I leave for Nairobi in three short days. I get the feeling that I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. As I prepare myself physically, my thoughts turn to what I want to accomplish during this time. It’s nice to be a tourist somewhere for a while, meeting some people, eating strange food and snapping an iconic photo that you can make your profile picture. But ultimately your journey becomes a distant memory that doesn’t resonate with who you are. I’ve experienced this on family vacations where we either rush to see everything important, or don’t spend enough time really grasping the spirit of the place. In our quest to see everything we see nothing. In my mind, the places you travel should become ingrained in you. No matter how hard I try, I will never forget dancing in the streets of Cairo after Egypt won the African Cup, or smoking hookah on the Red Sea while talking about life, or sitting in a hot bath in Japan last summer looking out over mountains and rice fields. Those experiences are a part of me now and they only happened because I dove further than the surface of a place. Those times, when experiences are the agenda are the most memorable and the reason I love to travel.
Going back to Africa, I want this adventure to be about much more than tourism. Yes I want to go on a Safari, sue me. But what I really want is to engage with people and learn their hearts. What motivates them? What do they want from life? How does spirituality look in an African context? How can Westerners help them overcome debilitating poverty and what does Africa have to teach us? These are the questions I want to ask because they can only be discovered through relationships with real people. Someday I will look back on this trip and remember the people and memories that made it special. That, besides my job of selling stoves of course, is what I want to accomplish because it will last well beyond the confines of my itinerary. More from Kenya when I land in a few days 🙂