Things take longer in Africa.
That’s how things were the first time I visited the dark continent. I spent a few months in Madagascar, where Mora Mora — slowly slowly in the local Malagasy — was the very fabric of life. Buses only left when they were full; the waiters talked to other patrons on their way to your table, and the only ATM in town ran out of money sometimes. You just had to learn to live with it. And better yet, you could take it one step further and embrace that way of life.
I couldn’t say that I ever did. But I did begin to have faith in things sorting themselves out instead of stressing out over every small thing. Of course, soon after I left Africa, the pace of the outside world swallowed me back, pushing Mora Mora out of my thoughts.
One of my most paralyzing fears about leaving Melbourne and traveling to Africa on a one-way ticket earlier this year was that I didn’t want to jeopardize my travel blog and my writing. Back in Melbourne, I had a daily routine which allowed me to work on my blog for at least an hour a day, if not more.
I knew it would be a challenge to keep up that pace in Africa. Internet connection, carrying a laptop around, money; they were all factors which could potentially derail my plans.
So when I landed in Johannesburg a few weeks ago, I was armed with a rather extensive to-do-list; keep working on your travel blog, make contacts in the field of eco-tourism, establish a daily routine allowing for equal measures of sight-seeing, productivity, and relaxation.
I was so preoccupied with that big-boy stuff that I spent almost no time thinking about other, smaller tasks. Or perhaps I was simply confident that I could take care of everything else fairly easily. Surely after years of travel, I had got the hang of it?
But the reality of a traveler’s life, in Africa out of all places, rarely unfolds according to plans. Arriving at my hostel, located in one of the up-and-coming suburbs of Johannesburg, I found myself surrounded by a host of more mundane, but immediate needs; buy a local sim card, find out how to get to Mbazwana — the small town where I was supposed to do a semi-internship — find a decent ATM, and a supermarket where I could buy some eggs and avocados for breakfast.
And nothing was as straightforward as I had expected; the local sim card wouldn’t fit into my Samsung Edge, no one knew where Mbazwana was nor how to get there, and the nearby supermarket was always out of avocados.
I wasn’t too happy about it all, but there was no point getting all worked up about it. Eventually, the shopkeeper found a pair of pliers and some scissors and cut the sim card into the right shape, I somehow made it to Mbazwana after spending almost a day on multiple bus and local mini-buses, and I learned to live without Avocados.
Things take longer in Africa, I remembered.
My blog, building contacts, my future in Africa, they will all unravel in time. The important thing was to keep going, I suppose. Even if it was Mora Mora.