When we left Slovenia for Africa I honestly didn't know how I felt about our travelling. I hadn’t put thought into it, more just saw it as a goal like summer vacation – get through exams then summer is there. But travelling isn’t just vacation.
We had gone through so much from about March to September that my mind hadn’t even really switched into travelling mode. When we finally prepared to leave London we had a every growing list of things to do, and when we checked one thing off the list it seemed that three new tasks would appear. Then as we were leaving we had many goodbye to say, and as a result the planned relaxing month before we left turned into a chaotic one. We thought we would be coming to the end of London at a snail’s pace but instead we were going 60 miles an hour right until the plane took off for Slovenia. In Slovenia we had a month to prepare for the arrival of all the family and friends, which we thought would be easily enough time… it wasn’t, we had to rush the whole way.
In the last month in Slovenia we still had task to task up until the last day. Our final day was spent with our dog, and actually I was dreading the departure hour as I knew we would have to say goodbye to him. When we did I was a wreck, Lu asked me if I wanted to stay. I of course said ‘No’ but in that instant of course I was thinking ‘Yes’.
As we walked around Venice I still couldn’t comprehend that we were going travelling. Even this felt more like a day trip, not a layover trip. When we headed to Nairobi it started to hit me only when we were going in the Taxi to our accommodation but even then it didn’t hit. We were passing by all the sights one thinks of in Africa; exotic animals, fruit markets, people on bicycle, vans rampaging through traffic, extreme poverty, trucks with hundreds of people, red dirt roads. But as we talked about this for so long and looked at documentaries and magazines none of it really shocked me or even got to me that we were really travelling yet.
Then around the 3rd or 4th day it started to set in, and I was going back and forth between unease and excitement almost every 10 minutes about the trip. I hadn’t really prepared at all mentally for this, I had just ticked boxes of shots, pills, sandals, travel towels, backpack. Only things you need for the trip, not really the thoughts for the trip. The one thing I didn’t really prepare for was ‘what do I really want out of the trip’ besides just ‘seeing stuff’. Lu had prepared (as usual), and I had nothing ready.
Fortunately while Lu is much better at being prepared; I am much better in the last minute. We had time at our lodge every day to just relax. So, I looked at an original list of some goals I wrote a while ago and forgot about, and they were totally unreasonable, which probably lead to the unease. Who has time to learn SQL, HTMl, CSS, get-as-in-shape-as-Schwarzenegger, learn Spanish, French, Slovenian, get a Masters/Ph.D., and become a millionaire on the road!? So, some simpler goals; read, listen to music, write, stay in shape a little, work on a foreign language, and just appreciate it. The funny thing is that this is probably the most important thing of travel – to get something out of it and take time for yourself, which I sort of forgot about.
The other source of this unease actually came from Lu. Well not really Lu, but I have only ever travelled for a long time by myself. Before when I travelled Europe I had my own brain every day. It could be 2 or 3 days before I had a real conversation with someone when travelling alone. So as a result my mind went to all sorts of places from abstract ideas, to dumb ones, to practical ones. Almost like meditation (or solitary confinement...depends how you see it).
My mind has been put to ease since those first few days. I noticed that my mind has plenty of time each day to expand and think fantastical thoughts, and now Lu has to listen to my dumb thoughts, but also I get feedback and as a result we are able to have several real conversations (a.k.a Real Talk), a day instead of having to wait 2 to 3 days. For some goals, I have already read two books and am halfway through a third. Plus I am writing and thoughts about life are flowing freely in my head and in journal or ‘blog ideas’ document. So after a month of travel I can now say ‘OK-now I can travel’. Only a month late, a little slow off the starting block but now it’s coming easier.
Ready for the road ahead!