Monday, June 11, 2007

Prelude to a Journey

Aisha Saad

Summer is beautiful – possibilities for travel are infinite. I’m a hopeless romantic for the excitement of discovery, the adrenaline of adventure, the liberation of geographic independence.

As the date of departure nears, a part of me grows more and more restless for autonomous mobility. I think time is due to match the thrill of trekking and experiencing with some legitimate introspection.

Since wrapping up the spring semester, I’ve been reading and thinking. In trying to make sense of life I’m putting aside a more methodical analysis for the pleasure of organic wonder and curiosity. I've become fascinated with the nomadic ideology - for the dominion it extents over all places. Birthed from a seed of humility, it claims neither roots nor submission to a grounded earth. It is a transcendental unity of space, a geographic tawhid [one-ness] flowering into the communion of life experience.

Perhaps this rambling is just a reaction to nearly four weeks in a very grounding suburbia. Nonetheless, I hope to adopt such a nomadic mentality for the next nine weeks as I take a slow step through the Andes, across the Southern Cone, and make my way over the Atlantic to spend fall semester in Cairo.

Conditioned by pursuits of purpose, I’ve learned to travel to a destination; to a city, to a friend, to family, to a campsite, to the X on a map, to an answer... In the spirit of growth and in pursuit of quality, this summer I leave behind self-affirming travel. I hope to wander with an openness that gives value to the impressionability of process. In the spirit of deconstruction, I intend to move and to evolve in a destination-less journey.

Why South America?

For indulgence of the soul; for the freedom to wander where my image does not carry a string of immediate assumptions. By visual definition I am clearly a Muslim, Arab woman. Through travel, or rather through wandering, I find the freedom to define myself outside of a context. I can only attempt a weak articulation of that surging apprehension and anticipation for a whirlwind of sensory experience; mountains and glaciers, beaches and markets, tastes and sounds, immersion in language.

I love language; Arabic is incontestably my preference. Among a selection of flat acrylics, it stands out as a frescoed mural. Perhaps out of loyalty to the mother tongue, I am awed by an infinite potential for expression. My thoughts are dwarfed by its vivid and layered intricacy. I think I am not alone, however, in appreciating the novel excitement of carrying a foreign language back to its homeland.

This summer I’m letting go of command and assurance in communication and am eager to live in Spanish; to take a new brush into my awkward grasp and to paint like a child. I imagine that such a linguistic reveal may expose raw beauty of new and untamed expression. I’ll try to hold on to that thought as inevitably I face frustration and awkwardness sifting through eight years of mental flashcards and struggling for a natural coherence.

My summer is not entirely amorphous; the realist in me acknowledges relevance of Travelocity and Lonely Planet to the budget of a 21st century nomad. That being said, I’ve booked a loose itinerary, secured housing, and am working under the directive of a research project to lend academic value to my journey. Meanwhile, I hope to adopt a nomadic subconscious to escape suffocating in the closed loop of a round-trip vacation.

I’m not yet sure if this blog is the appropriate outlet for my postings. In consideration of the thematic integrity of a Middle Eastern Travel blog, perhaps I’ll hold off on my contributions until Cairo in the fall. On the other hand, it may be relevant to share my travels “from the perspective of a native daughter of the Middle East” [thanks Matt]. Whenever and wherever it may be, I am glad to be a part of this community.


Matt said...

I, for one, vote that you continue to reflect and share on this forum. We would all be worse off without you.

salma said...

have you left yet? you owe me a phone date love. if you have you owe me some sort of email!