I, Nomad: Master of My Fate

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I feel like I should be blogging more, and I will, because lord knows I have a couple would-be posts that oughta be going up.

At the same time, though, this is a pretty powerful part of my life. I set a goal, I reached it, and now I’m reaping the reward. Here I am, living a travel life I couldn’t have fathomed. I’m six weeks in, people. The newness is just ebbing away now. But guess what? My life will be “new” everywhere I go for years. Literally.

 

Up beyond the small town of Ipsa, where I took an eventful wrong turn and experienced some of the most harrowing, twistiest, narrowest, steepest roads of my driving life -- and I've put over 300,000km on vehicles in my time. But... staggering beauty. Really. As I said on Facebook.com/Fullnomad, if I live another 40 years, this will likely remain one of the most beautiful roads I've ever seen. Even misadventure is wonderful in a travelling life.

Up beyond the small town of Ipsa, where I took an eventful wrong turn and experienced some of the most harrowing, twistiest, narrowest, steepest roads of my driving life — and I’ve put over 300,000km on vehicles in my time. But… staggering beauty. Really. As I said on Facebook.com/Fullnomad, if I live another 40 years, this will likely remain one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever seen. Even misadventure is wonderful in a travelling life.

Even when I was planning for this life, I couldn’t have imagined what it would be like, because I simply hadn’t travelled. I didn’t travel, not like this, not ever. You can’t compare a weekend away on an island to living in, say, Croatia for two months with 9 weeks in Portugal looming immediately after. You can’t compare a holiday you know has a return ticket with a lifestyle that has no end date.

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The hottest cheesemonger who ever monged cheese. Trieste, Italy. Ho, ho, ho, indeed. I think I love me some Christmas markets. And Italy, it’s getting a month-long visit from me soon.

It’s staggering to think there’s no trip home, there’s just The Next Place. It’s baffling to go “Where to next?” and then pull up a map of an entire continent and scratch your head. But it’s immeasurably awesome too.

This morning I was in Croatia and drove through Slovenia, where I stopped for coffee, before reaching Trieste, Italy, where I had lunch with a friend. I sat there with my glass of house Cabernet, eyeing a gossipy woman on the sidewalk and, in the background, a massive fountain adorned with bare-butt cupids, surrounded by tables covered with classic Italian red-checked tablecloths, and it hit me that I’m not going home. I have no home.

This church had been off-limits since I got to town. One night I’d been walking the city walls and saw the illuminated stained glass and thought it was open. Door ajar, I snuck in to hear two tradesmen bickering over repair plans at the altar. These are the kinds of things that make longterm off-season travel a blessing. You see things others never will.

My home is the world. I’m a nomad now. From here to there and beyond, it’s all mine. Anywhere that meets my budget, that’s where I belong.

In under two weeks I’ll be living a hilly walk away from the Atlantic Ocean in a converted mansion outside quiet town in Portugal, before I’m off to a week in Lisbon, followed by 6 weeks in Porto. Then? Well, I don’t know, but I’m think Spain plus the rest of Croatia that I’ve not yet seen — Zadar & Dalmatia. Followed by Italy, then Bulgaria, then home for a visit before more Europe. Or maybe not. I’m not committed to anything or anyone.

There was a time when knowing I wouldn’t have a home terrified me. Sometimes still it fills me with longing — that have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too thing. I still want to travel but it’d be neat if, somewhere, there were a bed that were all mine.

This was the kind of woman with hand gestures and mannerisms that made me think I'd avoid her at parties, but gosh, she makes an awesome subject. Trieste, Italy.

This was the kind of woman with hand gestures and mannerisms that made me think I’d avoid her at parties, but gosh, she makes an awesome subject. Trieste, Italy.

But if it meant not having this life (and it does mean that) then not having a bed is a-okay with me.

Because, for all the down sides, for all the hurdles and stresses, this is flat-out amazing.

Croatia? Not a perfect country. I’ve been here long enough to know what I love and to know what I can do without — but I’m so glad I’ve been here, and yes, I’m planning to come back and see the rest too.

And I’m guessing no country I’ll see will be perfect, either, but they’ll all have their beauty, their charms, and their unique people. Just like Canada will always have for me.

Boats, Habsburg architecture. Here's Northern Italy to a T -- "T" as in "Trieste."

Boats, Habsburg architecture. Here’s Northern Italy to a T — “T” as in “Trieste.”

I have five years — if not more — to study it all, to soak it up, to share it with you. I have no illusions that it’s going to be challenging at times — because god knows it already has been — but man, it’s unbeatable for the rest of the time.

When I want to slow down, I can. When I want more places for busier travel over a shorter time, I can do that too.

It’s like William Ernest Henley wrote, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

That’s true of all of us, really, but I think until you cut the residential ties that bind you and follow the road beneath your feet, there’s another level of fate-mastering which most people might never experience.

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My scruffy little friend. He lives in my current building.

As I nurse a belly full of bought-in-Italy pizza I brought back through Slovenia, while sipping a nice budget Primitivo, as I sit at the top of a medieval mountain town packed with a millennium of history… well, yeah. I’m feeling pretty “captain of my soul” on this night.

Tomorrow, I catch up on some work and then it’s off to a Venetian seaside town called Rovinj that I can’t wait to photograph and wander for a couple days.

It feels like I’m only now hitting my travel stride and I can’t wait to see what’s coming in six months, in a year, and more. What a life I’ll lead. One for the books. Or at least one for one good book.

Showing 4 comments
  • Moyra
    Reply

    Sounds like you have found a comfortable frame of mind to enjoy this journey. Looking forward to hearing more of your experiences and seeing your wonderful candid pictures. Best always.

  • Holly McLennan
    Reply

    Enjoying your blog and living vicariously through you!

  • Dragitta Hleb
    Reply

    Welcome to Hrvatska.

    • Steffani Cameron
      Steffani Cameron
      Reply

      Hey, Dragitta! I’ve come and gone. Croatia was wonderful and I loved its people. I’m really glad I went. Thanks for being awesome. 😀

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