As an international woman I rarely have a place where I call home. With every year that goes by I am starting to feel that the world is my home. I travel so much, and the new places always inspire me to reflect on my international journey. Here is a diary entry from 27 of October in 2014, when I was in Lagoa, a small village in the Algrave side of Portugal. That day I thought about travelling and how it’s a little bit like a green-screen movie set, real yet far from reality. I think this message will get you thinking about what travelling really is and I can’t wait to hear your opinion.
Travel Diary Entry – 27th of October, Lagoa, Portugal
“Since we came to Lagoa we’ve enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and quietness of this lovely place. Although we’ve been to the Algrave before, Lagoa is different, quite and homey and we actually feel immersed into the slow pace of the Algravian village.
However, we also kept a thirst for adventure and today (27th Oct) after we’ve been here for almost two weeks, we’ve set off to go to Carvoeiro beach by foot. After a good half an hour walk in the sun, crossing under-construction food paths and ‘not for pedestrian’ roundabouts, we’ve come onto the long ‘country-looking’ road that was the way to Carvoeiro. After the threatening barks of two large dogs behind the gates of one of the houses on the side of the road, and several trucks driving into the ‘improvised’ food path, we threw in the towel. The risk was bigger than the adventure, it was all getting a bit crazy! So off we went back home (I love to call everywhere I go home, whether it’s Airbnb, hotel), with no feeling of defeat as the experience to try it was an adventure on its own.
Walking back we focused more on our surroundings and as I looked over at my partner, Toby, walking in the sun, sky glowing, Miami-beach tight vest on, blue shorts and sandals, I was inspired by the contrast with the background behind him – open field of greenery as far as eyesight can stretch, only stopped by the horizon line and the bright yet cloudy skyline.
And then the idea flirted in my head – he looks like a scene shot on an old school movie – where the background is so country but even the naked eye can recognize it’s a green-screen shot. I had to take a few photos of him, as my mind was now floating with ideas. We walked back to the town and settled to grab a coffee and leave the beach adventure for another day (which we agreed will involve a bus and no more walking).
We ordered our drinks and it could be the homey smell of roasted Portuguese Sical coffee beans, the notebook on my table or just the buzz of what we’ve just experienced, but the ideas start pouring in, and here I am writing it all.
The question, or revelation if you like, came to me – isn’t travelling always resembling a green screen? Do we ever fit in fully?
My impression of travelling always had the ‘like a local’ feel to it. My excitement levels peak when I am taking a train on a Monday morning with the locals commuting to work, or when I peak over at the person in front of me at the supermarket line and realize I’m grocery shopping like a local – or even better, when I have lunch with a local family.
That has been working great for me and with a bit of language skills, when possible, I’ve always had a sense of fitting in. But was I really fitting in? The image of Toby walking on that country road just revelled it to me – it’s never really real.
Movies got better and today you barely realize reality from stage props – but so did travellers. We can go on vacation and visibly act like tourists or we can integrate and travel like locals. But the green screen effect is always there, and I’m starting to think that’s the whole point of travel – going out to admire and explore sceneries, people, cultures, and make that place home for a moment in time – your temporary reality, but never enough so it gets quotidian.There you don’t have to pay taxes or phone bills, you’re a passenger.
That’s why travelling the world feels like freedom – because it is freedom. You live it, enjoy it, explore it, but just like the green screen, you can turn it off.”
Travel makes me a bit of a dreamer and this green screen revelation is something that still stays in my mind today. What do you think? How real does travelling feel like to you?