Today, on the eve of a long, long journey, I pause to reflect. In a scant 24 hours, Maty and I will be well on our way to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to visit her family and to see the land where she was born.
In the past, my overseas trips have been minimalist with respect to the amount of luggage I took with me.
- 5 shirts (1 formal)
- 3 pairs of pants (2 slacks, 1 jeans)
- 5 pairs of socks and underwear
- 1 pair of shorts/swim trunks
- 1 pair of good walking shoes
- Leatherman tool
- Reading light
- Travel books appropriate to destination
|Everything must go!|
As is always the case, I'm experiencing the emotions that comprise the mental preparation that occurs before I set out on a trek: anxiety, excitement, curiosity, dread. It happens every time.
On the one hand, travel is a hassle. Just before setting out, I'm plagued with feelings of bother and discomfort. Travel is a huge disruption to one's daily routine. There are many concerns. For example, who will care for my two girls, Hannah and Roxanne, while I'm gone? What about the house? How will I arrange for the bills to be paid? How will I keep in contact? Have I tied up all the loose ends at work? Have I packed everything I will need?
But there are also the good questions. These are the questions that have no practical answers, but that can only be answered when one reaches the destination. What will I find when I get there? Who are the people that I will encounter? What will I learn? What will I see? There is a thrill in these questions that hints at the rewards that travel offers.
There is no way I can describe the feeling one gets when one steps off a plane and into a previously unknown country. I remember flying to Florida, one night back in 1991, and looking out on the utter blackness of the ground 30,000 feet below, with islands of electric light marking cities and towns, and wondering how life was different for those people whose homes I was passing over. And I remember dropping out of the gray London skies that morning in 1997, watching the tiny square houses appear below us.
So, just before we set out, I'm as ready as I can be. Check back here at this blog for travel updates and (possibly) pictures. I'm not sure how much internet access we will have, but I'm going to try to keep the blog updated. Best to all of you, and we'll see you when we return. (I'll be back in late October; Maty, just before Thanksgiving.) As those crazy Germans say: Glückliche Reise!
|The Tower of London|