Life changing travel doesn’t depend on where you go. But why you go. In 2008, at the age of just twenty, I was diagnosed with Leukaemia and my world fell around me. My plans to travel the world were shelved with my immediate future in doubt. Yet through it all, I harbored a dream. And amidst the pain and the fear, I dreamt of one place. The image of reaching this destination transporting me away and giving me hope. All I thought about was stepping foot on Rapa Nui – better known as Easter Island.
In 2016, with my strength renewed and my health restored, I brought that dream to life. My body shook as I took my first tentative steps on the islands storied and historical land. Tears welled in my eyes. The sun’s rich rays splashed over a scene so incredible I could scarcely believe it was real. Stretching out before me were miles of empty land, punctuated by crumbling rock walls and low vegetation, refusing to submit to the harsh conditions of this isolated Pacific Ocean jewel.
With such a small local population and only a handful of tourists, owing to its spectacular remoteness, I rented a bike and found myself cycling to nowhere in particular. After so long trapped by my own ill-health, I felt an irresistible impulse to choose a road and simply go. To bring the horizon to me.
My bike was sturdy and as I rolled over the hilly coastal roads I was flanked by seemingly endless rolling green hills on one side, and on the other by a harsh coastline. Waves crashing on black, cruel rocky outcrops at once keeping away those who would trample this island’s unquestionable magic, and keeping that very same magic safe and secluded amongst the ruins of a civilization long fallen.
Out of nowhere, I saw the Moai. Giant reminders of a bygone era. Standing in eternal silence. I stopped my bike and let it fall to the ground in a low cloud of dust. Staring up at these icons. The same figures who had motivated me to push through another day. And in that silence. Alone, covered in dirt and sweat, and realizing a lifelong dream, I knew everything would be ok.