Tales of a Global Pilgrim Stars Stars

My name is Ben Viatte and I'm just like you: I'm not quite sure how I got here.

My search started seven years ago, when I opened my eyes for the first time: I saw that I was free. So I started travelling the world in search of a new mindset. My current pilgrimage is bringing me from Europe, through the age-old middle-east, to holy India.

This blog describes my search for truth: my life travels since the start of my global pilgrimage in my 18's, and what I learnt from them.

kurdistan

Kurdish Conflict Zone

I nearly finished walking through Turkey, which is by far the largest country I’ve ever crossed. I am now in the region of Kurdistan, which is by no means devoid of armed conflict between the Turkish Army and PKK rebels. Is it easy? No. Am I ok? Yes, by the grace of god. Do I still meet amazing people along the road, full of love and kindness? Absolutely.

cops are friends

South-East Turkey, May 2017

Cops are Friends

When a police car stops, it’s not to ask for my passport: it’s to ask if I’m ok. It’s not to give me a hard time, it’s to give me food. When they bring me to the police station, it’s not for interrogation, it’s for lunch. They ask if I have a tent, not to fine me but to make sure I’ll be ok at night.

Imray and Sekeria were two of those sweet-hearted officers. They even gave me a rose. “We stand for peace, just like you do with your white flag. Our very job is to maintain peace. In fact, you can document this encounter and show the world that we, the police in Eastern Turkey, are here for everyone’s well-being.” So here it is, I’m documenting this encounter, and with so much gratitude.

halfway there

Halfway there

Halfway through Turkey, and also halfway through my trip to India! Life is still just as easy as it was when I started. Since day 1, people have been telling me Of course it’s easy, but wait till you get further east! And here I am, further and further east… And still I don’t know what they’re talking about! Hurray!

container home

North-West Turkey, April 2017

Trustworthy

Yes it’s official, the world is trustworthy! It always gives you what you need, when you need it. Even when the situation seems hopeless. The only thing you have to do is trust it: it’s easier than it seems. I had pouring rain, heaps of snow, mud, slush, and freezing wind almost every night for a week. First, I worried. How in the world will I pitch my tent in this mess? But now, I trust. The world is taking care of me, because every one of those nights miracles appeared out of nowhere, like this abandoned Unicef shipping container which made a very dry and comfy home.

not alone

Northwest Turkey, April 2017
not-alone-1

I may be crazy. But not alone.

It’s ever-so-rare that anyone walks with me for more than a mile. Well this time, my brother Jonas walked 120 km with me as we exited Istanbul out into the Turkish wilderness. We slept all over the place and lived the real gipsy life! Of course everyone thought we were crazy, but we found the greatest respect in every encounter we made. Beautiful country, beautiful people.

istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey. April 2017

Istanbul

People often ask me about my family. “Do they even know you’re doing this? It must be horrible for them!” Actually, not only do they know, but they come and see me on the road and we have amazing times together! Istanbul was one of these places where I gave myself a walking deadline so we could meet with my mom and brother. One week of meditating in the mosques, playing music, dancing in the streets, and sleeping in a bed was a real change in lifestyle! However, as the photo suggests, walking out of such a huge city was a challenge. It took my brother and I two days, one sleepless night, 63 km of walking in order to simply find a green space to set camp.

into-turkey

No Man’s Land, March 2017

Hello Turkey!

The most significant border crossing in my trip, exiting europe after almost a year of travel, into the total unknown. It was such a blessed day. First, it cost me a few hours of persistence to cross the no man’s land bridge, guarded by the army and loaded with dynamite. Yes, they can blow you up at the touch of a button! But with great difficulty comes great reward. The first town I cross, İpsala, gave me a good introduction to the country: I walk into a café just looking to make an online update, and instead I am invited for countless teas, turkish delights, a visit to the mosque, a beautiful meal, hours of laughter and conversation, a night in a students’ flat and even a marriage proposal! Hello Turkey!

4000

North-East Greece, March 2017

4000

That’s the number of reasons I have to celebrate life. I was along the sea when my distance counter hit that number, so I had myself an ecstatic beach party. Good thing I’m alone!

Peace is my Weapon

North-East Greece, March 2017
peace

Peace is my Weapon

It is so common to think that other people have the ability to harm you. Along my road, everyone told me Albania was dangerous. Actually, it was the place with the most generous heart-warming people I’ve ever seen. And now they tell me I will have trouble in Iran, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan… They may be right, I may have trouble. But what they fail to see is that we are masters of our fate, we are not human we are gods. If negative things happen to us, it is due to negativity in our mindset, nothing else. We can change our minds and change the world.

So my practice is turning my mind into peace, pure love towards those around me. I know with such a mindset, I am safe even in a minefield. Crossing dangerous zones will just be a test of how peaceful I can keep my mind in any situation. This white flag is now always on my cart, and people who see me from afar will know my intention is clear: I come in peace.