Travelling With Me - Interview with adventure traveler Valdelicio Silva
Valdelicio Silva is an adventure traveler who has a passion for hiking, camping, road trips and multiculturalism. His blog, Travelling With Me reflects the obstacles and restrictions that LGBT people may face in certain countries or regions of a country. The ultimate goal of his initiative is to show that although it should not be the case in the 21st century, there are still places where LGBT people are not accepted or welcomed. We have conducted an interview with Valdelicio.
What do you include in your writing to highlight the historic aspects of a location?
I include highlights of a historic place that motivates the reader to search for more information. I pick one aspect or element in the history of a place to focus on. It is not only impossible to write the entire history and facts about a place, but it is also not my intention to reveal everything about a place. It is like telling someone line by line of a movie; it takes away the surprise element. I write enough about a historic place to entice the reader to want to go there and explore that site and discover more. For instance, if you read one of my latest blogs about Caesarea in Israel, I highlight the Romans presence and the fact that their architecture and building skills were magnificent. I highlight the fact the Herod the Great built the aqueduct and the harbor of Caesarea using advanced technology available at the time. There is so much more that can be written about the history of Caesarea. In fact, there are so many history books and scholarly written papers focusing on different aspects of the history of Caesarea. Above all, I include general aspects of the history of a site without getting into politics, religion, or a specific cultural identifier. I simply want to share my excitement about visiting a certain place and make the reader go “wow … I want to go there!” I believe that different travelers identify themselves with different aspects of a historic site and I want to preserve that freedom of discovery.
Why is its cultural impact on travelers and visitors important for you? What about its connections and enhancements to diversity and multiculturalism?
Breaking barriers! I believe that travel is the best ambassador for bringing people and cultures together. In general, people who travel abroad and get in contact with different cultures become more open and understanding about our differences. Once people experience the daily lives of others they realize that despite people’s different ways of dressing, eating, praying, dancing, etc., they come to understand that cultural differences don’t make people much different from one another. At the end of the day, travelers realize that we are all human beings aspiring for the same goals: survival and happiness!
Where have you traveled and which is your favorite location so far?
That’s a tough question! Each place has always something that makes me fall in love with. Mostly I have traveled in South America and throughout the United States and Canada; two countries of continental proportions with different cultural identities within themselves. In the United States, I must say that the Southwest region is my favorite because I love the native American cultures and their influence on the present-day lifestyle in the American Southwest. Now, I just returned from Israel recently and I have an upcoming trip back to Israel where I will spend about three months hiking the 900 Km Tshvil Israel trail. Israel is one of my favorite countries because despite being one of the smallest countries in the world, it has an incredible history of diversity. I know that that is not the first thing that comes to one’s mind if you have never been there. And that is what I am trying to show in my writing at the moment.
What do the reflections via your site 'Travelling With Me" represents?
Long before the site existed, people would come to me and say that they “wish they would be more adventurous and get the courage to go there” whenever they talked about my travels. So, when I decided to start blogging and created the site, I decided that ‘Travelling With Me’ would reflect on the voyage itself. It is not so much about telling people what are the ’10 best restaurants’ in town. Although that is helpful, there are just a lot of bloggers doing that. Rather, it is about the experiences on the road. Sometimes it reflects on conversations with someone I meet on a hiking trail or camping site. Sometimes it is about the legacy of a people who inhabited the place centuries or thousands of years ago. Most importantly, I travel by myself and that in itself is different than traveling with someone else or with a group of people. That’s what always intrigued people! Why do I travel by myself? Aren’t you afraid of being in a mountain alone for days? So, this type of questioning led me to decide to bring the readers with me. Are there limitations when traveling alone? Absolutely!
What kind of traveler are you, what are your passions/activities?
Open minded! That’s the first thing that comes to mind. Having traveled since I was a teenager, I have developed this personality that is hardly shocked or surprised by anything. I am an avid hiker. That’s probably one of my greatest passions and activity. I am in many ways eclectic and have the ability to fit in different environments. Having grown up and lived in large metropolises such as in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and in New York, I love the urban lifestyle. However, I feel comfortable in disappearing for days in the wilderness in a backcountry hike. Last year I did a 69 days road trip in the US, visiting most of the big national parks and hiking more than 1,200 miles; most of it was backcountry hiking and because it was at the end of Winter and beginning of Spring, I did not see many people on the trails. In the Olympic National Park, Washington state, once I got on the trail heading up the mountain I did not see a single soul for five days.
Why do you want to show the fact that you travel like everyone else, however the challenges may be different? Who do you want to reach?
I want to reach anyone who is open to connecting to the world around them and beyond. Perhaps showing that it is okay to venture out there! I think that my site’s logo is pretty obvious about my sexuality as it has a rail track with the rainbow flag colors across it. And although I don’t think that being gay should make a difference on how I travel and where I travel, in reality, it does. I also do not think that a woman should be limited in where she goes. And again, unfortunately, reality shows that it is not everywhere that a woman can travel to; at least by herself. Should gender determine one’s freedom of movement? Absolutely not! I don’t think that sexuality should either. The fact is that there are countries or areas within a country that I would not dare to visit as they still impose death penalties on homosexuals. Even here in the United States, there certain areas in the Mid-West where it is not friendly toward LGBT people. Last year I was refused service in a restaurant in Lincoln, Nebraska because the host assumed I was gay. So, yes I travel like anyone else would but I have to keep in mind that wearing Nepalese shorts with too many colors in it may not be acceptable in Nebraska. I don’t think people in Nebraska know anything about clothing traditions of Nepal, but I know they associate more than two colors stitched together as being gay. After the incident, I noticed that everyone there wore only black, brown, and beige! Ultimately, when you read my blogs you realize that I am not writing about being gay but eventually you will know that I am a gay man who travels like anyone else … well, (laughing) … not quite, as many of my straight friends think that I am crazy and they would not dare to do half of what I do as far as traveling goes. Of course, my readers will eventually see me writing about a place that is totally gay-friendly and suggest as a destination; or, I will write about a certain country where I was supposed to stay seven days but decided to leave after being there for less than 24 hours.