Over the past few weeks as I prepare to switch continents to launch South America Backpacker Magazine, I have been asked the question. “Why do you want to travel to South America?” I find it to be an unusual question to be asked. “Why not?” is generally my first response. There is no particular beach I want to lay eyes on, or monument I want to see, no particular food I want to try, there is no one reason. Why on earth would I not want to travel there? Because it is there. And because adventure beckons…
When mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world, he replied: “What we get from adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”
Is there a reason why any of us travel? Do we travel to get something out of our system before ‘settling down’ into the real world? Do we travel to educate ourselves? Or is it travel for the sake of travel – as Mallory said – because such experiences bring pure joy and enrich our lives for the better?
A few hundred years ago it was impossible for the average person to jump on a plane and explore new worlds. World travel was left to the swashbuckling explorers of old who braved malaria-infested jungles and high seas in the spirit of adventure and possibly, human advancement. So is it up to us, today, to take advantage of such incredible opportunities?
The answer lies within each individual backpacker. Backpacking is not only an activity; it is a spirit and a way that you choose to live your life. A backpacker is someone who says yes to life and yes to adventure. A backpacker is someone who cannot ever again be satisfied once the exciting flutters of thought of a new destination appear as an inkling in his or her head. A backpacker is someone who can take a walk down a street back home that they have walked a million times and find something different, that they have not seen before. A backpacker is someone who is open to new opportunities and is thirsty to learn more every day about this amazing big beautiful planet we have.
Why do I want to go to South America? The same reason why I want to go around the next corner. The same reason why I want to get up in the morning. The same reason why I want to meet interesting new people. The same reason why I want to experience life to the fullest with all of the opportunities that are presented to me as someone coming from a country of choice. Never stop backpacking even after you put the rucksack down.