‘A person with an address has abandoned the rest of the world for that one address.’ Kareen Kohn on living a nomad’s life.
‘A person with an address has abandoned the rest of the world for that one address.’ Kareen Kohn is clearly not lacking in original ideas. Kohn has no address. He is a nomad and travels to the farthest corners of the earth. ‘A lot of people are nomads in their hearts. Ask 10 people what they would do if they won the lottery and nine of them would say they would travel. The happy few that go on holiday two or three times a year work to travel. But when they arrive in Thailand, they grab the Lonely Planet (guidebook, ed.): they have to see this and go there. Where is the freedom in this type of travel? They take the same structure they escaped from along with them on their trip.’
Kohn is the founder of Nomads United. He hopes that this movement for young people from a myriad of countries will offer an alternative to the current way of travelling that treats nature like a product. Kohn takes small groups of a maximum of 15 people on horseback through remote areas in Latin America and Asia. The trips last around three months – ‘depending on your bum muscles’, as Kohn puts it. Each person buys his or her own horse and materials. All of them are free to go as they please.
Along the way the nomads pitch their tents randomly, but sometimes they happen upon a place to stay in a village tucked away in the mountains. The group performs for the villagers – dancing, making music or juggling – in exchange for a place to sleep and food for the horses. But Nomads United also wants to exchange ideas with the locals on ecological awareness, respect and care for animals and nature.
Kohn soundly rejects the notion of ‘environmental tourism’. ‘This is much more than that,’ he says. ‘This is truly ecological travel. We attempt to change people’s perspective on their relationship with earth and its creatures. We want to bridge strategically networked communities bringing cultures and peoples across the globe together in order to live self-sufficiently in healthy harmony with nature.’
Kohn, who was born in Israel, lived in New York for years. But the city life is no longer an option. ‘You can’t see the stars in the city. I dream that in 200 years the cities will be empty. And that, as nomads, we will pass by and think: how on earth could people have lived caged like this while there is so much beauty everywhere, except here?’