Travelling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. – IBN BATTUTA
Today I woke up on the lush hotel bed with the AC low enough to make me wrap the covers around my body tightly and resolve to never leave the bed. I was relaxed and happy, never would have imagined that before the day ended I would have to be smuggled back into my own country.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I think I have always been the adventurous type, even though I never did much about it because something was always in the way. I either had to deal with school or work or something else. But at the time I was in a transition and had very little to do while I waited for the cocoon of existence to burst open and the butterfly that is my life to finally emerge. So, when a friend invited me to join in on a 4-day holiday at a beach resort in a different country I jumped on it. It was supposed to be a group fun holiday of sitting at the beach and exploring local markets.
I booked my flight and counted down the days till I could hop on the plane and join the rest of the gang for the adventure that awaited us. The day drew closer and it seemed to come with a deep anxiety. I had never left the country before and my passport wasn’t even ready, I imagined all the ways life could go horribly wrong, the thoughts were nauseating and overwhelming, suddenly the excitement that had engulfed me earlier seemed to vanish, only to be replaced by anxiety and a crippling fear.
I looked for every possible reason to avoid making the trip and only after a sincere conversation with one of my closest friends did I realize that the key to overcoming my supposed fear was in the fear itself.
“I have never been outside the country and wouldn’t even know where to begin, I cant do this”
“I have never been outside the country, I wouldn’t even know where to begin, I need to do this”
And so it was settled, it didn’t mean that I suddenly felt free from all the anxiety and worry, it just meant that each time anxiety crept up all I needed to do was to remind myself that it was for that exact reason this needed to be done.
The day came and I made it to the meeting point, we embarked on the adventure. A journey that was seemingly short and unassuming but full of life lessons and hard realities.
- Pick your battles and know when to conserve your energy
- Sometimes in life all you can do is sit back and try not to get upset Onye wee iwe o kaya njo*
- Always have a plan C
Make no mistake, it was an enjoyable holiday. I got to swim in the beautiful clear beach, laugh hard and be carefree in a land where no one knew me and no one cared.
We visited one of the local markets although much to my disappointment it was rather mundane and low on arts and craft. There was scarcely anything there that I couldn’t easily get at home. Still it was a nice experience to walk around the market and marvel at the similarities between cultures despite being thousands of miles and apart.
There was fun to be hard at every corner and we weren’t letting any slip by. Even when we got “arrested for taking photos” which is actually code for “harassment and attempted extortion” I guess the details of that experience is a story to be told another day but it only goes to show how deep-rooted patriarchy is and how irrelevant your rights are as a woman in this part of the world.
But then there was the beach, set in place like a godsend to cleanse and purge us of all the harassment and the almost getting duped by cab drivers and every other negative thing that might have crossed our path.
The beauty and sheer peacefulness of the beach singlehandedly made up for everything else. So we stayed by the beach and let the waves calm us and cleanse us.
The rest of our stay was not so remarkable, I for one spent most of the remainder of our stay walking the shores, gathering shells for the souvenir I was planning to make and taking photos. And when the morning of the departure day came around, my lungs were full of salty seaside air and I was ready to head back home.
We traveled along the coast for most of the trip, with the breeze in my face and music in my ears I was far away in thought dreaming up all the many adventures that awaited me in the future now that my adventure beast was gently rousing from its lifelong slumber. The return trip was somewhat shorter as they always are, it also helped that at that point I was well rested and no longer uneasy with the thought of being faraway from my home.
Soon we were are the border, but we had arrived late at night and the law it seems did not hold up in the night-time. So regardless of our “papers and qualifications” we all had to be “smuggled” back into the country thru the back roads.
It was as I traversed the back roads on a shaky okada settling the different guards and trying not to fall into the muddy road while also balancing my bag that the slumbering critter finally awoke.
This is nothing but a brief explanation to help you understand my new found need to seek out new places and experiences.
*Onye wee iwe o kaya njo is an igbo saying that translates as “if you get angry things get worse”