Viktor Bevaro, traveler and photographer, has visited over 40 countries, documenting his journey with his LC-Wide. We chatted with him about a recent trip to Colombia and all the ups and downs of life on the road.
Hi again Viktor! What have you been up to since the last time we spoke?
Hello Lomography team! Long story short — few more months of traveling, back injury in Costa Rica, photographing a tour of the band Bukahara throughout Colombia, armed robbery in Taganga and a lovely short romance in Bogota. Daily handwriting as usual, travel friendships, ocean sunsets, hammocks, salsa. A lot of moments I will never forget, both positive and negative. During the last few months, I have been called Jesus a million times and offered drugs two million times, but considering I'm tall, long-haired and a bearded solo traveller, it's no big surprise.
What was the best part about visiting Colombia? Tell us about a few of your favorite memories.
Memory #1: Pride: Rockstars in Medellín
The main reason for my flight to Colombia was to meet my friend Max, member of the German band Bukahara, who invited me to join their tour and cooperation with famous Colombian rock band Doctor Krapula. I was given a chance to spend quite a lot of time with professional musicians and take amazing backstage photos. The concert in Medellín was one of the best cultural experiences of my whole life and I left the city with a new tattoo that I got together with Bukahara's lead singer and bass player. All three of us got a tattoo of maracas, a classic Hispanic musical instrument. The energy of the concerts in Colombia seemed to be stronger compared to European ones and I had such a good time. I felt the same in the salsa bars of Medellín, which are full of locals really enjoying their night, being present in the moment, with brilliant catchy live music that simply makes you dance. I never danced much in Europe, but I did a lot in Colombia.
Memory #2: Wrath: Robbery in Taganga
After some time in Medellín, Bogota, Cartagena, and Playa Blanca with friends, I felt like being completely alone. I wanted to go somewhere isolated by the ocean for a personal refresh, so step-by-step, I ended up in Taganga. It's a small fishing village next to Santa Marta with some scuba-diving schools, bearable amounts of visitors, and good food. I didn't drink alcohol in Taganga. I went for a swim, exercised, and meditated daily (I'm a certified teacher of Kundalini yoga), and played a lot of online chess. I was completely by myself for around two weeks.
One of the pure symbols of travel freedom and beauty for me is chilling on the beach and watching the sun set into the ocean. In Taganga, I was a little sad that a small hill was hiding the sunset, so day after day, I went for a short walk to this hill just to see the sunset fully. Someone in the village probably noticed my walks and one day around 6 p.m., I was coming back from the hill and two men in their thirties robbed me with knives. One of them pushed me from the road, and I ended in some kind of bush with no place to run. One of them started to threaten me with a knife and the second one was controlling the road with a machete in hand. I got really scared and was just hoping I was not going to be stabbed or killed. One of the guys shouted something at me in Spanish, took my GoPro, wallet, phone, and money from my pockets, and then ran away with his partner into the hills. Crying like a little kid, I came back to the village and went to the police station, but the policemen didn't care. I got a bit traumatized because of this robbery and flew to Bogota the next day.
Memory #3: Lust: Romance in Bogota
I have never been a big fan of dating apps, but during my time in Cartagena, I downloaded and checked local Tinder. I found out after a really short time that many Colombians are using Tinder as a prostitution portal. From all the girls I matched with in Cartagena, many of them offered me sexual services for money right away. In two cases, a company wrote me "representing" local girls through Tinder. This completely unmotivated me to continue using the app, but one of the girls I matched with attracted me from the first moment and I just hoped it wouldn't be a fake profile. She replied to my message when I was in Taganga and she in Bogota, so we had about 1000 kilometers in between us. We started to chat daily and it was so much fun that I was looking forward more and more to flying to Bogota. I got robbed and a bit traumatized in Taganga and that pushed me to fly to Bogota as soon as possible. I rented a small Airbnb flat close to her district and we started to date. She's a hard-working local entrepreneur and an independent modern woman, and I couldn't have wished for anything better than meeting her after that robbery. She brought me back into my normal mood and I'm thankful for our romance and that we've stayed in touch till now. Bogota is just really polluted and too big a city for me. I couldn't handle it for a longer time and I have never been a big fan of urban jungles, but I'm sure I'm going to meet this lady somewhere again.
What was your favorite place to photograph in Colombia?
I really enjoyed photographing backstage life and fans of the bands Bukahara and Doctor Krapula, no matter where it was. And one afterparty boat trip through the neighborhoods of Cartagena was unforgettable as well.
Where are you headed to next?
Lately, I've been thinking about Turkey, Canada, Brazil, and Peru. All of them for different reasons, but I'm not able to tell you for sure now where I'm going to end up next. I'm launching a new company during the next few weeks and I've been working on two new websites. As always, I will do my best to continue my journeys as soon as possible because I really feel the happiest on the road.
What is the most meaningful thing you have learned while traveling the world?
This is such a big and hard question to ask, so I will try to write down one stronger statement and explain it afterwards. Here you go:
You will never find happiness outside of you, even if you explore 100 countries, but traveling can definitely help you reach new perspectives in life and bring you closer to yourself.
I have a few practices that have changed me in a deeper way as a person — couchsurfing, Kundalini yoga and traveling. Of course, I could write down more, mainly negative ones (business failures, relationship failures, different forms of suffering), but I would like to talk about those positive ones today. Endless hours with my couchsurfing guests, endless hours with Kundalini teachers, and endless hours as a solo traveler have all taught me the same thing — that it's always inside of me, not outside, but inside inside inside. I know it sounds like a complete cliché, and I'm sorry, but I have spent basically ten years of my life searching for my answers to believe them fully. The size of your bank account is outside; how your mother treats you is outside; what people think about you is outside; whether you sleep in a hostel or a five-star hotel is outside. None of these things have a value unless you give them a value. At any moment, it's only about your mind and attitude towards them. You can mentally suffer as someone from a loving family or a successful millionaire and you can be fine having little with a strong mindset and faith in life. And don't get me wrong, I really like and support ambitious people and those following their dreams and passions, but what I want to say is that a strong, confident mindset and self-love matter the most. Without them, we're going to be a bit lost forever and failing in life. How can I honestly love someone else when I'm not able to honestly love myself? How can I honestly give joy or love to others when I'm not able to give them to myself? A long-term strong mindset and self-love are big topics for me and couchsurfing, Kundalini yoga, and traveling have helped me to understand them better.
Sometimes it's really easy to find out what we don't like, but super hard to find what we actually want to do. For me personally, step-by-step, I have found out I do love analog photography, handwriting, traveling the world, and being a wanderer, and I will do my absolute best to continue with these things. If I have to, I will sacrifice other things to achieve and master what I truly love. I don't want to have kids for now and I don't want to have a physical home for now, but those are things I might want later in life. I made a strong decision what to do and what not to do, no matter what my father or society or friends are going to think about it. Traveling helps me realize a lot of things and helps me make bigger steps in my life, so if you are struggling with a decision, a problem, or a relationship, traveling might inspire you about what to do next. Until the end of my life, I will be a big supporter of the solo journeys because they have taught me so so much.