Why I Travel
I travel to share a wall with three niqab-clad Jordanian women in Wadi Musa. Us facing one way, watching the sun set over Little Petra from the best vantage point in the city. Phones in hand we snap the sunset, each other, the view across the city. And throw in the odd selfie for good measure. These sun tans won’t last forever.
Facing the other way, phones in hand, they WhatsApp away, keeping up to date with their girlfriends, one eye on their phones the other on their toddlers playing on the swings, ready to swoop in, pick them up and dust them off if they take a tumble.
Taking the tram through Hiroshima I watch the elderly man sitting opposite me. He has his arm outstretched putting as much distance between him and his phone as possible, eyes squinting as he studies the screen. The way my dad reads his text messages. Placing the crook of his walking stick over his forearm he frees up both hands, and, more importantly, both thumbs, ready to reply. Now he wears my mother’s look, that mixture of fascination and confusion, as she slowly taps out her messages. That’s why I travel.
I tear another piece of village chicken off the bone. Our new Zambian friend asks: ‘Have you guys heard of Father Ted?’ He launches into a series of impressions, the quotes bang on, each one funnier than the last. I have yet to meet a better Dougal.
‘I love Mrs Doyle,’ he says.
I continue to battle with my village chicken.
‘Ah yeah. She’s great.’
‘No. I love her.’
That I was on a work trip to Zambia becomes unimportant. I would leave with a new appreciation of the words: ‘Would you like another cup of tea father?’ That’s why I travel.
10 Women Talk About Why They Choose to Travel Solo – Matador Network
I contributed to this piece about choosing to travel solo for the Matador Network in November 2015.