Day 136 - Taos, New Mexico - 4818 km

If it wasn’t because of Sarkis, I probably wouldn’t have visited Taos. Afterwards I’m very grateful he invited me to stay at his home. Sarkis (56) is a Persian artist and world traveller, residing in Taos for the past 14 years. We never met in person before, but share acquaintances in Iran and he has been following my travels since I’ve cycled through his country of birth two years ago. To be honest I couldn’t have wished for a better host. He introduced me to a few intriguing people and showed me the best bits of beautiful Taos. 

To go quickly through his life - He grew up in Iran, as an orphan. His father passed away when he was 4 and his mother wasn’t financially capable enough to take care of him, so he jumped around families. At age 17 he started to travel the world, connecting with people on the road, before the existence social media, in a time where you had to talk to people on the street and in bars instead of look things up on the internet and connect via Instagram or other apps. When the revolution started in Iran in 1979, Sarkis knew he couldn’t go back, because he has a Christian (Assyrian) name. The country was changing and there was not much to go back to. It made him travel in a different way. Not having a real home to return too, the travelling became a search for a new home, spending more time with people and establishing deeper friendships. He lived for periods of more than a year in countries like Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, India, Guatamala and for the last 32 years in the US. He has a strong connection with the Netherlands. In his twenties he lived there for 2 years and met a family in Arnhem who unofficially adopted him as a son. It’s the closest to family he has and tries to visit them every year. 

Sarkis has been painting from a young age, and masters several styles. Some of his paintings are very Rembrandt-like, detailed, with soft dramatic light. Others are more rough and expressive. In the corner of the room is a beautiful black and white painting of his mother, perhaps his most personal work. I asked if I could photograph him, while working on a painting. He took an older painting from the wall and just continued on it. To him a painting is never finished. “Painting is a spiritual journey for me. I think of myself as an imitator of the Creator, whom has created all and every thing we are surrounded by. It gives me joy and a purpose to live.”

I came to realise how blessed I am having family and friends at in the Netherlands, who would be there for me if I go back. For me the way of travelling is different than Sarkis’. The connections I make are more like gathered experiences, which may or may not extend in the future. I do keep things open. Since I met Rachel, a few months ago in San Francisco, I feel I am slowly disconnecting from Amsterdam. Not permanently, but I’m open to new adventures and possibly establishing a home somewhere else for a while, wherever that might be. I feel inspired being in another culture. Creating a new home elsewhere for some years is a way of travelling too. I’ve been staying with a couple in Sante Fe, NM, who moved there from Seattle, just to have time to explore the landscape and the mountains. They’re bikers and outdoor enthusiasts with a full time job. When you live and work somewhere for a longer period you can discover the subtle differences of life. It expands your world and teaches you new things. It also makes you appreciate your original home more, or you learn that the old home is a place you needed to leave. I always miss things from home. But when I’m home, I miss the road.