On The Road

Words & photography Leva Kwestani

As the Latin Americans say, "Todo es posible. Nada es seguro". Everything is possible. Nothing is for sure.

A question I have begun to ask myself is when do I stop travelling?

The Valley of the Moon on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia is one of the most scenic places I have come across. Flower orchards surround Aymari villages, framed by a colourful array of jagged mountains. This is where I lived whilst working as a videographer for UP Close Bolivia; an NGO (non-governmental organisation). I was hired to produce two promotional videos in exchange for somewhere to stay. This was a perfect opportunity to ease into a small community and observe my surroundings whilst living as part of it for a time. Not only was I in one of the most beautiful places I could dream of but I was working alongside some very inspiring people.

I could not have begun to imagine this way of life when I first set off from the UK in October 2011. Leaving the UK was my escape, but perhaps I didn't put much thought into what I wanted to get out of travelling at that time. It wasn't a self-exploration finding myself journey, this much I am sure. Between the choices I had before me as a new film graduate - move to London and work for free making coffees on productions I didn't care for, or perhaps set up my own business selling waterproof sponges - leaving the country on an endless unplanned adventure seemed like the only viable option. In truth I had been seeking such adventure for years, relishing the idea of getting closer to the unknown and opening doors that I didn't know existed. I started to advertise my belongings and set up some market stalls - my computer, my stereo, my clothes, my life-sized stuffed tiger; my old life for sale. Within a few weeks I had managed to sell or give away all of my earthly possessions, and it was such a refreshing feeling.

Off I went. First to Cuba, then Mexico; down through Central and South America. Visiting Mayan ruins, relaxing on pristine beaches, whale spotting, walking through Sunday markets, dealing with food poisoning on a weekly basis, exploring cities, getting lost, trekking to hidden waterfalls, falling in-love and even recovering from a car accident, my experiences were a varied cocktail of highs, lows and everything in between.

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By the time I reached Peru I had started to realise a few things. Human connections I had left at home emerged as an incredibly important factor in my life and I was missing the company of those I know and love. This is something I had given up, and in doing so I had let go of the comforts which a stable life amongst friends and family can bring. Interestingly this act actually enabled me to connect with strangers on a deeper level, and without the distractions and comforts I had grown accustomed to, I have become more observant. I listen and look at my immediate surroundings much more intensely than I ever have. I came to discover that I felt incredibly free. I essentially had no responsibilities and could do as I wished. Sure I had been running on a limited visa in each country I visited but I felt incredibly lucky; compared with many nationalities my British passport had given me access to a great deal of the world.

I also discovered that just travelling can be quite boring. Going from place to place, to a new place and then the next place, variations in food, culture, and music began to grow smaller. After visiting the hotspots, taking the tours and mingling with other travellers who had all done the same things, the sense of adventure began to fade. Picking up my camera and putting my skills to work gave me a new kind of energy. I got excited about being on the road again. On top of developing myself creatively I now see that I can give something to the places I visit rather than just pass through. I am actively searching for jobs at the next destination and can now see that there is big demand for filmmakers in some of the most remote places in the world; working in this way while travelling could easily become a way of life for me.

Maybe I don't need to set myself an end date, and my advice to those who are unsure of what to expect from future experiences I would just simply say, go and see where it takes you. Who knows where you'll end up; that's the beauty of it. As the Latin Americans say, 'Todo es posible. Nada es seguro': Everything is possible. Nothing is for sure.