Beginnings

When I was 19, I set off from England with a friend on my first big adventure. We flew to Rome, hitchhiked through Italy, took a ferry to Greece, and went island hopping for six glorious weeks. It was a trip filled with firsts. My first time to fly in a plane, sleep on beaches, drink retsina, see a moon shadow, skinny dip, eat real Greek yogurt and honey under the shade of bougainvillea….the list goes on. But the most important was feeling the buzz of travel: that heady sensation when you arrive in a unfamiliar country, breathe in different air, get those jolting shocks of newness that wake you up to the fact that this world is huge, multifaceted and endlessly fascinating, and that you are not the centre of it. I returned home to my parents’ house, two days before I was due back at Liverpool University. I had tanned skin, sun bleached hair, and Joni Mitchell’s song Carey (”My fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet…”) endlessly playing through my head. I had cried when I left Greece. I couldn’t wait to go back – not just to the country, but also to the state of being I had found there. My poor parents. The morning I was leaving for Liverpool, I brought them tea in bed. I remember them sitting up, drinking the tea. My mum in her nightie, wearing a hairnet, saying, “Well, it’s good you did all that travelling this summer, and got it out of your system.” I probably shouldn’t have announced that in fact this was only the beginning, that I wanted to travel all my life, and that- and I’ve no idea where this came from –I intended to cross the Sahara when I was 70. They looked a bit bewildered. It was a look I came to recognize over the years. I was never able to fully explain to them why I wanted to wander the world so much. I’ve never fully understood it myself. As the years have gone on, the urge has grown stronger, fueled in great part by Dag, who beats me hands down in the nomad stakes. And the Sahara? Well, you just never know…

 

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