‘Only 3 weeks’; ‘Only 2 months’; ‘I believe I’ll be here in the summer’… These were some of the answers I gave to the question how long I’ll be away this time. In 2018, I was away for a total of 9 months including work, volunteering and exploring, lost and without many plans.
Being away for so long, I thought it was a good idea to show my nephew and godson how to travel. It was hardly a backpacking trip – we did not sleep on the floor of some Indonesian boat with caterpillars on top of us, or in an Indian train station, we did not see nomadic people in Mongolia or Nepal, we did not eat weird food, although my nephew says we did, we were not lost in forests or deserts, it was just a weekend in London, but it was a good introduction, what matters is to go and experience it.
In December I spoke to my godson’s mother and my sister to tell them my plans, and they knew they had no choice but to accept. The idea was for it to be a surprise, and to my amazement it worked out as neither of them let the cat out of the bag. I spoke to the kids and said “Your godfather/uncle has a friend who is arriving in Lisbon on Saturday at 5 am, and we’re going to meet him and then we have a surprise for you”. And that’s what happened, they slept for the whole journey, and when we arrived at the airport I told them to get out and take their suitcases because we are going to London! They did not believe it. “We don’t have suitcases!” they said. “Yes, open the trunk of the car.” Two hours later we were flying, 5 hours later in London and almost 7 hours later in our hostel, I mean, at the wrong hostel, I’d read address wrong and tried to check into the wrong room, a normal thing for me.
From then on we were always walking and exploring. From Big Ben, which is being renovated and left my nephew disappointed at not being able to see it, to the London Eye, from Camden Town to Convent Garden, from Piccadilly Circus to China Town. “Do you like that food, Martim?” my nephew asked my godson very softly, trying to hide the question from me. “I don’t know, I’ve never tried it” he replied. We went to the buffet and it was the meal at which he ate the most, despite being what he always eats: chicken wings with fried rice and chips. I should add that we ate this lunch with Ruben, a friend of mine who is spending some time there with his girlfriend. Buckingham Palace, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and much more. They were three days in which we walked many kilometers, three days seeing and experiencing new things.
It was so good to see them walk the streets without fear, to take charge of our exits from the underground, and to do their stuff by themselves. The interaction in the hostel with the people who worked there, and who were always trying to speak with them, was so much fun. We couldn’t stay in the dormitory because my nephew is only 12 years old, but as from next September he’ll be able to.
“Can’t we stay another week?” they said when it was time to leave!
*This as all the other articles on this site are translated by my good friend Devo Forbes!!