Being back on the Outer Banks for a while has exposed me to many people who have not previously had the opportunity to hear firsthand about my solo trip around the world last year. Whenever I speak about my travels, people inevitably say, “You went all alone? Weren’t you afraid?” When I’m asked, “Is travel dangerous?” I always explain that people are generally good; and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of, if we just use common sense when we travel.
I don’t know what it is inside of me that refuses to succumb to fear, but I am not afraid. This has allowed me to make the acquaintance of some wonderful people and have many incredible experiences that would not have happened if I traveled in fear. I now have a dear friend in Zimbabwe with whom I communicate regularly. I have been invited to stay in his home when I return. I spent a day with a lovely family in northern Thailand: Nicky is Shan from Burma and Ron was a retired expat from Wales. This brief visit blossomed into a weekly correspondence with Ron until recently, when he passed away from cancer. I will always cherish the friendship that developed between us. It is said that no one is truly gone if there are people who remember. If this is true, Ron is well and truly still with us, for I think of him often. I have friends in Tel Aviv who would welcome me into their home with joy. Others whom I met during my travels, and whom I now consider friends, hail from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada, Spain, Bali, Portugal, Wales, Japan, India, and Malaysia. Simply because I do not live in fear, I have friends all over the world.
As if to reinforce my view, today I received an email about a man named Ludovic Hubler, who recently completed a five year hitchhiking trip around the world, during which he visited 59 countries, rode in 1300 different cars and trucks, and slept in 450 different places. Now back home in France and reflecting upon his trip, the two words he most wants to say are “never again.” At first blush, you might equate his words as a statement about being bone tired and losing all desire to ever travel again. But you would be wrong. His words mean something much different.
His list of nine “never agains” are, for me, the stuff of goosebumps. They deal mostly with fear and gratitude, and are words to live by. For instance, with regard to differing cultures Ludovic says the following:
“Never again, will I judge anyone based simply on physical appearance, nationality, religious beliefs, or on stereotypes. If my tour of the world taught me one thing, it’s that we are all the same, regardless of the colour of our skin, our religion, our race, or the football team we support. Every one of the 6 and a half billion citizens of this world (or the vast majority anyway) share the same basic needs and desires. Every one of us is searching for happiness, security, love, the ability to have children, and the will to allow them to live the best future possible. Diversity is enriching, and we should all learn about each other.”
You can read about Ludovic’s trip, and his entire list of “never agains” HERE. Just reading about his experiences makes me itch to be on the road again. Perhaps, soon.