Wednesday, August 30, 2006


'To those who have a romantic view of travel or who, longing for the liberty they imagine it brings, wish that they, too, could throw off old jobs, old husbands, old responsibilities and head for wilder climes where they feel sure both life and themselves will be entirely different -- that is to say, better; who do not understand that one carries the self like a heavy old suitcase where ever one goes; who think of travel not as a line of inquiry, a satisfaction of curiosity or as a method by which to better understand the world but as an escape from banality, I have this to say.

When you are so tired, frustrated and filthy that you would like to cry but cannot because people are watching you; when your period has come and you are in pain but you must not display it; when you do not know what is going on because you cannot understand the language but you sense the atmosphere is not right; when you are operating on twenty levels at once and not sure if you are correct in any of them; when you have entered a place where the people are suspicious of you, or frightened of you, or hate you because you represent something evil to them; when you cannot make your intentions understood; . . . when you are so fed up with humanness that you would like to shoot everyone you see, including yourself; . . . when there is no one with whom to have a sensible conversation, nor is there likely to be anyone for months; when you realize how very far away from you are the places and people you understand and who understand you; when your Celtic skin, which blushes even under a weak northern sun, has been baked into pottery by sun and salt so that you have to stop yourself thinking of the cancers which surely must be forming, let along the years you are adding to your face; when the little beasts that have taken up residence in your stomach double you up in a cramp so that you have to run behind a dune even though there are people everywhere watching; and when you have so lost touch with why you are doing what you are doing that it seems you are trapped in a machine of meaninglessness in which moral values are mashed to a pulp and . . .when you have plumbed the very depths of banality, then you begin to wonder if it is worth it.'

Davidson, Robyn, Desert Places, Pegnuin Putnam Inc, New York, 1996, page 103.