Smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch. Travel is through the senses. Already I hear the cry of seagulls as they swoop over Cornwall’s fishing villages and feel the icy fresh water on my cheeks as I plunge into the turquoise waters of the Scottish isles. Sarin gas is tasteless, odourless, you can’t see it either.
The Syrians have experienced an assault on their senses too.
We wake each day to news of the US retaliation against the Syrian Government. Sometimes we hear of cars and lorries mowing down pedestrians in the very towns we plan to visit. Our country is far away from these atrocities. But if the worst were to happen our skies would be red and the nuclear ash would wash in with our tides. They say the ancient Romans recorded red skies on the day our Lake Taupo blew a crater from the earth.
I feel conflicted. I yearn for the people and places we’ll see, yet the more we become engaged with the (real or fake) news of the outside world, the more grateful I feel for our home in New Zealand. For three years we’ve talked about our sabbatical, that cornerstone in our lives that will change our thinking forever. But lately we’ve been talking about our return too. We know that we’ll have an unimaginable experience, and yet there’s comfort in talking about our return to the warm waters of an Auckland summer, and using our newfound nomadic skills to explore our own country too.
I have a friend who lost her father early. A hereditary heart condition ticks louder for her than any biological clock. She believes that you live for every moment. She laughed at me for worrying about flying over Russian airspace. She says when your number is up, it’s up. Perhaps that needs to be our mantra too. With so much to see in the world it would be a travesty if we didn’t take this opportunity as though our lives depended on it.
Soon we’ll taste new flavours, stumbling upon them in cosy restaurants, dimly lit with low ceilings, tucked away at the end of cobbled back streets in Europe. Our senses will awake and we’ll feel alive. We’re ready.F