His face is sunburnt and leathery, his hat flapping in the sea breeze as he passes it to you, explaining that you shouldn’t pass the Talking parrot otherwise you might have gone too far. You take the key and head to your hotel room.
Travel is a drug. Think about it, you try it once, you liked it, so you try it again and soon your addiction cannot be satisfied by a day trip to the Pilanesberg (no offense to the Pilanesberg – I adore that place) or a business trip to Durban, even though getting away from your desk is as exciting as getting a free cheeseburger on a hangover day. Now your boundaries have been broken and there is a much better, deeper, more intense, rewarding experience waiting there for you and there isn’t just one – there are millions. To try get through all of these, you would have to start young, be willing to sleep in the slums, eat unimaginable items and be ok with having dirty fingernails and feet for a while. After a while the time between trips becomes longer and longer even months at a time and it just becomes unbearable. You have to get out.
The urge for me is capturing that image that takes you back to that moment where you felt you were part of the world, exploring and learning and seeing things for the first time. It’s a feeling of happiness, elation, curiosity, wonder, fullness and warm fuzz all rolled into one. To explain this to a non-addict or someone who doesn’t like to travel is like trying to explain the feelings you felt during your first love, to a rock. No matter how hard you try the emotion you are trying to portray doesn’t quite get through. Even now as I am writing this I find it hard to explain the feeling I am trying to describe.
I know there are many like me and even more who want to start but are too scared to. They sit behind their desktops dreaming of the places they see on the web, wondering if they will ever earn enough money at their office job to maybe one day, go to the places of their dreams. I was one of those people. But at the age of 22 I decided that my life (I had only been working for 2 years) was going to be one of adventure from the get-go. I will never forget the quote I had stuck on my computer, “Leap and the net will appear.” To many people this might sound dumb and naïve, but to me it was the start of my dream life. My first real trip was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (I had been on loads of holidays before, thanks to my adventure loving father) but this was the first that I had planned myself and decided I was going to achieve no matter what. It certainly does help having had a taste of it from an early age and I know that I too will install this feeling I have in my children. Having had that Kili trip I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop and had to make a plan. I can happily say that I am now a travel photographer, trying to satisfy my urge as much as I can whenever I can.
For each and every addict their reason may differ. A month between doses may be frightfully long for some and for others it may be the long dirty toenails or midnight alley walks that take them that one step higher. One thing is for sure; with every trip you take you get a bit braver and a bit more curious, to the point that you’ll venture out of your shell and try new things, learning and growing as you do them – to me that is what travel is all about.
The trip that started it all…