On International Travel

by

When asked what they wish to do with their time on Earth, young people often enthusiastically reply “travel”. I must say that I have never developed the enjoyment of moving great distances. People rapturize the adventure, the challenge, the new experiences. Maybe I’m a humbug, but I re categorize most of these as “hassle”. Spending numerous hours jam packed into a long aluminum tube filled with deafening white noise and the wealthiest cross-section of the world’s citizens doesn’t strike me as adventure, and the freshness of the experience wears off inside the first hour. For me, airline travel is that part of life in which complete strangers’ rear ends touch me the most often. It is that part of life in which one of my hands or feet is falling asleep all the time. And when you get off your multi-hour flight to be red-faced screamed at by a member of the British passport control, maybe you start to feel like you don’t really care about entering the European Union. You know; maybe ancient architecture, bland food, and exorbitantly high priced EVERYTHING aren’t looking as good as they did a dozen hours and thousand miles ago.

In Africa, these adversities of the road and sky take on whole new dimensions. It’s one thing when your flight is delayed, and you are given a form for gratis overnight lodging by the airline. It’s a whole other thing when you get to the hotel, and the form is in a language the proprietor doesn’t recognize. Surly passport controllers are one thing. Surly passport controllers who enjoy the intoxication of baseless power are another thing. Surly passport controllers who calmly explain to you that they are now extorting money from you are an entire next level. Maybe you have been on a very crowded bus ride. Now imagine that you are on a very very crowded bus
ride, for 12 hours, and there are large roaches squeezing out of the seams of the seats. Imagine that all the other passengers believe that the wind from open windows makes people sick, and not only keep all theirs closed, but will close yours immediately, should you try to open it. Travel–young people of the world, its all yours!

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