Just a month ago I was home in the states and now I’m half way around the world again ramping up for the next 6+ months of continuous travel. When I set out on this world tour back in May I hadn’t planned on going home at all within the first year, but the six month mark seemed like a good checking in point. I told my closest friends and left it a surprise for my family. My mother lost her shit. I showed up at the door the day before Thanksgiving and she could barely function. It’s a moment I will remember forever.
Even though it was nice to see everyone, it was a risk. But not the kind I’m use to taking, like hitchhiking and couchsurfing with strangers. The risk was that it would be hard to leave. That I’d fall back into the comforts of home and not be as eager to hit the road again. Not to downplay the relationships I have back home, but… it wasn’t hard to leave, at all. I mean sure, I was sad to say goodbye all over again to the people that I love and for some reason still love me even though I keep abandoning them. But damn, it’s good to be back. THIS is where I feel at home. In strange countries and cities where I don’t speak the language and I don’t know anyone.
Here’s something I didn’t realize until I got back overseas… nothing about the states is appealing to me anymore. Sure, it’s "home,” things are easy, my family is there and it has Chipotle (Europe, PLEASE get your shit together on the Mexican food front!) but as it stands now… America just isn’t my jam. I got on the plane back overseas more excited than I’ve ever been to be traveling again. It helped that I was bound for South Africa, a country I have wanted to visit since I first heard about it from a colleague at a crap job I worked while I went to broadcasting school. I was 18 and had no idea what my life would bring but I knew I just had to get my ass on a safari. It took me over 10 years, but i did it!
My trip started off pretty bumpy though. 30 hours of flying and one too many connections for the baggage handlers… Yep! They lost my bag. Get travel insurance, people! I went out and got some clothes and toiletries and moved forward with my African exploration. I eventually got my bag and all was right with the world but even if it never arrived, I was just happy to be back at it. In another foreign country, taking it all in. I spent a few days in Johannesburg, basically waiting for my bag. From there it was a quick trip to Mozambique and back to South Africa for my safari experience.
There are hundreds of lodges and several game reserves to choose from to fit every budget, but I only had a few days so I went with the private reserves over the public ones to see as much as possible in a short time. On my first game drive, we struck gold! A huge male lion decided to get up close and personal with our open air, open roof vehicle. It was incredible.
The next day we saw the very ellusive leopard, and jackpot again… he was chowing down on a fresh kill. We just parked a few meters away (in the same open air vehicle) and watched him rip the Impala apart, eventually even crunching on its skull. And yes, you could hear it.
Because I strive to make all of my friends hate me, I spent my last day in the bush playing with Elephants. I’m such an asshole, I know. But haters gonna hate, hate, hate, etc. But South Africa isn’t all just wild animals and biltong. (If you don’t know what biltong is, ignorance is bliss because once you find out and taste it, you’ll never go back to regular beef jerky ever again.) You can’t go to the trouble of seeking out the wild animals of the bush without also seeing the country’s party animals in their natural habitat; Cape Town.
It’s a city that is equal parts scenic beauty and crazy nightlife. The mountains shoot right out of the ocean and there’s no lack of outdoor activities, including a trip to Seal Island, where the Great Whites fly out of the water. You’ve seen it on Shark Week or we probably aren’t friends in real life. The best part about Cape Town for me was the people I was with. I shouldn’t have to explain this but for any new readers, you should know that I don’t play well with others. I have a few close friends, most have been around for decades and I don’t bother getting to know anyone new beyond surface level. Because, why?
This trip has been an exercise is letting my guard down and letting people in. I still hate most people I meet and refuse to engage in small talk of any kind while standing in lines or stuck in an elevator, but I’m working on it. And my time in South Africa proves how far I’ve come living as a closeted introvert who most people incorrectly describe as "So outgoing!” Barf. I can’t do anything about the resting bitch face, but if you also DVR Shark Week, maybe we can be friends?