I'm currently sat in an airport departure lounge. I could be almost anywhere in the world - airports are neutral. I'd rather be hurtling cross-country by train, watching the landscape shift, harbouring no guilt about my carbon footprint. I'm the kind of girl who is best when she is in motion. I hunger for the possibility of new horizons. Setting out alone on a new adventure, settling back in for a new journey, I simultaneously relax and awaken. Travel makes me dream.
The majority of my twenties were spent recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I didn't travel a lot in that period. I fiercely missed exploring new countries. Aged thirty, I bit the bullet, reasoning that yes, I might get ill if I went away, but that, perhaps, wasn't enough reason not to do it. I'm still in recovery from CFS and thus always some degree of ill. This I self-manage. However, finally this no longer seemed a good reason not to travel again. I became a housesitter. The first assignments I took were within the U.K: Cornwall and London.
My third housesitting assignment was petsitting in Portugal. Walking back into a hot climate, some dormant part of me reawakened. Eating sun-ripened fruit and vegetables, my whole body seemed to breathe: "Yes." I'm not great with cold climates. There's a lot I like about England. Beyond that, it's my home; where I was born and have always lived. However, UK Winters invariably involve S.A.D for me. With a lack of external sun, I find it difficult to keep my spirit up. My health suffers. Heat feeds me something I need; makes me feel more alive.
A couple of weeks in Florence this Summer (housesit number five) came almost as a surprise. I applied for the Florence housesit on a whim, then found myself offered it. I love Italy, but it had been eleven years since my last visit. I thought: "Why not?" So I've spent the last thirteen days here in Italy, looking after three cats, dreaming, writing and workshop-planning in cafes, parks, bars and markets, exploring the town, soaking up sunshine.
Travel makes me dream of more travel. Granada is currently top of my 'to visit' list. I'm pro as much eco-friendly travel as possible, so I'm particularly interested in destinations that can be reached by train. Housesits in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Barcelona all appeal. Further afield, I want to wander bazaars in Marrakech, return to Asia, visit Malaysia, China, Indochina, Tibet. I'd like to hang out with sloths in Costa Rica, volunteer with brown bears in the Himalayas. I keep getting offered housesits in Vancouver, but the flight prices aren't in my budget at present. One day. I'm not in a hurry
I keep a mental 'to do' list of aspirations. I inwardly bookmark quirky places that appeal: the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan, The Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia. I have a penchant for journey itself. I'm not entirely destination-focused. I like to observe details, watch the world go by. I'd love to see more countries by train. I suspect I'd be happy simply landscape-watching this way: writing, dreaming, mixed in with some human encounters. Perhaps my needs are simple: movement, a horizon to watch.
How about you? What are your dream destinations? What places do you love? Your stories and inspiration are most welcome.