Updated: May 6, 2020
I've learned that I am not a Tourist. I have a need to discover places that goes beyond holidays spent taking pictures of things that live in tourist guides, or lying on beaches under a Sun whose face I am already familiar with. Whenever I go to a new place my feet take on a mind of their own and I find myself comfortable in the uncomfortable journey of walking until I'm lost. But to get lost is fine because, with nothing to lose, I simply keep walking until my surroundings go from alien to familiar, from new to common place, and the concept of lost is no more because lost has become found again.
In my travels I find myself drawn to the ocean, as if the vast sea is calling to the very water in my body. And even though the ocean is a daunting beast I find myself walking out into its embrace, the water crashing and breaking up to my knees, as something primal in me gives way and I stop and stand and roar at the waves. Something in me always wants to discover parts of a place that only those who truly inhabit it know. The secret places that kids find when they escape the gaze of their parents. The places that vibrate with tradition, culture and history. The places flooded with music played on instruments that are strange to my eyes, and songs sung in a language that my ears can't translate but my body understands. My tongue cries for the taste of something it hasn't romanced in its embrace yet. My arms and legs reach out for something to climb on. My feet trudge around looking for fresh ground over which to run, searching for that feel of ground unblemished by the scars of painted road signs and intersections. Maps become like stars in the night sky, something to refer to just to know the direction upon which I have embarked, as I believe in making my own maps, made up of the stories and adventures I shall later speak of when regaling people with the wonders of my travels. I journey to discover whom I am, through discovering my connection to all that surrounds me. And then I leave parts of myself in those places, which I crossed seas, mountains and fields to get to. I leave those parts of myself just so I have an excuse to return, and to also find out how what I've become, since leaving, compares and connects to what I once left there. I am definitely not a Tourist. -Emmanuel Adelekun