I guess the short answer to my question is : “Just being your cool self.” And that is how Guiselaine inspired me.
How we met
Guiselaine and I met on a bus from Santiago to Baracoa, in Cuba, on 8 February 2013, and have been friends since. Guiselaine was sitting at the bus station by herself, and by her look she could easily pass for a Latin American. We did not talk then. However, that was a crazy bus ride, very eventful, like almost any would be in Cuba I suppose, and it led to a great friendship. I remember I was snoozing quietly on that packed Viazul bus, sitting next to my sister, when I realised we hit something. I remember saying:
“I really hope we did not hit a dog or a pig”
In Cuba it is a common custom to let dogs and pigs and chickens roam free. Well, the good news was we did not hit anything. As the bus stopped to check what had happened, we all had to get off the bus and soon discovered a tire had literally exploded. Luck had it that the tire exploded right there and not 20 km further, where La Farola – a curvy up and down hill 64 km road that is the only connection between Santiago and Baracoa – would start. As you can imagine, coming from Europe this was a rather interesting experience, so we took the chance to take pictures of the driver changing the tire, of the surroundings, and to have a quick chat with other passengers. That’s when we really acknowledged each other.
At the next pit-stop, we had a chance to exchange a few words. Guiselaine had such a reassuring smile and relaxed attitude that my sister and I instantly liked her. I guess that was the moment when we decided that we would hang out together in Baracoa, there wasn’t much questioning about it. We just said:
“let’s have drinks and eat together tonight”
and it was fixed. A couple of hours later, we were having mojitos and shrimps in coconut sauce and exchanging our anedoctes about our experience in Cuba so far. That turned into 3 dinner dates – almost without questioning whether we’d hang out together.
While chatting, we all agreed we were greedy to see the world, and kept wondering how we could turn this into a long-term project that would allow us to travel full time and thus live our dream, rather than just enjoy a 3-weeks vacation each year.
Once back from Cuba, I realised I was itchy to travel more. Then Guiselaine told me that she would quit her job to start living her dream, and started gathering information on how to travel full time, on a low income, and make some cash on the way. All the while, knowing this was also my dream, she passed all the info to me. I guess to me, the hard part was how to convince myself (and then my family) that travelling is not an insane project, but a must-do. It was more a question of accepting that nomad side of me, and Guiselaine inspired me to just be who I am, disregarding what society expects from me, as long as I respect the law and others.
So, here I am: 3 weeks to go till my dream becomes true; lots of thoughts, a bit scared yet excited, sometimes worried but nevertheless convinced I have to do this. I will never stop thanking Guiselaine for helping that side of me come out, with her discrete manner and politeness. I know that along the way we will keep exchanging ideas and advice – well, I guess she is better at researching than I am, so I will rely on her a lot.
What did it take her to inspire me? Just… being who she is! My hope is that through all of our travelling we get to meet again one day, but surely we will never lose touch, as I will be following her adventures on her blog.
Revised blog June 2021, original written November 2013.
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Guest interview with me on PsychoseNet about mental health, life as digital nomad and recovery. Share this post Share on facebook Share on google Share