Magda Bebenek
Warsaw, Poland

An ever-evolving chatterbox of an adventurer and a life lover, a published author and a buzzy bee travelling the world. To me, life is all about meeting new people, talking story and sharing the lenses we each use to experience the world. Bee the adventure is my way of taking you along for adventures and spreading some much needed travel lovin'.

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On life Scotland

A 21st century Polish Travelling Folk

By on January 16, 2016

Something I never saw coming until it hit me straight in the face.

A couple of days before leaving for Iceland, I was on a tram with my boyfriend. Suddenly he lifted his head up from the book he was reading and pronounced we were 21st century hippies. I immediately laughed it off and denied any such thing. Even though, in the past months, a couple of times I’ve caught myself doing or saying something and thinking “Oh my god, I’m THAT girl!”.

What girl, you may ask? The one always portrayed barefoot, hugging trees and with long, tangly hair. The one that lights candles and incense, eats tofu and talks about world peace. She prays to the ancestors, uses the word ‘energy’ more than decency would have it and hops around in circles on a beautiful green meadow wearing in-your-face-colorful clothes. That girl.

And while I might not completely look the part, way too much rings true.

I do walk barefoot whenever and wherever I can.
I don’t go on tree-hugathons but I have on occasion been compelled to do it.
(and I have been known to get teary eyed looking at an exceptionally big or old tree)

Even though tofu is not a staple for me, I haven’t eaten meat – apart from fish and seafood – in over three years.
I love hummus and water with lemon is my drink of choice.
I tremendously enjoy juicing or blending my greens, fruits and veggies.
Coconuts, mangos and papayas are my favourite foods in the world.
(one of my friends, after spending a week with me on a cruise, two and a half years later still calls me ‘Veggies’)

Ancestral wisdom and indigenous practices are at the forefront of my interests and ever-closer to my heart.
‘Energy’ must be one of my most often used words since college times. It’s not rare for me not to be able to explain something in any other way than talking about ‘a vibe’ I got or the ‘energy’ I felt.
I am a minimalist and almost never go shopping. Unless we’re talking books – then I always go shopping.

I go to strange cities without a map or a plan and, above all, love being on the road.
I hitch hike and sleep at random people’s houses.
I wear my hiking shoes far away from the hiking trails.

I continuously think, talk and work towards ‘world peace’ in my daily life.
I incessantly question religion, society, history, politics and economy. Even spirituality.
I support NGOs, financially and with my skills.
I boycotte big chains – be it clothes, cosmetics or food – and go local and organic whenever I can.
I use a bamboo toothbrush and make my own toothpaste, for crying out loud.

And yet, whenever someone comments on my ‘alternative lifestyle’ I look at them dumbfounded, not understanding where the ‘alternative’ is coming from. Even more so, when someone calls me a ‘hippie’.


Last night I went to a concert of Sam Lee, a British folk singer and song collector, during the Celtic Connections 2016 festival. It was not quite what I though it’d be but the evening turned out to be quite eye-opening and thought-provoking. The theme of the concert was the Scottish Travelling Gypsy songs and I was quite excited to learn about the  travelling communities that have been traversing the Highlands at least since the 12th century. Mind you, those are not Romani gypsies originating from India but native Gaelic ones, with their very own language, the Beialrearich, and a rich, distinct cultural heritage.

I’ve been doing some reading about them today and at one point I realised that while I feel no relation or resonance with the word ‘hippie’, a ‘travelling folk’ hits closer to home.

I’ve never had a ‘real’ job in my life, apart from a 4.5 month stunt at a travel agents’ a couple of years back.
I have had, however, over twelve or so different short-term jobs in the past 5 years of my life.
I’m the jack of all trades and use my varied skills to make some money here and there but am not really interested in doing anything stationary or long-term.
I’m 28 and I have no idea when and where I’ll have a place to call home.

It would seem, then, that even though I might not look that part either, I’m more of a 21st century Polish Travelling Folk.
Which brings me to a question: have we had any Polish travelling gypsy communities – not Romani – that were native to our lands?

Just another thing I love about travelling – by discovering other peoples & cultures, I’m inspired to discover my own.