Most of the times we travel to have fun, to enjoy new places or to visit one or another monument or wonder of the world. Travelling is about discovering new cities and countries and is normally related to something positive and carefree.
But sometimes we travel to places that touch something inside us, like the unexpected person you meet on the road that shakes you up with new feelings and questions. That happened to me when I visited Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. I knew something about the history of the country before, but while I was there I couldn’t stop wondering…how can we understand the cracks of a country?
Even myself, after years living in Germany, sometimes find it difficult to understand why Germans as a society, as a whole, act in one way or another or think this or that. That makes me feel more stranger in a place that I like to call home.
While you just visit a country, the feeling of strangeness can be even worse: you can travel in rusted buses, you can see the bombed buildings…but how can you understand what is in the mind of a country? In the same way that you never know what is actually in someone’s head, how can you understand why a country became what it is today, with all its wounds and bruises?
How long would it take to discover all the hidden corners of a collective life, of a History? Two days in a city is surely not enough, maybe a year or ten would make it, or sometimes even a whole life wouldn’t. Probably, whether we like it or not, there will be always something we won’t know, like this door that you always keep closed for no apparent reason.
I think that this is why we keep travelling: to figure out the mysteries. Or possibly, we travel to make sure that there are still mysteries that we want to figure out, like there are hearts that we still dream to conquer.
While we visit places is important to be moved, not just by beauty or castles, but by people and their stories that make a history out of thousand pieces, like a big puzzle. I talk about the struggles for survival of some, the long path they had to walk to make it where they are now.
A journey shouldn’t just be a stroll around the world, it must be a way to understand the others, or at least try, to better understand ourselves. If I travel is to find myself in the other countries and people and never ever lose the curiosity and the will to learn.
The world is huge but the truth, most of the times, is in the little stories.
What about you? Why do you travel?