Dave from thelongestwayhome.com searches for the legend of the living goddesses of Nepal. Called the Kumari, they are young girls that are said to be incarnations of the goddess Durga and manifestations of the divine female energy. After years of extensive research and many failed attempts, Dave finally succeeded in being granted an audience with the Kumari of Bhaktapur:
“Namaste,” I greeted and unfortunately struggled to follow-up. The next words that followed struck me as being not said all too often in life. “Is the living goddess in?”
The woman’s cheeks bunched up and I could swear there was a chuckle as she smiled a little wider.
“Would it be possible to meet the Kumari?” I asked more appropriately.
The woman nodded affirmatively.
I walked through that heavy single red curtain leading to a darkened tiny blue room illuminated partly by a small square window that was almost completely blacked out by a metal mesh covering. The smell of thick candle wax and musky incense was strong in the air. Shadows flickered across the room from the tiny candles dotted around the bare floor that was strewn with ceremonial rice, decorative metal plates, red tikka and carnation flowers.
Juxtaposed to all this tradition and sitting on a low silver throne was a small slender girl. The Kumari.
Dave is a traveler who understands that travel is a pursuit of knowledge, not just a stream of recreation. But even more than this he knows how to give life to his intrigues and turn curiosity into all out searches for legends. Dave researched the Kumari, went to where she lives, put himself out there and publicly made his intentions known, asked strangers questions, collected information, then knocked on a door and asked if the Living Goddess was home.
This story is a living example of how to break out of the tourist bubble and make modern travel into the quest for discovery it should be.
You don’t inherently have adventures just by buying a plane ticket and landing in a foreign country. You don’t make discoveries just by traveling somewhere. Making something of your travels takes leg work, effort, study, persistence, guts, boldness, and fearlessness in the face of potentially making an ass of yourself. You need to work for your adventure, you need to work to build a story that’s worth retelling. Remarkable experiences rarely just come to you; no, you have to go out and get them. This is as true in travel as it is in all other facets of life.
I call these missions the plot lines of travel, and they are one way to engage your world a little closer and plumb the depths of knowledge and experience a little deeper. Adventure is a DIY pursuit, it’s not something that’s just sitting somewhere waiting for you, it’s something that you need to create yourself.