Soundtrack: The Theory of Everything
This year has been so fulfilling, amazing on so many levels – personal life, work, health. There’s so much I want to write about, but I will focus on one specific experience…
I celebrated life and hitting 55 countries in Raja Ampat, an area far east of Indonesia in the West Papua region.
During my last day in RA, I was overwhelmed with a feeling which is hard to put into words. Two months has passed as I write this now, and I’m still overwhelmed by this feeling.
55 countries and hundreds of cities visited over the last 30 years of my life… 3 destinations/experiences have given me this distinct feeling which I will try to articulate.
Firstly, the destinations…
- La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia
- Serengeti, Tanzania
- And now, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
It’s a feeling that comes from
- chasing & experiencing something almost supernatural, whether it’s a type of magnificent beauty specific to that place or a story to be witnessed
- being completely immersed in that beauty and story that unfolds in front of you – the people, the site, nature
- exploring with friends and sometime strangers. A feeling that comes from the satisfaction of trekking thru jungles in the heat, or wading thru water and seaweed to get to my homestay, diving with sharks or hundreds of fish, or traveling 40 hours in every mode of transport to experience a specific type of place. Friends and strangers who you instantly bond with, because for god’s sake if they are in the mindset to do this, you know they love many of the same things you do. And they do as you hear their stories that are so enriching
Raja Ampat. Jesus. This region is a collection of 1,500 islands, has 10x the number of coral species in the Caribbeans and is home to 75% of all known coral species in the world. It is also pretty remote and hard to get to. All of the above equates to a raw type of beauty both in nature, culture and very few tourists. I had initially thought this would be a that holiday where you just lie by the ocean and do nothing, but no.. as soon as I took the first boat trip to snorkel, I knew I had to do this and explore everyday. My first snorkeling trip to Arborek was mind blowing. I swam amongst formations of hundreds of fish, beautiful corals, sharks and turtles. God knows what else I could discover in the other areas.
So you have that raw beauty – seeing the beautiful life that exists above and under the ocean.
And I discovered something else…
I don’t think I’ve met so many amazing travelers within a week, whether traveling solo or non-solo. I met and talked intimately with roughly 20 people, whether at my homestay, the trips or at other home stays. Every single person was not only fascinating, their personalities, souls were so enriching. Some were the kindest I’ve met, others were beaming with positivity or had a sense of humor that would make me laugh for hours. In a nutshell I was so drawn to everyone, I could have spent my entire life happy being surrounded by them. If it’s anything we all had in common, it was our love for exploration, nature and seeing the rawest parts of the world.
As soon as I arrived at my very very humble homestay (a homestay that had a total of 4 bungalows), Katia and Laure, 2 French girls who had been there for a few days immediately came up and chatted up with me. They brought me on their first trip to Piaynemo in my first full day which they organized with Freddie, our homestay host. Another guy, one of those who is the epitome of doing EVERYTHING at the very LAST minute, joined us on our trip. His whole demeanor screamed “I’ve just been through so much shit trying to get here solo, I’m so damn tired and and am so glad to have found you guys to share the costs of this damn boat trip to the most visited viewpoint in Raja Ampat”. Yet, he was in good spirits and funny throughout.
That very first night, Laure, Katia organized a group dinner (the alternative was a depressing affair having dinner in our individual bungalows) in our homestay. Fazia and Matthieu from the 3rd bungalow joined us. Together, every single person in that homestay congregated, broke bread together and we shared our stories, our backgrounds, what brought us here and laughed so hard talking about all the crazy things we’ve encountered.
This particular dinner is one of the most beautiful memories I have on all my travels. The concept of strangers coming together for a meal, brought together by something in common AND having a good time. Laure, Katia, Fazia, Matthieu were all French, and I was very appreciative of them communicating in English merely because of my presence. The last memory I have of something uniquely similar to this was from roughly 8 years ago, where I went on a 3-4 day hike at La Ciudad Perdida with a group of people from all over the world.
That night, we talked about our plans for the next day, to avoid cabin fever and explore as much as we could. The previous day, Laure and Katie had waded across to Kri island from Mansuar (the island we’re on) during low tide to look for people to get information from. They found Yenkoranu, a homestay with a dive center that organized daily diving/snorkeling trips. They met David, the dive manager, got his number and later, used my phone (Indonesian SIM card) to organize a last minute trip the next day. What they did, was the start of something beautiful, that I’m still experiencing, that I will struggle today to put into words and need to wait it out…
In the days that followed, I passed on the kindness that Laure, Katia showed me – information sharing, group dinners and laughs.
This trip has evolved me.. it was like my body, soul was injected with passion, love and all sorts of introspective thoughts about life. It has also propelled me forward to take action on some things I’ve been thinking about for ages.
The thing is.. what evolved, energized me isn’t necessarily what makes everyone evolve, energized. I get that.
What I hope to get across through this post, is that I hope we all find those moments, experiences, things that bring energy, love and passion to our lives. The kind of energy that makes us gaze out into the skies, smiling, thankful for the world we live… contentment, peace, love and happiness.