HotelsClick.com is glad to introduce Dave to you, a special solo adventurer who has been travelling around the world in search of something called home.
His incredible story began 10 years ago, when, driven by (as he says) a fairly extreme family environment, he decided to leave what most people consider a normal life, in order to find a place that made him feel at home… “Home, what is it though?“. It’s a common term but everyone gives it his own meaning.
On his travel blog “The Longest Way Home“, Dave shares with his blog community his interesting adventures, impressive and realistic photos, but also his personal thoughts.
Today, we have the pleasure to interview him and ask him personally how his pursuit of home is going.
HC: You’ve been travelling for 10 years across Europe and Asia… Sounds really impressive! What happened in your life to push you to undertake such a long journey? Can anyone say that something was missing in your life before you started travelling?
Dave: Well, I actually started long before this journey with another one. After the first journey it was about preparation for this one. I initially envisaged this journey to only take 1 year of travel plus 2 years of settling down. So yes, it’s taken a lot longer than planned for a multitude of reasons.
As for why? Well that’s answered rather simply, I wanted to find a place I belonged. What was missing in my life before this journey? A place I could call home.
HC: In your blog you wrote that you are a “determined man who packed up and sold everything to go travelling around the world in hope of finding a place called home“.
Have you found your Home? Or, at least, is there a place where you felt like you were at home?
Dave: Yes, Nepal is one place I feel very much at home. It also highlights the fact that just because you belong more to a country it doesn’t mean you can live there forever. In Nepal’s case it’s bureaucracy. As it is in very many other places.
Quite simply I would have to get married or open a business to live there. And even then it would be a 1 year visa up for renewal. There is no such thing as becoming a permanent resident in Nepal or in very many other countries. The right to vote or own land is only allowed in a select few countries around the world.
HC: The Roman philosopher Seneca says in one of his works (Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LXXII) “Ignoranti quem portum petat, nullus suus ventus est“, in English “If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him.”
According to Seneca, a trip can be good for the soul, but a man’s “burden” follow him anywhere he goes… What’s your opinion? Do you agree with this quote?
Dave: Yes I agree to a point. But it’s relative. While I don’t know what port I will head to, I know the type of wind that will take me in the direction of a port that will be home.
As for a burden? Yes they follow one’s soul. However I don’t look at this as a burden. I look at it as a “quest“.
HC: I think I read on your blog this common motto “home is where your heart is“. Surely, during your journeys, you met a lot of people you have probably shared some important experiences with. Have you ever thought that the moment to settle down has arrived?
Dave: Actually it’s many other people who write to me and say “home is where the heart is” to which in this decade I disagree.
If a man from, say, Niger meets a girl from England and they fall in love. He still needs to live in England to be home, or she in Niger. Both of these obstacles in the raw reality of the world we live in don’t work out or but such a toll on the heart it eventually gives out.
They can in the short term find home from the heart, but in the longer term they do not. Idealistic or romanticised people find fault with this. I simply ask for proof? I am still waiting.
Likewise while my heart is with Nepal, the bureaucracy simply won’t let me stay and be treated as a person with rights.
HC: During your travels you have experienced new habits, cultures and dishes. From a Western point of view, what is the strangest custom, tradition or food you have experienced in Asia?
Dave: I’m not sure I find anything strange anymore. It might seem silly but I do still find the whole practice of taking one’s shoes off, when entering a house, strange. I understand that shoes bring in dirt so removing them is good. But in Asia everyone wears sandals with most of their feet exposed and dirty so, to me, it feels cleaner to leave my shoes on!
After that, I guess everything has an explanation from head-hunters in Borneo to Shamans in Nepal.
But by far the most enchanting tradition is that of the Living Goddess in Nepal. It’s a fascinating tradition that many in the West don’t understand. I’ve met with her and written about her on my website.
I’ve done my best to explain the custom but still there are preconceived western notions that make it all seem so wrong. In reality I think one needs to understand the Newari culture before understanding the Kumari tradition.
HC: Do you think a woman could take a similar journey or that, in some countries, a woman who travels alone has to face ignorance and prejudice?
Dave: I’ve met many strong solo female travellers on my own journey. Including in places like Iran and Pakistan during the most tumultuous times. I think ignorance and prejudice are relative to the country one is both from and travelling in.
For example there are preconceptions about a lone woman travelling in some countries which make her sound terrible. Yet, who is the stranger in someone else’s land? This is equally true of men.
I think the real key is mutual respect of all cultures by all cultures. And that is something that is lacking all over the world. But as travellers, both male and female, we are ambassadors of culture, experience and life. If we can share this, hopefully we can achieve mutual respect and eradicate prejudice and ignorance.
There’s a misconception that Iran is so dangerous. In reality it is the fear we hold without stepping foot in the country that makes so many people ignorant and filled with prejudice. One of the beautiful things in Iran was that the solo women travelling were seen as brave courageous explorers.
HC: On your blog there’s a map with all the countries you have visited up to now.
It seems from it you’ve never been to Africa, North and South America. Is this just a coincidence and you’re planning to visit these places soon or is there a specific reason why you haven’t gone there yet?
Dave: I’ve been to Africa and lived in West Africa for over 2 years. There’s a small section on my blog called “Africa the missing years”. I simply didn’t have good internet back in 2005 to write while I was there. Likewise I travelled the Americas in my previous journey. Something I again don’t have time to “back-write” about on my website.
Would I go back to any place? Yes, I’d go back to Morocco in a heartbeat and maybe Nigeria if some old friends are still there. As for the Americas, yes simply because I’d like to take better photos of the places I travelled.
HC: Can you reveal us what your next destination will be and why?
Dave: Well, Nepal is always on the list. I’ve published guidebooks to Nepal over the past 6 months so I’d like to keep on working on another similar project there. My next destination will probably be Bangkok, Thailand simply because I need to stock up on a new phone, hard drive and a pair of boots. Simple shopping items for many but out here they are hard to get!
HC: What is the journey you haven’t made yet?
Dave: There’s probably a long list for that one. Travel is a full circle affair. That country you visited 10 years ago is not the same today as it was then. So I’d like to go back to Portugal and make it a full circle and see how it’s changed.
Ultimately, I’ve found home. But ironically it will have me. So I must still venture on in this quest and overcome the new obstacles this journey has placed before me.
ambassador of culture, experience and life.