Tell us about yourself... Who are you, what do you do, where are you from? 👧
My name is Paula Muga Ellacuría and I was born in the north of Tenerife, among cactus, volcanic rock and the smell of my mother’s oils. Since I was a child, my family and I started to move from one place to another, including Bilbao. That's why I have a hard time answering where do I come from. It’s not that I don’t feel from anywhere, but that I feel I belong everywhere (even Chinese!).
And I think that answers who I am: a mixture of many ingredients combined into a body that keeps absorbing new experiences and continuously changes. Among the elements I collected from each country I lived in, I'm also proud of being Basque :)
Nowadays, I live in Equatorial Guinea, where I work and learn to use culture as a development tool.
How and when did your desire to travel in a sustainable way came out?🍃
On the one hand, I was born, I grew up and I am constantly traveling. Moving out so often since an early day, it’s part of my life's rhythm.
On the other hand, our mother always transmitted to us the love of the neighbour, including every little bug around us (all of this without saying a word, just giving us example).
We're fortunate to be living a collective awakening of environmental consciousness. The previous generation discovered and enjoyed a revolutionary and fantastic lifestyle without knowing the consequences this would cause. We were born in that frenetic consumerism and we're now seeing the consequences.
It's essential to change our habits: taking a weekend flight to Milan for 20€ sounds tempting, but we can’t really pay the true environmental price that it entails.
Sustainability takes time, we must do things slowly and consciously, and personally, I enjoy doing it.
Why did you chose to go on a round-the-world-tour? 🌎
I haven't yet gone around the world haha, I suppose you're referring to a roadtrip from Hong Kong to Bilbao that I made two years ago :)
I did it because I looked at the map and it made sense. Some people said to me: "you can’t, it’s impossible". I looked at the map again and couldn’t find anything that made it impossible. Then, some people said: "you can’t, because you’re a woman". I scanned up and down, looking for any abnormalities in my body that prevented me from walking, communicating, asking... I didn’t find any. I took my backpack (actually my friend found it in the trash haha) and I made one of the biggest and most enriching travels of my life.
I wanted to understand the transition between communities (what unites us and what differentiates us) and to witness the challenges of the present day told by people who live it first-hand. I wanted to let go and, of course, show that women are very capable.
What do you miss most about the Basque Country living abroad? 🌊
No matter what paradise I’m living in, I’m always short of La Salvaje waves in winter.
When the beach is empty, there are only running dogs and surfers who love that place. I’m naked, nobody cares, I’m just another element, slowly entering the frozen water. It takes me a lot of time and I enjoy every second.
Then a pintxo and a Colacao in "La Triangu". And an hour of subway reading a book returning to Bilbao. Blessed ceremony.
I used to do it with my little dog Lisa, but she just passed away, so it’s gonna be weird doing it without her.
And of course my friends, the walks with my father and the hours and hours on terraces in good company.
What is your favourite word in Basque and why? ✍🏼
I love "laztana" because my great aunt with Alzheimer’s used to say it to me. She didn’t know who I was, but she used to repeat it to me with a lot of love.
"Sorgina", because of the wonderful Basque feminist revindication that we're living.
"Ama" and "aita", because saying so gives me a feeling of belonging and makes me remember where I come from ;)
Finally, tell us a quote or a sentence that inspires you… 📜
Something my sister said recently to a group of women: "If your mother, sister, friends, couple, etc. never told you; I kneel before you as a goddess and the divinity you represent".