The reclusive ramshackle house, perched on the hills that surround Caracas, short of neighbors and access to public transport, was about to collapse onto its inhabitants.

I was coming from Cartagena, after a grueling 30-hour journey, crossing La Guajira β€” a barren and arid desert in the North of Colombia, a godforsaken region belonging to ancient tribes and placed right alongside the Venezuelan border. All that dusty dry road was packed with human walls placed the whole width of the carriageway, stopping the vehicles and asking for the passing tax. …

I don’t know if this happens to you, but I often surprise myself riding waves of pride and self-sufficiency, convinced that everything I own has been achieved solely through my own efforts. I might have said this to myself so many times that it has become became a certainty, a general truth. We are living in times when autonomy, self-reliance (or, at least, the illusion of it) has gained the status of a high virtue; stories of people beginning from zero, without the minimum of support, people who built empires out of nothing and underwent radical transformation on their own…

There are certain blameworthy aspects to the backpacking universe: a plethora of things damned with faint praise that become obvious at a deeper examination. There is room enough left for improvements and a serious awareness of the responsibility tourists bear for locals would be more than desirable.

Without the slightest intention of hurling criticism towards travelers, but utterly convinced that everything that Buddhism has taught me about life is perfectly applicable (if not necessary) to the travel ethics. And maybe taught is not the right word here. I would unremorsefully replace it with made me aware of. …

Julia How

πŸ‡·πŸ‡΄ Proud Romanian traveler πŸ’ƒπŸ» Latina by heart ✍️ Copywriter πŸ™ Aspiring Buddhist

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