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I must admit that I am having a bit of a hard time explaining how I came up with the Walking Home Project. But let me try anyway (part 1):

I initially wanted to go to France because I have been learning French for more than a year and realization has set in that the language will only really start making sense to me when I am forced to use it in its natural habitat.

Admittedly there are easier ways to go to France than walking. So let’s look at the very relevant question of: Why should a healthy, fairly smart woman in her mid-thirties with little money spend 200 days marching alone through Europe?

Three words: quest – challenge – trust

Quest

I travelled in a truck, busses, boats and trains from Berlin via Gibraltar to Cape Town and back via Cairo to Berlin. During those months I enjoyed the moments most when I did not know what to expect. From the food, of which I’d never heard before, to the afternoons in which I’d arrive in a town (or village) and in a language that barely anyone understood had to negotiate my way to a room for the night.

Well, right now I have only very little money to my name. Walking is the cheapest way of moving for sure in a chosen direction. And if you move as slowly as I do on foot you might as well make it about the journey not the destination (as Buddha says).

Challenge

Without a doubt it will be a great physical challenge to walk 4.000 kilometers and carry all I need on my back. I’ll certainly feel my feet and joints and body parts I didn’t even know existed.

Along with this comes the mental challenge. I don’t like to admit it and some won’t believe it but I am actually quite shy. Still ever since I first started thinking about this trip it was clear for me that I would couchsurf, which means ask perfect strangers for a roof for the night. So here my shyness joins forces with the general reservation towards panhandlers. How will the people at the gates react? How many disappointments will I have to endure, knowing that I’ll have to be all positive again at the next gate?

Trust

I trust that people are generous and will invite me to their homes. I trust that my hosts won’t be crazy killers. I trust that people by and large are good.

Tomorrow I’ll try and answer part two of the question: Why walk ‘home’?

 

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