Guest post by @kirsten_al
Kirsten Alana, winner of the “A Map For Saturday” DVD, shares her review of Brooke-Silva Braga’s around-the-world documentary.
“A Map for Saturday” tells the story of Brook Silva-Braga’s year spent traveling the world, living out of a backpack in 2005. The name comes from a feeling that Brook says you find, living this kind of lifestyle. He describes it as the feeling that it’s always Saturday – not really a vacation but, still, you don’t have to go back to work tomorrow.
It starts out with a momentum that I think would get anyone excited, certainly anyone who enjoys traveling. There’s a definite “YES!” knot in my chest when one traveler says in the first few minutes “Maybe in 50-60 years I’m dead. I want to say, I had a good life.” The quick montage that follows makes me even more excited about the stories that are to come.
Not long after Brook is dropped off at the airport to begin his journey, he says, “So this is that moment where I’ve just said goodbye to everyone and it’s just starting to hit me that I’ll spend the next year without really anyone…that I know”. It seemed to me that if he had a moment of doubt in his whole journey that was the moment. When he lands in Sydney, his first stop, he has a momentary lapse of courage when he realizes the full magnitude of what his journey means. He arrives with no place to stay. It is a sunny, beautiful day in Australia, yet still there is a small fear of the unknown.
Brook starts out by honestly representing the rigors of backpacking round the world, then transitions into the joys. He returns again, before the documentary ends, to the problems that can be experienced partaking in this form of travel. Yet there wasn’t a single experience Brook encountered that I would turn down. Another quote that really resonated with me is, “In the span of a week, this whole experience has gone from very foreign and kind of intimidating to not only comfortable and enjoyable but really kind of great.” Even when Brook is getting ripped off by travel agents in India, encountering filthy bathrooms as the norm in Asia and friends are getting things stolen in Rio – I found myself thinking; it is all part of the experience. One unknown traveler said it best, “but that’s a backpacker’s life…”. All these things are made more bearable by a perk of backpacking around the world: the friends you make along the way. Brook still keeps in touch with many people he met in 2005 and while some people faded from his life as quick as a sunset, it seems everyone he met made some kind of positive impact on him.
Even if this type of lifestyle does not appeal to you at all, the scenery in the film might. From Angkor Wat to the Taj Mahal, to the beaches of Jericoacoara – there isn’t a shortage of beautiful vistas to marvel at. There’s also a focus on giving back through service while on the road. Brook spends some time in the Phi Phi Islands, site of the devastating tsunami in 2004 that practically leveled parts of Thailand. He and fellow travelers spend time rebuilding and helping locals in any way they can. It’s this chapter of the story that nearly brings me to tears – since this is what I long to do on a round the world journey.
But it’s Brook’s footage of national flags from the countries he traveled to at the closing of the film that finally does make cry. As I saw one waving flag after another, I felt that deep need in the pit of my stomach to pack a bag and go. I realized how few countries I’ve actually been to, in comparison to how many there are to see. I found myself with a need to get up and go so great that I just couldn’t hold back the tears. I found myself researching proper RTW backpacks all night long. I’ll be buying one soon and when I do, I’m armed with the realistic knowledge that living out of a backpack represents giving up a lot of the material comforts I used to find so reassuring. But it’s that giving up of material comforts that may just lead to the most positively life-changing experiences I will ever have. “A Map for Saturday” reminded me of this simple truth and is, in my opinion, the best film made about this style of international travel.
Kirsten Alana is a photographer and travel writer currently in the Midwest who is planning a late 2010 move to the East or West coast. She always has a quote ready and waiting to share. She’s an avid Jane Austen fan, adventure & experience junkie, Francophile, passionate fan of Mexico, Apple and Canon geek, New Englander by birth and the daughter of an artist. Kirsten also loves to support charities and her current favorite is “Charity:Water”.