Monday, July 26, 2010

The heart of the Traveller

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

This saying has never rung so true as when I went home to South Africa for a month recently, taking a little time out of Dar for some work and play. This time, something was a little different from my previous experience of returning home. It smelt different, it looked different and it sure felt different!

The soccer world cup was just beginning and we were hosting thousands of people from around the world…The streets were bustling, everywhere around me people were speaking in different languages, I could smell the distinctive Grahamstown Festival air, and there was an electricity and pride amongst all South Africans that was so tangible, it was something to behold.

My trip on the Gautrain was one of my highlights. I felt like a kid about to go on a rollercoaster; taking pictures, minding the gap and entering nervously. It’s everything that it was meant to be - convenient, safe, clean and very comfortable but mostly its just plain AWESOME! A great public transport system is coming into place, it looks hot and everyone who was and is still involved (the assistants at the ticket points are very helpful, as certain people in their excitement don’t yet know how to charge cards uhm) is doing a fantastic job!

Something a little less manifest however, was how I was slowly becoming more aware of the way I understood what ‘home’ to lacked and possessed. I began to see what I had taken for granted before… simple things like being able to drink water out of the tap (I phoned Maisha in a flat panic because I was so thirsty and there was no water in her fridge), a constant supply of electricity (although I would not give up late-night dark chocolate indulgence on our  under the stars on our breezy rooftop), a media that informs and educates, more than adequate health care facilities and access to medicine…These are some of my daily preoccupations here, which at home I accept as the norm. I feel like I had a little more time to think…

…And traveling most certainly opens up one’s heart… Friendships and relationships I have found are much less stratified according to age, occupation or status etc.  It is a gift to share ones experiences with such a dynamic group of people, who constantly challenge me and who are a constant source of delight.  One is surprised, disillusioned, delighted and educated about people, religions, cultures, and mostly yourself.  And I think that’s what’s changed since I last went home, a gift that I have received from my travels and my stay in Dar: self-reflection. And with that comes an awareness of ones’ environment.

It was really amazing to be home, to spend time with my mom and to see the country that I hold so dear, in a slightly different way... And its just as awesome to be back in the heat!!



  1. "You will take back pots and pictures. A sheaf of photographs, a jingle of coins. But you will take back more. A vision of a wide world. Remember laughter, new friends, new understanding." Pam Brown

    Good to have you back my friend!

  2. And she could have told me hot chocolate pours forth from the tap...must saying being able to wash veggies and salad in water from the tap does really change your life!

    Had a good visit...miss you guys

  3. Dankie vir die kuier Maisha, was te lekker! En baie goed om terug te wees Anne. Dankie vir die mooi woorde x