About 2 months ago, I left Rotterdam, Holland, on a motorcycle. My destination was Morocco. During my trip, I had a lot of new insights. In this travel blog, you’ll read how I learned how to dance in the rain. The story picks up somewhere in Portugal..
With a great new memory from Santiago installed into my mind, I was off to Braga. My first impression of the Portuguese, that seemed to be in a dedicated Christmas mood, was that they are a lot more quiet than the Spanish. After walking for a little bit in the Center of town, I was starting to feel a somewhat lonely. I was in my fourth week of traveling. Had seen a lot. Had been meeting people from all over the world. But the thought of just going back, to my dodgy hostel, did not satisfy me. I had to get another drink.
While looking for a bar, I ran into a friendly guy. At first I thought he was a Brit, but he told me he was American. We walked into a Jazz bar and had a few beers together. We ended up having a great night. We talked about how we’re all custom to believe in our own illusions. But he agreed to the fact, that it was all a scam. He asked me why I was on this big tour. I told him that I was on some path towards salvation. We even talked in depth, where that path started. At a level of detail, that would scare most people, but he seemed to take it pretty well. We ended the night on a good note. “Remember, you’ll feel lonely these days. But all I can say, is embrace that loneliness!”
Back in the hostel, I couldn’t sleep from yet another man who was snoring very loud. I eventually ended up dragging him out of his bunk bed. I had to book nicer hostels. The next day, I drove straight to Porto, where I checked into the nicest hostel I could find. They had a lot of information about the city and I booked a wine tour for the next day. It was a tip from the American, if I wanted to meet other people.
That night, I walked around. Then all of a sudden, I ran into the girl from South Korea, I met on the Camino. It was unbelievable. She told me during the Camino, that it would be destiny, if we would run into each other in Porto. So destiny it was. We ended up, walking for a bit together, until she had to meet up with her friends. At first she told me that I was able to come, but after saying several times, how glad I was that I was able to share this walk with her, my energy had gotten too intense. I was not the sweet guy from Holland anymore. So the inevitable goodbye, presented itself, while we were walking down the river, that divides the city in its two parts. Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto.
Later that night, I met with a guy from Venezuela. We met online on a couch surfing Hangout. We had some beers and good talks. He told me about the shitty political situation of his home country. “I feel nothing, when I’m talking about where I come from. Nothing.” He managed to get work in Europe and has been travelling for the past few years. He wasn’t living his passion, but he was happy. Happy because he chose to be happy. I just wish I could think simple like that. But it is simple. Maybe that’s my problem.
The next day, I started with a free city tour. It was a nice group, but real connections weren’t being made. We were on a city tour after all. I heard some people talking about the wine tour, that was apparently starting at 3PM instead of 4 PM. I felt excited, because this would mean we could have some more talks during our wine tastings. After another beer in the sun, I was ready for a good time. But, the tour guide told me, that I wasn’t part of this tour. Because mine, would start at 4PM. I got a little pissed. Because I had told them that earlier. But there was nothing I could do, so I had to wait for another hour.
After seeing another cathedral, I left back to the place where all the tours started. But the moment I got closer, something snapped inside of me. Because the tour guide, was just sitting there by herself. And after waiting for five more minutes, she told me that I was the only one. It was rough. “You have to relax. I’ll get you a beer. Just think of this as a day, with a friend,” my guide said. Again, I really had to let go of my expectations.
We ended up having a great night. She was a musician. Struggling to survive, not knowing where her life might lead to. In a way, she was just like me. So we were able to strengthen each other. Inspire each other. After all, if we are willing to do the work, our successes will become inevitable. But the doing the work, that’s usually the biggest obstacle. At the last bar, we had some green wine and tapas. A canvas was hanging with some applicable words. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain!” We laughed at it. Yes, this was our way to go!
The next day, after drinking some more Port wine, at the shops of the famous wines sellers of Porto, I ended up on a pub crawl. There were mostly youngsters. It was an international crowd. Loud Americans. Introvert Germans. Down to earth New Zealanders. And then me. Jan Hendrik. The Dutch know it all. We had a really good time, but as always, I had a hard time being part of the group. And when the Spice Girls and Britney Spears came along on the sound system, for the third time, I felt simply estranged from the outrageous Portuguese, that seemed to swallow the 20 year old Pop music, like sugar candy. Then I remembered what I had learned last night. I had to learn how to dance in the rain. And I did. I really did, because at around five o’clock in the morning, and a whole lot of beers later, I felt a little loved even.
Coimbra was the next. An medieval student town, with one of the oldest universities of Europe. I met with an Brazilian, at the hostel, who ended up being my friend for the night. We had some fish and beers and exchanged our cultural backgrounds. “In my country, I would never be able to get a good job. Even with a master’s degree. It’s all so corrupt. And dangerous to. I really don’t want to go back.” It made me again realize, that I’m basically a lucky bastard, coming from a prosperous and stable country, like the Netherlands. And I still hate it. What the hell is wrong with me?
Later that night, we hit the streets. Drank some more beers. But we were both tired. So why, do we push ourselves like that? Well, we want to experience life. Because we’re only going to be here, for a short little while. And me and my Brazilian friend, travelers that we are, have that very understanding. That’s is why we’re traveling in the first place. To read more about the book called world. To learn. To grow. To get a better understanding of it all. But when we look around us, we can only come to the conclusion that this doesn’t account for everyone. Not by a far stretch. No, most people just want to be comfortable. Being in their own little home town.
This town, that apparently wasn’t feeling me. Had no intention, or desire to get to know me, like I wanted to know her. By simply striking up a small and spontaneous conversation with her. Me and my friend had another beer. Then “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” by Shania Twain, entered through the speakers, for the third time. The people went crazy. I looked at my friend. We had to get back. This was not our world. It had no use to colonize her.
I woke up a little sad the next day. But it was really nice outside. We had a last cigarette together, on the public balcony of the hostel. “What a night. I had a good time though,” my Brazilian friend told me. While the sun was shining into my face, I told him about the canvas. “You know, I had read somewhere during this trip, that life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain. But you know what. I have another sentence to add to that. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.. But it’s just so sad, that it rains so much..” We had one good last laugh together. “You know, you are a very pleasant person..” Then he packed his bag and left. I felt really happy hearing these words, coming from someone else. I looked up into the sky. My thoughts kept blazing through my head. I started to figure. Maybe it’s time to start believe his words, myself..
If you like my style, or like to read more, I’ll publish a book coming out soon, about my upbringing in the Netherlands. I’ll give it away for free, if you leave me a note with your email address.. Talk to you soon!