This is a true encounter. Christmas period early 80s. After two days across the Sahara, I took a boat to Canary Islands. I hitchhiked towards Lanzarote and ended up in a crowded five-star beach hotel in the middle of nowhere. After dusk, the beach was empty, so I sneaked in, evading security. The beach was all mine. From atop the tall hotel, a maiden saw me inside a roof-less shed, fixing my sleeping bag. Like an angel, she descended into my world. (Based on the book WINGS AND WANDERLUST – DISCOVERING YOUR INNER SELF).
eastwind journals, December 23, 2021 (archive tr189)
OLGA – Sorry. I was watching you from up there. I saw you make coffee in the candle light.
ME – Candles are better and cheaper for windless nights. I have a tiny flashlight for emergency.
OLGA – I envy you.
ME – Why?
OLGA – You don’t even have a hotel. Life is so much simpler for some. For me, it is so complicated.
ME – Why?
OLGA – Well, I had to arrange for my trip, get reservations, fly a stupid plane (There was anger in her voice).
Canary Islands is a winter refuge from the cold north for affluent Germans, Finns, and Swedes. Stockholm was one of the most expensive places in Europe. Olga’s one month salary would probably pay for eight months of my travel. She came to Las Palmas alone for her winter vacation, perhaps hoping to make new friends. Lonely Swedish girls pick up handsome Spanish guys.
OLGA – I am an executive secretary in a big firm in Stockholm.
ME – Is it a nice job?
OLGA – I get a high salary.
ME- You didn’t answer my question.
OLGA – (In a trembling voice.) I hate it. I tried to kill myself three times. I am sorry to bother you. (Embarrassed, she stood up to leave.)
ME – No, no, stay. You think you are the only one in pain? Let’s compare pains. Sit down.
She talked about how she was ‘trapped’ in Stockholm in a strange world that sounded like New York to me, my spiritual desert. Without tears, she unravelled her world so full of pain. To distract her, I talked about my adventures on the road. She listened wide-eyed, green with envy.
OLGA – How nice that you have your kitchen with you anytime.
ME – Portable stove, better and cheaper than a restaurant. I spend $2 a day when travel books say it is $5 a day.
OLGA – I wish I can travel with you.
ME – You are welcome, but you have to drop everything, and you’re not ready for that.
OLGA – I know. I’m stuck. I’m a slave. (Now, the tears came silently.)
When we were exhausted from talk, she said ‘Merry Christmas’, and suddenly left. I knew she was embarrassed pouring herself to a stranger. I felt very sad for her.
Why was there so much pain in affluent society? It was the same in Amsterdam, Geneva, and Copenhagen. I met many people in pain. One would think affluence bred paradise, but no. Underneath the well-ordered corporate life, underneath the comfort and decadence, there was the chaos of the spirit. So, I was right about New York. Material wealth seemed to breed spiritual poverty, at least, in my experience.
I could not sleep. Thoughts came like a tornado. I tossed in my sleeping bag, until the pink of dawn revealed a fantastic empty beach. I packed my gear quickly before the children and security guards, the early birds, would come. I hid my backpack somewhere and took a long walk across the empty beach. The sea was like a mirror, placid as my soul. Not a sound. No waves. A few seagulls hovered above me, gliding effortlessly, as if wanting to know how I was doing. I was happy that I was free, that I had wings like them. But I was sad for Olga.
I talked to the seagulls and the wind in a loud voice. I told them I was doing fine. Hoping the guards would not hear me, I screamed at the seagulls at the top of my voice, “Lanzarote, here I come.” They hovered above me, floating in the wind. My target was a series of untouched coves and caves known only by backpackers.
My goal in my adventures was to discover myself. After a few months on the road, I found out that the key to discovering my inner self was to look, not for enchanting places, but for enchanting people. Meeting Olga was an accident, or rather serendipity, and I saw myself in her when we compared pains. People are mirrors and you see your reflection, your true self in them in all your beauty and horror.
AUTHOR’S BOOK NO. 1 – Wings and Wanderlust – Discovering your Inner Self. At age 26, the author hitchhiked 25,000 kilometers in Europe and North Africa for three straight years. In this book of his wild adventures, he learned deep insights that changed him totally, which he wants to share with readers. It also a guidebook on how to plan your own adventure.