The Writing Traveler: What travel is made of by Darlene Jones

Sunset on the vast expanse of Africa’s Serengeti. Image: Wikipedia

You dream of traveling and finally go to a place you’ve always dreamed about. Then it’s what you didn’t expect that strikes you the hardest.

You set out on your travels with images in your head.

You’ve read about the place.

You’ve seen the documentaries.

You’ve held tight to your childhood imaginations.

It’s what you didn’t expect that hits hardest.

Would you ever have imagined that stepping off the plane in Bamako, the heat would press you into the tarmac with a force so strong that your legs wobbled a little as you made your way to the terminal?

Would you ever have imagined the power of scent; the fact that 25 years after having lived in Bamako a whiff of myrrh could transport you instantly from your living room in Canada to the market in Bamako?

You stand under the Eiffel Tower looking up. You take the elevator to the top. You’ve seen this iconic landmark on dozens of documentaries and travel shows, but did you ever expect to be so awed in its presence?

You studied Egypt in grade five, fascinated, as all kids seem to be, with the pyramids, the Sphinx, and the stories your teacher tells of the flooding of the Nile.

But never, in all your imagining, did you expect the demarcation between lush green and barren desert to be so abrupt as when you saw it with your own eyes.

And your dream trip—a safari in Kenya. You knew you’d marvel at the animals, big and small, meandering in their natural environment, but did you know the greatest impact on your psyche would be the utter silence in the vast expanses of the Serengeti?

The unexpected—that’s what travels are made of.

Darlene Jones is the author of Whispers under the Baobab: Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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