The Next 35 Weeks.

What can happen in 35 weeks? Your whole entire world can change.

The last 35 weeks in Florida has been both depressing and up-lifting. It’s interesting to look back at how I fluctuated through such a broad spectrum of emotions.

My experiences were both positive and negative, yet I also see that my experiences just are; that which makes me who I am writing this now. I suppose my interpretation of my experiences are different than the experiences themselves, like Shakespeare says,

“Nothing is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” And at the same time it is the duty of the individual to conceptualize one’s life in order to live with purpose and meaning.

Now that I’m living in the Azores and don’t plan on returning to Florida anytime in the near future, I find myself asking, What am I doing here? 

  My plan for the next 35 weeks is to continue on the path towards my goals and further more, to my dreams. 

For the past four years I’ve been able to travel a few months every summer. One of the many lessons I brought home with me was how inadequate a month or two is if you really want to understand a foreign culture. Imagine you’re a foreigner visiting the United States for a month, would that be enough time to visit and enjoy all 50 states, speak English fluently/conversationally, and understand the variety of customs, beliefs, and lifestyles throughout all 50 of them? Absolutely not.  Each time I come home and process my trip I always think how much more there was to experience and learn about.

One week in Cartagena, for example, is enough time to fall in love with the city. Two weeks in Cartagena is enough time to see its flaws and routines. Three weeks in Cartagena, well, I’m not sure. Last year I spent two months traveling through Colombia and Ecuador which was only enough time to spend no more than a week in each city/town. I started in Cartagena, then went to Medellin, Bogota, Pasto. I stayed overnight in Ipiales before crossing into Ecuador to do the same thing. My return flight was back in Cartagena so I ended up spending an extra week there. My perception of Cartagena changed dramatically during the second week and I wondered once I got home how much it could’ve changed if I had spent the entire two months in Cartagena instead of jumping around every week. 

What I’m trying to express is how I would rather spend a longer amount of time living in a place getting to know the ins and outs, than hostel hopping one city to the next. This is what I’m looking forward to doing here in the Azores and in Portugal, once I make it to the mainland. The first time I went to Pico, Azores I stayed a little more than six months. I had just graduated high school, spent the summer working and come autumn I was off to the single place I wanted to travel to since I was a child listening to my dad’s stories. I was always intrigued by how he explained his childhood, from playing soccer around the island to the vast green landscapes. He would tell me about the volcano rising above the clouds, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, always present like a guardian protecting his kingdom. Those six months I spent in Pico were fundamental to my character. It felt like it was the first time I truly answered the call to adventure. When I finally returned to Florida I remember feeling like a new person. I became self-aware of how my mind worked, how other’s worked, I tuned into my senes in a way that I wasn’t before. I could view the world from different perspectives without latching onto a single one and that’s helped me throughout the years in various circumstances. 

Ever since I started traveling I feel my purpose is to travel. Whether that started when I first moved to Florida from Massachusetts or when I visited Pico for the first time  I’m not sure of. Regardless, there’s no better way to put it: my purpose is to travel. I need to live my passion and that’s what these next 35 weeks are all about. I’m working towards my goals, following my dreams, knowing I’m doing everything in my power to live a life I’m happy about. Right now I write this from a small town called Lajes do Pico. Not five years ago this place was only an idea in my mind. Now its a familiar place. Part of me will always be right here by the ocean. The rest of me will find itself all across the world in due time. 

Published by

Ryan Quaresma

Writing to understand | Photographing to remember

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