Let’s Go!

Can you remember the first time you left your country? It’s impossible for me to remember because I’ve been travelling since I was five years old, going to new countries sometimes five times a week or even more often.

One of my earliest journeys was with a dark-haired girl with big eyes like mine, a fringe (or bob, if you’re American) and her elephant which I perhaps loved more than she loved him. Then I moved both time and place to find swirling deserts, talking donkeys, burning bushes and a saviour on a cross with his hands tied together.

“But why are these Jesus’ hands tied and not stretched like the cross,” I asked and it would take me several years to understand Aunty Ogechi’s answer about denominational differences in Christianity.

What countries have I been to? You ask, the right question is what countries haven’t I been to.

I’ve sat on threadbare rugs in the Sahara with a Bedouin boy who went on a grand adventure to save his goats, I’ve sipped coffee in Turkish bazaars as wily merchants cheated pompous businessmen and offered humble teachers the deal of a lifetime.

I’ve smelled the smoke from guns of all kinds as they ended the life of people good, bad and in-between. I’ve swum in the frantic, freezing waters as desperate men pursued to end lives and seal secrets and I’ve outwitted presidents and generals and gotten the girl – or the boy and won again and again.

I’ve also climbed the Himalayas in search of a treasured dog, drank tea saturated with butter and it would take my knowledge of biology many years later to understand why anyone would drink such a fatty drink – nothing insulates against the cold like fat.

Do you know I have been to space before? Traversed the universe and even skirted to regions no telescope can imagine, I’ve dug for diamonds, sat on camels laden with Mansa Musa’s treasures and I’ve watched a boy uproot a baobab tree to get his mother leaves for dinner.

Oh, where have I not been? What haven’t I seen?

My passport pages might be shiny and blank, but I have lived you see. Books have taken me everywhere.

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