HITCH-HIKING AS A LIFESTYLE
“It is not ethic to write about people you haven’t shared the road with” Ryszard Kapuściński
My name is Juan Pablo Villarino. I am a writer, photographer and, first of all, a traveller. I was born on March 28th in Mar del Plata a seaside city in Argentina’s Pampas region. On May 2005 I embarked on a round the world hitch-hiking expedition aimed at portraying world hospitality. I have so far drawn my track along the roads of Europe, Middle East, Asia and South America, with my backpack “La Maga” and a budget of 5 dollars a day. In this blog you will find brief references and –mainly- pictures of this lifelong project. The complete chronicles of the most extreme stages of the expedition, the villagers, truck drivers, teachers, soldiers, custom guards and the hospitality received from people I have met along remote and dusty roads is found in my books, available online from this blog. By selling them I can afford to keep hitch-hiking, writing and developing the educational nomadic project..
In April 2010 I met Laura –my present life and road mate- in a magical way, while travelling in Argentina’s Northwest, the very same area where I had elaborated my decision to become a nomad back in 2002. Laura was 25 years old, had been travelling alone on and off in Central America and India, though returning each time to her job at a Buenos Aires travel agency. When we met she had just decided to get rid of her routine to explore the world. After so many years of solo nomadism, Laura and I fell in love in Salta and let our steps merge as well. We are now hitch-hiking the world together!
I travel borrowing a snail’s strategy of carrying all I may need on my backpack, called La Maga, actually a Berghaus Khumbu model. While my gear includes the classic needful items common to all travellers, such as tent, sleeping bag, first aid kit, etc, I also pack those pieces of gear which are a must for a dedicated writer on tour. These are my beloved SLR camera and my netbook, together with a pocket projector used for the Educational Nomadic Project.
The expedition began in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2005. Since then I have crossed 46 borders, involving 130,000 Km. of hitch-hiking and boarding more than 1,200 vehicles of all type, from vessels to sport cars. I love the incapacity of foretelling which city will warm my tiredness each night. I have got rides in Mercedes Benz as well as in donkey drawn karts, but I have always reached my destination. I have slept in monasteries, luxurious apartments, ice cream shops and lighthouses; I have camped in Versailles Palace and shared the carpet of a Bedouin campsite in the Syrian Desert. Nevertheless, I always managed to conquer the kind realm of sleep. In subways and Parliaments I have interviewed both homeless and vice-presidents… More than anything, I never stopped wishing each horizon would reincarnate into new footprints.
So far, this RTW hitch-hiking tour has taken me across the following states and territories: Afghanistan, Antarctica, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Laos, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Monaco, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Scotland, Shetland Islands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Tibet, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uruguay,
OUR MISSION: DOCUMENTING AND SPREADING WORLD HOSPITALITY.
Our priority is to document hospitality and everyday life across the world by means of literature and photographic documentation. We deeply believe in peace and interdependence. I regard goodness as an intrinsic feature of mankind beyond any cultural format. Travelling by hitch-hiking and staying with locals allow us constant exposure to great demonstrations of generosity, of the kind you will never see on the news.
Beyond that topic, my pen is also dedicated to social issues of each visited society. On the contrary, I am convinced that the social role of a nomadic writer is to smuggle words from struggle to struggle the same way bees carry their pollen.
However, writing and photographing are not enough to boast social change. Thus, while we travel:
- I (Juan) publish books which provide evidence of world hospitality while documenting the cultural diversity and everyday life across the world’s most remote areas. You can learn more aout the book and order a copy here.
- We have developed the Educational Nomadic Project. We perform conferences and photographic slides in schools, villages and communities on the road. These events stress the importance of empathy and intercultural understanding by showing the great cpeople we have met on our travels in all these years.
This project is possible thanks to committed readers supporting our quest with tiny donations. Click here to know hot to join us on the road!