Saturday, May 28, 2016

THE CHRONOLOGIST

I've woken to a CNN focus on travel. The man says traveling for leisure can positively affect your heart health but traveling for business has shown long term effects on your circadian rhythms beyond just the 5 day reconfiguration your body undertakes. He spoke of ageing and stress but added that travellers from Africa have shown the least amount of stress compared to Europeans ... pheeew.

I love travel but I know that what I'm drawn to is the destination not the travel itself, which can be quite long and uncomfortable. On average flying from southern Africa means I spend no less than 8/10 hours to get to my first point of connection, off the continent. I almost always get an aisle seat so I can walk around, my backpack is filled with a microcosm of resources to meet my immediate needs and mitigate stress - girly toiletries, books, a notepad and pen, ear plugs for pressure pain, a warm and zipless jacket, support letters for immigration, nuts etc. I happen to love meat, a bit too much really, but I never eat meat when flying. I'm always suddenly, temporarily a vegetarian. I have flown all around the world and it is often the better option taste wise. I try to drink lots of water, though I've never taken to the taste when I'm not thirsty.

I'm currently in Tallinn in Estonia at Headread (Good lines) festival. It is a relatively small and young festival but with a beautiful setting and wonderful team.

The news says the weather has gone wonky and in Germany and France children have been struck by lightening. Sorry, I know I can be a little random but try to follow - I have CNN in the background while I type this.

Back to Headread, Donna Leon was here which was cool as I enjoy her Venice based detective's endless search for justice, Margot Henderson is such a fantastic storyteller, Annie Freud who is a wonderful poet and fine artist has become a fast friend (I admit I was such a fan of her father that I was childishly excited to meet but our conversations over poetry and teaching have rightly shifted my focus to where it should have been to begin with).

Estonians can be quite stoic and reserved. They come in their numbers to the festival but are hesitant to ask questions or really to show any emotion - I understand that even linguistically there is a limited range of emotional expressions - but once they get going you're good. Enter the charming Jason Goodwin without whom I would have felt a tad naked on the stage.  An hour is quite a chunk of time to listen to my our voice. My hour reading and conversation was made all the more fun and comfortable by his presence.

I head home soon with a long list of writers - someone of whom if I'm honest I'd never heard of - to read. The guy on CNN didn't talk about this as a benefit of frequent travel but it is. In Setswana we say 'to travel is to see' but that see means more than seeing, it implies an engagement with one's new environment.