Aquí teniu el post en Català.
When we tell people about our 2016 walk, generally the first response is “Wow!” or “That’s awesome!” or “You’re crazy.” We’ve gotten a few blank stares, some dropped jaws and even a couple of unimpressed shoulder shrugs, implying “So what? People do this all the time.”
From there, questions come in quick order. Why do we want walk a trip like this? Why Bangkok to Barcelona? And, you’re going to write a book about this, right?
Let’s set a course for this journey.
Why do we want to walk?
Walking the Earth is not a new idea. Since humans have stood upright, we have been crisscrossing our beautiful planet by foot. It’s only in recent history that boats, trains, buses, cars and airplanes offer faster, easier and more comfortable substitutes to foot travel.
In our case, walking is a natural thing and our normal habit. It’s how we choose to see the world around us. It’s a slower way to go, and gives us more time to appreciate whatever we find en route. Besides, we don’t own a car or a bicycle, so our everyday urban options are walking or taking public transportation. We opt for the healthier, self-powered alternative as often as possible.
There’s a goodness in walking. Keep putting one foot in front of the other long enough, and it will surprise you. It will change you. It changed us. We hope our longs walks will continue to astonish us.
Why Bangkok to Barcelona?
We have to start somewhere. That’s the simple answer. Finishing at home in Catalonia, in Barcelona, retracing steps through the streets where we first found each other and putting the key into our front door, rings true. It will be a homecoming, literally, figuratively and emotionally.
But, why Bangkok? Why not start in China, Russia or another city in the furthest corner of Asia? That’s a bit of a mystery for both of us. We like Bangkok and love Thailand, but mostly we like how Bangkok Barcelona sounds. BaBa is what we affectionately call the trip. There is also a cultural word play that touches our sentimental sides. Baba in Catalan means drool (Lluís is Catalan), and baba means grandmother in Croatian (Jenn’s heritage). For us, BaBa now means a whole new way of life.
We tossed around other long walk ideas and city combinations, but we can’t shake off the intuitive feelings of “rightness” around the Bangkok-Barcelona route. It embraces us like a warm, grandmotherly hug and leaves us drooling with wanderlust. The countries we intend to walk through are rich with history, time-honored languages and all flavors of spirituality. They are cradles of ancestral and cultural beginnings, and, at the same time, many of them are relatively unexplored, waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated by those willing to forego more popular destinations.
Of course, too, we’re out to discover the goodness in the world. If experience is a guide, we’re certain we’ll find it in this part of the world, just as we have found in other parts of the world. We believe if you look beyond scary news headlines and directly into a person’s eyes you’ll find compassion, generosity and sincerity more often than you’ll find cruelty. That’s part of why this route appeals to us. Our invented common language with the people we meet along the way will have to start with a smile and unfold from there.
Lluís wisely says, “Our whole map is a maybe.” Yes, it is one giant maybe filled with thousands of question marks. We don’t know exactly how we will get through many of the places pinned on our proposed map, which roads or trails we’ll follow, how will we communicate with locals, or even if we can get visas to enter certain countries. There will be challenges of every kind, and many things to fear and to question (which will blog about soon).
Our intention is to research what we can, show up at start line, put one foot in front of the other and make the best decisions possible once we’re on the ground. We call this “R&D,” and we have practiced this for years. We’ve learned that R&D can lead to research and disaster, where something doesn’t work as planned or spirals downward. Or, it can bring us to a sweet spot we refer to as research and discovery, where things go serendipitiously well and we’re happily surprised. In either case, we always learn something. Our planned route promises equal doses of both R&Ds and a continuous education.
You’re going to write a book about this trip, right?
We find it amusing that people assume a book or a movie will come from this trip. Obviously, precedence has been set, and the public expects experiences like the one we’re creating to lead to an autobiographical plunge into digital ink or the big screen.
While we’re not closed to these creative ideas, it’s not at all obvious to us that our adventure will or should lead us to those points. We’re not doing this walk as a popularity contest or to become famous. We’re setting out on this trip because it calls to us, and no matter how we much we try to quiet the longing, we can’t. For two years now, this trip has whispered to us, and we made the decision to go. We are full-heartedly accepting the challenge to step into this great unknown, and what comes out of it is anything but certain.
Will we write a book? Maybe. Maybe not. Will someone find it compelling enough to make a film out of it? We have no idea. Will we be grateful for everything that comes before, during and after the walk? Definitely. Will we strike a chord with people and inspire others to do something they’ve been thinking about? We hope so. Do we think this trip is bigger than us, and that it there is plot unfolding that has universal appeal? Possibly. Then again, we’re not so different from anyone else who laces up their boots and walks out their front door. Are we arrogant enough to think about the final glory of what may or may not come from a trip like this when we haven’t even started the trip yet? We’re not.
We’re going to leave the future in the future. That’s where it belongs. Today, like every day of the walk, we’ll let our thoughts sometimes wander a bit further ahead of our footsteps, but we will give our best effort to appreciating the here and now.