, but without any of your good old friends that have made your year… This is probably when I found out that it’s was all about the people, not the places.
The second day was alright, more like in a “Fine, now we’re making new memories” mode. “Siempre por delante”, remember??
Third day: “This is my town again”.

Memories get altered over time, that is the reason why you always find everything smaller the second time. Here I’m talking about distances; like a city center or whatever it was after all – your scumbag brain has just enlarged it in the meantime.
“He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good.”
Nevertheless my conclusion is that I don’t wanna go back to Sevilla anymore, because if I do, I’ll settle down forever.

Live with your times, with people that surround you. Open your eyes, life is too short to try and solve big issues that go way beyond your field.
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
If you don’t like a place just make a move, cross a border. The world is big enough.
I believe in the present. Live with the people that are around you at the moment, don’t waste the present moment trying to recreate situations from the past. Things are moving too fast for you to permanently be holding onto the past.

“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
People live 2 days a week, 8 days a month, 96 days a year…. I say fuck that, I live on a daily basis.
It only depends on the job you pick, so it’s only up to you and you only in the end. Ain’t no need for loads of money. I’d far rather be happy every day when you get out of bed and head to work.
I don’t wanna work to pay the car that takes me to work. I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you.
Lazy people and cowards find excuses, the others find a way.

Besides all those constructive reflexions, I’ve also made some really beautiful encounters along the way between Lisbon, Seville & Tarifa where I finished up this ‘Spanish revival trip’.
For instance I have met people who have exactly the same taste in music as me. And I will tell you two things; first, my musical tastes are very particular and varied- and second – music is everything to me, my daily drug.
Shout out to that friend of mine who once told me “You’re nothing until someone reminds you with a song”, that’s probably one of the most meaningful line that I have ever heard.
The most important woman in a man’s life is not the first one, but the one who won’t let the next one exist.
“This is how girls are. Hardly they do a thing out of the ordinary and we fall in love.”
And why do we say “fall” in love anyway?
Unanswered questions Vs beautiful reflections.

So much beauty in this world, and so many fish in the sea.

So this wonderful trip is getting to an end, time to head to Faro to get this summer started..!
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
So I’m about to settle down for an indefinite period… But guess what, I’m actually kind of excited about that. After those three years spent on the road I finally feel the need of having an address, a phone number and eventually being able to unpack my stuff.
To me now the most important is to have a “permanent” address so my people can come over and visit me, thing that I’ve been deprived of for too long.
So yeah, I’m actually glad to finally take a break in my journey of a lifetime.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”