Looking back at things now, there’s no doubt in my mind that Africa is the best thing that ever happened to me. But like most good things, I had no idea at the time.
When I arrived in Cape Town I was relieved. Sure, I struggled with the whole finality of it all. I questioned whether another adventure could live up to it. I wondered if all other trips I made would seem dull and uninspired. I started to worry that in the search of that next thrill I’d do something that would kill me. I have become an adventure addict, but in Cape Town I wasn’t sad to give up Anne Murray, I was relieved.
In fact, I even seriously considered giving it all up. I’d find an apartment somewhere and work from “home.” Maybe I’d take a proper job even, and earn some money to start paying off some student loan debt. Perhaps, instead of living outside the box of convention while travelling the world I’ve instead created my own new box. Maybe living a stable life would be me “getting out of my shell”. Have I been hiding from life through travel? Is it really just time to finally grow up?
Well spending a month cruising around South Africa in a rental car, I told myself that I wasn’t going to think about the future until I left Africa. I wanted to enjoy my last month on this continent that I’ve loved, hated, and soaked into my blood. But after leaving Swaziland, and coasting through St. Lucia, I arrived in Durban a couple days before I was meant to fly home, and I no matter how beautiful the landscapes, wondrous the coastlines, or exciting the wildlife, I couldn’t muster up the energy to even take more than a couple photos.
You see, this trip throughout Africa has been as hard on me as it has been rewarding. I missed the birth of my niece and nephew, along with the first 9 months of their lives. I was away from my family and friends for 14 month, and in St. Lucia, I was basically as far away from home as one could ever get. Usually when I come home from a trip I feel like my life has changed, and everyone else’s has stayed the same, this time it’s the opposite. I struggled in Africa, too. I fought with malaria, I was broke almost the entire time, and I’ve never been so lonely in my life. After Cape Town, home was the only place that I wanted to be.
Though inspiring and beautiful, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t putting on a brave face for much of South Africa. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wanted to be home. I wanted to see family, drink with friends, and maybe even just spend a couple days doing absolutely nothing travel related.
In Durban, I sat in my hostel room almost the entire time like an enslaved worker waiting for his holiday. I forced myself to visit the waterfront, aquarium, and the town center. And well beautiful, my heart had long left Africa.
Maybe there is a time I’ll return. Maybe someday I’ll buy another scooter and drive up the east side. Maybe I’ll live there someday. Maybe I’ll never travel to another country in my life. The only thing I know, is right now it’s time to go home.