Around the World In My Fortieth Year


I’d spent the previous four years, post-marital separation, as the first full-time co-ordinator of an out-of-school children’s charity in South London. Having put it on a firm financial basis, and established a range of activities, one of which I’m pleased to note is still flourishing, it was time for new horizons.

A friend who was not quite a colleague, although our paths sometimes crossed, was appointed to be deputy co-ordinator of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)* in the South Pacific, based in Fiji. I promised that I’d visit her.

Then I looked at a globe and realised that it was halfway around the world. Through a sad but fortuitous coincidence, I inherited a few thousand pounds from my step-grandmother. This would be enough to backpack around the world for a year, so I bought a ticket for c.£1,000, a clunky SLR camera, a sturdy rucksack in which I packed light clothes, camera and my travel diary, sub-let my London flat, said my goodbyes and wrote the following as I awaited my flight.

Sunday May 5th 8.30.
Heathrow Airport, London.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more ‘scared’ in my life. Having give up career, friends and lifestyle in order to see places I might not otherwise see; to experience other cultures and, I suppose, to test my self-reliance, I suppose it’s only natural.

It’s too late now though. A simple idea has got rather out of hand; I can’t go back. I have to continue, to allow life’s highways and byways to take me by the hand.

I do find it somewhat strange that others should be so envious. But clinging to their roots and their (and my) social relationships, through my monthly musings, they will share vicariously the the experiences and adventures they may wish they could have, and see what might have been.

From now on, I shall take each day as it comes, will be aware and life will be there.

*VSO is very active in Indonesia where I now live.
Sitting next to me on the plane was Solange, a mother of three. She was en route from Quebec to Kathmandu and about to fulfil, in 35 days, her two year dream.

She filled the page in my diary facing my entry above with the following in technicolour script:

Don’t afraid my friend.
Your dream
Your trip
Your intentions
Are very important
For people of this planet.
I give you my pax vibrations
And mix them with ours


About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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