Today I want to talk about the rewards of travel. A month from now I'll be setting off with my cousin on a short, concentrated tour of Cuba to some of the places I've been longing to visit. Cuba was one of the countries in my "Top 3 to see before it changes" list (along with Bhutan and Cambodia) and I absolutely cannot wait to get under its skin!
If you ever need a reason to shock yourself because things are too samey samey and you feel stuck in life, throw yourself into a travel experience. Dealing with getting from A to B to C to D and all that that entails will quickly absorb your attention, leaving the mundane and boring or whatever else you're trying to escape from to fester on its own for a while. Once you're on the road, you can relax and enjoy everything in the experience that dips, tickles and touches your senses - and watch the real you unfolding right before your very eyes.
Maybe you thought you were cool, calm and collected in the office - I know I certainly did. It was only when I missed the first of 3 flights to get me home after a trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar that my real temperament came racing to the surface. Panic set in and with panic came anger and frustration. My father had recently passed away. A day after the funeral I was flying to Africa for the first time and while the trip had been an experience of a lifetime, now at the end all I wanted to do was get home and start my grieving - but I'd missed my charter off of Zanzibar Island. When I eventually boarded the final flight from Nairobi, I wept silently for a good portion of the journey. Luckily I didn't have anyone sitting next to me, otherwise I would've drowned them with my tears.
Now fast forward 3 years and I've just flown from Lalibela to Gondar in Ethiopia. I'm at Arrivals and there's no sign of my guide or driver. They didn't fly with me, they drove and I'm wondering if something happened. I'm also acutely aware we have a packed schedule ahead of us. Everybody leaves and I'm the last one in the hall. I surprise myself by taking a pew to figure out a plan. One of the porters comes over and we get chatting. He asks me what I'm waiting for and I tell him the situation. He asks around on my behalf and one of the other porters makes a phone call for me. The next I'm hearing, my driver and guide are just doing a spot of shopping for me in Gondar town and they'll be along shortly. Apologies for the delay.
I didn't panic. I didn't get angry. And it all worked out well in the end. So now, I make sure to keep my head.
And that's just one of the many things I've learned...
Whatever travel teaches you - seeing how the other half lives and putting your life in perspective, finding out that meeting new people isn't half as scary as you thought, experiencing new cultures is actually rather refreshing and fascinating, the wonderful sense of freedom is second to none, the stereotypes are rarely ever correct, you had better (or worse) instincts than you realised, or you never knew you could find such a peace within yourself - whatever it is, hang on to it because that's what you'll remember the most when you recount the stories over and over again.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.