We always try to give a personal touch to our blog with our experiences on the places where we live and where we travel. But, sometimes, a great story stands in our way or in our reading that makes you “stand up from your chair” and realise that dreams are meant to be real and anytime is good to start fighting for them. And, that, of course, has to be shared.
Our dream is to travel and learn from what surround us, a fascinating world full of incredible people. A dream shared by millions of people and many have decided to give themselves to it. Kandy, the Backpacker Grandma, is one of these persons and her story is true motivation. She is 81 years old and defines herself as an “improvising backpacker traveller”. When she retired, she went around the world in 9 months. Starting from Argentina, travelled America from south to north, from there to New Zealand and Australia to move later to China, India, Nepal, Bhutan and all the way to Spain again.
Since then, she has not stopped travelling. We wanted to capture her story and ask her about her motivations and recommendations when travelling. We hope you enjoy as much as us with her answers. Thanks a lot, Backpacker Grandma!
Tell us, How was your life before you decided to travel around the world?
It was a stressful life, with tight schedules and many responsibilities. I was a lawyer.
Did you always know that you would travel after retiring?
Yes, I did since I was 20 and managed a family campsite in San Sebastian (North of Spain). There, people arrived telling me they were travelling around the world. That stuck in my mind and heart and always told to myself: “Kandy, when you are older you will be able to do it too”. Unlike what Calderon de la Barca wrote “los sueños sueños son” (dreams are just dreams), I say dreams always come true, it is just a matter of ardently desiring it.
When did you start your trip?
6 months after retiring was the time I needed to prepare my trip around the world. I had heard about a flight ticket called “around the world” but I visited many Travel Agencies and they did not know what I was talking about (take into consideration I am talking of 15 years ago). But I did not abandon and continued researching and asking where to find that ticket because my budget was very small and if I wanted to make my dream true that was my only option. And one day, Hurray! I found it. I paid 500,000 pesetas (3,000€) and the ticket allowed me to flight to the countries I wanted during minimum 6 months and up to a year.
Now, I just had to look for the cheapest way of accommodation and I discover the youth hostels. Exactly what I needed. So I grabbed my backpack and stretched the wings every human has, although many ignore it and miss the wonderful opportunity of flying around the globe.
How did you decide what countries to visit? Did you follow a predetermined route?
Yes, I had to choose what countries wanted to visit when purchasing the ticket and I had already my wishlist.
What places would you come back right now? Why?
I don´t know what to say because I love every place I have visited. But If I have to choose one, that would be India. You hate it or you love it. In my case, it is the second option. I fell in love with the landscapes, the temples, the smiles, the smells, the customs but overall I fell in love with its people, those kids with angelical smiles, those women with their warm look and black eyes sharing their love. India is a country that when you know it well, you realise you need to come back again and again. It really hooks you! at least this is what happen to me.
Have you got tired of travelling already or do you want more? What other places?
Tired of travelling? Noway… Never, now I am 81 years old, I started when I was 66 and every time I stay at home for more than 3 months I look to my worn and mended backpack at the best place in the wardrobe and we say to each other “shall we fly again around the universe?” And there we go together to enjoy new adventures.
Could you share with us a photo of the most stunning place you have visited? What is this photo about?
I would name this photo ” Children´s Smile”
“Friends made in the streets”giving me love and making me feel always accompanied.
Visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar, there I lived inside for 4 days. It was an experience I will never forget.
This last picture is one of the many times I was travelling by train and there were no free seats. I had to sit down on the floor and once you get use to it, it is like the most comfortable armchair at your home. It is true the trips can be tiring but I always say to myself “better to get tired than rusty”.
Could you share with us any story from you trip with other travellers or locals? Do you have any picture of it?
One day in Mumbai I found in the street a young lady offering henna tattoos, we became good friends and offered me to stay at her home. Here we are at her house where she painted my hands.
At the boat crossing the Cape Horn, I was travelling alone and it was terribly cold. I was invited by the Captain to stay at his cabin. What a privilege!
Each person face a trip in a different way. What have been your priorities during your trip? (the landscapes, the history, the people, the monuments, the food…)
My priority has always been the people, their customs, their way of living, how they see life. But of course, I love the monuments, the Mayan and Aztecan Pyramids, the Hinduism and Buddhism temples, the Thai beaches or the New Zeland´s jungle.
Normally, we see many solo young travellers or couples without children. Is there a perfect type of traveller? How a traveller should be?
A traveller can be anyone willing to discover the world. Of course you always see more young people without many responsibilities but I also met families travelling for months in caravans with their children doing home schooling and taking their exams at the Spanish Embassies around the world.
What recommendation, motivational message or suggestion would you give to anyone reading this interview?
I would tell them that nothing is impossible, that fears are just barriers that we put to ourselves, but they are not real and most important, it is never is late to make your dreams come true. Never forget what Mother Teresa said:
“When you cannot run, walk.
When you cannot walk use, a cane.
But never stop”
And I add “never abandon your dreams because you just get old the day you stop dreaming”
To all of you, a big backpacker hug full of light to find yourselves in your trip.
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