THIS particular journey began three years ago, two days before Christmas 2010. It started as a four week vacation to India.
I lived an abundant life in Sydney, worked a respected job as a producer, residing on luxurious coastlines of the Eastern suburbs. Abundant lifestyle, wonderful career, paycheck to suffice. A normal Western life.
I was now seeking soul adventure.
India takes one on a journey into themselves. Many travellers are on a spiritual pilgrimage seeking more to their daily existence. I was among them, subconsciously attempting to break free from rat-race society.
I arrived in Mumbai 23 December, 2010. Leaving the airport, driving through slums, my jaw dropped. I watched grime drip from the walls of homes, babies and dogs eating together on the streets. I felt overwhelming purpose, this was exactly where I was meant to be.
Walking streets became an expedition. Swarms of children begging for money, food, attention, love. Anything better than dirt. I bought cans of powdered milk for 20 rupees, about 35 cents in Australian currency, enough to feed a family living on the streets. I started buying powdered milk for families all over the blocks. On every outing. And there were many!
Two weeks before I was to return to Sydney, back to my job, my desk, my apartment, my life I felt sad to leave this community rich culture. I felt so alive in this authenticity new world India and I didn’t want to leave.
All I can say is be careful what you wish for. What transpired next was a manifestation of mind.
A motorbike accident in the early morning left me on crutches the following six weeks. Twelve hours of stark cold hospital, one doctor, two nurses, blood stained sheets, basic facilities. Through trauma I recognised this was a sign I was where I needed to be. I was forced to dissociate with my body.
There was no walking. I simply could not function. I struggled daily, and through no other choice started my real journey inwards.
Intention on daily acts, cleansing rituals, watching effortless interactions on Goa’s beaches, finding contentment with being crippled, became an entirely new experience. Bed bugs and food illnesses plagued the following months. I shed layers that no longer served me.
So my journey began.
I spent the following five months travelling North from Goa, riding camels in the deserts of Rajasthan, travelling across to the great Ganges in Varanasi, through the mountains of Dharamsala, and into the winding valleys of Himachel Pradesh. I practised yoga and meditation with Swamis in Rishikesh, survived Holi Festival attacks in Pushkar, swam in the clean river of the Ganges, and touched the snow line of the Himalayan mountains border-lining Tibet.
Finally, living the life I dreamt.
I was happy discussing philosophies with fellow bohemians, drinking chai with Indians, feeding children thali plates on dusky streets. No deadlines, no cold office buildings, no wasted paper, no need for four cups of coffee to get through twelve hour days.
My journey transpired, taking me across to Nicaragua the following eight months, through Costa Rica and Guatemala, migrating to the Pacific coastline of Mexico, across to white sands of the Caribbean.
I volunteered on projects in Nicaragua, ate rice and beans, got mugged with machetes, worked with women in chicken houses. I partied in Costa Rica, became spiritually enlightened in Guatemala, climbed 1800m above sea level in Lake Antigua, danced till sunrise in Escondido. I lived with Mexico’s President’s associates, and moved into a cabana on white sands of Tulum, where turtles lay their eggs. Friends with New Yorkers and nomads. I drank mojitos in Penthouses of Playa del Carmen, experienced ayahuasca ceremonies with Shamans from Peru, followed love and tango to Buenos Aires, assisted Yoga workshops in Lima, reached the peaks of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and became a Yoga Teacher in Mexico.
My enthusiasm for living simply, volunteering and walking others along journeys of freedom became a joy. Immersed in culture, united with like-minds. We share moments of contentment when we are doing of things we love; travelling, exploring, discovering, creating, smiling, doing yoga, meditating, giving hugs, playing with our children, dancing, and falling in love.
Travel allows us to shed layers of what society dictates us to be, setting ourselves free. Travel allows us to explore, expand, break free from limitations we set to have enough, do enough and be enough. Travel feeds our sense of wonderment and intrigue, it gives us new energy, culture and perspective and the opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes I need to fall from the peaks to find my balance.
So travel and living on purpose becomes so important to us. Taking steps to move towards our purpose is the path to happiness, and travel is our great teacher.
Yasmin Shima is the January 2014 winner of the Topdeck Great Travel Writer competition. She won a £250 travel voucher from Topdeck Travel.
If you have a great travel yarn to spin, go to our Great Travel Writer competition to find out how to submit your story for publication and you could win too!
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