A Bedouin Breakfast

by Ant Stone on October 13, 2008

in Australia

It’s a question I ask myself. It’s a question others ask me. It’s more simple than ‘where are you going?’ but more complicated than ‘where have you been?’ It’s a question I welcome, and fail to avoid. If I were asked ‘how long to go?’ I’d be, well, I’d be, you know, well I’d be – maybe I would anyway – you know, stuck for words, so it’s good that ‘how long?’ isn’t the question. I’ve been asked this question while I’ve slept. I’ve been asked it while I’ve been deep under water and far up in the sky. I’ve been asked it in a foreign tongue, and sensed it asked through silent eyes. I’ve discussed the question with a thousand people, and the only answer I agree with is my own and when I’ve asked others this question, I’m usually left confused. The question, is why. Why, do I travel?

The answer is found adrift in a river of love, and gasping in a torrent of hate. Firstly, let me state early on: I revere no traveller, and never sneer at his home-bound brother. Travelling is a way of life, as much as those who embark on parallel journeys of careers, families, tertiary education or indeed those brave souls that combine all this and more. Travelling is a privilege, there is no way around that. Whether you are bound by the buckles and belts of a top loading backpack or blistering your heels over local walkways, you are in my eyes, a traveller. You seek new experiences, you feed on cultures and add to the cycle. The thing that excites me about my current situation here in Melbourne is that I know to get somewhere else, I have to go somewhere else and it’s that love of going to places that is the foundation of why I choose to travel. I don’t actually need to get there, I just need to go there.

I’m also on the run. It’s a total cliché of the non-travelling community to label long-term travellers as running away from something. I don’t mind admitting it, as in my case it’s probably true. I hated the boxed way of life I had in England, five 9-5’s spliced by binges of two day fun. My brief it seemed, was to develop, conquer and spawn. The joy I got from looking at the tax column of my monthly payslip inversely affected my will to travel. My theory is that while I’m bouncing around the less-expensive corners of the world playing out a lifelong fantasy of being an incognito mute, people satisfy themselves with the assumption that I’m developing and conquering things – rather like my plundering forefathers. Yes. That’s it. I’m an explorer on official duty for ma’am, give up your taxes and lay down your daughters. Okay, take your daughters back – Reb’s looking. Not that it really matters that she’s looking, I wasn’t going to touch your daughter anyway, sir. Honest. The wench isn’t my type – but give me your taxes, for heaven’s sake one needs to get gone.

I won’t ever stop travelling. I state this loud, and I state this clear. I’ve (literally) gone too far to go back. I’ve been on the road for over 40 million seconds (trust me, I checked it) and if you gave me a pound for every one to stay at home till my dying day I can safely say, I would turn you down.

One recent morning I finished stirring a morning coffee and looked out to the rear of our rented house share. The sun was shining, invisible birds were tossing their trill to the ground and the hypnotic pool of ochre patio tempted me outside. I sipped coffee from the upper reaches of a mismatched mug and allowed my wakening senses to niggle and nudge my slumbering memory. My view from the patio takes in static rooftops, and I seamlessly begin to imagine them to be the homes of one-time Bedouins. I look out at their sea of tiled tents, and allow my soles to feed on the warmth of the patio bricks, driving the thrill of the moment. Steam rising from what was moments ago an insignificant cup of coffee, now becomes the stray smoke of a shy morning fire, warming my morning bread. The birdsong transforms into the idle chatter of sudden friends. The crunch of toast between my teeth is replaced by scratchy bracken beneath my heels and the garden fence bulks out to become a faraway mountain range. It is brief moments like these, when I fill myself with childlike energy and feel my life embrace itself. As this kaleidoscopic wave settles on the shores of reality I swill the last of the bitter lukewarm coffee and outwardly remind myself, “I’m in Australia”.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

percy October 16, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Ant – you silly sod. What the hell are you doing in Melbourne. Get to Dubai bloody quick, it’s all happening there!!
Max Power old skool needs you!
Wot a laf… I nearly PMSL
Anyhow, have fun send my regards to the colonies.
You been up to QLD yet?
If you’re going that route I’ll give you some contacts and info. Also have freinds in Surfers Paradise that run a hotel complex.
cheers my mate
– Percy


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