The night draws close and the world sleeps. Quietly, in my own silent space here, the walls remind me of journeys past. Places, so many places. Framed, worn as a purple Ethiopian scarf, a magic ring from Senegal around my neck and another on my thumb – haggled from a trader in Aswan. Reminders of the distances we can cover. Of how much can start with a thought.
Travel is, and I suspect shall always remain, an itch under my skin. A restlessness of soul that visits in the night. Carried on thin strings of incense, or the wind sweeping in from the world on the other side of the dark night beyond. Though at peace, challenged and pushed by the life I have here, I can’t turn away from the fact that I know how large the world might be. Know is perhaps the wrong term. Have a feeling of how large the world might be is better. I feel how far the night extends. How many beds in how many strange hostels, hotels and places that should never be licensed for human habitation lie in that silence.
It is becoming, once more, that time of year when the restless spirit demands to be addressed, to be given a fantasy, a dream to believe in. Who am I to ever refuse a travel fantasy?
But it’s a big world. There is so much. So many places. The world’s longest train pulls through the Mauritanian desert. Cities in northern Mozambique sleep gently under the warm sky. A bus leaves Johannesburg, on its way to the Democratic Republic of Congo. These, and more. So many more. Out there in the night, in the dark. The scent of each carries in it the restlessness of the night wind. The tragedy, the most terrible truth, is that I could never in a dozen lifetimes see and do and be and act all of the adventures out there. There can only be one at a time – though doomed to wonder about, to imagine, many others.
The end of the year will come. Its course is inevitable. And with it, I shall explore once more. Reach into the night and pick a single star to follow.
The only question I have. The only direction the restless spirit cannot give, is which that star shall be.