While some of these photos might look like we either photoshopped in a few wildlife photos or that in fact these animals are large, plastic figurines, the truth of the matter is we were in the bush baby!
Ok, so I think the actual term is a game reserve, but you get my drift. Probably one of the most amazingly surreal experiences I’ve ever had, getting up close to real live elephants, zebra and even the baby lion had such an impact on me and my two travelling friends. It’s almost like seeing the Eiffel Tower on T.V. a million times, and then one day you’re there and it’s in person, and and..you have a moment that you take a breath and it seems like you’ve never actually seen it before in your life
That’s what this was like. Seeing an elephant on T.V. a million times is one thing, feeling the softness behind their ears, standing back knowing if it took a step in your direction too quickly that you’d be squashed, feeding it a branch of leaves and seeing it eat the thing whole…it’s like you’ve never actually seen an elephant until that moment. Same with the zebra…almost like when you look at a word for such a long time it doesn’t seem like a word anymore and it takes on a whole different shape.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, travel has such a way of opening your mind without you even realising it’s happening. Being that close to nature, feeling like you’re really in the middle of it, is something no zoo will ever give you. You feel just a bit more connected.
Ok, so fun might not be the first word that comes to my mind when describing my latest experience. To be honest, the fact that I didn’t piss myself might be more of an achievement than actually making it down the 112m drop that is the highest commercial abseil in South Africa.
Sometimes I wonder whether I have it in me to be a truly hardcore adventurer, or if I just have a truly hardcore adventurer “spirit” so to speak. I think you’ll know which category you fall under, when you are at the peak of your next adventure and you wonder why in god’s name you aren’t at home in bed drinking tea like normal people. Because that’s what I was thinking the moment my feet went over my head and I was told to loosen the slack on the rope and start jumping down rock face over 1000m up.
It’s a weird thing though, adventures like that. You feel near death, want to cry, want to scream, want to enjoy every minute..and when you reach the bottom you find yourself wanting more. The contrast of those emotions that happen during and directly after make you wonder if you’ve lost your mind.
Looking at the moment from another viewpoint, you wonder if you’ll ever get too old for this, if you’ll ever feel like the adventurous spirit will die off at some point and you’ll be happy knowing the rest of your life is for tea drinking. And just when you think this “spirit” is limited by time, and you have to get all your adventuring out when you’re young…you find the next abseiler down the cliff is a 50 year old woman jumping down the mountain right after you with a glorious smile on her face.
As I pack my bags for my trip to Cape Town, I can hardly contain my excitement. Knowing that the closer I am to finishing packing, the closer I am to my first trip to a place I’ve been longing to go for at least the past five years. It is a nervous, thrilling, new feeling that comes whenever you visit a place you’ve yet to experience. No guide book can prepare you enough, and good thing too, or else what’s the fun in travel?!
As my giddiness subsides a bit, I realise that the feelings we have as adults before our new experiences, are the same as children’s. While they are experiencing their first moment riding a bike, or learning to read for the first time, we as adults love that same moment of fulfilment, of accomplishment, of something new, just as kids do. And we need it too! When was the last time you said, “I’ve never done that before” or “there’s a first for everything!” Hopefully you can still remember. I think for me, that is why travel is so fulfilling. We’ve gotten to the age where all the “milestones” in life have passed or are at a slow. However, as humans, we are always striving to find purpose or to find that next big accomplishment. Something new in our lives.
For me, that is every new trip I take. For everyone it will be different. But I think it’s important that everyone finds that one new thing they can pursue or accomplish- if only to feel like a kid again.
Differing from my other blog posts, this one is less about my travels of the past, and more about my thoughts while living abroad in South Africa. My current time in Johannesburg has been spent in stark contract to the life I was leading in London. While travel is sometimes about the change in scenery and experience, it is also about the change that happens within ourselves as we travel.
On that note…
In an attempt to void my life of TV, internet (this blog was originally written in a notebook, I’m just sayin’ ..) and all that comes with it, I find myself in a state of contemplation. As birds fly overhead, the sun sets and fresh paint still dries on an otherwise white canvas upstairs, I can honestly say I am worlds away from the fast pace of London.
While I know these first few weeks have been tough, and are likely to get tougher, I find stepping out of my comfort zone to be extremely rewarding- not just culturally or work wise, but on a personal level. The cynic, pessimist in me realises that in the end we must face our life and death alone. If as a young, 20-something (yes, I can still say that for a few years yet) I don’t have the strength to live and enjoy my life alone, then what chance do any of us have in the future. (It does help when you have a boyfriend just a continent away thinking of you though..)
I’ve found in this first month or so, that my addiction to electronics has mirrored my addiction to human contact. With this codependency on electronics portraying large similarities to our codependency on others, the lack of either is the quickest, most surefire way to clear your head and clarify what means most in your life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing our natural codependency on others, I am simply trying to signify the importance in taking time out in your life to clear your mind and find out what is most important- if only to realise the monumental importance of the people who make up the fabric of your life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…. I have some friends and family to write.
Inspired by a recent viewing of “On the Road,” the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s cult classic, I decided to put together some of my favorite quotes from the book/film. These quotes mainly result in my final conclusion about life: That everyone should try to find madness in their lives..a little spontaneity and a lot of madness.
1. “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
2. “The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view”
3. “But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”
4. “I believed in a good home, in sane and sound living, in good food, good times, work, faith and hope. I have always believed in these things. It was with some amazement that I realized I was one of the few people in the world who really believed in these things without going around making a dull middle class philosophy out of it. I was suddenly left with nothing in my hands but a handful of crazy stars.”
and of course…
5. “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
Everyone will have quotes that mean something special and pertinent to their life’s journey. Share below!
Not quite the most polite of signs I’ve seen on my journey, but definitely the most forward. This was taken at a roadside bar in Bangkok, and by roadside, I mean don’t get too drunk or you’ll get run over or side swiped by a vehicle/tuk tuk/motorbike/anything with wheels.
But how can you complain when the drinks are roughly equivalent to $1 and you’re partying in the centre of one of the craziest cities in the world? You can’t. I believe it’s called Charlie’s Bar and would recommend it to anyone who likes drinking in the thick of it all.
I feel like I should give some background information to this photo, but sometimes photos really do speak for themselves. I can say it was taken on a train in Sri Lanka from Colombo to the mountain city of Kandy. I could mention the long journey with overcrowded carriages, rough heat and vendors selling cheap snacks. But, that’s just another train story from another traveller. The best thing about pictures sometimes is that they tell something entirely different. And what they tell, means something different to every person who sees the photo. That, in itself is worth a thousand travel stories.