My Own Roots

by Andrea Martens (Peru)

A decision that pushed me to the edge Peru


I used to have soft hands. I remember as a kid trying all sorts of lotions so that one day I could have hands as soft as my mother's. I left for Africa to escape from all that had been oppressing me for the past 9 years: the career, the job, the boyfriends, me, what I had become, someone I didnt recognize, someone I did not want to be, and yet here I was, taking apraisals from anyone who heard about all the accomplishments in my life. Only 3 days after landing in this magical continent, where the dust tangles your hair and the sun darkens your skin in the most natural of ways, I saw what I had been dreaming of since I was 5 years old: Wilderness. When I stepped into the Serengeti National Park, I felt like I was being born again, like the days that I had lived before these, where someone elses, and it was finally my time. When I saw the wildebeest migration, thousands of black, hairy, fairly skinny animals moving together free in nature, with their only care in the world being to survive and breed, I thought how much better it would be if us humans would have our priorities that straight. And when I saw the lions, the elephants, the hippos, my jaw dropped, my eyes popped out and my heart raced. I felt so much excitement, admiration and love, that it brought me to tears. My sister nicknamed me Mowgli (The Jungle Book,) as a kid, and I used to find the similarities fascinating: the skinny torso, the tanned skin, the messy straight dark hair, jumping from one branch to another, or in my case, from one rooftop to the next. But it wasnt until Africa that I understood the real connection. This is where I belonged. I felt much more connected to the animals I was observing, than to my peers back home, between 4 walls, in front of a computer, from one meeting to the next. I realized I never wanted to go back to that. I never wanted to be a lion in a cage again. Im an animal and I want to live courageously and free. Its been 2 years now since that trip and im still travelling. Although my hands are the hardest they have ever been, being forced to work doing laundry, washing dishes and cleaning mussels, I finally get a glimpse of what a free life really is. Its tough, as it is for a gazelle trying to survive everyday in the wild, but its worth it. Now I collect friends, instead of clothes; im busy exploring new cultures instead of exploring conference rooms and I debate wheather to go vegan or not instead of debating price increases. This is where I belong.