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Posted on Sep 12, 2012

Perpetually Barefoot: Becoming A Local

Perpetually Barefoot: Becoming A Local

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Seriously, what’s the point of traveling the world? It’s exhausting! Why would someone want to be a nomadic family? It’s insane! Why would someone want to always be the new guy in town, trying to figure out where to sleep, where to eat, and what is safe and not? It’s ridiculous!

Yes, there are nights, when Kobi and I lie (or do we lay?) in bed, too tired to face each other, and say, “Why are we doing this nomadic thing again? Why don’t we go back to our normal lives again?” Nothing happened wrong, nothing in the world upset us. Some days, we’re just tired from being tired, we’re just annoyed cuz the kids won’t go to bed without a fight, we’re just confused what the point is.

And so, I want to remind you (I mean, me) why it is we do this: Perpetually Barefoot!

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To be honest, I have tons of reasons why we do this. Tons and tons. And it is not limited to the fact that I have all the time in the world to make my dreams come true, that I get to see cool places, that I am free to go wherever the wind and inspiration take me, that I get to really be there as my kids grow taller and become independent people, soon to fly away. But, there was one reason that drew my attention way back when we were still back home in Kiryat Shemona, Israel and looking online for role-models to inspire us to ‘take the leap’.

I read a blog entry (and I wish I could give the girl credit. was it a girl?) that showed a lovely sole tree in the horizon with the sun gingerly setting behind it. She wrote that she always wondered what it would have been like to be a villager in this tribe in Africa; so, she went there and found out. And she always wondered what her life would be like if she were raised in this small-town in the middle of this country; so, she went there and found out. And she talked about the deep satisfaction to know, to know what it would be like to be a local here, and there. And then, she said it so perfectly, the train whistle would blow, onto that next town, and she’d wonder what it would be like to live there. So, we went there, and found out.

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perpetually barefoot in Los Alimos, Boquete, Panama

So, this model, this romantic train whistle and that lone tree in the fading sun has remained my allusive logo for this journey of nomadic family travel . Has it been that romantic? No. There are many very unromantic sides of travel. (Clearly a post that itches to be written, and soon). So, what have we done to allow us to feel what it would like if I were to have been born in that village?

We went there, and now we know. We became “perpetually barefoot”. I’ll explain shortly; almost there.

For a family entering month 19 of world travel, you’d think we’d have a very impressive long list to rattle off. No, in 19 months of travel, we’ve been to a total of 8 countries, and most of that time in mainly one spot:

USA (2.5 months- Houston and RV Road trip)

Costa Rica (2 months- Ranch in La Lucha De La Tigra)

Panama (3 months- Boquete, Cabana and later, House-Sitting)

Colombia (1 month- Taganga and Cartagena)

Ecuador (2 months- Indigenous Village near Misawalli)

Peru (3.5 months- Tent in Huanchaco, Hostel in Lima)

Thailand (1 month- Kanchanabui)

Cambodia (6-7 months- Work in Hostel in Siem Reap)

Also, we have several destination on our bucket list:

India (Stay about year with enjoy great spiritual enlightenment)

Nepal (Walk the Annapurna Circuit for a month or so)

Australia (Enjoy Australia holiday from few weeks and visit the Outback and some good old friends)

New Zealand (Here we are dreaming of having several months RV road trip)

We many do them all, and probably only few of them. But we love dreaming.

 

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perpetually barefoot in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

People are often shocked to hear this! 8 countries in 19 months of travel? Yes, perpetually barefoot.

And why would we travel the world and not see it all? Because, again, we want to know what it feels like, tastes like, smells like, is like, deep, deep down inside, to be a local. Not to whiz by and do another attraction, see another waterfall, shoot another picture. We want to know what it would be like to live on that farm, to grow up in that village, to be a local in this city in this corner of the globe. We want to know people, but truly know, interact, share, grow, learn from, and befriend them.

In Costa Rica, while on the ranch, Kobi and Dahnya left for two weeks to go buy a car. Don Jose Ramon and Sonia became our family. They took care of us, helped us out when the storm drowned the ranch, ate Shabbath dinner with us/ Sonia was there when I chopped my eyebrow into abstact art and when I felt so heavy I could barely walk, let alone run to try and reach my goal to get sexy again. She’s great to cry, and laugh, and cry with. In the indigenous village in Ecuador, Carmen and I would sit in the river for hours, hand washing our clothes against a rock, and talk. Real talk, and real cry. In the hostel, in Cambodia, when I lost Solai; the staff were there for me, helped me when I was near hysterical with fear. Or when we had that terrifying motorcycle accident, we were not alone. These real-life relationships, this filling the voids in our lives, solving problems, sharing our lives only happens when you live in a community.

Each time we go somewhere new, I swear to myself that I won’t fall in love, that I won’t care so much this time, that I won’t let the people in the next place that the train whistle blows, enter my heart. Why? Because there are whole chunks of our souls scattered throughout this globe, left at this river-side, at that cheese-making kitchen, at room 102 of that hostel on the second floor.

 

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perpetually barefoot, back home in Israel

I think the best way I can show you how we have become perpetually barefoot, is through the pictures scattered in this post. Sifting through the thousands of photos to find the handful that I think best reflects this was quite insane. Still, I narrowed it down my focusing on our children and how they have become the perpetually barefoot local.

Oh, yeah, perpetually barefoot. I promised I would explain. I use “perpetually barefoot” for several reasons, and not to tell you now would be just mean. (I’m a lot of nasty things; but, mean, I’m not.)

First of all, I’ve always hated shoes. (Bet you didn’t know that one about me!) I feel they limit my energy and circulation, and close me off from Mother Nature’s energy. So, back home in the house, and since we’ve left ‘civilized’ life; I’ve spent almost all day, every day barefoot. So have our children.

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perpetually barefoot, the kids in the indigenous village school in Ecuador

 

Second of all, until enough relatives’ and neighbors’ opinions impacted us to do otherwise; our kids were joyfully barefoot and naked all day. They ate naked, played naked, explored the mountains (not during snake season) naked, jumped into rivers and lakes in Israel naked. I think naked is the way we come and the way we go, so why not be there for as long as possible.

Third of all, traveling the world has left me “naked and free”. I talk about it a lot, cuz I like it tons. I am no longer “Gabi the therapist” “Gabi the anything”. I’m just a soul, without an identity, without obligations, without a schedule ‘naked and free’ to explore, meet, do, be. I like ‘naked and free’ and feel that that has allowed us to form these powerful interactions. We don’t come with any ego thinking we are more civilized, cultured, or knowing than those we meet. We’re so not. We ‘naked and free’ and open to learn and discover all the gifts the culture, location, and people around us have to give us. (And, we’re so grateful for them!)

Forth of all, the people around us are ‘barefoot’ in two ways. Many of the kids are literally barefoot, but everyone is not ‘clothed’ the way we were used to. Clothing, where we come from, is a status symbol. It reflects how much money you have, how important you are, how in fashion you are. The locals we live with are into far deeper things, and more survival issues so that fashion is not even a concept to consider. And so, now, as backpackers, with mostly stained, worn, holed clothing; we are ‘barefoot. Barefoot of ‘dress for success’ or ‘dress to impress’; we’re just barefoot and clothed like the next guy. I love that too.

Hope you enjoy the amazing snapshots of our kids becoming local,  perpetually barefoot, around this lovely little globe.

 

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perpetually barefoot in Cambodia

 

One last funny note, sometime last year, our youngest Solai whined, “You guys lied to us!”

“We did?”

“Yeah. You guys said that traveling the world would be so amazing. “

“And…”

“It’s not. Everywhere we go, and all the people we meet are all the same. It’s just the language that changes.”

“Oh”

In that case, I think we’re doing this perpetually barefoot local just right.

Do like wearing shoes? But do you really like wearing them? Have you ever had a time when you were perpetually barefoot? Even thought what it would be like, feel like to live without your clothing being a statement of ________(fill in the blank)? Ever felt, just for a moment, that you were a local? How was that? 

I am so thrilled to be a part of a loving community of traveling families. ‘How to become a loca’l is an issue several of us had thoughts on. And so, I’m honored to share with you what some of my friends feel about it, how it has impacted their lives, and how to mix with locals best. I recommend you take the time to read. They are worth it!

 

Solai, Kobi, Orazi, Dahnya, and Gabi

Cambodia

Comments

comments

4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. The story, the title, the photos, all of it so touching.
    “… there are whole chunks of our souls scattered throughout this globe” ~LOVE this!

  2. Thank you for including us in your post. I love all the travel that you have done. We also aren’t a huge fan of shoes. 😉

  3. Love it! I hate shoes too – well I love the idea of sexy shoes/boots as long as they are comfortable but that never happens.
    All I own are flip flops and hiking boots, even with the boots I will lose my big toe nails in the next few weeks thanks to a volcano… doh! 🙂
    When we were kids in HK we ran about barefoot and the other kids parents complained to ours that it was unhygienic.
    Now after years of being “civilized” I have city feet and the flip flops stay on 🙂

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