Three Soulful Travel Moments (with videos)
Kwaio tribe, Malaita, Solomon Islands
I sit in the simple hut with the parents. Outside, it is pouring rain. Through the hut’s small entrance, which looks like a small window, I see, as if in a mirage from another era, naked children playing with the rain. I find myself focusing on the figure of a boy with his hands stretched towards the sky and an expression of utter bliss on his face. His body convulses spontaneously as he is trying to dance in unison with the music of rain. It’s raining – what joy! He’s getting soaked – what bliss! Then other children come running towards him, filling in the window frame. They start running frenetically up and down a small hill, jumping into the newly formed natural puddles while touching their own torsos and those of their playmates with self-indulgence. Uncontrolled sounds of joy fill the wet atmosphere. The joy, the joy of Being! Joy for it is raining and they are alive! Joy, for they can all run together and play and scream in absolute freedom!
The small window through which these scenes unfold suddenly feels like a sci-fi wormhole disrupting the space-time continuum to give me a glimpse into the past of mankind. For a split second, something flickers in the deepest recesses of my soul. Something as old as the beginning of Time and as timeless as Eternity. I feel that I am one of the young boys dancing – sometime 5,000 years ago at the dawn of humanity, or rather, when I was five in first grade in school. For I experience a déjà vu of being blissful in the school yard just because it was raining and because I had playmates and could run and scream and feel the rain drops and the wind caressing my warm skin. I am one of the ecstatic boys dancing, because I have never actually ceased to be that dancing schoolboy of five. The decades that separate me from those long gone moments are but a passing second.
Suddenly, without thinking, I stand up and am about to take off my shorts to join the naked kids in their frenzy. But a moment’s hesitation is enough to allow my mind to take control: I feel embarrassed, I imagine the other adults making fun of me – I become forty-five years old again. And I instantly revert to the visitor who attempts to capture the moment by filming it – I take hold of the camera to record the scene.
I lose the Now – and the school boy of five I always am.
I arrive in the remote village of Paucatambo one day before the beginning of the famous “Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo” – probably the mother of all traditional fiestas of Latin America. As I lose myself in the narrow cobbled streets of the village, I enter a cul-de-sac where a band is practicing. Surrounding the orchestra are members of various other bands who are taking a break from their own rehearsals. Suddenly, a man and an unrelated woman, dressed in traditional attire, spontaneously stand up and start dancing. An impromptu burst of elegance, rhythm, and vital energy soon fills this obscure corner of the village. The orchestra’s playing becomes more passionate, as if trying to attune to the movements of the dancers. The soulful performance becomes a private show for the few privileged bystanders who are fortunate to be at the place at this exact moment!
This video singlehandedly captures the soul of Latin America.
A Dream Within a Dream
Easter Island is a magical place. Its extreme isolation from the rest of the world, its unique history, the barren landscape, the stone quarries with their “walking moai,” and the standing moai staring at you while you face the sea – all these make you feel as though you have just landed on another planet. And then, mysterious and weird things begin to happen:
As I drive around the island in my rental car, absorbing everything in a somewhat dreamy state, suddenly something appears in front of me and I realize that I am in a dream within a dream! Two grazing horses start playing with one another. I stop, switch off the engine, and observe. The horses seem to dance, performing a duet just for me. In the background, I see scattered stones of the same type as those the moai are made of. The sky is grey, a strange wind is blowing, I’m alone. After a few minutes, I remember that I have not captured the moment; rather, the moment has captured me. I take a short video of the last few seconds. I know I have filmed only the surface ripples of the dream. But I also know that the dream within the dream has been carved in my soul.
It is part of me now – and it will remain so forever.