I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started

Back in Johannesburg, back at the D'Oreale Grande, after a journey that was less than two weeks but seemed much longer. Every day was so rich and full of new experiences that it was as though time itself expanded and suddenly accommodated many more hours than the paltry twenty-four I'm used to.

I'm having herb tea in the garden, listening to what I now know are Cape turtledoves cooing in the trees, the four notes that struck me as so foreign, doves "with a South African accent," our first day here, and now is a familiar, and reassuring, sound.

The tour group has broken up. Those going on the optional extension to Cape Town left this morning; everyone else is doing a tour of Soweto and a visit to Nelson Mandela's house, now a museum, before heading to the airport for flights home this evening.

I woke up with one of those intestinal viruses we were warned to expect here, which at least waited until the last day to show up. I couldn't possibly endure a bus tour, so I arranged to keep my hotel room until five o'clock and I'm trying to recover enough to face the sixteen hour flight tonight. Being unwell so far away from home is always stressful; being unwell here is almost hallucinatory.

Wherever you go, there you are. I've quoted that many times about being in new places and new situations. I've always thought that it was obviously true, that it was in fact what I love most about travel. When you find yourself on the Great Wall, or riding a camel by the pyramids, or sitting at a cafe in Paris, the fact that it's still you there, the same old self, is what makes the new place, a place you may have dreamed about for years, suddenly possible, suddenly real.
                       The world, it was the old world yet,
                       I was I, my things were wet
But so much of this trip felt like a dream, a fiction, that I started to feel as though I myself was also a fiction. I don't think I've ever been less self-conscious, in the best possible way, than I was on this trip.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful pictures. I almost commented "Great picture" a number of times but realized I'd either have to do it on every one or none. They really are great pictures, and the narration just made them that much better. Congratulations on an amazing trip.

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