The Semi-Adventures of a Nomadic Mathematician Rotating Header Image


The Pointless Whining of an Overaged Nomad

You are too old for something when you know all the tricks. I flew from Europe to the Galapagos Islands on business class for free. Furthermore, they let me board without a valid return ticket. I am definitely too old for travelling.

The tricks are cheap: I got the one-way ticket with frequent flier miles. Since the flight to the Galapagos is otherwise insanely expensive, I achieved a great dollar to mile ratio. The return ticket? I edited an old ticket with fake data and printed it. Printing makes anything official. The best fake return tickets claim that you will go back to the country that issued your passport. Never raises any suspicion.

After a three-year dead-end in Barcelona, I am down to a small backpack again and travelling indefinitely. I am saying this as if it was a divorce after ten years of bitter marriage, but actually I had a great time in Barcelona. Especially once I figured that living just outside Barcelona was far more rewarding than putting up with the nonsense of the city. It does not change the fact, though: I failed to settle down and I am bouncing around continents again. With Ecuador, I hit 115 countries visited.

Village life in Catalonia wasn’t too bad. The civil war was happening elsewhere.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being gained a new level of meaning. I am annoyingly comfortable with travelling, and whatever I want to do looks remarkably easy. I could go to Africa and squat over sacred crocodiles, but I’ve done that too. I could very well get a job anywhere (except Europe). Despite my best attempts not to, I even accumulated some capital. It is not even just me: my old mates all established themselves, most of them married and procreated, and they are generally happy with themselves. I am not sure that complacency is the bane of age, but it surely is the bane of being in your mid-thirties.

Despite the complacency, any meaning to whatever I do is as elusive as ever. It is downright embarrassing to travel alone at my age. I get weird looks when I check in to hostels, even though I splurge on a single room. I definitely do not want to share a dorm with irritating young people. Being a digital nomad is cool for a while, but I certainly expired years ago.

The priceless view of the kind of rooms I tend to splurge on.

So what’s next in my pointless semi-adventures? I am getting ready to climb some volcanoes, the highest being about 6,200m. I hope to get out of my equilibrium, get a frostbite, fracture a skull, something. Then I will be travelling for work for a few months — Canada, Australia, Spain, Finland, Poland. Maybe I can publish a few fun papers in the meantime. I might make it to Iran this year, only to have a valid legal obstacle against entering to the US. As usual, I will dance salsa a bit wherever I go to embarrass myself, and run a few marathons here and there to contain the expansion of the flesh. And then perhaps settle down somewhere. But that is just about as pointless as travelling.