We are at the fifth appointment with our travellers interview series, and today we talk with Allen, an inspired artist, taking life as it is coming and living his unconventional existence as a gift.
My name is Allen Myers, Im from a small town called Paradise, in the foot hills of the Sierra Nevadas. On February 2, 2006, I was walking to take a biology test at Humboldt State University, when I realized that the path that was laid before me, in that my identity was going to be built and structured by a system that I never really signed up for, it was given and it was up to me to either perpetuate that construct or look for something else. I decided to give everything I owned away and buy a one way plane ticket to the farthest place I could find. I would let the world take its course in my life rather than fighting for an identity that wasn’t for me.
So, how have you started your new life?
I landed in Turin Italy, as the winter Olympics were halfway through and I could get cheap flights to Turin. I had no idea where I was staying or what was next. I ended up meeting a student from France there on holiday, I shared my intentions and my reasons. He invited me back to his families farm in Grenoble, France. From there I have stayed in hundreds of homes, in hundreds of different towns and cities all over the world. I was searching for the baseline of human existence, the foundation.
What's the best memory you keep from your travels?
There are so many incredible memories that I have from this, each time that something new happens or when the beauty in humanity that I search for is reaffirmed in an unexpected place, or when i get to sit back for a second in awe at how that path has lead me to where i am now.
Tell us a funny situation you experienced.
I arrived in Dublin after running out of money in Spain. I thought that, I might stick to that, be free from money as well. I decided that I would keep money going through me. I knew I could go back to the Balearic Islands and work at some resort, I was told when I was there that I could. But then I felt like I wanted to see more, something New. I fleeced it. ”Tomorrow if I go down to the docks and get a cheap ticket to the islands, I’ll go there, if not, I’ll fly to Ireland.” The next morning I was walking down from Park Guell in Barcelona to the dock. It was some bank holiday and everything was closed, no boats.
So I flew to Dublin.
“How long do you plan on staying in our country?” Irish immigration officer.
“Well, as long as I can I guess.” me
“What do you mean as long as you can?”
“Well I need to get a job.”
“Ohhh, ok well can I see your work visa?”
“ummm no, I don’t have one, I was hoping you could help me with that.”
“Well how much money do you have?” sounding more and more concerned.
“Not much that's why I need the job, I have like 200 euros.” confused by stating the obvious.
“Wait a minute so your telling me that you don't have a work visa and you only have 200 euros and you want me to let you into my country with a work visa?”
“Here’s whats going to happen, I'm going to stamp your passport and give you three days to figure out how to get the feck out of my country”
What was the most important lesson you've learned while travelling?
That everything is transitory, that we all have the same fears and hopes all over the world.
What’s the item in your luggage that you couldn't live without?
What's your average monthly budget and how do you fund your travels?
I have lived on as little as $0 a month and increments up to about $1000. I work where I can always receptive to what is possible. I have picked olives in Sicily, grapes in Veneto, Italy. I have worked on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska, construction work on Hawaii, an animal shelter in Guatemala, hostel in San Francisco. a bar in Thailand, I have cut Christmas trees in Oregon, and worked in restaurants in Spain and Ireland. For the last two years I have been selling my photographs from these travels putting them up in the streets of the cities I find myself in. Making a street gallery of sorts. I have put them up on the Guggenheim in Spain, alley ways of Barcelona, Berlin and Bogota and many more. I make films about the exhibits and edit the films to local musicians music. A music production company in Spain saw a couple of these films and asked if I would film the documentary they were making in the Amazon Rainforest. They flew me there and since then I have been making films.
Do you have any idea to make money for travelling that you could share with us?
Yes, be flexible, receptive, confident, but teachable and patient with yourself and those you meet.
Do you plan to settle down first or later?
Of all the places you have been to, where would you like to live the most?
I live in all the places I go.
If you think of yourself in 10 years, how do you imagine your life?
That's part of the fun, the mystery, letting the world takes its course rather than forcing your own.
A valuable advice for a long-term traveller at the beginning of his journey?
Travel in its very nature is a melancholy endeavour. The time and space dictate it. To have our sense’s meet our dreams, when dreams come true, we can't help but feel lose, as it was before, ours safe inside, it is now pulled out from us, the rabbit out of the hat, and in that place that's left empty a sort of dread appears. We see our strength and the ease of life, then tips away from mystery. And so we may stop dreaming preferring the confines of familiar walls, structured lives that can be laid out in bullet points. Still it doesn’t stop there. The things we see, unexpected out of our field of vision before in the dreamscape, we take what we knew of living, our bullet points and hold them in comparison to the ways now around us. We question then our way, the necessity of the items and points we’ve put on the wall, now that we have steeped out to see. The things that once defined as paramount, important, the things that ruled us and moved us about without knowing, without seeing the strings pulling us this way and that way. And so again we question. In this space, it's true, it's insecure for many reasons. The list is gone, the walls torn down, and you too for that matter, your identity reduced to a face, no longer supported by the struts of a title, say teacher, say doctor, say father, say mother. No, out here you are naked and so is everything else. For the first time you see how beautifully simple everything is, the alphabet of humanity. You had heard about it, knew it existed, watched from the shore, but now after jumping in, it streams through you. You see your place in it as integral as real as your hands before you. The desire to fight as you had before the desire to protect as you had before, is lifted from you like dirt from the skin, submerged in the flowing waters. And you breath and you accept.