07 November, 2012

Caminos


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If only you could crawl into my head, read my thoughts and feel my feelings as I wander streets wet from rain this evening. I am in Karlovy Vary, a not so big and not so small Czech town. All of me feel good, with the past days experience still alive and in the process of being stored as wonderful memories. This visit has been purely good, so I have to share it.

west of Praha

I am in this otherwise quiet countryside town because of Martin, a couch surfer that came by my living room in Oslo. He is my kind of guy. Actually, he IS my kind of guy. He is a traveler. He goes far and wide, and talks about it. So we both spoke a lot, during his stay in Oslo. He did mention a festival called Caminos in his country. He assumed I might fit in, but I figured it would never happen. I was wrong. Totally wrong.
    Now I am in love with Czech. Very much so. Not because of the most fancy hotel room i have ever spent a night in, but because of the people. My new friends. The many open, liberal, curious, sweet and natural visitors of the Caminos festival. It is a travel festival, non profit, attracting a local group of enthusiastic travelers and vagabond wanna-bees.

A great guy runs the place.

Still different

Traveling has a whole other meaning in a former communist country in east Europe than it has in Europe. In Czech, going where you wanted to go simply were out of bonds not so many years ago. Some are still afraid. Some are constrained by family and work, but many, many have the dream intact and a few do pull through and make dreams come true. I met some of them tonight.    It is simply impossible to justly describe the atmosphere. Adorable Jana is a former au pair in Norway, willingly assigning as my translator for the show, which is done in Norwegian, not English. Not everybody in the audience speak English, and hearing the Norwegian language is an exotic experience in itself. Or so they say.
During the day I have added a story about Norway to the presentation, as I have learnt so much about my long country and its people these last six months. Some of the special souls I have met along the journey get their face on the big screen. I try to give an idea about who we are, up in the northern lands, and I continue by sharing my story from the Faroe Islands.
    I would gladly have continued my stories after my time is up. It is painful not to have the chance to make the audience understand my love for Cairo, my gratitude to spiritual helpers, my fascination of Venezia and my adventures in Iceland ... This is, however, how I always feel after the show, no matter how long it lasts. The material at hand is simply much too rich for one single evening.

Nana the translator and
Jaroslav the organizer.

connections

The questions are good and many and the response in the bar after the show is warmer than I have expected. The following is a bit hard to define and express. I feel something tonight that I do not experience in Norway. It has to do with a blend of dreams and challenges, history and present. The warmth that flows from every direction make me feel as if I belong here, among people I did not know two days ago. We do not chitchat, but discuss matters of genuine and universal value and interest, much based on curiosity and a true desire for knowledge and broadening of the mind. The locally produced Becherovka has a tiny bit to do with the atmosphere, but only a small one. This is for real.




On the way back to my luxurious hideout, I jump in a pool of rainwater and feel like screaming, but I restrain myself. That is the downside of staying in a town, making full use of your voice may have unwanted effects.    The beautiful old facades, baroque I believe, look down on me. Some with bright new colors. My whole inner me is inflated with happiness. This close and immediate encounter with a country with more profound challenges than Norway is like a much welcome gift to me.
3 liters x 38%
    Here, I am outside of the protective,  embalming cocoon of "Europe’s Kuwait", and reality crawls closer, skin appear thinner, the looks more ignited. The situation provokes me to consider - reconsider - and evaluate what I stand for and which culture I represent.

just do it

What I am sure of, if anything at all,  is that my new friends are exceptionally exceptional and I am glad the hotel in which they put me sponsor the event with my luxurious room, if not I would feel bad for causing such an expense.
I have to admit to a sudden and serious alcohol problem ... what to do with my gift???

Thank you, Caminos. And you, reading this, visit Czech and trust these people. They are the best you can get.


With love and respect,Paul