My cat, his name is „Herr Anton“, has the habit to leave home from time to time. Nobody knows where he is going. Nobody knows what he is doing. Just vagabonding through the world for a couple of days, until he reappears totally disheveled in front of the door, as if nothing would have happened. We are similar in this characteristic.
I arrived in Leipzig. At the same place, where I left Herr Anton 22 months ago. He is not here anymore. But I am here again. And nobody knows, what I did in the past 2 years. I also appear in front of the door, with my long beard, typical skinny figure of a wanderer and a lot of experience with me. I will keep that experience all my life with me, but I can not transfer it to anyone else.
Getting home after such a trip was not how I expected it to be. Home sickness was my accompanying me for a a long time. But in the last two weeks it stepped back a little and wanderlust appeared again, looking melancholic with the certainty that this expedition will be over soon and that the past two years have been a fucking awesome time which I would like to prolong a little. My inner self is pretty busy these days. Therefore, when arriving in Leipzig at the endpoint of my expedition, I had very mixed feelings. Happiness and sadness, amazement and incredulity. And while I was smiling about being back home, once in a while tears were coming to my eyes.
Being on a expedition for 22 months is very exhausting. Especially if you keep on moving all the time. Sometimes I had to think back of my time in China and realize, that it is just 3 months ago. Feels like 3 years. Or when I felt in love in Uruguay 1,5 years ago. Feels like another life to me. You develop a strange sense of time about a trip like this. As if I would have lived many many lives at once and now I am starting a new one.
I crossed 58 countries. In some I stopped and spend a month or more, others I was just observing, while passing through. But even short times are enough to get an impression. Are enough to connect a smell, a landscape, a feeling and real people with the impression I have about this particular place. Experiential knowledge that you can not get from any picture or article. I developed a feeling about how small our planet is, after crossing whole continents overland by hitchhiking. I can estimate distances much better now. And there is a complete cartographic picture of our planets surface in my head now. Deserts, mountains, forests and the oceans. The interplay of landscapes. Choreography of my expedition.
I had the idea to hitchhike around the world. Doing a circumnavigation. Not a normal globetrotter trip, because tourism was just a by-product. The main purpose was to hitchhike around the world. I did not went to China, because I wanted to see China, but because my route was leading through this place. I mean, sure, I lived a month in New York or Hong-Kong, strolled 6 weeks through Japan and visited people I love in different countries. But what for I really shed tears, spilt blood and went through hardships were my long distance hitchhiking trips. My routes. Movement on roads. That was the core of my expedition. And it is important for me, that you understand this.
My expedition covers a total length of 108.895 km. It is more then 2,5 times of the circumference of the earth. I sailed across the Atlantic, got myself a junk bicycle to suffer in the Colombian Cordilleras, I overcame the Darien Gap on a cargo ship, hopped freight in the US, got a ride in a small aircraft, hitchhiked through the „mild“ Alaskan winter at -35°, waited at 50° in the Iranian desert and walked far more than 100 km in between. Those 108.895 km are tied to so much stress and suffering, but also to happiness and ecstasy. My way. My meaning. Hard to put it in words. It is more than a simple number for me. It was my life for the last two years. And this life is over now.
What to say? People asked me, what I have learnt? Not really anything. I could receive some much more important things than knowledge: Experience. No need to learn something you can just live. I could experience how small distances are on our planet and that I can reach almost every place, if I want to. Something which is not open for everyone among us and what I am very thankful for. I could develop serenity, because I know now, that I don’t need much to survive. Even my basic needs (home, food and sleep) I could flog to death and exhaust myself to limits, I never would have expected. In the end I know, that a night without sleep or a day without food is not a big problem to stand. You get used to it. And I could witness that hospitality is a universal quality of our human nature. I really feel like sharing my time and my resources with others. It is not only the taker but also the giver who benefits from that.
There is another aspect of my trip, the search to make a sense in my life. Or say the search for something, however you want to call it. I did not succeed finding this particular thing. This never ending circle of facing a life crisis and trying to find a solution. I start to believe, that it is impossible to find that and in the end not very important anyway. Our existence is totally random. We all try to achieve a certain thing in life. A destination. Maybe there is none. Maybe we should just do what Alan Watts said and not wait for the end of the composition, but dance with the music, as long as it is playing.
My blog will continue, I can assure. I have too much fun with writing to just drop that. Also I have content for about another year, that I would like to tell. Road trip through Kazakhstan will be published soon and I have a fine trilogy about „Traveling and Alcohol“ in the pipeline. I won’t publish every week, because I want to work a bit more on my translations. Writing bilingual takes so much time, which I did not had during my trip and so I was not very satisfied with my recent translations. And if I want to have fun blogging, I need to produce articles which I am satisfied with.
Also I try to sort my 50gb picture stack and start giving lectures about my trip. To share all the crazy stories in real life with you, written down or not. I am really looking forward to this new project. We will start with the first lecture in Leipzig.
All this is accompanied by a fundamental change in my life. My next projects will be executed from a base. With a home. Not as a homeless vagabond, like I did in the past two years. Because this is what I missed the most. To have a home. And when this is set, I will start again playing and dancing through this wonderful life. And if there are new adventures to tell about, I will let you take part in it. Because sharing is caring.
With this in mind,
Afterword To my countless friends and stranger who shared their home with me. To my 1156 drivers. To all the people who did something good to me, be that a melon, description, smile or hug. To all my friends who lent during dark times a listening ear to me. To all the people who send me this lovely messages and followed my stories. To my family. Thank you, you are awesome!
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost