For almost the first two months of my internship I stayed in Chapeco. Having classes on Saturday mornings makes it difficult to travel outside of the city for too long and asking for time off at a new and temporary job is not always the best option. Comfortably settled into a new home with a new routine, traveling was easy to put on the back-burner.
This past weekend, however, I had the opportunity to travel to Ita, a small city surrounded by beautiful landscape and nature. While it was not the grandest or most elaborate trip to take for the weekend, my weekend in Ita served to remind about why I will always have traveling as one of my top priorities. So often we feel glued to our cell phones, laptops and other forms of virtual connections. Traveling, however, provides us opportunities to make new connections separate from the virtual world in which we live so much of our lives. It provides an opportunity to connect not only with people, but also with the culture around you.
In Ita, along with the other AIESEC interns, there were opportunities to see capoeira (a traditional Brazilian mixture of martial arts dance) as well as the seemingly normal chance to sit with a man playing a guitar on a bench in the streets. (As you can imagine, our interest in his music grew plenty of weary looks from passers-by.) Surely I have these opportunities somewhere in Chapeco, just the act of traveling brings out a greater desire to connect in new ways with the local culture.
These kinds of experiences are not unique to Ita, certainly everyone reading this has seen dancing in a local park or music on the streets, but when traveling every experience takes on a new feeling. The type of dance is new; the style of music is one you may have not heard before. Every building seems more interesting and no matter how familiar. These new experiences help us to refresh our mind, cleansing it of the gritty routine we tend to dislike and bringing in new elements of excitement and adventure. The destination does not matter.
Once you have started traveling there is no stopping the urge to continue moving—these new experiences become the focus of almost every weekend and the focus of every week becomes planning these adventures.
As I write this article I am planning a trip to Erechim for this coming weekend, with another one to Foz do Iguacu and Paraguay next weekend. In the coming weeks I am also hoping to put the final touches on a trip to Rio de Janeiro. I spend lots of time budgeting out my salary so I know what it will take it to be able to afford these trips. The danger in the travel bug is surely a positive danger, as it consumes your life as your main desire becomes finding new experiences in new places. Until July, I am hoping to be away from Chapeco at least every other weekend, discovering new places in Brazil. Before traveling to Ita and realizing the refreshing mindset that comes from a weekend away I was planning around one trip per month. In addition to this, I am planning to stay in Brazil for a little time after the end of my contract to visit some more places. Very simply put, like many of the other interns here in Chapeco, I have also caught the travel bug.
I have had many friends before my trip claim about catching the travel bug, ranting on and on about their need to get back out and see more of the world. I had not traveled much then, so I could not exactly relate to their feelings. Of course, I had read (and still do read, for motivation and ideas!) many travel blogs, which emphasized the wonders that traveling can do for a person. I have discovered that reading and actually traveling are totally different feelings. It really is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. I am sorry to any friends I have mocked for not being able to stay in one place for too long because of their need to travel—you were right. I already find myself in your position, analyzing my life in the distant future, thinking of opportunities when I will be able to leave Canada and see more of the world again. Next time you say you need to find a way to leave the country, I won't be the one laughing giving you a hard time about not being able to stay still, instead I will be the one asking to join you on that next adventure.
Having a group of travel-happy interns around me has certainly helped increase the need to travel, as we all look to see as much of Brazil as possible before the end of time here. We have also all discovered that we have felt the closest to each other when we travel, and this is perhaps the greatest part of traveling. The most amazing experiences you can have in your time abroad will be the ones shared with friends. So, get your friends, buy a bus ticket, and go catch the travel bug. It's an amazing thing.