I’m currently on a bit of a road trip through the Western Cape with my husband. We like to do this for ourselves from time to time. At the moment we’re a bit broke, but it was our anniversary on the third and I guess sometimes love needs to trump questionable bank accounts. As much as I adore being in my home (anyone who knows me well knows that I tend towards being a bit of a hermit sometimes) I do admit that combatting cabin fever becomes a delicate balancing act, which is best performed by leaving our fair city behind. These little road trips have healing powers. They have restorative powers. And to be a little too honest: they have marriage saving powers!
So my husband and I are road tripping, and we’ve been to an array of strange places over the last week. Letting my husband take control of the planning has lead to far stranger experiences than if I had been in charge. His relaxed approach to life is certainly more conducive to adventure than my uptight and systematic need for control is. Again, you see: balance. Last week we stayed in a tepee. This is a decidedly un-South African way to spend the night, of course, but it was a new experience nonetheless, and new experiences are the point. We even got to have the strange experience of stumbling upon a (possibly) biker bar in the middle of Prince Alfred’s Pass where the owner had a stuffed springbuck’s hind quarters set up on the wall (instead of a traditional hunting trophy head) and if that wasn’t bizarre enough, he had, for reason’s known only to the infinite cosmos, rigged it up so that whisky could be tapped from the poor creature’s lady bits. I learned of myself that evening that I am quite the prude and that there are some authentic experiences that I am happy to skip out on. The indignity of it all still haunts me, days later.
After the night of strange taxidermy and authentic American tenting, we spent the night on a lovely farm that is completely off the grid. This of course excited Ty no end because he just wants to live off the grid. Having a proper off-the-grid experience was a nice reminder of the possibility of it all.
We’ve actually been having a lovely time. We’ve driven through farm after farm. We’ve admired exquisite protea bushes and gasped at the beauty of the wine lands and marvelled at the brownness of the Cederburg area. I’ve taken a thousand photographs of clouds. And all the while I have been reminding myself: we are nothing without our farmers. These folks who make this all happen are our unsung heroes. We should thank them more often. I can barely grow tomatoes in my veggie garden, never mind feed a whole country.
And yet…there is something that is missing…
Please don’t get me wrong. I love our country. Our country is beautiful and magnificent and we probably have the best weather in the whole world. We have this beautiful diversity, which makes me smile. We have great food. We have our odd colloquialisms and our specific brand of humour. I love all of those things. And I miss them when I go away.
But when you’re road tripping in your own country you never really properly feel like you have left home. You never experience that exquisite spark of fear that is brought about by being faced with the unknown. You never get to stand still for a moment, look around you and tell yourself, “I have absolutely no idea where I am”. I must admit, I am addicted to that feeling.
I tried to tell myself the other day that I need to stop having lofty and impossible dreams about trips overseas that I cannot afford. I should just be quietly content to explore my own country. Exploring my own country is doable. But my other self only started to laugh at me. Because as much as I do love exploring the wonders of right here, my other self knows that there is something far more empowering about that feeling of not knowing where you are. Of feeling un-findable. Of being no one in the midst of everyone.
If you’ve ever read The Alchemist you might have noticed that there is a quote by Madonna on the back. It says “The Alchemist is a book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our own doorstep.” To me this is a gross misinterpretation of the book. To me, The Alchemist is about how you should seek out adventure despite the fact that everything you need might be on your doorstep.
My own interpretation of the story sticks with me and causes my mind to scheme constantly. It is why, even though I am not wealthy, I have begun to stick small amounts of money away in a “flight fund”. And it is why I am constantly on websites like webjet checking out what it costs to fly where. Because it is important to know these things. It is important to know that if you don’t get yourself the latest iPhone, you could actually afford to purchase a ticket to Vietnam. It is important to know that if you save x amount of money for y amount of months that you could give yourself a trip to Prague.
Because you know what? As healing and restorative and marriage-saving as a road trip through the country might be, a plane ticket to anywhere holds within it a thousand times more power. And yes, everything I need might be on my doorstep, but the world outside of my doorstep is calling me. And I will keep checking on those ticket prices. I will keep working out how much to save. And soon I’ll be on a plane again.