Rainbow Mountains, Cusco, Peru

Travel Secrets: An extraordinary 21 year old girl, Melica Bokaie from Iran started travelling just two days before her 20th birthday, and never quite stopped! We caught up with her in Canada for a quick chat.

Who is Melica Bokaie: She is a girl living her dreams! She’s been travelling and volunteering for more than 19 months. After exploring South America, she’s currently doing some good work on a small island in Western Canada.

We heard that you are a teacher as well. So how did this teacher turn into a traveller: I have always wanted to work with children—that’s what my mother does back in Iran. She is an English teacher and she has her own institute. I started working there since I was 13. I didn’t need to work but I was passionate about teaching. I studied theatre in high school and when I got my diploma, I decided to not go to University. I wanted to become a dancer and I couldn’t perform dance in my country of origin. So I started teaching in different kindergartens, working full time and saving money to travel. I’m still a teacher, but now I work worldwide.

Do you have to be rich to travel the world: Not at all. You just have to be courageous. There are thousands of ways to travel cheap and make money while being on the road. From hitchhiking to busking. From writing a blog to volunteering! If you want to do something you will find a way to do it. Money helps but it’s not the only thing you need.

Did travelling change you as a person: It sure did. I find myself more patient. I definitely became street smart and overall people say I look happier than before!

One location that took your breath away: Punta Tumbo. Three hours south of Puerto Madryn in Argentina. I spent my 21st birthday there, in Northern Patagonia, with more than one million penguins!!

How long does it take to pick up a language: It’s different for every person. It depends on how much you practice. I learned English since I was 2. And I always thought you have to go to classes and study a language to be able to speak fluently. But I was travelling around South America, living with people who couldn’t speak even a word of English, and I had to communicate with them. It took me 3 months to get used to hearing Spanish, 6 months to speak some basic words and around 14 months to communicate at an intermediate level! I heard Spanish more than 12 hours a day and I tried quite hard to learn the grammar but it was possible without any classes and only by talking to people. That’s me, it may take less or more time for others.

A strange encounter with a local: I was hitchhiking in Chile, and a couple picked me up. They asked where I’m from and I answered Iran. The girl said” Que es Iran”? “What is Iran?” !!! I started explaining and showing her the map! And she said, she thought Iran and Iraq are the same and there are huge deserts!!! That is the most strange thing I’ve ever heard about Iran! >>>