When I was eighteen I left home to travel around the world for a year, with a backpack and a cousin.
Arriving in Burma we woke to the mystical site of Pagan, the ruined holy city, covered in a slow moving mist as saffron robbed monks softly chanted morning prayers. In Bangkok we were invited to a nightclub and were handed a menu. “Pick what you want” said our hosts. Much to my surprise it was not hamburgers and hot dogs but girls with Ping-Pong balls and bananas. In Malawi I was held by the authorities, as the backs of my knees were showing, and this apparently excited the men and was banned throughout the country. Working on a farm in Australia I had to castrate sheep (promptly fainting afterwards); and in Africa we stayed with the Godfather of a friend, who liked a drink or two for breakfast and by the evening was understandably a little worse for wear. We repeatedly played the same joke on him, returning late, from a night on the town, long after our curfew, we’d find him slumped in his arm chair, whisky bottle in hand. “We’re just going out now Robin” we’d tell him. “Have a good time kids and don’t be toooo late” he’d murmur back.
A year later I returned home, a little dusty but changed for the better, eyes wide open.
Yesterday I unpacked my bag, it’s been with me zigzagging our way across America for the past twelve months. A year on the road, this time to launch a business. And like all those years ago, I am changed again for the better. And I didn’t even have to castrate a sheep.