I have just finished reading the entirety of a blog written by my dear friend Shannon who has spent the past two years in South Africa. It never ceases to amaze me the effects that our geography has on our experiences, our emotions, our likes, dislikes, our relationships and perceptions of the world. Without a doubt, place is important. I have come to understand through my own travels and the adventures of my close friends that, for lack of a better word, there is something very special about the places we go and the ways we choose to experience them. These places, whether they are far away or close to home, ingrain themselves and tie themselves inextricably to those experiences. A seemingly obvious statement, but something that makes itself undeniably apparent to me the more places I go.
This past year I had the chance to visit Shan in South Africa, and can say without hesitation, that it is one of the most meaningful experiences with a particular geography I have had. I can say honestly that I have no idea what that means – I don’t know why I felt so connected to a place that I had never been before nor had ever really considered going to until I found myself with some spare time and a good friend who needed company. Perhaps it was this relationship that made the place pull on my heartstrings, maybe it was the landscape or the weather,the rich culture or painful history. Maybe it was simply the wonderful people I met and the amazing things we experienced. Maybe it was all of that. But maybe it was even more than that. After reading through two years worth of Shannon’s adventures and insights, victories and heartbreaks, I cannot claim any true knowledge of the place except the miniscule bits and pieces that seeped into my three weeks there. I will say, that of all the places I have been, of all the streets I have wandered – South Africa has been one of the few that have truly surprised me. And I love that.