In a world where owning things is the norm and the standard way of life, whether it’s land, a house or apartment, a car, clothes, computers or any of the countless gadgets quickly manufactured these days, traveling also tends to be seen as something you can buy and have.
When we accept and follow this capitalist perspective, we can be easily fooled by the allure of the media and the illusion that we are in control and have the power to buy and own a trip, choose where and when to go, buy a ticket and decide what to do and how.
Ads, commercials, and websites promote this shallow idea of traveling, creating a Hollywood-like feel to tourist destinations, when this is in fact completely disconnected from the reality of the locals living in these locations. The secret is to turn it into an attractive product, pack it and sell it!
Which made me wonder: How can I travel in a way that shows my dissatisfaction with the way things are? How can I experience something unique and meaningful in a world like this? And what can I do to bring change to my own life and offer something new to others who are also dissatisfied?
These questions were my reason and motivation to volunteer in the Atlantic Rainforest on the northern coast of São Paulo state, where I began to glimpse a solution to this problem we’re all facing in modern times.
This interesting and beautiful experience, my first through Worldpackers, was what helped me to overcome this illusory idea of traveling that most people have and reconnect with nature, my true nature.
I volunteered at a beautiful beach-front hotel in the village of “Boiçucanga”, which roughly translates as “the head of a big snake” in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language.
This part of the coast has always appealed to me, with its lush green hills, pristine waterfalls and pools and rough waves crashing against breathtaking rock formations. My parents used to bring me here as a kid, following the family pediatrician’s advice to help me recover from bronchitis.
Years later, as a teenager, I started going on hikes in the rainforest with my sister and her boyfriend, who ended up becoming one of my best friends, and I got easily addicted to this. Finding secluded fresh water pools and diving into their crystal clear waters became my passion. More importantly, I saw these remote spots as my spiritual temples and retreats, my way to reconnect with nature and heal my life.
Because I work as a massage therapist, I gave massages to both staff members and guests at Pousada DiMari, in addition to a few other activities like taking guests on hikes to the waterfalls, shopping for groceries, reviewing and translating their Worldpacker’s page into English (I do this professionally for university journals and other businesses), and replying to emails in English.
The land of ice and fire touched me deeply and the energies from this ancient magical land inspired and encouraged me to change. This is when it became much clearer to me that all of us must overcome this destructive and harmful male-centered society we live in by changing our own nature.
So I realized that touching and being touched is a wonderful way to do just this. Through massage, both men and women can develop their more intuitive and feminine nature, learn how to overcome fears, prejudices and other negative aspects caused by excessive male energy, and experience more pleasure and love in their lives.
In a nutshell, volunteering at Pousada DiMari was an amazing life-changing experience I can certainly recommend. Moreover, from a greater perspective, volunteering has become my way to protest against all the wrong things I see in society and the harmful effects this has on everyone.
In an imbalanced world like ours, where competition has become more important and valuable than cooperation, volunteering through work exchange organizations like Worldpackers can reset the balance and bridge the gap between people, encouraging them to reconnect to each other rather than separating them and making them feel isolated, depressed and rejected.
Human relationships that are not based on money can be healthier, more genuine and meaningful. Following this ideal, a fair exchange of part-time work for accommodation and food, although it may sound so simple, has the power to bring back our humanity, lost somewhere in the aggressive and competitive society we’ve created.
As I have experienced it so many times in my life, it’s a very effective way to be proactive, change our own life and be an example for others on the same path. This is the journey beyond traveling we must all set on!