Why I travel
“If you travel a lot, you’ll know how to love people”
A Zimbabwean Uber driver on our way to O.R. Tambo airport, Johannesburg said this to me. I found it very profound. We had been talking about the Xenophobia in South Africa and his conclusion was that the South Africans who were killing and destroying foreigners and their property were not well traveled- “well travelled” is too much, I’ll just say, “travelled”- and hadn’t spent time with people other than themselves thus making their thinking shallow. I couldn’t but agree completely with him. Travelling makes you tolerant of people; but while I won’t say I travel to learn to love more, I will say travelling has definitely made me more exposed and dare I say, cultured.
Every time I go somewhere new or even visit somewhere I’ve been before, I’m amazed at how much I don’t know and also at how much I don’t do in my own space. I rented and rode a bicycle on The Promenade in Cape Town and came alive! Prior to that, I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in maybe twenty years; I discovered that this love for dodo isn’t particularly peculiar to Nigerians, Puerto Ricans have a dish they love called Mofongo that simply put is mashed plantain with orisirisi. After visiting Puerto Rico it occurred to me that wherever in the world I found myself, if I met a Puerto Rican I could strike a conversation with him/her using Mofongo as an icebreaker! Still on realizations, when I thought New York had the nastiest winter and was only second to the North Pole, standing outside the American Embassy in Ottawa, Canada for about 10 minutes jolted me to reality. My warmest boots felt like see-through leggings and nobody had to tell me to spend the rest of my time indoors, venturing out only to go sight seeing once because hey what’s the point of going somewhere for the first time only to stay indoors? But seriously, traveling has made me feel more exposed, more confident and more tolerant of people from different cultures. It has also killed the stereotypes I- with the help of media- had formed in my mind. I spoke about this in one of my video blogs “Traveling is the new club”. Please watch when you can.
Another major reason why I travel is to get away from all the noise. Having been a city girl most of my life, sometimes I feel like I just might be losing my mind with how overwhelmed I become. Sometimes it’s sudden and I wake up thinking, “This is madness. I need a break from all of this” and at other times the overwhelming feeling creeps in slowly and I find myself repeating day after day, “I think I need a break”. I remember spending a weekend at a lake house in Austin and looking out at the water thinking, “I need to move from New York, I cant do New York anymore”. Being in Lagos now, I have the same feeling of just wanting to get away from this noise that can be so overpowering. On the road, if keke NAPEP is not trying to remove the bumper of your car, someone is cleaning your windshield by force then you get home tired and find yourself pressing your horn endlessly because the security guard is missing in action. I travel for sanity.
And what better way to travel than with a best friend or good friends? I travel to bond. Being together in a quiet, serene place with a loved one will definitely strengthen the ties you have. You see and hear each other clearer and it just seems like everything is working together to make sure you understand yourselves better. LOL! I probably sound like I have my head up in the clouds but honestly, a holiday doeth a relationship much good also I noticed that people tend to be more approachable in foreign lands. I remember seeing a governor of one of our states in Maryland and he was all smiles! “Oh you’re Nigerian, so nice to see you. What are you doing here? Let me know if I can be of help”. I couldn’t help but think that his security detail in Nigeria would have swept me aside before I even took five steps towards him.
What I wish I could add to this list is, “I travel for work”. Sadly, I don’t…at least not yet but it would be fun to uncover the sights and sounds of new places and cultures and document it for a network… that would be bliss. So *cough cough* this is an open call to anyone looking for a host for a travel show or blog. I’m your girl!
I read somewhere that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer; truer words haven’t been spoken.