Of stories and suitcases…

I’ve been a writer and traveller for most of my life. The writing came first. The traveller waited in the wings.

I have always believed that human beings are innate storytellers – whether it’s the way we tell our partners how our day went or how we sometimes recall distant memories with friends, we all get lost in our stories. Which is perhaps why I have never viewed any of the centuries-old Khoisan rock paintings in the Cederberg mountains as being isolated images. Where some see a man with a spear, I see a man on a hunt. In my case, I have been a woman on the hunt for as long as I can remember.

On the hunt for stories.

For adventure.

For experiences.

 For whatever lies over the rainbow nation.

Sometimes I found these things. Sometimes these things found me. But whatever the case, there was always the certainty that stories are real and that the ones we tell ourselves are just as important as the ones we tell each other. My fondest childhood memory, which I remember with striking clarity, is of my first time aboard a plane and bound for Pretoria. Yes, Pretoria. Not Paris. Pretoria. But to the four-year-old me, it might as well have been Paris. The feeling of lift off in my stomach and in my ears, my heart bungee jumping to the floor. It exhilarates me to this day.

Since then, I have packed a suitcase many times and yes, there has been Paris and Barcelona and New York and Warsaw and Berlin and Beijing and Dubai and Dar-Es-Salam along with many more pin pricks on the map of the world that I keep in my study. These experiences have taught me many things as travel is wont to do. It was Mark Twain who said that travel is fatal to prejudice and bigotry. It is the truest thing I know.

Whatever you imagine about “other” people, cultures, beliefs, religions, nationalities, you are wrong…and these are some of the themes that I explore in my books. What becomes apparent to me all the more, is that there is so much sameness in diversity, where we are all bound by that single golden thread – our humanness and everything that comes with it.

Nothing has grounded me more than a life of travel.

The stories? Well, some are captured here (see about) while others are whispered between the pages of my books. I was living in the desert when I first understood the real correlation between stories and travel, so I echo it here:

Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.

Ibn Batuta
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