Valentino and Angela take on the world
Test by: Ajita Singh
This beautiful couple, Valentino and Angela met by chance while travelling through Russia on one of their many adventures. It was then that they decide to take on the journey together, leading a nomadic life and have never looked back.
Living: Tell us a little about yourselves. Where are you from
Valentino: I am from Lima, Peru and five years ago I dropped out of university with the idea to motorcycle around the world. Somewhere along the way my journey transformed into a lifestyle and I have now for a number of years been working on fashioning for myself a sustainable nomadic life model channeling my creative talents into some form of income and trying to encourage others to explore alternative lifestyle concepts.
Angela: I was born and raised in Russia. I lived a pretty “normal” life of a Russian girl, in a small town of 150000, finished university, got a nice and interesting job in a fashion company. I was working and working and traveling here and there for a week or two, but I felt that it’s not enough, that I need to see more than just a tourist, to be there longer and to experience more. I met Valentino right after my birthday trip to Istanbul. A coincidence brought us together. A month later we started our journey, a journey that for now is more than two years and 20 countries long.
Valentino: A funny coincidence indeed. Nearing the end of my trans Siberian motorcycle trip I arrived to Rostov, a city I had never even heard of, on the advice of a stranger, and promptly met a Bolivian university student who proceeded to set up a musical performance at a cafe he knew. Angela's best friend I heard later had forgotten her cellphone at this very cafe and so they were present that night simply for the sake of retrieving it, hearing me sing they decided to stay. When the concert was finished, the very same Bolivian fellow turned out to be a friend of hers and immediately introduced us and that was that. A month later taking me up on my hair brained offer she chose to leave her job and join my ride.
Living:Since you travel around so much, which country has been your favorite/most liked so far and why?
Angela: We get asked this question a lot on the road and it's not really possible to give a straightforward answer. Each traveler experiences something special and unique to himself in visiting a country; every country is peculiar and special in its own way, like a jewel with its many facets requiring time to discover and appreciate.
Turkey is the kind of country I could keep coming back to and never grow tired of. Back in my university years I participated in a student exchange program (AISEC) and chose to volunteer in Adana (home to the indisputably best kebabs in Turkey I would come to learn). I have since been back to the capital a number of times, together with Valentino we motorcycled nearly the entire length of the country along the northern Black Sea Coast. Consistently great food, tremendously hospitable, pleasant people and climate, and such a diversity of places and atmospheres as to assure many more future visits. Thinking of Istanbul I recall vividly scenic strolls by the Biospheres or the innumerable charming alleys to be found nearly always by accident - crisscrossing a city so big as to match in size a dozen Kathmandu - and then there’s the cats, Istanbul’s calling card and an inseparable aspect of the city’s identity. You see I am a cat person myself and Istanbul is most certainly a cat city, the best thing is, no matter where you look all the stray cats are fed, petted and cared for.
Valentino: I would reiterate the point of the Turkish people's hospitality; on the road during our short hitchhiking stint along the Mediterranean coast we were shown a kind of generosity that was truly marvelous and deserving of admiration, we felt so spoiled. And of course it wouldn't be fair not to mention the enjoyment of a long and leisurely Turkish breakfast in the style so unique to that country (picture a 'thali' comprised of various olives and specialty cheeses, local creams, preserves and honey along with a variety of spreads like pekmez, fresh bread and pastries, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, typical dishes like menemen, and other local savories) we've actually enjoyed the concept so much we've incorporated it into our lifestyle and whenever we find ourselves in the mood for a little pampering we whip up a feast to lounge away half the day.
Living:Is there anything that you are promoting when you travel?
Valentino: Granted nomadism is not for everyone but regardless most people don't even know it's possible to pursue an alternative lifestyle outside of society's general norm for so called "correct living" and the order of obtaining it: school, university, job, house, etc. It seems to me very strange to tie ourselves to a way of living that virtually chains us to the very small area of the world that we know and thusly cuts us off from being able to understand much outside of that tiny sphere which becomes our entire world. For me become a nomad, even if only for a time, can allow an individual to break through many of cultural constructs which imprison the mind and teach our eyes to see others with greater tolerance. No matter, what field we are destined for or what shape our life will take tolerance is something the world needs a lot more of. I use music to bring people's attention to other cultures by introducing audiences to songs in the languages of the countries I have visited (Nepal, India, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Macedonia, etc.), encouraging others to learn more about these place, to become curious to learn of the people of the world and in so doing come to understand themselves and the people around them better.
Living: Was it easy when you started travelling and how did you manage your budget?
Valentino: Many people have asked me if it was difficult for me to leave my job and my life behind to travel, imagining it to be a huge hurdle to overcome, but the truth is it was not a difficult choice to make at all because in my soul it was a necessity. We are all different and though for many life as dictated by the social order of our day seems good enough to follow some of us are different, and I know in many more of us germinate the grain of a dream, which can be followed no matter the economic circumstances we find ourselves in. So many times I have heard people exclaim, "I wish I could do what you are doing", but if that were so they would be doing it, as simple as that, perhaps they will but only if they really want to. I've travelled for years with extreme frugality often living from the generosity of others, but I've never had to beg nor have I suffered hunger for more than a day (and that only due to being kidnapped in Mexico, for more on that my blog address further on), being so intent on living and appreciating everything I often met people along the way who were more than happy to share life with me. When my savings ran low and the addition of a woman to care for presented me with larger economical needs I began to turn my creative talents into living expenses and found my childhood dream of being a musician coming true. My first album which I recorded and financed while touring in the Balkans will be released this year.
Living: When did you come to Nepal?
Angela: We arrived together in December, a few days before Christmas with the intention of spending four months living here near the Himalayas. We spent last winter in Russia and many mornings we would cook breakfast to the tune Nepali traditional music and ethno-fusion. Valentino had told me many things about his previous experience in Nepal three years ago and how it had inspired him on the first steps of his musical journey, among the first songs to comprise his cultural repertoire are "Suna Katah Euta Geet" and "Parelima" songs he has played in over 50 cities around the world.
Living: What places in Nepal have you visited so far and how has the experience been?
Valentino: So far we've spent a month living at the edge of the Tibetan refugee camp near Hemja just outside of Pokhara and intend to dedicate the next month to exploring the neighboring environs. We love the region near Sarangkot mountain overlooking Fewa so we have relocated here and though I perform occasionally down in town it's mostly just quiet inner living that we are after, pursuing our yoga practice and getting back to center. Of course we have plans to later head out to the Annapurna circuit (I would like to headed out on shorter preparatory trips for inspiration in the meanwhile but it's a shame the way the permit papers with their single entry rules are set up to indiscriminately syphon funds from my musician's pocket and away from the communities who should be benefitting). Angela is dying to go to Chitwan so we will definitely drop by there before our time here is up.
Living: What do you like best about Nepal?
Valentino: The traditional music of Nepal I have a deep appreciation for, the enchanting tunes, the playful and adroit voices, the beats and the way our bodies can't help but shimmy to them. I like the playfulness so observable in Nepali character and the ready smiles, too few cultures in this world in the face of hardship can produce so many sunny dispositions as can be seen in here. And of course it goes without saying, the natural world comprised in the territorial boundaries of this country is a supreme treasure of extraordinary beauty.
Angela: I love the friendly buffaloes, the cultural differences are fascinating to observe and make me curious to learn more about the way Nepali people think. There are many little beauties I see every day that make my time here a truly lucky experience.
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