Yesterday, I read Denise Andrade's beautiful guest post on Gypsy Girl's Guide, and was inspired to reflect on my travel adventures, and what first ignited the gypsy spirit in my heart. She wrote about a feeling of oneness she experienced in Romania, and it so reminded me of an experience I had in Africa. When I was seventeen, I was part of a group from my college that went to Zambia for three weeks in the summer. This was my second overseas trip, and since my first was to the United Kingdom, it was truly unlike anything I had ever experienced. We traveled around the countryside of Zambia in a small bus, and camped near various villages in tents. One night after pitching our tents and eating a traditional Zambian meal, we were gathered around an enormous campfire. We traveled with locals- just as many Zambians as Americans. Our backgrounds and lives were so significantly different, and yet and here we were, around the fire, singing and talking and laughing. We mingled seamlessly with them. I felt like they were my brothers and sisters. Our voices were one. The feeling of connectedness was indescribable. Then I knew that I was meant for this. I wanted to sit around a thousand campfires with people from every country.
That trip changed my worldview. I went to Africa as an American girl, but left as a daughter of the world. There is no “us” and “them”, just “we”- humanity- and within that so many traditions and cultures and places to explore and experience. I haven’t traveled outside the U.S. in almost five years now. It almost hurts at times, how strong the urge to travel is. I have finished college, gotten married, started a family, bought a home, and launched a business in those five years. It is not the nomadic existence I once pictured, but I am confident that it is the way my life is meant to be, and that I will travel once again and still experience a thousand distant campfires in my lifetime.