I met Ciro Rendas about 5 years back when he CouchSurfed with me in Bangalore. And he is still travelling. He had just begun his traveling life. And I had just quit formal employment and both of us shared a common profession linked to Business Innovation. Every time I look at his FB profile, he is in a different region. He speaks to us about this wonderful journey called life through his chosen way of living it – Nomadically.
I know you have been traveling for more than four years now. I am sure this has become a way of life for you. Do you see yourself settling somewhere? Or you see yourself leading a nomadic life only?
Ciro Rendas: What initially started as a 1-year round-the-world trip has indeed extended to over 5 years of wanderlust, without end in sight. Initially, I would cherish a ‘faster’ experience, trying to soak it all in during a shorter period of time before continuing onwards to the next destination and the next adventure. Nowadays, I prefer lingering longer in a place which attracts me. While indulging in some interesting activity or occupation in that location. And, for the time being, this nomadic lifestyle fascinates me. I would obviously be thrilled to keep it going for as long as I possibly can.
I do foresee the possibility of stopping someday, but only under one circumstance: love. Either because I love the place and its people. Or I love a project I’m undertaking, Or I love someone in particular.
What motivates you to keep traveling?
Ciro Rendas: The everyday ‘wow’ is why I’m still so hungry for the road. It’s so easy to be fascinated by people and situations that you wouldn’t normally experience back home. And when every day there is a new surprise for you, why would you even want to stop anyway?
Do you think traveling is addictive, the more you do, the more you want to do it?
Ciro Rendas: I think one can easily be fascinated by traveling. Even if you only take all-inclusive tour packages (which I don’t, by the way… the only exception being North Korea). Just getting out there into some place new and different from what you have in one’s familiar surroundings is enough to convince you to ‘escape’, even if just for a quick getaway. But not everyone will want or even be able to do it in a continuous way, as I’m doing it. Most people have the need to return to their familiar surroundings. Or get back on their career-track after wandering for some months or even a year or more.
Personally speaking, I’m addicted. Luckily for me, it’s a healthy addiction. You manage to have a varied diet because of all the different foods and drinks you try. You manage to do a lot of outdoor activities, even if it’s just walking around a city. Learn a lot as you go, be it history, geography, religion, cultural differences, languages, etc. You practice your interpersonal skills, as traveling is a social activity most of the time. And also your intra-personal skills, as you’ll also have a lot of time to yourself and to delve into the things you live and make some actual sense out of them.
What do you find most enchanting about this way of life?
Ciro Rendas: The people you meet and the friends you make are definitely the most enchanting. And naturally, some locations also leave you awestruck. Because of their grandiosity, their beauty, or plain ‘weirdness’. The fact you have no routine is also quite liberating and the fact you can pursue different passions and not just focus on one single career appeals to me.
Were there some places in the journey that made you want to stay back? Is it possible to share the same?
Ciro Rendas: There were some places that made me consider staying longer. I’m in one of them at the moment. I was in Nicaragua a few years ago and now I’m back again for another, longer, stint. Other countries such as India or Turkey keep drawing me back. And my time in places like Borneo and some islands around Indonesia also seemed quite short. So, even if the circumstances don’t allow you to stay as long as you’d like to in a place, it’s always possible to go there again in the future.
Do you think you would be able to settle in a place after being on the move for so long? Will the itch to travel let you settle down?
Ciro Rendas: That’s a question I’ve been asking myself quite a lot. And I honestly can’t give a definite answer. Only time and experience will tell. As I answered in one of the previous questions, love would be the most powerful motivator to make me settle down somewhere.
What are the challenges of traveling you can do without?
Ciro Rendas: Well, as much as I love learning new languages, it’s impossible for me to learn all the languages that would ease my communication with people in different countries. And also help me understand all that’s happening around me. So, language can definitely be both a tool to understand a culture as well as a barrier to fully grasp it.
Visas and travel restrictions to certain areas can also be frustrating. Because of their annoyingly time-consuming and sometimes, expensive bureaucracy.
But probably the biggest challenge of all is the physical distance between you and the people you care about. Also, the people who had an impact on you during your life and travels. On the road, it is frequent to meet people, create a strong bond and then go separate ways after some time. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep in contact, so the farewells end up being more of a ‘see you soon’ rather than a ‘goodbye’. I’ve lost count of the number of people I kept meeting and meeting again throughout the years in different places around the globe. The world is small and these meetings constantly prove it to me.
To me the fun of traveling lies in the constant surprises that it throws on you – both welcome and unwelcome, the small little things that you discover that keep you in awe, the discovery of differences in cultures yet the similarity in thoughts and lives of people. What amazed you the most in your travels?
Ciro Rendas: Some things that amazed me the most are 1) that the happiest, most giving and honest people I’ve met were probably the poorest, materialistically speaking. 2) that people, in essence, are the same everywhere. 3) that everyone, no matter their background, has something to share, and vice versa. 4) that some of the most alluring countries I’ve been to have the worst media coverage of all. And are also the ones no one wants to go to. Also that the most sought-after destinations end up being the least interesting.
I feel to know a place well, you have to live there for at least 6 months or feel few of its seasons. What is your figure, or do you think you can ever know a place other than yours as well as your own?
I’d say it’s hard to know elsewhere as well as you know the place where you grew up/were educated in and also lived a couple of decades of your life. Unless of course, you end up staying more than a couple of decades in another place. But with the fast pace of change happening in so many countries, it might be hard to recognize a place and its people after a few years of being away. For example, I’ve lived in China and I could see change happening at the speed of light, not just in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of mentality. Also, places differ in size. There’s a huge difference between living in Brazil or in Iceland. So, shooting out a figure wouldn’t make much sense. In the end, it’s all about how much you can soak in of a place for as long as you end up being there.
Why would you recommend young people to travel and why would you tell them not to?
Ciro Rendas: ‘Life begins where your comfort zone ends’ was a quote I recently came across with and I believe that leaving that ‘comfort zone’ is one of the most intense learning experience we can have these days. It tests you by making you face unfamiliar circumstances in unfamiliar spots. And in the process, makes you grow as a person. You’ll easily comprehend and learn more about yourself and the world. Though, only after you return to your familiar surroundings will you finally realize all the change that happened within you.
I wouldn’t recommend traveling if you don’t like to socialize with people face-to-face. Or if you are strongly attached to your family. For the first, you’d feel too lonely and live a very superficial experience. For the latter, you’d feel too nostalgic and would suffer a lot.
Can you share some interesting anecdotes from your journey?
Ciro Rendas: As a long-term traveler sometimes I feel more like a storyteller. Than an experience-seeker because of the attention other people give you when you speak.
Some funny episodes include…
I’ve been invited to partake in a movie while visiting the Kama Sutra temples.
I’ve spent hours on a military base while the truck I was hitchhiking was being checked for drugs.
I was offered to ‘get to know’ the daughter of a family who gave me hospitality.
I tried out way too many unusual foods and drinks, such as balut or tarantulas. But the only place in the whole world where I had stomach problems was in Delhi. I’ve always suffered the effects of the Delhi-belly whenever I went to India’s capital (but never in any other part of the country).
I froze when a wide-open mouth, much bigger than the length of my body, headed straight at me.
I learned many new marketing techniques, including dressing girls in sexy outfits for the sole purpose of selling betel nuts.
Got lost in translation more times than I can possibly remember, but communication somehow came across.
I’ve slept in countless places (from stations to palaces, to roofs, to parks, no man’s land, to chicken buses, to active volcanic craters, to cargo boats, etc.) and I’ve always slept relatively well.
I’ve lived to tell these and other stories when everyone said some of the places where they happened were too dangerous to go to.