TCC Member Spotlight: Juan Pons, Barcelona, Spain

The TCC can boast of many remarkable members who travel the world for the sheer love of it. In this issue we profile Juan Pons, a devoted traveler who finds no island is too remote to set foot on. The following is translated from a recent interview in Spain.

Juan in the Badai Jaran Desert, China, close to the Mongolian border
Juan Pons pictured in the Badai Jaran Desert, China, close to the Mongolian border

Juan “Tino Tafao” Pons is one of the most traveled Spaniards in the world. Born in Barcelona, Spain, several “springs” ago, as they say, he carries in his backpack hundreds of stories, and in his head is always a goal, the next trip. A tireless adventurer, he loves islands and remote locations, receiving the nickname Tino Tafao – “the man who travels” – from native Samoans. He devoutly follows the three commandments of the traveler to perfection: listening, knowing how to look, and wanting to learn.
Q: When did you realize that travel was your thing?
A: When I realized that traveling is one of the ways to understanding and knowing oneself.
Q: Do you consider yourself a tourist or a traveler?
A: I distinguish between tourist, traveling salesman, and traveler. In my case, obviously, a traveler.
Q: Your most special trip?
A: All, without exception, have been special. I have always found something new and positive in places near and far. If the question is about the places that have impressed me, I can name a few: the atolls of the Pacific, Pitcairn, Tristan da Cunha, Svalbard, settlements on the west coast of Greenland, Yakutia, Buryatia, and some of the “stateless nations,” such as Transdnistria, Somaliland, and now Iraqi Kurdistan.

Juan on Malekula Island, Vanuatu
Juan on Malekula Island, Vanuatu
Q: Do you keep count of visited countries?

A: Yes. Through various groups and travel clubs, I keep an up-to-date list of places and countries visited. It helps me to know new destinations. But I am not a collector of visas in a passport. It’s not important to me to get a “record” of visited countries because my goal has always been, is, and hopefully will continue being, is to try to meet people and learn from them, and finally to enrich myself as a person. It’s obvious to know monuments, nature, etc., but it’s always helpful to know people who live there and facilitate a better understanding of the values that all human beings share, regardless of cultural, religious, and political differences.
Q: A pending trip?
A: Always the same: the next one! It allows me to continue “traveling through life,” and be able to enjoy the memories, in order to live twice. I feel young, if not much in the physical aspect, but in the mental… so, as a friend says, “avanti” Tino Tafao!

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