<b>Around Gaia's</b> memorable meetings

Around Gaia's memorable meetings

Ivana Colakovska and Manu Torres have toured the world non-stop for almost four years. The most memorable moments are not just the places they visited, but the unforgettable people they’ve met along the way.
March 16, 2018 - 13:11
Adventure

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IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU
MEET ALONG THE WAY

They say that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. If that holds true, Ivana Colakovska and Manu Torres have been living on the edge since they started traveling the globe on two wheels. While they’ve found themselves in some breathtaking places - whether high in the mountains or down low at sea level - it’s really the people who these motorcyclists have met that have inspired so much of their personal development.

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What they’ve deposited into their memory banks is withdrawn often in the form of kindness, acceptance, and shifting priorities. “We get a lot of inspiration on the road. We stopped many times on the bike, in the middle of the road, just to write down something that we see, or we experience, or something about the people we meet,” recalls Manu.

He continues, “The people we met and meet have inspired me very much in changing the priorities from where we came from,” says Manu. “The Western society priorities are completely different in life than in many other areas of the planet.”

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He generalizes when he says that the Western world’s people focused more on money, possessions or how fast they can go on the bike. Whereas in other rural areas, they want to know about you as a person.

“They're interested in you, where you are coming from, and how you do what you’re doing. They’re excited to say, ‘Oh, this was made in your country,’ when they know something about Spain.” They engage and focus on the personal interaction.

Ivana says that she learned a lot about living with a little. “You can do a lot with very few things. This is how we travelled. We can go farther and make something nice and big.”

She adds, “I come from a very traditional, simple, working class family. We are not rich. Nobody could give me money for me to travel, it was something that we made by ourselves starting from zero.”

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“You see that people have really nothing at all. They have just plain rice and they share it with you, but really, with love, with no one wanting something in return…  You appreciate everything because you know they don’t have a lot but want to share it with you anyway.”

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While she and Manu received many meals from locals excited to host them, their souls were also nourished by the kindness and hospitality of the people they encountered.

Because the couple didn’t have time restraints, they could travel at whatever pace they wanted. Though it’s not everyone’s way of travelling. They only slept in hotels when absolutely necessary and wanted to involve themselves with the locals as much as possible. Even if the locals were hundreds of miles away from a big city.

Manu explains, “For us, it's very important to be like this, otherwise we don't really enjoy the travel. With our personality and our expectation of travel, we are expecting to learn with the people, and so we create this kind of situation to happen like that.”

The situation he refers to is one where they would end up staying with local families, learning about them as much as hand gestures and linguistics would allow, and really breathing in the culture.

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Maybe other people don't like this way of travel. They prefer something different. But it’s perfect for us.”
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Many times, they would be asked if they feared for their lives staying with strangers. The answer was a resounding no. Why? Because in their travels, they really got a chance to understand people.

“You don't feel afraid because you can read the intention, the very intention of the people. It was to help,” says Manu. It’s not everyday people have motorcyclists in their communities. If ever at all. And when you ride into town, people are excited to meet you.

Ivana adds, “Our way of traveling, was about meeting many people, and talking with many people and lodging with the people. People think it might be complicated or can be dangerous, but if you know how to talk to people, if you respect them, it's no problem at all. You come to the people, very positive, smiling, finding the thing that they like and what makes them happy, and just be natural with it.”

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When it comes to mingling with the locals, Ivana explains, “It's very, very important to know where you are and in which place and to respect the culture and tradition. It’s because we experienced different cultures and different traditions. No matter what, you have to accept and to adapt and to respect, and to follow, and when you do, you will enjoy it a lot.”

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For example, Manu recounts, “We slept in a teepee with the Maasai, or in Thailand with the giraffe woman. We just live in their houses with this whole tribe of people. It's so colourful. It looks like it’s from science fiction movie from the future, another planet. Star Wars. You feel like in Star Wars. You wake up, and there’s this woman with a neck like a giraffe. It’s fantastic.”

When asked if there was anything that really shocked this biker duo, the answer was as simple as “Not anymore.”

Ivana adds, “For me, I got very used to almost everything on the road. For some people, it can be very strange, but for us, it’s business as usual. We aren’t really surprised anymore.”

Manu tells a graphic story of traveling in India and seeing the locals congregate and have conversations while doing their business. No shame. Just the daily life of those living there.

Highlights

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No matter where Manu and Ivana travel, their mission is clear. These motorcyclists meet people they wouldn’t necessarily encounter on the straight and narrow and draw from their inspiration. While the way these two travel isn’t everyone’s ways, they couldn’t imagine it differently. Asking people for assistance, communicating with few words, and interacting are their fundamentals of travel. It’s through encounters that take them out of their comfort zone that lets them experience some of the best qualities that humanity has to offer.