A Change of Direction
Those who know me are well-aware of my indecision (a trait much to my detriment), impulsiveness and whimsical behaviour, bordering on caprice. During this journey, I have made several last-minute changes of plan. At the bus station in Kayseri, having just ascended Mount Erciyes, I bid my new-found traveling companion, Tony, farewell as he headed on to southern Turkey, as I planned on going east to Kurdistan in Iraq. As I hauled my bag onto the roof of the minibus, a last-minute change of heart led me to remove it again and run after his bus. We spent the following month traveling through Syria together. (During which time, I once again bid him farewell, minutes later to join him down to Tartous. C’est pas facile quitter un bon compagnon de voyage.)
I hesitated when deciding to go to Lebanon, knowing that I had little time to spend there, yet became engrossed by what I found—and learned—in my brief time amongst the cedars.
I was full of indecision whether to risk an Israeli stamp in my passport in order to travel to, and subsequently volunteer in, the West Bank. This turned out to be one of the most enthralling parts of my journey so far. Had I simply traveled straight through Jordan, I would have missed out on so much.
Even sitting here writing this piece in Khartoum, I have said I would leave the city on several occasions, bidding farewell to those I have met. But each time, something has kept me here, and I have not regretted a moment of it. My primary goal in coming away was to take advantage of anything that came up, and to have the freedom to react to it; an opportunity I have never before been afforded.
Sitting in Cairo’s Bustan café with my rucksack beside me, having a final drink with new-found friends, I was due to catch the night-train down to Luxor. I would be heading south, towards the Sudan. But a debate erupted between two of my Egyptian companions, differing on the merits of Luxor’s historical treasures versus Alexandria’s atmosphere. Whilst it is clear that the temples of Luxor hold much allure, Ala countered that it would be hot, expensive, full of tourists, and a tiresome hassle. Alexandria, he argued, would be cooler, quieter and cultured.
The attraction of saying goodbye to the sea, with its cool breeze, before heading into Africa’s arid plains, feasting on sea-food, of seeing this emerging cultural capital, as well as visiting the Bibliotheca Alexandria, and continuing this café climate got the better of me. As the Luxor train departed south that night, I was enjoying a sahleb and savouring another hour with those present. The following morning, I would head north.