Not your average travel blog
A little over year ago, my sister left England with her boyfriend in a Land Rover. The adventure ahead of them was to drive over twenty thousand miles to Cape Town, down the east side of the African continent. They ended up pushing their courageous Ambi a little further to the most southern tip of South Africa. It was an overland trip of epic proportion; laced with some danger, problematic logistics, emotional turmoil, sickness, injury, battles with grumpy wildlife, wars against the elements, day after day of driving over horrible terrain and lets not forget the trials of living together in the same, small, one double mattress-sized, mobile cupboard. It was an adventure into the unknown and was, from all their reminiscent mumblings, the best time of their lives. I have spoken with my sister about many elements of their journey and one very relevant conversation that has stuck to my wall of thoughts in my head is about “saying goodbye”.
“As a traveller, its what you do”, I remember saying. With the little travelling I have done, I threw at her my two bobs worth of advice and hoped it might help with a few emotional quandaries that Sister Wolfrider was experiencing, whilst she was being fondled by a furry gentleman named Marlon in Rwanda.
On reflection, I’m not sure I said the right words, but as usual I think the sister understood me. You don’t enjoy travelling if you’re not comfortable saying goodbye. Simply walking off without a care for those you leave behind is not my point, but understanding that whilst travelling, you will say hello and goodbye regularly to amazing people, often daily. It is something one needs to be used to and if you don’t think you can do this, stay at home.
After just one amazing day or whilst sharing one incredible experience people stay in touch for the rest of their lives. I share stories and emails, jokes and recipes with people I have only met for four hours, seven years ago. That’s what travelling is about and it’s one aspect of what makes travelling so liberating. From those experiences, travellers never lose their bug. Tourists aren’t the same. We know they’re not. Travellers understand that travellers aren’t going to be in the pub with them every week to talk about their experiences or call them every time they see a squirrel (actually my nomad friend does contact me every time she sees a squirrel).
Travellers will very rarely judge or jump to conclusions about people’s life choices. It’s a little hypocritical to do so when most travellers try to avoid what society expects of them whilst at home. Without being deliberate, travellers and adventurers do all they can to avoid death through typical routine, something which is hard to do in modern society. To quote an author that normally bores me, Paulo Coelho said, “If you think adventure is dangerous, you should try routine. It’s lethal”. He does look a little like Pablo Picasso with a beard.
Saying goodbye is the hardest part of being a traveller. Not just to people, but to environments, to sensations, to smells, to flavours, to hospitality, to constantly having a heart filled with new and amazing experiences. Naturally, there are days where you would prefer to be sat in bath of rotting locusts than experiencing unknown injections in your butt from a doctor that doesn’t speak your language, or twisting your ankle whilst jumping of a cliff face into the sea, knowing it’s a four mile walk home over uneven ground, or when your truck breaks down 100 kilometres from civilisation and you have to wait five hours for another car to come along in the desert heat, or trying to sleep under itchy bed blankets with over fifty mosquito bites from just the waist down in the back of a metal truck, whilst torrential rain keeps you awake by machine-gunning onto your tin roof. Of course there are things to deal with, but without these things we would fail to realise what kind of world we live in. It’s alive with experiences.
Despite the daily grind for the last five years, I will miss London. It’s a playground; offering of every possible vice, indulgence and temptation you might want, desire, crave or need. It delivers everything that the great outdoors doesn’t.
Saying cheerio to the people that have made London and the rest of the UK home for the last five years has been emotional, difficult and sad.
They’ll get over it though…