Interview was done by Milan Zalesak
Most of the photos are taken by Tomas Dobrovic around the World
The story of young Slovak ex-volunteer, who is living his dream
Tomas is young Slovak man with one big dream. He wants to find the ideal place to spend the rest of his life there. Never mind the distances, he is ready to search for the magic place everywhere in the world. His journey would even the famous Jack Kerouac with his „On the road“ novel made jealous. And it all started with volunteering trough EVS at Mladiinfo Center in Skopje, Macedonia.
Tomas, you are now more than a year permanently on the road, without any break. How did your „Kerouac story“ begin?
– I always liked traveling, but in the past I didn`t have that much time. After i finished my university, I got the job in Bratislava, the Slovakian capital. I was monitoring the market for one company. Classic nine-to-five job, nothing very interesting. Actually, I didn`t want to stay there for a long time and the funny thing is that when I decided to leave, they cancelled our branch office. I received some compensation money and was free to do anything I wanted to. With some friends we traveled trough the whole Balkan and we had really great time, so I decided to come back. That was the first time I visited Macedonia. Coincidentally, exactly in the same time I discovered offer from Mladiinfo. I applied for it and they accepted me as a volunteer at Mladiinfo center in Skopje. That is how my volunteer episode begun.
Photo “Treskavec sunset” taken by Ondrej Masiar at Treskavec Monastery, Macedonia
What are your memories of the EVS life in Skopje?
– Only the best. I met many great people there, made new friendships, which I suppose will last for the lifetime. I have found out how does the work in the NGO looks like and got in touch with many other NGOs, which is very useful. Thanks to Mladiinfo I went to some trainings and conferences and found out about possibilities for young people, which I am sure without Mladiinfo I would never heard of. It really helped me to make another step forward in my life. And of course, I traveled a lot during my EVS period. I hitchhiked trough the Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and enjoyed some unforgettable moments. The project lasted for nine month, but I stayed in Macedonia almost for eleven month. I came back home for couple of days after the end of the project, then returned back to Skopje. That was in late summer 2011 and since then I am practically all the time on the road.
You decided not to come back home again. Why? What was your biggest motivation to start the life on the road?
– Traveling is something like a drug. Once you start, it is almost impossible to stop. You need more and more, explore new countries, get over boundaries, both mental and geographical. There was always some part of me, which was eager to travel. I didn’t want to come back to so called normal life and get bored again with useless work. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, I completely agree with this.
That’s true. So, how did you ended your comfort zone? Where did you go after Macedonia?
– As I said, I didn’t want to go back to classic job, so I was trying to find out what to do next. I had one really good friend in Georgia and together we decided to form the alternative space for young people in Tbilisi. We already had the place, we had loads of ideas, but in the end it did not happen because of some problems. It is kind of sad story, but on the other hand, you should always look for positives. I realized that there is a lot of cheap flights from Georgia to Nepal. That was it! Spend the autumn in Nepal! I bought the flight ticket and the dream came true.
Was it that simple? No formalities, no obstructions, any kind of problems?
– When you are traveling, there are always some problems, that is inevitable. You cannot plane for the long time. The end of our project in Georgia is a good example. In this case the good thing was, that you can apply for the Nepal visas after your arrival, directly at the airport. There is no need to apply for them before. And when you have Nepal visas, it is much easier to get the visas for India, which was my next planned destination. All these little things are important when you are traveling. Of course, its not always easy, but you can learn everything. After some time on the road you will learn things like this, all these little tricks. You have to be very careful, study all possibilities, but in the end it is fun. And there are always some good people around, eager to help with the useful advice.
How did your Nepal stay look like? For many people it is unimaginable to go this far just with few money in the pocket…
– It was great. I spent some time in Kathmandu, then I went to Pokara under the Annapurna massif. I tried to travel as much as it was possible. You don’t need bunch of money to live in this part of the world, it was not that expensive as it may seems. If you don’t have unreasonably high standards and are disposed to live simple life, you need just a few euros for accommodation and food. For example my favorite food was Thali, so called “food of poor people”. It is Indian meal made up of rice, vegetables, yoghurt and some other dishes and it is very cheap. You have to learn how to prepare meal out of everything, than you can eat for almost no money. In the end, it is much cheaper to live like this and travel, than to live the standard life in the middle of Europe, with paying the rent for your flat and all other expenses. If you consider this, traveling is one of the cheapest ways how to live.
Do you have some special memories from there?
– Back there, everything is special. One of the best thing is, that people are smiling all the time. I felt this good feeling, good vibes there. When I have to say one story, I would pick this one. It was not in Nepal back then, but in Kokarna, the southern India. I met there some Slovak people, whose were the only Slovaks I met on my way. And they were my friends! One of them was guitar player from band I used to know in Slovakia and he released music album in Nepal. Unbelievable.
How did you get to India? Was there any difficulties? It is not easy to receive the visas…
– After few month in Nepal I wanted to move further and India was logical step further. In this case everything went perfect. Normally, if you are applying for the visas in your country of residence, it takes you a lot of time. But India and Nepal have very good relations, so it took me only four days and cost some thirty euros. I spent some time with preparations for this trip, but it was really very easy.
How did you like the life there?
– India is something completely different. For example in Nepal you can hear European or American music, you can find many signs of western culture there. In India you have to forget everything, just leave all your habits behind. I spent there three month and it is experience which I never forget. I traveled a lot, met many fantastic people and made new friendships. Their style if living is completely different, but once you accustom yourself to it, you will love the country with almost all its aspects. It is very spiritual, all the stories you can read about it are true. I hope I will get there at least once again.
Now you are back in Europe, but again heading away. Where exactly?
– I really don’t know. With my friend Charlie we are on the way to Greece, to the Korfu island. We want to stay there for some time and then, eh, probably somewhere south. To avoid the cold European winter. It is really difficult to say exactly, where I will spend lets say next winter. You know, all options are open. Actually, I am quite enjoying this feeling.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? On the road?
– Well, that is good question and for me it is really difficult to find the answer. Probably still on the road. Or maybe I will find the perfect place, so there will be no need to travel anymore. To have this ideal place and a small house with some good community of people there, that is a dream. But where the place is, I still don’t know. I just keep on searching…
4 thoughts on “In a search for the perfect place”
i'd like to get some info on volunteering at Mladi info. thnx
Cool story! Thumbs up for the traveller, looks like he is having great times. I have similar experience and have to say – travel people!:-)
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