I have never been to Australia.
And not even in New Zealand.
I’ve never set foot on any island in Oceania.
But despite this shortcoming of mine, I can say that I have worn out my shoes halfway around the world. I can say that over time asphalt, sand, and mud have worn out soles, ruined uppers, and worn laces.
I can say that the sun has tattooed the shape of my old Tewa on my feet and that nine years on, the sandals now worn out with far too many miles under the soles, I can’t bring myself to change them so as not to run the risk of ruining the marks left by my moving from one place to another on the planet.
I travelled by many planes and slept in many airports.
I have spent full nights on gleaming coaches with the air conditioner blasting.
And many others where the only good idea was to put yourself to sleep and delude yourself that the driver knew what he was doing. At those moments, my thought was not “Will I arrive at my destination safely?” but a much more important one: “Would I find a 7-Eleven in the morning to drink a lousy coffee and forget the night I had just spent?”.
I have come a long way and have not even reached the halfway point of my imagination. From the Far East to South America, seeing almost all parts of Africa. From war zones to the forgotten but still greatly alive churches.
From wizards to saintly healers, from simple humans to bad humans. From a slave market in the 20th century to the denial of fundamental rights in modern nations.
I have travelled a long way, but I have never been a traveller.
I have travelled, of course, but never for the sake of it.
I have travelled because I have always considered it a fundamental condition of my existence. My personal place, sometimes shared, sometimes private.
The journey – without being a traveller – as a condition for cleaning oneself and facing freely the stories that I will be able to grasp at that moment.
The journey that forces the construction of a place. A place that is within us.