New places v loved places
I floated lazily in a natural rock pool, watching the little fish dart around as flower petals tickled my toes, dreamily sipping a cocktail of exotic rainbows, and admiring the dramatic valley of precariously perched Balinese rice terraces stretching out below me. Had I found heaven? Had I finally found a place I couldn’t resist returning to? Or had I just found somewhere that necessitated far too many adjectives for one sentence?
Pushing the ridiculous thought of returning from my mind, I swam quietly past our teak Javanese bridal house at the delightful Bambu Indah and found hubbie at the other end of the pool, shimmying up a palm tree like a regular monkey, preparing to jump in from a great height. He looked like he was in his ideal heaven too, though he did climb back down a couple of steps when he thought no-one was looking. I caught delicious wafts of sweet incense, as well as overtones of the aptly-named tom yum soup being prepared for our lunch. We would be eating on our private veranda, accompanied only by compete tranquillity and perhaps the odd gecko or two. I asked myself again, would I return here one day?
Hubbie and I have been travelling together for years, and have always stuck rigidly to a policy of never ever returning to a place, because there is still so much more of the world to explore. When we’ve seen it all, we can start again, it’s that simple. It is a policy that has never really been discussed, it just sort of developed, and we both like it that way. Or so we thought.
A few months after our return from Bali we found ourselves in the middle of the exquisite sensory experience that is Marrakech. It was about 5 in the morning when, awoken yet again by the haunting muezzin call to prayer emanating from the countless minarets that dominate the skyline of the red city, we turned to each other and started discussing how soon we could come back to this magical place. Even after a few decent nights sleep back home we remained determined to return and before we knew it, the flights were booked.
A few weeks later I began to panic. We’d be missing out on a new experience, just think of all the other places we could be discovering. Hubbie told me to stop being ridiculous, and I worried quietly by myself for the next couple of months.
Three years later and we’re just back from our 5th Moroccan adventure, with another one already planned for October, this time with friends. Yet again we will be sampling the delights of stall no. 32 in the Djemma el Fna night market in Marrakech; admiring the exquisite sunrise over the Saharan dunes; exploring the trogladite caves in our favourite almond oasis in Tamdaght; and listening incredulously to the dulcet tones of Chris de Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ blaring on the stereo as we bump along the remote Paris-Dakar rally route with our favourite driver.
However rather than feeling we’re wasting valuable travel time when we could be visiting a new country, we’re looking forward to the trip more than ever. Perhaps because we know what to expect, and that it’s going to be good. Very good. Perhaps because we know it so well there will be none of the usual travel stress and hassle. Perhaps because we’ve finally thrown off the shackles and realised we are allowed to simply travel where we want, rather than having to adhere to strict self-imposed rules. Or perhaps it’s just because we’ve fallen in love with a country and a culture and want to do more than just scratch the surface.
Whatever the reason, we’re enjoying the liberation of return travel, and the novelty of having for the first time ‘favourite’ restaurants in which we can order ‘our usual’. Which in Marrakech, by the way, is goats cheese briouettes and Casablanca beer on the roof terrace of Kozybar overlooking the storks on the walls of the Baadi Palace.