‘How is it possible to feel nostalgia for a world I never knew? ‘
The motorcycle diaries (2004)

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that you loved and you were dying to visit the place it’s set in? This happens to me all the time!

A lot of movies and books I read are about travelling and so they inspire me to explore new places. For example, a book I read so many times is ‘The Alchemist‘ by Paulo Coelho, and each time makes me want to pack my backpack and leave.

Watching all those movies and TV shows set in New York since I was a kid made me dream about one day being able to visit this beautiful city – a dream that finally came true last year!

And again, all those movies about travelling: ‘Into the Wild‘, ‘Wild‘, ‘The Darjeeling Limited‘, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘, ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘. All movies that show different amazing places around the world, but also portray the not so nice part of travelling, the things that could go wrong and all the adventure spirit behind it.

There is a movie, however, that I watched when I was still in school and made me feel what in German is called Fernweh, a sort of wanderlust or nostalgia for places you have never been to. It’s The Motorcycle Diaries.

In 1952, before finishing his medical degree, Ernesto and his older friend Alberto leave Buonos Aires to travel through South America and see as much of this continent as possible, crossing more than 14,000km in four months on their motorcycle, which breaks down during their journey and forces them to slow down. During the journey, the two friends see the conditions in which people actually live in South America, until they get to Machu Picchu, where they realise how the beauty of older civilisations is being destroyed.

When I watched it the first time, this movie left me dreaming about travelling through South America, but not just as a tourist. It made me want to live with people from small villages in the Andes, try their food, dance with them and get to know the true face of this beautiful continent.

I thought one day I might be able to go on a holiday in one of those places, maybe visit Machu Picchu or Buenos Aires, but how could I know that one day I would actually leave for a year-long backpacking trip through South, Central and North America, visiting smaller towns and villages, and even living with local people for a while, experiencing both the tourist attractions and the actual living conditions of people in the Andes in Peru.

In Colombia, besides visiting the tourist places and attractions, I ended up living and volunteering in a small village near Circasia, in the Quindio region, building a community garden, a playground, a recycling oasis and teaching English.

I also took a road trip all the way to the northernmost point of South America, meeting the Wayuu people and sleeping in a Hammock on the beach for a few nights.

In Ecuador, I spent a week in the Amazon rain forest, learning how to make yucca bread and chocolate from scratch, talking to the local shaman, learning how to spot plants and fruits that can be eaten, leaves that can be used as a knife and trying their local food.

In Peru, I did visit Machu Picchu, just like the main characters of this movie, and I was impressed with its incredible beauty. And I also got lost through the streets of Cuzco, one of my favourite places in Peru, trying to spend as much time as possible with local people I met in the beautiful markets all across the town. But I also spent a few weeks with a family of artisans, in the Ayacucho, in the Andes, learning how to make beautiful embroidered products to sell at the market.

In Bolivia I stayed in El Alto, meeting witches and learning about their spells, and in Chile I crossed the Atacama desert. In Buenos Aires I spent time learning how to dance tango, and I finally crossed South America to the very end, by bus, up to hiking Patagonia.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that is making you dreaming of visiting a place in the world? This is your chance to do it! Book your flight with momondo – click on the button below and find the cheapest flight to your dream destination.

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