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John’s line: happiness is only a tuktuk ride away

“What do you say to the ones who might judge your lifestyle?”

“If judging makes you happy, that is great, and I am happy to help. […] We are all part of a big challenge, trying to see clearer, see more and find ourselves. Some of us are working on that from one small village our whole life and that is amazing, while others are flowing through different cultures and experiences. We are all working on this together.”

While traveling, the best learning source is definitely the people you meet. Relation is the first most pure human need and the preciousness of human exchange and contact has always been essential in how I feel about a journey.

Three years ago, I met John Tattersall. I was working in a hostel as a volunteer and he was one of my guests. Let me say a grown man staying at a youth party hostel is not something you see every day. Not to mention that he looked at least ten years younger – he justifies that with the lack of stress in his life; and that he comes from a breath-taking archipelago I knew nothing about.

In fact, John was born 49 years ago in the British Virgin Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, though he never stops moving.

When he is not filming the TV show Survivors on a small island off the coast of Fiji, he travels the world roasting coffee in the back of a tuktuk imported from India. John is a brilliant filmmaker, whose studies mainly go around cinematography but, as he says, he has “two jobs and a million studies”. John’s lifestyle and basic mantra is definitely changing constantly and studying himself.

That is why in 2020 he decided to rebuild his tuktuk in order for it to turn into a mobile café roaster.

He had already driven it from the west coast of Scotland down to the Mediterranean, then, once in France, began the six-week tuktuk voyage from Monaco to Berlin. He drove to Milan, then, after a couple of swims in Lake Garda, went through the Austrian Alps, crossed a very snowy and difficult Brenner Pass, finally entering Bavaria and its magnificent forest life.

His days consisted in meditative riding and forward motion toward a place he wanted to spend the night in. He bought food from markets along the way and cooked it with a portable gas stove. His fridge being the front of the vehicle, since it is usually cool and his bed the back of it. He charged electrics from solar panels and kept warm in his thick duvets.

As for physiological needs, what you can imagine is all there is. With some wise tricks, of course.

Naturally, being outside all the time was a big challenge, but John does not see difficulty as a bad thing: “I learned how healthy this is for the body, mind and soul. I think a big key to thriving as a modern human is about being in touch with our inner animal, and kind of moving through our days with intuitive, natural, what I call animal movement.

While he drives, he contemplates his thoughts and, when he stops, he enjoys a pure and complete connection with nature. He finds it in the green un-roasted coffee beans, since every coffee seed he works with is exploding with the smell of the farm it came from. Or in the vast green areas he chooses to sleep in. At the beginning, he said, it was stressful to find the spot to spend the night in, as he was not sure of what he could and could not do, but then, as time went by, he realised no one really cares about what you do, even in their own property! “The scene is always the same, they laugh and smile and just want to hear the story, then wish me luck.”

He usually uses Google Maps satellite view and chooses a good green area far away from towns and big roads and about a day’s drive away, but in the way of the general eventual destination. In this case, the journey ended in Berlin, where he is currently, although he does not see it this way. The journey continues, every day when he rides the tuktuk through the city streets.

It is not hard to believe him when he says that the best time to travel is “when there are no times and dates involved”, in order to really enjoy the flow of events and not to lose any opportunity. He is the fascinating personification of the character of the linear traveller I wrote about in my latest article. He said: “The word travel I find is limiting and does not really refer to the deeply connected and grounding experience we can have in any physical location. In a sense, it does not really feel like I move, but different landscapes and cultures come and go, to me, from me and through me.”

When I asked him what the difficulties of such a journey are, he said there is plenty, but it is also the fun of it. The biggest one probably is that it is a very solo experience, which is constructive and good in many ways, since it makes you dig deep into yourself, meditate and grow, but “ultimately life is about relation and our part in all being unique viewpoints of this one giant expanding universal jungle”.

Articolo a cura di: Bianca Petrucci

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