The value of time well spent

Written by shivaliv

To quote a guy called Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency.”

 …And when you’re tired and you’ve been on a bus for three hours and you’ve been carrying your luggage across the ocean and you’re hungry and you’re lost and you’ve bled through your sock after cutting your toe open on a rock at the beach while jogging to warm yourself up to get into the North Atlantic Ocean and the prospect of an overnight eight hour bus journey for your return flight back to two degree celsius London leaves a sense of impending doom on your mind and it all just gets a bit too much and the zigzag is exhausting… Just stop…

Hooooold up a wee second. I’m on my holidays in a place that seems so much further than it is. How lucky are we to be able to travel to unknown lands (most people have a limited hold over the English language in Morocco and if you don’t speak French, you’ll have to speak Arabic – which, for some, may seem stressful but if you’re a Frenchie like moi it’s paradise for taking your language skills out for a test drive after a long winter of English speaking.)

Here, your only worry is whether to get a bowl of Harira soup (lentilly soup and great for ‘cold’ winters in Africa) or go full Tajine de poulet (a slowly cooked chicken dish in a beautifully hand-crafted ceramic dish.) Or whether to get a bag of the best oranges of your whole life for 20p. Side note: Orange trees are so common in Morrocco that people don’t, like, steal the ones on public pavements. Imagine: an orange tree filled with ripe oranges on the streets of London – the oranges would surely be gone in a second, no?? Or whether the Hammam (a turkish-style sauna in which you pour buckets of steaming water over yourself and rub olive oil soap on your skin and use an extremely coarse exforiant mitt to scrub yourself clean.Will the hammam be hot enough to get 24 years of dirt off you (the Arabic woman in the ‘bath’ said I had 1 kilo of dirt on me after scrubbing nearly all of my epidermis off my body). You don’t need to feel weary when you’re sitting at the front of the private mini bus which collected you at your hotel to bring you to Africa’s second largest waterfall. Or when you do feel weary but the afternoon sun warms you up from the inside out. When you get to spend a place which is literally called Paradise Valley with your nearest and dearest. When you, personally, loathe Christmas but you not only get to spend it in a Muslim country where there are no signs of Christmas but you also get to spend 25th December on a beach with a surf board in your arm and a wet suit on your back. When you end up getting the cold, despite wearing a wet suit but you don’t care because, for a few hours in the water, you got to think of nothing but standing up on a board to feel like your flying.

But we all have to come back at some point otherwise it wouldn’t be the breath of fresh air you need. It would be just breathing. No big deal, everyone does that. So trudge to work in the dark January mornings, eat your leftover limp salad for lunch and smell funky at the gym for the third night in a row. When it all gets too much, you’ll have this: the thought of the next trip away from the mundane, the next breath of fresh air. It doesn’t have to be to a strange African country. Change to your routine will suffice. Walk on the other side of the road and see a blossoming tree or go to a different place for lunch and have amazing noodles. Listen to country instead of house. Read fiction instead of non-fiction. To travel you don’t necessarily have to go far, you know? Or anywhere. Don’t rush straight home on Friday evenings but chat to the security guard in your building at work and hear about the time a man with a dog was denied entry into a pub in Kilburn and said: ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ to this black security guard, with a smirk on his face (LOVED THIS.) It’s all about the people. If that doesn’t work, the memory of a December well spent in Africa should be enough.. Until you need another vitamin D top up.

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