Urban - Photography by Lola Akinmade

I rarely talk about my husband here. After all, he is a fiercely private man. One of the many qualities I admire about him. A doer. Not an unnecessary talker. A talker only to learn more about you, balancing this by listening to you share your stories.

I met him in 2006 during the very early stages of planning a round-the-world trip; my crucial escape from a path that threatened to choke my creativity and natural flow. For me, that trip meant flitting from place to place, a month here and there; taking in as much as I could…

***

The vibrant colors always suck me in. Local dancers in intricate traditional costumes twirling; steaming fist-sized prawns delicately balanced atop each other; panoramic views from some well-known vantage point – all wrapped neatly with a “Come visit us and experience wild – incredible – beautiful – authentic – [insert destination].”

This ad wedged between breaking news of a natural disaster and yet another car explosion killing dozens.
“I want to go there,” I usually say – casually – like I hadn’t even noticed the flanking world events. After all, it was originally one of the “spots” I was going to hit during my paused round-the-world trip. “Don’t you?”

“Why do you travel?” – This is the non-question he poses to me both verbally and with body language every single time those travel porn ads come on.

You know better. Those words of his seem to silently say.

***
“Your travels always seem to have a cause,” a writer friend of mine recently said. I’d just told her how uncomfortable press trips made me. Sure, as a professional, I can churn out quality work and supporting photography from those trips and I’m definitely not dogging them one bit. Any decent writer with very good observational skills and a strong intuition can pull out deeper stories from press trips.

But that’s not why I travel or have ever traveled.

Travel isn’t fashionable to me. It doesn’t always have to be about volunteerism either. To me, travel means listening. Listening to a place – wherever it may be – and trying to understand it as best as I can and respecting it in a way that personally links me to it too.

That makes me naturally want to invest. For lack of an original metaphor: travel continuously weaves me into the very fabric of each culture, which in turn continually opens up my mind, and the minds of others I meet.

And if I’m still struggling to hear its voice and heartbeat, I should be willing to go back and back and back again until I hear it loud and clear; chucking out any bucket lists I’d initially planned.

This is also one of the reasons why Audrey and Dan, Theresa and Jeff, Lara and Terence, Julie and Francisco, David and Lau, and so many travelers and friends who travel on a whole ‘nother level of “slow” inspire me so much.

Travel as an investment is emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. Not because it’s fashionable. Man has been traveling since the dawn of time, so saying “I love to travel!” isn’t some exclusivity that binds a small group of people together. If provided the means and opportunity to travel, I’ve yet to find anyone who won’t travel.

I never want to idolize or glamorize travel in a way that makes people feel like their own path in life isn’t enough. I’d rather assist them in finding theirs, help them realize when they’ve strayed from theirs, and support them in getting back on it.

***
You see, he speaks quite a number of languages. This darling husband of mine. Fluently. He’s also trying to learn Yorùbá. He’s a traveler. A purposeful traveler. An investor. Someone who refuses to let places remain checked off some list. Someone who goes back and back to the same faces and lives because being transient isn’t enough for him.

I met him at the right time in my life. He caught me just before I was about to stray off my own path…

[Initially written aboard the same British Airways flight to the States I’ve taken numerous times]