Travelling with Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist

In addition to being one of my favorite books, “The Alchemist” is the emblem of THE journey. A journey understood in a physical sense, which lasts for two years through three main stages. And an even a deeper journey, understood as the revolution that happens inside ourselves. Let’s take a step back: a quick summary for those who have never red the book!

The story of the Alchemist

Santiago is a young Andalusian shepherd boy who leaves in search of a treasure that appeared to him in a dream. Its journey leads him through the desert and the pyramids, passing from Tangier, the bridge city from Europe to Africa, to the El Fayum Oasis, an oasis in the Libyan Nubian desert, meeting singular characters and overcoming obstacles and vicissitudes.

Spain, Egypt, the desert: beautiful places, rich in history, in the book represent only a scenario to what the real journey is, demonstrating how the soul of man is even vaster and boundless of any destination, country or natural element.

Places that are often the subject of the reader’s dreams, but not of the protagonist who makes this journey, in his naivety, to look for a treasure and not driven by curiosity or desire to discover the world. A world that he probably doesn’t even imagine could exist, accustomed to live day by day together with his sheeps.

The journey of the Alchemist begins with a connection: Tangier

Contested for its strategic position on the Gibraltar’s strait, Tangier dates back over 2,500 years. Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, Portuguese, English and Spanish passed through here. Each of these peoples left an indelible mark. And according to legend, the Garden of the Hesperides, the earthly paradise, is located right here!

Tangier is a white city arranged like an amphitheater, overlooking a bay. Its heart is the Gran Socco, the main square, dominated by the minaret of the Sibi Bou Abib Mosque.

The journey continues towards El Fayum

In ancient times it was a center of the crocodile god Sobek’s cult. It is the only artificial oasis, created by a long canal naturally formed by the flooding of the Nile, dating back to ancient times, called the Youssef canal. The name of the city derives from the Coptic ”efiom’ which means the sea or the lake.

In addition to the pyramids that Santiago will find in Giza, some pyramids are also in El Fayum and date back more than 4,500 years.

The journey is completed: the pyramids of Egypt

And right in the place where Santiago believes to find the treasure, he realizes that what he was looking for was hidden in his Andalusia, at the starting point. The treasure had always been near him! However all the gold in the world is not comparable to the paths, the roads, the meanders, the dead ends that Santiago meets while traveling towards himself, while he was traveling towards his goal.

woman looking at pyramids
Egypt by Andreea Ch on

This also brings out another aspect of travel in a generic sense, its cyclicality: departure, destination and return. Of course, it’s also its peculiarity! Between the departure and the return, the discovery, the richness, the adventure and the exploration that we bring back with us are concentrated. Every journey has the ability to enrich us. Only one thing makes a “journey” impossible: the fear of “leaving”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *