I’ve always loved to travel; so much so that I don’t remember exactly when I had my first sojourn. I was told that even while cooking in mama’s oven, I had crossed borders. So I guess it’s a familial thing.
The first trip I remember though, I was about 7 years old. I had initially thought we were going to see family in a different state until a couple of days before the trip, it was revealed that I was actually travelling to Europe. I remember the exact day. Mum had put me in the front seat while driving to the salon where my bob braids were going to be made. I was eating digestive biscuits, and was happy to be getting a new hair style done. She had began by making me promise it’d be our little secret.
Oh, how I love secrets!
I nodded enthusiastically, and swore to keep my mouth shut. If you grew up in Nigeria, you’d understand why it had to be a secret. There was so much superstition in those days, as it still is, to some extent. One simply did not tell others(except close family) when they were to travel. They simply did, and later called to inform those who mattered when they had arrived safely at their destination.
Anyway, I was giddy with excitement when I found out I was travelling to Amsterdam and Portugal. I still get flash backs of that trip. Even recently while in Lagos, my uncle and I reminisced about an artist we had watched at a concert while on that trip. There were so many people in front of us, so he had swung me on his shoulders so I could see clearly. I also remember stringing worms to a fish hook with my dad and his friend on a secluded beach. Another memory is one of me walking around Amsterdam and being marvelled by the sound and sights that were so different from the one I knew in Lagos. I had been invigorated by a new lease at life and I was buzzing with all that energy. I loved every single moment of it, and even still remember the toy soldier I had bought which would crouch then begin shooting at the press of a button. The toy hadn’t survived long though. That very night I returned to Lagos, a spoilt brat who had come with her family to welcome us back had forcefully tugged on it and broke one of its leg. I also got a beautifully coloured saving box which I still have with me, but these days it’s used as a chest to keep my jewellery, than to save some pennies.
But the memory I love most, although sometimes I wonder if it was only a dream, is of a little boy who for a night had been my friend. We had gone to visit my dad’s Caucasian friends for dinner. They had been lovely hosts and after dinner, I and their little boy had gone upstairs to his play room. He had a doll, and we both took turns stroking its hair, and I tried but failed to plait its hair. It had been so silky that my little hands had been unable to, but I didn’t even know how to braid back then so couldn’t have no matter how much I might have tried. This memory is a peculiar one. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking about that boy. Was it real or did I dream it up?(I have a very imaginative mind!) If it wasn’t, where is he now, is he still alive, does he remember me or ever wonder too, how I might be and what in life I was up to? I wonder, now that I live in Europe, might I perhaps, have past him on the streets on one of my travels, or I in his without ever realising our shared past?
Memories are beautiful things. They have the ability to haunt us with their essence.
What I’m trying to say is, my love for travel stems from the feelings it evokes while in that present moment, and the memories it conjures years and years after. It’s not an instant gratification kinda thing. It’s a feeling and mood that has the ability to last for a lifetime. Since that first trip I remember, I’ve been on so many others and each one holds a beautiful space in my life. Mostly I learn more about myself from these travels and come back refreshed and knowledgeable about my place in life.
When I get asked why I love to travel, the question itself baffles me. I think, why not? What is there not to love about it? But I guess not everyone is a nomad at heart or in search of the next adventure.
However, for me, its a necessity to see and be.
Picture taken at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. Accra, Ghana.