When reality gets too much, dreams help us to survive.
Who would have thought that we would be sitting here today in a world that changed overnight?
Where today is an incredibly different today from yesterday, and where tomorrow still brings with it many unknowns.
Some of us relish in the adventure, grabbing it with both hands, excited for the changes and adapting to the new reality to explore. Some of us struggle to adapt, living with the fear of the unknown, anxious, uncertain and wondering: what next? No matter where you sit right now on this current new adventure we are all in this together.
So take a moment. Breathe in. Sit back and dream for a moment of where you might want to go to next.
It seems that as kids, we were better at dreaming than what we are now. We would go into our own world where we would think about who we would marry, what kind of house we would live in, whether we would have a cat or a dog, what we would do when we grew up, what kind of cake we would have for our birthday, and well, what exotic destinations we would travel to.
For some of us, it was a rocket to the moon. For others, it was camping during the holidays along the river. No matter how big or small, we dreamed and for that moment; we escaped our reality. The game of life was ours and we could make it whatever we wanted.
As I sit and think about where to next, I think about the amazing trips of the past. That cycle trip down the Danube on a beautiful Spring day in Europe. Blue skies, and bitter ice-cold days with pelting rain.
Cycling along one of the most well-known rivers in Europe. Peering over stone walls into village gardens, trying not to be nosey, but interested in what lay over that stone wall.
Stopping for coffee and pastries at one of the many bakeries and patisseries along the way or my favourite, discovering the amazing flavour of poppyseed ice-cream which for a lover of poppyseed was heaven. Also discovering a new favourite soup, Baerlauchcremesuppe, (Wild Garlic Soup), all of the flavour, none of the pungency.
Peering through stained glass windows of old churches and reading the headstones in the historic and gothic looking graveyards trying to work out their stories. And well, who could forget Vienna!
Then there were those trips to Africa. A real eye-opener and honestly, never really on my bucket list. From the best of the best on offer in South Africa, including seeing the slum life of Soweto, delving into the history of humankind, sampling delectable South African wines and local produce in Franschoek, experiencing 5-star game lodges and drives in Kruger, the native fauna of Grootbosch and much more. To 4WD game drives in the forests of Tanzania and the well know Ngorongoro Crater with wildlife everywhere you could possibly see.
Of course, one of the main dreams that became reality was climbing Kilimanjaro. Taking each step on that final night, in the pitch, black darkness, with not much left in the tank. Crying. Thinking what on earth are we doing. Eating gummy bears.
But you haven’t seen a sunrise, until you are standing on the roof of Africa, seeing it raise its head over the continent. Bringing with it the warmth and the utter joy that you need.
Perhaps the adventure is in the mystery of the land and its people such as my trip along the Silk Road. Stories vaguely recall from history lessons past, but nothing much known about the people or the landscape of these lands.
I learnt that trekking in the Fann Mountains is by far one of the most scenic in the world. Stunning vistas. Crystal clear blue lakes.
Amazing mountain surrounds from atop the high passes and incredibly friendly locals who pull up to your tent and you’re not entirely sure if they are out to rob you, or chat – chat it was in our combined Russian, Tajik and Croatian dialects. The people are incredibly friendly.
Melons, cucumbers and tomatoes are a staple. But you will never have a peach as tasty as you will in Uzbekistan, nor see such intricate buildings and architecture.
Some of us might want the rough and rugged. The untouched landscapes that are shaped by ice, wind and geology on a journey to the Arctic Circle, where the weather is unpredictable and the wildlife even more so. The scenery changes on a daily basis.
The journey onboard a small ship has a planned day to day schedule, yet the plan gets thrown out the window depending on what the day brings.
Where you think you might see a Polar Bear, only to have the crew describe what you might actually see is just a cream dot in a ‘Where’s Wally’ type of photo. But where all your landings are aborted due to the abundance of Polar Bears.
Where you experience them on ice on a perfectly blue sky day or see them on ice in full-blown blizzard conditions.
Or witness a real take your breath away moment, seeing them feeding on a walrus carcass on land, whilst you sit in utter silence on a small boat, which bobs up and down as you try to take the perfect shot, careful as to not drop your camera or make a peep.
Where nature owns the landscape and the itinerary.
There is still so much on the travel dream list. The pyramids and ancient cities of Mexico, (as well as eating proper guacamole). The flavours and pilgrimage trails of Spain and Portugal. A trek through the amazing mountains of the Canadian Rockies. The wild landscapes and untouched regions of Patagonia. . . my list goes on and on.
We have never quite known what life is going to throw at us, and well, that is both the beauty and the adventure that is life.
Sometimes we need the fantasy to survive the reality.
So relax now. Take time to read that book, explore a country online, or learn a new language so that when I ask you in a few months time, you will be able to tell me: where to next?
Published 8 April 2020. Words by Natalie Tambolash.
This article is featured in Adventure Magazine New Zealand. Read the April 2020 issue online for free.