many roads to travel
Not joking, for at least two years have I planned writing a post about the difference I/we have experienced in the different countries in which we have lived or traveled to so far. Have now finally got my shit together and begun drafting on a comprehensive list of all positive and negative that we've experienced in each of those countries. But first a little background info..
You know already that one major gain with a world trip like the one we're on with our floating home, is that you get one step closer to the truth, you get to know the world a little bit better. A gained knowledge that hopefully gives a better idea on where it would be wise to set up a land-based home one day in the future. We're far from done with our research. Haven't yet found the ultimate place although we have some ideas. All the good and bad we encounter in each of these countries and cities that we visit or live in for an extended time, teaches us something unique of value. We add a new piece of information and knowledge to the puzzle we're trying to solve. And despite the occasional negative that we encounter, we always try to get out of each stop with more than what we arrived with. Not so much in material, but rather in experience and insights.
Speaking for myself, I have always been a curious searcher. Ever since I was very little (8) when I moved from my birth country Finland to a small farm village in Sweden, I have wanted to know what else was out there. As much as I have always felt that there must be so much more to life than that which was presented to me, I have always found it odd with people who strongly propagate for a country or a place without knowledge or experience in what else there is outside of ones direct viewpoint. How can you know when you know so little? I had no clue of what life really looked like outside my safe home base, but I was extremely eager to learn.
Of course there are people that are not interested in learning about the world, which is perfectly fine. Who am I to choose for others. The amazing thing with life is that we all can choose our own paths. I personally knew from a very young age that knowledge came from experience, and that ones experience is limited to the events and journeys one had traveled. To expand my mind, my perception and comprehension of life and the world was not an option, but a necessity that would enable me to grow.
Moving from home at 16, I started early to travel alone or with friends and have ever since made every effort towards getting to know myself, the world and the people that inhabits it better. I was so curious. Wanted to know everything! And educating myself in cultural differences, language and traveling the world happened also on other levels than just the one done in airplanes, trains and automobiles.
Everyone has their own ways to connect to new people. A personal strategy if you will, conscious or subconscious, towards who they want to spend time with. An inner guidance leading them to who and where to look for their next potential partner. Before meeting Alex, I made sure to expand my worldview by dating people from various different countries, religion, ethnicity and social standings. They were young, old, rich, poor, students, business owners, bohemians, artists, bankers, drug dealers, nightclub owners, junkies, teetotalers, policemen, sportsmen and lazy asses. A mixture of backgrounds that ensured mental challenge and which lead me to see the world through many different glasses. They were from West and East Europe. From Australia, America, Africa and Asia. Latino, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Arabic. You name it, I've probably explored it.
Some people travel through books or a higher education, the people I chose to spend my time with were (indirectly in most cases) my teachers, and no matter how our story ended, I can still look back at all of them and feel fortunate for the time we spent together. For all the things they taught me. Or the things I taught myself by being part of their lives and stories for a brief, or sometimes longer, moment.
There might have been moments when I've been absolutely sure that certain of those encounters were nothing but a waste of time. But the more distance I gain to each individual experience, the more I have realized that they were all there to help me build my own curious colourful path, and each of them have been necessary ingredients that have filled my book of life with important knowledge.
Before I met Alex at the age of 27, I was still in search of higher awareness. There were too many lives, cultures and places to explore. Almost all of the encounters lead to me sliding out and moving on towards new adventures. But always with my baggage restocked with new important lessons and insights.
As much as I had difficulty choosing the right place to live, I had hard committing to someone for a longer time simply because my research wasn't done yet. Eventually that research came to a halt when I met someone whose puzzle pieces seemed to be fitting mine.
Alex, who had so much of all in one body: A Frenchman with Greek roots, who had lived in many different countries and spoke three and a half languages. Who worked with things I love, had gone through a ton of shit, but still had his heart in the right place. A person that loved traveling as much as I did, and who, as a bonus, had a boat we could prepare for an extended world cruise. For the dreamer and searcher that I was and still am, it was like a gift that had been given to me from above. It all fell naturally. We moved together in the first month of dating. With all my innate ideas and wishes to continue learning about the world, I was initially the slightly stronger driving force when we mutually decided to leave our lives in Spain behind and together go hunt for something greater. Alex had for a longer time wanted a change in certain aspects of his life. He had lived in Spain for seven years at the time that we met, and the country's economical situation that affected his industry had started to feel old. As much as he felt like a given in my life, it seems I came into his world at the right time.
The search, intentional or unintentional, for a partner to share ones life with, can be equaled to the search Alex and I are on today with our world travels. For each place that we visit, we add one additional piece of information to our now combined travel baggage. We know so much more now than when we started our journey together, but there's still so much more to see, experience and investigate before we can begin building a home on land. While we learn from every unique experience on this joint quest we have undertaken, we also teach each other from the individual baggage we both carried with us when we first met.
Living on a boat makes traveling a bit easier. And now that we've done it for so long (almost five years), it is hard imagining a different way to approach the world. Everything is just a water passage away. Whatever we want to explore, it is there for us to take part of. With some planning, saving and preparation of course.
There are a few things that we always adhere to each time we discuss different places for living. Some of these have been obvious from day one, other we have learned to incorporate into our lives as time went by:
+ On the water - We want to live in a place with a safe, nice place to keep the boat. We need to know that there is a possibility to sail away swiftly would there need be. Living near water inspire a sense of freedom and that is very important to us. If also the water is crystal clear and turquoise blue, that is an obvious bonus.
+ Warm weather and sunshine - We live on a boat, which means it is hard to heat up our home. It is for us easier to fight heat than cold. On a boat or not, cold weather changes so many things to the worse. From how your body and mind feels, to what energy you thrive and live off, and even how you look. Being cold takes away too much pleasure from life. Sunshine feeds you endorphin and energy. Sunshine is life and it paints the world in beautiful colours which are needed for a stimulated and happy mind. Having said that, there's a limit to heat as well, and the Mediterranean climate is therefore the ultimate year round.
+ Good, healthy food and water - The beginning of all. Without food we are nothing. Real food in my world, being only such that is natural, non manipulated and comes from the earth.
+ Opportunity to work with what we love - Music mastering for Alex professionally, wood work/design as a hobby. For me: Cooking and baking healthy food for others. Photography and writing for my mind. This implies both that there is the physical opportunity for us to do what we love, that there are enough customers that are willing to buy our services, and a challenging and inspiring environment is equally important. For Alex work it is a tad easier as he sends his work digitally so a mastering studio could be located pretty much anywhere. But on the other hand, there are only so many world class mastering studios with the right equipment in the world. Till the day we have found the place to put down our roots that is, and can build his own studio again (this require quite an investment obviously).
+ Humble, genuine, goodhearted people - It's not like there are dedicated places filled with only humble, genuine and goodhearted people, it obviously takes time to find such stars in any given place. But there are some cultural traits that can make a population generally less or more humble, for example. We live a very simple life, we don't buy too much things, we are fine with mostly the fundamental things in life such as love, peace, nature, friendship, good food, tranquility and fulfilling things to work with. We strive for doing good, meaningful things. We live and create our life with love and passion. And we believe in helping others with the means one has. We love the sort of small village mentality where people are helpful and offer a helping hand to their neighbor, but on the other hand, small villages can become too limited for ones mind so this is a hard one. Nonetheless, being surrounded by like minded people is obviously the ultimate. From all what we've been through in life and left behind us, we are in no need of drama and try avoiding all what would mean it.
+ Nature - Rather undeveloped than overly exploited. Just being surrounded by it and feeling we are connected to the nature, is of utter importance to us. That's where we recharge and find peace. Our ultimate place to live is where also the surrounding society respect and value the same nature.
+ Good and affordable health care - We come from countries where we expect free healthcare for everyone. No insurances needed. Free healthcare is part of the deal we have with our governments, something they provide us in return for the taxes we pay. Looking at how other parts of the world take care, or fail to take care of its people when they are sick, we know we've been very fortunate.
+ A trustworthy social environment and a respectful government - This is the hardest. Is there any country non corrupt? But there are the ones that give more security and comfort than others for sure (see above example). For people like us who work for ourselves and currently are only two people in this boat, we do not necessarily need much help and support from the government. But when working, we'd like to feel good about how our tax money is spent, and that varies dramatically from one country to another.
+ Culture, craft and ambiance - We love the old world. Techniques and practices that have been handed down generation after generation. People whose great great great grandparents did things the way they still do them today. Because that's how the most amazing artwork, food, houses and buildings, boats, gardens, music and wine is produced. It is inevitable to have some modernity in life (can't live without my Mac and my DSLR camera), but most often the cheap, new, quick solutions when it comes to the beautiful and necessary things in life, lack a feel and sensation that is only obtained by things made the real, proper old-school way.
+ Closeness to the people we love and care about the most - One of the most frustrating things with constantly being on the go, is that we miss hugging, kissing and being near our most valued human beings. Family and friends. Although we don't need to live in the same city or even the same country, it would be helpful if one didn't have to spend a minimum of $2000 USD each time you'd like to meet. Most of our favorite people are located in Europe. But the good thing with people you love and trust, is that they'll always be there no matter the time and distance apart.
+ Peace and comfort - This mean all and everything. But particularly that no one is pushing you. No people, media or government trying to influence your mind to something they'd gain from themselves. No religious or fanatic people/groups oppressing your human rights. We know what we believe in and we do not need neither someone else's approval, nor guidance unless we ask for it. Equal rights and opportunities for men and women. All the things one take for granted when born and raised in an equal, non-religious society based on laws of common sense. As much as we leave other people to be who they are and believe in what they wish to believe in, we'd want the same treatment from the community and society that we live in. There are countries in which you can easier dodge pointing fingers than in other, and we would definitely like to see more of them.
These 11 points being the basic ingredients in a very good life according to us. In the following posts I am going to tell you how the countries and places we've lived in thus far makes it with this list in mind. We are aware that it is super hard finding one place that has it all. Different locations serve different purposes in different periods of life. And one should also remember that the search, or the passage, is a whole grand journey all in itself.
Would be interested in hearing what are your most valued ingredients in life. Feel free to comment below: