I love to travel. Nothing beats finding oneself in a remote, or even not-so remote, other culture, absorbing elements of the world with almost every breath.
I travel when I can – not as often as I’d ideally like, and sometimes things don’t go entirely to plan, but that can add to the experience.
I had a plan to visit Chernobyl this year. It’s long been on my list. I have a fascination for abandoned places, where nature reclaims what we leave behind. In this case it’s one of those scars that humans have placed on the planet as an indicator of collective stupidity, unconsciousness and irresponsibility – a signifier of what awaits us if we don’t wake up.
That plan has been scuppered by the recent Sky tv series, which I’ve not yet seen. Abandoned Pripyat and its surrounds in the evocatively named Zone of Alienation are quite abruptly being transformed into a mecca for hordes of goggle-eyed tv viewers, in the same way that remote and beautiful Europe-wide locations featured in GoT (a show I’ve also not seen) are now enticements for countless gawking fans, and in some cases goldmines for resourceful locals.
Maybe when the fuss dies down I’ll take another look. Just glad I didn’t book anything.
Another plan was a return to the Peruvian Amazon and some deep immersive plant medicine healing with indigenous folk, far, far removed from anywhere, wholly absorbed in the ancient natural primeval. Among the most rewarding and memorable trips I’ve ever done, and definitely one to repeat. There’s little in my experience to compare to swimming with pink river dolphins, or engaging in a mystical ceremony late at night, way off somewhere in the vastness of the rainforest, with a curandero and a small group of adventurers and local villagers. Unfortunately, that has had to be postponed thanks to clashing obligations.
Yet another involved a few days in Kyrgyzstan, hanging out with nomads who hunt for dinner with golden eagles. That too has to be put on the backburner due to logistical incompatibilies.
But all is not lost. No. Instead, it’s off to California’s Big Sur and Monterey Bay to hike, paddleboard and, most thrillingly, sail with, observe and possibly even befriend cetaceans in their northward migration, calves in tow, to feed in the Arctic. Blues, Greys, Humpbacks, Orcas, dolphins and maybe more should all be passing by.
Just need to master the basics of whalespeak before I leave.