Thursday, September 08, 2005


It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, and today's neighbourhood is London.  My inherent and inexplicable dislike of the city hit me not too long after landing, but the weather today is so picture-perfect that London looks better than I've ever seen it.  And as always, I am eternally grateful for the fact that London museums are generally free; it's probably one of the most outstanding features I've seen in a city.  Every city should do it!  Today feels like Sunday here, but I know that's not possible since Sunday I'll be back home.
It's really weird to know that I'm on my way home.  Although I'm glad to be returning, I felt a little sad as I surrendered my bags to the check-in counter in Bangkok - as if I was losing something.  Or maybe like the feeling you get when you say goodbye to a close friend, not knowing when you'll see each other again.  I didn't expect it; realistically, 4 months is not a very long time to be away. 
Wandering around London shops, I keep regretting that I didn't buy more in Asia.  Seeing the airplane map flash placenames...Calcutta, Karachi, Kiev...what whould have happened if had gone there instead?  Taken the harder road?  And of course, the question of "what next?"  I don't just mean travel-wise, but generally.  It's bizzare to me that next week (well, in just a few more days really) I'll be at a new job, with no clue what to expect.
As I write this, I'm sitting in a small park next to the Thames (what, you think I spend all my time in Internet cafes?), spitting distance to the London Eye (damn, I didn't realize until the end of the day that today would've been perfect to ride it - I've never been on).  I wish this could be every day: gorgeous weather, parks and squares to lounge in, people to watch.
Everything eventually ends though, at least for a while.  And in a way, I think that's good; gives you perspective and all that, right?  So, goodbye for now; I should be able to have some photos up in the next week or two.  Take care!
Tess :)

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Not my bra size.
That's the temperature announced over the loudspeaker as my plane
descended in Niamey at 930pm. Correct, PM.
Many of you know I was flying to Ouagadougou but in an extreme example
of 'can I follow you to where you're going' I got off the plane one
stop ahead.
I've been in Niamey since Monday night. I'm being cheap and sleeping
in a dorm with an electric fan. My digital thermometer informs me
that our dorm room is body temp (and I may still be malaria-free). I
love my hotel and have a new best friend there, but the heat is
killing me. Imagine the hottest thing you've ever felt. Sustain it
for several days. Welcome to my new world.
Still, things are good. I seek giraffes. Today I rode a boat of sorts.
Photos are difficult to obtain. It feels too much like a violation to
start snapping away. I have a photo of a cow though. My film may be
fried. Hopefully not.
I will probably leave a week early. There seem to be no other tourists
here. The climate makes it rather obvious why, I suppose.
Gotta go now and seek a cheap way to see giraffes. And yes, I am
actually going to make it to Ouagadougou eventually.
By the way, Africa is a seriously expensive destination.
Comment roll call from what i remember....
Phu - Rolling is a bit of a myth I think. My sleeping sheet is smaller folded.
Darcy - See, even though I'm not at work I'm still around to entertain
you. And don't be mean to fat kids =p
Justine - There are rather big lizards in our compound, but none
inside. I'm convinced one peed or pood on me today as I sat outside
b/c I felt something on my head.
Bosun - Thanks for the Kylie update. I wasn't sure how Glasto would be
affected. Oh well, lots to choose from anyway.
All London people - Anyone mind having a small Tess staying with them
for a while? And/or hanging on to some of my random souvenirs while I
traipse around the rest of the summer?

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Last night, it struck me that not knowing when I need to be back in Toronto isn't the only thing that's been holding me back from buying a plane ticket.

When I was gearing up to visit Europe after finishing undergrad, I was happy and excited until right before I left. Maybe a week before departure at most, I suddenly didn't want to go. I did go, but as I was travelling, I happened to be chatting to someone on a train and found out that he went through the exact same thing. Just didn't want to leave home.

Recently, I've noticed this unwillingness to leave home start popping up again. So, it got me to thinking - why? I mean, you're going to be exploring all sorts of fun places, so why would you suddenly get cold feet?

It's not just fear of the unknown. I've never been to, say, Tunisia, but would have no problem heading there.

It's not just fear of heading someplace where your personal safety may be in question. Let's face it, my highest risk of injury on this trip will probably be an Oasis concert ;)

Then I noticed that my cold feet seemed to appear only in relation to one thing. Travelling to West Africa. One month, in some of the world's poorest countries. With only rough transport systems and little tourist infrastructure. Little first-hand information and only regional guidebooks available. Yellow fever, malaria, bilharzia...not souvenirs I'm keen to have.

I pondered what connection there might be between West Africa and Europe and came up with one possibility.

Maybe in the back of your mind, you know you're about to do something which will leave a lasting impression on you. You're going to be taken completely out of your comfort zone and there is absolutely no way you can be prepared for every eventuality which occurs. No one is going to be there to take care of you. You'll come back changed in some way. Of course, everyone sort of subtly changes over time. But when you come back, you don't know if there'll be anyone still there for you, much less waiting for you. Instead of the gradual process of change we usually see, you might wind up with much bigger, sudden surprises.

That's an overly dramatic exaggeration, of course, but I think hidden somewhere in my hyperbole (big words are fun!) there does lie some small nugget of truth.

And don't get me wrong - I'm still hell-bent on going to West Africa.