I’ve been on the road for almost three months now and am well into my travelling groove. I love the simplicity of carrying my home on my back, of having only a few changes of clothes, of not having a plan, never having to be somewhere at a specific time, of saying yes and going where the wind takes me. I love the surprises along every street. I love making connections and am learning how to read people better and better with each new meeting. I love hugs. And chocolate. And pastries. Chocolate inside pastries!
I’m on my third hat (my straw hat from home disintegrated and the second one was swallowed by the Danube in Hungary) and third pair of shoes, a pair of not-at-all-stylish brown sneakers that are serving me well. I’ve sewn my skirt back together twice, and most of my clothes bear the marks of the washing machine monster and weeks of hard travelling. I am totally okay with not looking fashionable or sparkling clean.
I haven’t bought a single souvenir and am instead throwing things out of my backpack (like that silly travel guide). I’ve eaten many new and tasty meals and treats. I’ve walked a lot. A lot! And run sometimes, mostly to catch a train or bus. I’ve learnt some more hooping tricks and shared the secret of hooping with many curious friends. I’ve been lost sometimes but never really worried about it. In fact, I haven’t been worried about anything really.
I continue to dislike sightseeing and prefer to learn about a place, its history and culture from the people who live there. I like paper maps that become grubby with good use. I’ve become a huge fan of rakija and am currently testing its medicinal properties to rid myself of a cold. I still haven’t slept in a hostel, and don’t plan to. I like being a sneaky, cheapskate traveller.
I’ve lost track of which day it is, and definitely don’t know the date. I like telling people that I’ve been travelling for two and a bit months but that I’m only at the beginning of my trip. I like not knowing where I will be tomorrow, or the next day, or next month. I like eating when I’m hungry regardless of the time.
I like dispelling the myths people have about South Africa. Conversations usually start with people asking me if I was born in South Africa. When I say yes they ask if my parents were born there. When I say yes they ask if I am British or Dutch. I say I am South African and that we don’t care about European heritage. I try my best to explain our social situation and describe the expansive African sky.
I’m excited about all the people I will still meet, and the places I have yet to visit. I’m looking forward to more weeks and months of walking and talking and sharing and eating and smiling and being lost and knowing a place. And in the end I am looking forward to being home with people I know best, under a blue sky with the smell of Highveld grass in my nostrils. But not quite yet…