When Saudade Surprises You
For months, I’d been reading travel blogs and I’d been envying all those people who quit their jobs to travel. For months, I’d spent evenings watching travel movies and entire week-ends reading travel books. For months, I’d been dreaming about exotic lands and fantastic adventures.
Then, finally the day came when I wrote my own blog post about the day I quit my job to travel. I signed my resignation letter, sold all my stuff, and booked a one way flight to Lima, Peru.
I have been on the road for over five months now. Five months filled with happiness and unforgettable moments. Every single day, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be in a new place, doing something new, surrounded by incredible new friends.
I have hiked surrounded by imposing snow-capped mountains, climbed steep rocks, swam in the ocean at sunrise and rested my sore muscles in natural hot springs. I have slept in hostel beds, tents, hammocks, floors. I have camped and I have Couchsurfed. I have gone hunting for caimans and slept in a boat in the middle of a sacred lake.
I have eaten alligator, piranhas, worms, ants and cockroaches. I’ve been vegan for a week. I have shared meals with fellow backpackers, incredibly gifted artists and native people. I have drank all sort of exotic drinks and got really drunk a couple of times. I have tried ayahuasca.
I have traveled in dozen of busses, combis, mototaxis, motorcycles. I have hitchhiked a few times and got unasked lifts a few more. I’ve driven through sandy deserts, rocky mountains and green lush valleys. I’ve risked my life traveling during the floods and always got lucky. Twice, I thought I would die.
Every single day of this great adventure I have learnt so much, about me, the others and the world. There hasn’t been a day similar to the previous one, a day gone wasted, a day I regret. I am living my dream and I want it to be forever.
Still, there is a feeling I am very much surprised of. It is a beautiful untranslatable word that comes from Portuguese, saudade. Yes, apparently the word doesn’t have a proper translation in any other language, and this is what makes it special.
My saudade is special, because it is unexpected. Yet, I have to admit it: I miss Italy.
I miss the care and the elegance with which we furnish our houses, I miss a three-course dinner with a good glass of wine. I miss my dad exaggerating his stories and my mom looking for some cuddling with her always expat daughter; I miss seeing how my sister is growing into a beautiful, wise woman.
I miss the sarcasm and the jokes of my people, and I miss hearing the different accents and dialects. I miss speaking my native language and talking about places back home.
I love Peru. I love the coast, the highlands and the jungle. I love the freedom that only traveling gives me and I would never change that. But I can’t deny having this grip in my stomach every time I think about home. I can’t help but thinking about the moment when I will go back there, get into my room and sit on the floor staring at my library filled with hundreds of yellowish books, checking whether they’re still ordered by genre, author and language like I did before leaving.
I am already thinking of the hundreds of people I will host via Couchsurfing, a small way to give back all the kindness I have received so far, and all the meetings I will attend. I am imagining the backpacker hostel I want to open – maybe back home? and how I will decorate every room.
Five months later, is it already time to go back? Of course not. There are still hundreds of places I want to see, millions of experiences I want to have and thousands of people I still have to meet. Dear saudade, please wait.