'Did you cancel your trip?' - Other
'No. Why would I do that?' - Me
'Well, I mean all the Ebola in Africa. Are you sure they will let you back in the country when you return?' - Other
'Why wouldn't they?'- Me.
'Because it's Africa.'- Other
At this point in the conversation, I was toying with the voice on the other side of my receiver. My questions, as answers, were navigating them down a hallway whose only light at the end of the tunnel, was their ignorance. Each of my twenty-seven members on our Nomadness South Africa trip had a similar run in, if not multiple, before boarding the plane to Johannesburg. The closer the trip, the louder the roar of objection, uneducated concern, and country wide frenzy. It felt as if all of America knew we were going to Africa, and all had something to say about it.
It pissed me off.
It pissed me off because the same people who contacted me with their own version of concern, also have watched me navigate the world for the better part of a decade both alone and with Nomadness members over the last three years. They watched me effectively 'treat' the case of Dengue Fever I caught backpacking between Thailand and Cambodia. They watch me, more than quarterly a year, bring no less than a dozen people to various countries all around the world. I'm not a travel 'know it all', but I am in regards to my family. I'm not above knowing concern came from love, yet not blind enough to see the lack of research done before approaching me with it.
I am one thing.
But...my Tribe is another. As our private group conversations started I witnessed a therapy session, an emotional ventilation system coming from all of us about the pre-reactions to our trip from family, friends, co-workers, etc...
I pose a rhetorical question in the title of this piece.
Why Nomadness still took 27 members to South Africa while America was ebola obsessed. It answers its own question. Because we were going to South Africa. We were no where near any infected regions, and if the CDC was ok with Johannesburg and Cape Town, well shit then, so was I.
First off, I hate the fear mongering. As a traveler it is my number one pet peeve on the planet. People suck the news dry and then spit it out, verbatim, with the speed of a late night infomercial going over shipping and handling costs. Like, I can't. And, I won't. Nomadness won't. Not as long as I run it.
I was pissed because for so many of us this was our first trip to AFRICA, the continent. I have been building myself up for years, through heavy trips, to get myself mentally prepared for what the emotional reaction was going to be once I landed on the Motherland. And, in a way...I felt it was tainted. I feel it was, even just a little bit, tainted for everyone in my group that felt they had to defend where they were going, why they were going, and why they felt the need to go now.
Don't do that.
We went because it was our time, to have our experience, in this place. We went because we educated ourselves on the proper precautions and knew that there was, in fact, nothing to worry about in South Africa. We went because we are people who live lives of 'doing', and not people who live lives of 'fearing'. We went because we don't vacation, we travel damnit. We need a trip like we need oxygen, and it doesn't make us weird or better than anyone else. We went because we knew the noise wasn't going to stop. And, frankly, we went because we already paid for that s#!t. ;-)
Then something surprising happened. The noise did stop, once we left the States. No one is worried about, nor talking about, ebola in South Africa. It isn't a second thought. It was so freeing to be in a place where the thing you love isn't the focal point of misrepresented fear distribution. Disconnected from the news. Even with a stellar TMobile international plan, disconnected from the people who questioned (or were even silently enraged about) our trip. It was just....everything.
Fear. Easily one of the most powerful feelings in the emotional spectrum.
What has it stopped you from doing today?
Here is the first episode recapping our trip to South Africa, showing what it DIDN'T stop in my group. I offer you a viewing to get introduced to one of the Top 3 best trips of my life. DOn't worry. You can't catch ebola from watching! Here is The Nomadness Project: Curiocity in Maboneng... introducing Johannesburg.