The Travel Junkie (4)
One of the great blessings of being born in the modern era is how easy and cheap it is to travel the globe. By my reckoning, I have visited over 30 countries and six of the seven continents, and the experience has been amazing. Europe always delights for the sheer intensity of so many different cultures and cuisines squeezed into such a tiny area. Asia offers exotic simplicity with incredible food, lush forests and stunning beaches. Australasia sometimes feels like it is from another planet, with every extreme of desert, rock and hot springs mixed with verdant oases and the stunning beauty of the land of Lord of the Rings. North America impresses for the sheer scale of everything – giant mountain ranges and canyons and a pure wilderness that you can lose yourself in and love every minute. Africa meanwhile offers a diverse experience from the cultural colossus of Egypt in the north through to the safaris of South Africa in the south, and all the rich and vibrant lands in between. And South America, my home for the last twenty years, stands out for the sunshine and friendliness of its inhabitants, along with some stunning natural beauty that would rival anywhere in the world. When we travel, quite simply it feels good to be alive, and to feel at one with mother Earth, this most exceptional planet that we are all privileged to call home.
And it is this sense of wonder and excitement we encountered in pod 31, when we spoke with journalist and blogger Marcelle Ribeiro who runs a travel website called Viciado em Viajar, which aims to help those who wish to plan their trips and offers tips, practical advice and experiences.
“I love getting to know new things,” she says. “I love places that are very different to Brazil, or very different from what I have seen already. I love to visit places with some beautiful waterfalls, or where I can do some trekking. I’m attracted to new things.”
And that’s the point, I think. A change is as good as a rest, as the expression goes. We love to experience something new. Whether it be a karaoke in Tokyo or a safari in Kenya, those moments we are sensing everything is alien around us are the ones I think we most feel alive.
But when I think of world travelers, the immediate vision that comes to mind – and my own experience – is of someone with a backpack strapped to their back, hitching by the side of the road and staying in hostels. Marcelle, on the other hand, is past this phase in her life. She likes to be comfortable when she travels.
“I’m not really a backpacker… I go stay in hostels – mainly in Europe, I stayed in hostels – but I’m not the kind of person that wants to party. Sometimes I feel hostels have this party vibe. I’m not a night person. I also want to have my freedom to visit the places I want and sometimes when you make friends with people at a hostel you want to visit a place but you also want to stay with that person and you have to choose – am I going to visit this place or am I going to stay with this person? I like to visit places where I can have a good place to stay. I’m not the kind of person that just gets into a car and starts a road trip without knowing where to go. I like to know where I’m going and how many days I’m going. I travel with all my hotels booked because I don’t want to arrive in a place and feel obligated to stay in a not very good place. I want to teach people how to plan their own trip. So, I have texts in the blog that explain how to use the subway in Europe, that you have to keep your ticket, you know… practical tips.”
And one of the tips she has picked up and shares, is how to stay safe, particularly if you are traveling alone. After a frightening experience in Argentina, where she found herself in a vulnerable situation, she has a new strategy, which she says she deployed in Thailand. While on a transfer to the beach, she called her husband, as she had done on previous trips but… “Instead of sharing the location, I said, ‘look, I’m here in the van. I’m going to this island but I’m alone. I was the first one to be picked up by the transfer and I want you to stay talking to me until I feel safe’, because I wanted the driver to know that I was talking to someone at the same time. I think it’s all about choosing, in the right way, your destination because there are some places that I wouldn’t travel alone.”
So, where else has Marcelle been? What was her favorite country?
“I have visited over twenty countries, I think. I have some favorites. I think my favorite country was Turkey, because I had an experience there with a hot air balloon, and it was amazing, and the culture was very different from ours in Brazil but at the same time they were very nice people too. They laugh a lot. They tell stories…I felt warmed by Turkey (sic) people.”
It all sounds very exciting and glamorous visiting far-away places and having exotic experiences, but what advice does she have to those who only get three weeks’ vacation per year but want to see the world?
“I travel to a very small city close to me and another small city close to me and I forget that my big dream is to visit Egypt. So, I try to save money all year to visit the destination of my dreams. And I also think it is important to plan to go at the right time. So, I want to go to Egypt. When is it good to go to Egypt? Maybe the airplane ticket was cheap because it’s not very good to go there this time of the year, you know!”
And what places does she still dream of visiting? Where is top of her list?
“I read an article a year ago that describes Galapagos as the ‘animal heaven’, you know, because there are a lot of birds in the air, a lot of different kinds of animals in the ocean and a lot of beautiful beaches.”
But much of what Marcelle describes in Galapagos is available here in Brazil. So we asked her why more people don’t come to Brazil.
“I think it’s probably expensive, and I think the Brazilian government doesn’t invest the money how it should be invested, because sometimes they just advertise us as ‘the samba place’, or the ‘mulatas place’ and we have much (sic) more things to offer.”
And the one place they have to visit in Brazil when they come?
“Rio,” she says, laughing. “Just don’t come in October, and in March. It rains a lot! It rains almost every day!”
You can listen to the full interview here: https://soundcloud.com/user-76773879-409705305/pod-31_final
And don’t forget to check out Marcelle’s web page: https://www.viciadaemviajar.com/
blessings – bençãos
by my reckoning – pelas minhas contas (to reckon = achar / acreditar)
sheer – puro
to squeeze - espremer
lush – verdejante / virente
stunning – assombroso / incrível
wilderness – região selvagem / selva
colossus – colosso
wonder – maravilha
trekking – caminhar na trilha (nas selvagens)
backpack - mochila
to strap on – amarrar
to hitch – viajar de corona
vibe – sensação
to be picked up – ser pego / coletado