Through Dust and Dreams - Book fragment

Chapter 1 – A Guide in the Desert

(Twyfelfountain, Namibia April 2002)

We were sitting by the fire, watching it die. We sat in silence, immersed in the darkness all around. This is a special time in Africa, the moment after the sun has set, yet before the moon has risen. A time when everything is silent and all is dark, and it is too early to sleep and too late to finish any of the many things one needs to do when a camp is set. Too dark to look for anything anywhere, and in those hours humans usually gather together and light a fire. Around its light and warmth, the silence of the darkness dissipates. It’s the moment when, surrounded by so much darkness, you are almost forced to look for light in the depth of your own being.

“There is only one real problem in this world: men have lost their courage to follow dreams,” said Chris, and his words sounded like a heavy and somewhat sad conclusion. He reached over to grab the bottle of brandy and filled his tin cup. We had drunk a lot that evening. First some coke and brandy, then the coke was finished and we carried on with the brandy, although it tasted more like petrol. The bottle was almost empty and I could feel the pleasant and somewhat sweet weight of the alcohol running through my veins.

I looked at his hands holding tight the small half empty cup. I could almost see the pulse of life in his veins, the same way in which I could feel it in his voice.

“You see, Roxana, that’s your problem. You’re so caught up in the storm of thoughts going through your head that you forget to look around. It’s like looking at the surface of the sea and not knowing what lies underneath. Go diving, get your head underwater, go deep inside, and then you’ll understand what beauty really means.”

This was not the first night that Chris was posing as my spiritual guide. I was already tired and maybe somewhat irritated by those never-ending discussions about “the courage to become who you are”. Big words, vague sentences, alcohol, lots of alcohol…I had a headache already, and I couldn’t really understand what he wanted to tell me. I could only feel that I was attracted by this man, somewhere deeply and powerfully, and it was this attraction that made me stay there, by the fire, deep into the night, long after all the others had gone to sleep in their tents… I was out there, listening to him, feeling the sound of his words going deep into my stomach, where his strong Afrikaans accent with rolling ‘r’s melted and mixed with the food I had over dinner, and the feelings I never dared to show.

I had come to Africa at the end of a strange chain of events. First, there was a lunch with a friend and my complains about how empty my life was. I had just moved to Lugano, Switzerland, and I was working in marketing for a big company in the household industry. According to my friends “I had made it” – I had a good job and a good life. I should have been happy. I wasn’t. Something was missing and I didn’t quite know what that was.

My life up to that point seemed to have been made up of a series of events with no clear connection to one another. Born in Romania, I had lived there until I was 25, got a degree in journalism, had turned to business and founded a translation agency that I later sold. I seemed incapable of settling down, moved from job to job, always restless and always dreaming of faraway places. Then I moved to Italy and took an MBA degree. Now, at the end of the two-year course I was moving once again, having accepted a job in Switzerland I was now trying to settle down again, my third country, my fourth home, my sixth job.

Deadlock. It was the first thing that came to my mind when I tried to describe my life. The guy I was in love with decided to look for happiness elsewhere. My job turned out to be far less exciting than the promises made during the hiring interview. Oblivious to the pain inside I was carrying on, day after day, business trip after business trip… I saw no way out. Until one day when I woke up and I fainted. “Extreme physical and mental fatigue” doctors said, and then they gave me a stress level questionnaire to fill in. I could tick most of the boxes: break up of a relationship, starting a new job, moving house, problems at work, changing country, you name it, I had it! “She needs a holiday” was the verdict.

So I ran away from it all. I went to Africa, with no enthusiasm, no thoughts and no expectations. Maybe just a small hidden hope that ten days holiday will somehow show me what I was supposed to do next. It didn’t. This was my last night there and I felt I had made no progress. My questions were still there. On top of everything, I had met this fascinating guide who liked talking in riddles, and whose words would bring about laughter and embarrassed looks if heard in a London pub over a pint of beer. But here, in the immensity of the empty savannah, words carried a different weight.

I looked back at Chris who seemed lost in his thoughts as he sipped the dregs of the brandy from the tin cup. I remembered my first impression of him ten days before when we met at the airport. He looked like an African version of Crocodile Dundee, somewhat at odds with the ‘civilized’ background of an airport arrivals lounge. He was white, and this was my first surprise. I somehow expected to find that all those called “African” would be black. He wore jeans and a khaki T-shirt, the same jeans and the same T-shirt that he was wearing now, shrivelling by the fire.

I was looking at him in silence; he was looking at the fire. His eyes were wide open, frozen, staring at the flames. His back with strong muscles stretching under the sweaty T-shirt was bent forwards, lingering towards the fire, as if his whole being was attracted by the flames. He was silent as if his soul had gone far away and only his shell was left there, the healthy and agile body of a man used to outdoor living. Only the veins of his arms pulsing rhythmically betrayed that there was still life inside...The passion of his words had gone as well, as if sucked by the fire in front of us… I wanted to bring him back, to grab his look from the fire that was taking him away and turn it towards me, so that I could feel again his eyes burning into mine and the warmth of his smile. I did it the only way I allowed myself to get close to him: by talking.

“So, that’s why you told me to run down that dune at Sossusvleigh? It is because beauty is all around us even when it’s so difficult to see?” I asked him trying to impress him with my logic…But, somehow things really seemed to connect, and suddenly I remembered my first day in Africa.

It was still dark outside when we left. Marco, the Italian guide of the group, and Chris were saying that we had to see the sunrise beside “dune 45”. The sun rose before we got to the dune, but the light of the morning was still fresh enough to take good pictures. It was a lonely dune rising straight from a rocky area, as if some mysterious hand had drawn a fine but firm line, on one side the plain, on the other the desert. In single file, we started to climb the dune. Chris took off his shoes and I did the same. Marco told me I had to be mad because there could be scorpions in the sand. I thought for a second about going back to grab my shoes, but climbing a dune is not easy, so I decided it was not worth the twenty metres I had conquered so far. We climbed in silence for a while.

I came to the top with the hope that the view would be worth the whole effort. It was beautiful, but was it really worth the effort? We were high up and the plain was lying under us stretching to the horizon. Every now and then a lonely tree would break the monotony of the landscape. The plain itself was a sort of desert with rocky light grey soil that could barely support the few trees scattered around, or the thorny bushes. Rising abruptly from this flatness, a sea of huge dunes of soft red sand. It was a borderline world, the place where plains turn into desert, and trees give up fighting the sand. And in the bright light of the morning the colours were even brighter than I had seen them the day before, the sky was deep blue, the sand was dark red and I had the feeling I had been thrown into a cartoon book world where a diligent child has taken the time to fill in all the shapes of the picture with vivid colours. We sat there in silence and we looked around, each of us lost in our own thoughts. Chris probably had seen the landscape many times before and I wondered if he found anything new to look at. My hands and feet were buried in the soft sand and I noticed it was warming up. Soon we would not be able to walk barefoot, so I had to think about getting back to my shoes left at the base of the dune. Yes, maybe it was worth coming that far, I told myself. The landscape, the colours and the warmth, all were nice and I was kind of pleased to be there. I was not enthusiastic though. It is sometimes hard to find a reason within oneself to feel enthusiastic about anything.

“Have you ever run down a dune?” Chris suddenly asked. I looked at him without answering. I thought of no reason why I should have run down a dune. “Come on, why don’t you try? It feels like flying.” Chris was looking at the horizon and I wondered whether he was talking to me. “If you’re not going to try out such things, why come all the way here?” Here, on the top of the dune, or here in Africa? I wasn’t sure but it did not really matter. It was a powerful argument and I decided to erase in a few seconds all the pain and the effort of climbing that dune and the unanswered question as to why I was there.

I started running down, at first with a sort of uneasiness as if I did not really want to let myself go, but then, as I felt the wind blow through my hair, I ran faster and faster. The dune was steep and I suddenly felt afraid that I might fall and roll down to the base. But as I gained speed I eventually let my body weight dictate the direction of my run, and it felt as if I was on free fall, and my legs were just briefly touching the sand.

My face was down, my body at a 45 degree angle as I ran and ran, smiling with my eyes closed. Then, all of a sudden, I forgot about where I was and what I was doing and I felt I was flying, and there was no dune any longer and no sand either, just the free fall and the emptiness inside, and the silence and the time seemed suspended somewhere in a place where time has not yet been born, and the space melted and I woke up suddenly at the base of the dune. I could not say anything, and as I tried to regain my breath I noticed my arms and legs aching. My mind was still void and I could simply not think of anything, so I just carried on smiling. My body felt alive, deeply alive, in a way it had not felt for a long time.

His voice brought me back from my thoughts. “Your problem is that you’ve got twins living inside you. One belongs to civilization and all those posh things – your job, your studies, your life in your big and busy city and all the social status you’re after – the other one brings you here and shouts out its own story about adventure and exploration, about nature and wilderness. The problem is the first one was born just ten minutes before the second one and she claims her right of “firstborn”. You live by the rules she dictates, and you go ahead and build your life in the direction she takes you and you try hard not to hear the second one whose shout is now no more than a whisper. There will come a time when you will not be able to ignore that whisper any longer.”

I already had a headache. It was the combined effect of alcohol and a long, heavy day. We had reached the camp as the sun was setting and begun the usual routine of setting up the tents, unloading the cars and lighting the fire. We hadn’t quite got to settle next to the fire when I saw something long and black climbing quickly on Chris’s leg. I jumped screaming, but Chris shook his foot and with a sudden move I saw the creature falling directly into the fire. It was a scorpion. I looked at the animal’s body twisting into the flames, changing its colour from deep black into almost reddish, contorting in a last spasm. I felt I wanted to save it, to get it out of there, but it was too late. On the other hand, it was better that it had landed in the fire; at least that way it couldn’t climb on someone else. From then on, dinner took place with feet up on chairs and tables. Then, the rest of the group disappeared into the comfort of their tents where a zip would protect them from all those strange creatures. The two of us, Chris and I, remained outside with a bottle of cognac and the leftovers of dinner.

“You see,” he said with an absent look in his eyes, “life is like a row of closed doors waiting to be opened; you never know what you might find behind them. A nice room, or a cellar filled with spider webs. All that you can do is to open them and have a look. Some people stop after they have opened the first door, they cannot handle the insecurity of opening another one. Others go on and try to find something closer to what they are looking for.”

“What do you mean, that I should go back tomorrow and throw away all that I have and all that I have built, give it all up, resign, leave my life so that I do what?” At that point I just wanted answers. I was just too tired of questions and riddles.

“I don’t say you should do anything out of a sparkle of enthusiasm, jump into the unknown. I am only saying you should be honest and ask yourself if the room you’re in at present is the one you really want to be in.” It wasn’t. That I already knew, as I knew I should open another door, but which one was that to be? “Just trust yourself,” Chris continued, somehow encouraging as if he had sensed the tears of frustration burning at the back of my eyes. “Be honest with yourself. And one day, some weeks or months or years from now, you will find the answers. One condition though: that you keep on searching.”

I didn’t understand what he wanted to say. I was trying hard but I just didn’t. “That is why you told me about the Bushmen and their way of living? Do you think that one can be happy only if one returns to wilderness? I cannot do this. Civilization is a part of me as is my city and my friends and my life back there.”

“There’s nothing wrong with civilization” he said. “And you don’t have to give it all up. On the contrary, use it, but do not become absorbed by it. Do you think that we live here without any trace of civilization? I rent DVDs, I use the internet and I will send my kids to school. I’m not saying the answer is somewhere in the hut of a Bushman.”

“Then what on earth are you saying? It’s too confusing.”

“You have to live with the world and not in the world, use it but do not belong to it, otherwise it will suck your blood until you’ve got nothing else left. We cannot escape our lives, our century, and all those things around us. But we can use them and not be used by them. It’s so easy to become a victim, you know. How many people are doing it every day? You only need several shots of espresso a day, a fancy restaurant in the evening and some crazy music at a disco, all anaesthetics to help you forget and ease the pain of not living in accordance with who you are.” I was getting cold. The fire had almost gone out and the darkness around had become even darker. I felt as if there was too little light to fight, too little hope to keep me going. Was there any sense in that conversation? We had probably drunk too much. “The world belongs to those who dream,” Chris concluded. I had heard him say that before, but that night those words sounded soft and final and they somehow linked to my old dream of going to Africa one day, a link that I did not fully understand at the time.

Who was this man talking to me and how did he know about those things? Who had told him about my questions and who had asked him to shatter my peace? He had made his own choices and seemed happy with his way. He had told me that he had an engineering diploma and he had even tried to work in an office. It didn’t last too long until he realized it wasn’t meant for him. Then he started searching and tried all sorts of things, professional scuba diver, fisherman… eventually he became a safari guide. There, in the desert, he got back in touch with himself and sucked enough energy to be able to return to the city life, to his wife and two kids. He had found a part of his soul, hidden there, in the wilderness, and from then onwards he didn’t feel lost again. This is where his power came from, the attraction he spread all around him: he was complete, he had managed to put his various parts together, something that for me was only a distant hope at that time. I felt his power, I saw him as self-confident and relaxed, I imagined he would be a passionate lover. If I wasn’t careful I would fall in love with him, and that wasn’t a good idea. Not only had he a wife and two children, but that night was the last of my African adventure. I would never see him again after we said goodbye the next day at the airport. No, I would not fall in love with that man. What if I was attracted to him, what if he fascinated me…what if he seemed to have all the answers that I was seeking in vain … what if…I would not fall in love with him just because I decided not to? He was so close to me that I could have touched him, and I felt like putting my hand over his hands that still held the cup of brandy. Instead, I reached for the bottle and I poured the last drops into the cups. That was it, the brandy was over and I knew this meant my time with him was over as well.

“Listen, I think you should sleep inside a tent tonight,” Chris brought me back to reality with some practical concerns. “This is a really bad place for snakes and scorpions, it’s too risky to sleep outside.”

For several nights now I had slept outside next to Chris despite the funny smiles of our travel companions, but I was happy with the newly discovered feeling of freedom sleeping there in the open. And I could not care less about what everyone else was thinking. “Look, this is my last night here and I’d really like to spend it outside. I will be fine, really. After all, I was born in November under the Scorpio sign, and they won’t attack one of their own!”

Chris seemed unimpressed by my logic. He kept quiet, lost in his thoughts for a while, with an empty look in his eyes, holding the empty tin by the remains of the fire. Something was missing, I could tell but I did not know what. “OK,” he said after a while. “But there is something we could do to try and avoid nasty surprises tonight: sleep in the fairy circles.”

I had noticed them as soon as we had stopped that afternoon. They were large circles as if drawn by an invisible hand and scattered across the plain. They were just large enough to park the car in the middle of one of them. Nothing, no grass or any other plant, would grow inside these circles. Apparently, nobody had managed to explain how they came into existence and what spell protected them from being covered with vegetation like the rest of the plain and, because no explanation could be found, people just called them the “fairy circles”. “If we sleep in the middle of one of those, we’re less likely to wake up facing the tongue of a snake. They prefer the grass. Let’s get the bedrolls. And then I have something for you...something that will help you sleep better...”. His eyes were smiling and I wondered what it was he was talking about. There could not be another bottle. We had just been looking all around, trying to see if any alcohol was left anywhere.

He opened his bedroll and threw it down in the middle of one of the circles. I opened mine with slow movements as the alcohol in my veins made me stumble a little. I felt unsure and vulnerable, the way one feels after a bit too much to drink. Here I was putting up my bed roll next to him. A distant thought travelled through my mind. The other people in the tents must think there’s some kind of a romance going on between the two of us with all those midnight talks. The thought made me smile. No, there wasn’t romance, but it was something better than that. I felt like I had found someone who understands and who could help me understand as well. I felt safe with him. I felt good. I knew my friends would call me naïve again, but I felt I could trust this man I was putting my bedroll next to, in a mysterious and profound way. I could trust him despite being drunk, and he too, despite having met him only a few days before, despite the emptiness of the space around us and despite the tension that inevitably builds up as a man and a woman open up their bedrolls one next to the other in the middle of a fairy circle.

The fairy circle was drawn perfectly into the ground and the earth was flat in the middle. Maybe it had been drawn by some large animals walking in circles, or maybe some of the locals had some strange rituals involving circles in the savannah grass. There was nothing and nobody around, and I remembered that we had not seen a human face outside our group for days. We were in a strange place with a strange name: Twyfelfountain – “The Doubtful Spring”. Somewhere, not far away from where we were sleeping, there was a spring with no identifiable source coming to the surface.

Chris had reached out his hand, his fingers upwards, as if he was trying to catch the moon. Then unexpectedly he stretched it towards me and said, “Give me your hand!” I did not move. My heart was beating strongly. What did he mean? “Come on, give me your hand...I want to see how big your palm is compared to mine...”. I gave him my hand, shaking, and I felt a shiver when my fingers touched his. We were lying about a metre apart, but now, with our arms stretched out and our fingers clenched, all the distance had suddenly gone. I was breathing heavily…No, I didn’t want to…or maybe I really wanted to…I felt another shiver in my stomach. As if sensing my panic, he suddenly let go and his hand disappeared inside the sleeping bag, searching though his pockets. “Here, do you want to try?” Chris had rolled himself a joint with a wide smile on his face.

So that was what he had been saving for later, I told myself, with a sigh of relief that the scary intimacy was now over, and the joint gave us both another way of being together, which was far less frightening. I had seen him smoking before at the end of a busy day, or when he felt pushed to the edges of exasperation by some strange comment from the group.

He passed over the joint to me and I felt another warm weight flowing into my veins. And this time it wasn’t the alcohol. I had another smoke and gave it back to him. We were lying face up in the middle of a fairy circle, each of us deeply buried in his own bedroll. The moon had finally risen and it seemed to have a strangely intense colour, it could be anything from deep yellow to pink or maybe even purple. “I told you the full moon is special in this place,” Chris broke the silence. I couldn’t answer since the joint had been passed back to me again. To be honest, I did not feel like talking any longer. Far away I heard the screaming barking of a dog. “Jackals,” Chris concluded. “They will not come too close though, they are fearful creatures.” The noise continued for a while and in the silence of the night it seemed that the whole world was reduced to two people smoking a joint and a jackal searching for food somewhere in the savannah.

I looked at the moon and the moon looked back at me, and I wondered how the world looked from up there, seen through the eyes of the moon. And about how two people would look down there, in the middle of a fairy circle, in the middle of a plain, buried in their bedrolls as well as in their questions and answers, trying to run away from it all with the help of a joint. How would they look in the eyes of such an old moon? The light started to get stronger and stronger and it seemed like another type of day had started, another type of world had opened.

I watched the last bit of the joint disappearing under the thirsty lips of my fairy circle mate; it was over, it was all gone, the bottle and the joint, and my holiday... and my questions and… and nothing mattered any longer and my senses were numb. The drug had already made its way to my brain and I did not feel like talking any longer or even thinking. The moon was up and it was all that mattered, and I felt a warm sensation of knowledge spreading through my veins telling me that, in fact, it was all useless because in the immensity of the universe only things like the rise of a full moon mattered, and the moon had been there yesterday, and the day before that, and the month before that and it would always be there, and a part of me was there yesterday too and the year before, and would forever be there, lying on my back in the middle of a fairy circle drawn by an invisible hand in the grass of the savannah. Because I was one with the moon and the moon lived inside me and together we were neither moon nor human.

“You see, once in a blue moon the moon can indeed turn blue.” Chris whispered, lost in his own thoughts which seemed to be even more nonsensical than my own. And then, right under my sleepy eyes, the moon turned itself blue, because all it needs is a drop of Faith and someone willing to believe that its light is blue and this is how we can make things happen because, in fact, reality does not exist outside ourselves, we contain it all and it all contains us, and I understood, once again, that my questions were in fact not important. Neither was it if that man, who tonight had drunk half a bottle of brandy with me was right, or if what he spoke about made sense. It did not matter that I had not yet found my path because, in fact, I had all the time in the world to find it because once you become aware that you need to look for it then the whole universe opens up and you can reach up to the moon.

“Think of something old, something buried deep down in you, some memory that you cherish and which could give you some insight into what could make you happy, into how you would like to live…” his voice faded away into the abyss of sleep. And then and there, at the border between dream and reality, an older image started gaining form. I was a little girl again and I was running around the park next to my parents’ house where I used to spend my childhood days. I was hiding behind some bushes and then I walked a bit further, and I crossed the boundaries of what was ‘allowed playground’, and I stepped into what then looked like a wilderness, and there, a most amazing sight unfolded in front of my eyes. It was a green meadow surrounded by tall trees and there was nobody around, and I was hidden behind a big bush, afraid but thrilled by the thought that I might spot some mysterious animal. The grass was high. I could feel it touch my elbows and I stood still and watched it and breathed in the sight of a faraway place, hidden beyond the border of the trees I was forbidden to cross. That view had always lived in me. For years and years I had carried with me the image of that meadow in the light of the morning sun and all the promise of discovery and excitement that was about to happen when I would be old enough to start walking on it.

I think I must have smiled just before letting go of that image as I crossed the border of sleep and entered the world where dreams become reality. But I knew I had it in me and it would come back if I called it and it would give me guidance. For I had found again the little girl who seemed lost for such a long time, and now that she was awake and aware she would ask for her right to go and discover the rest of the path she gazed at that morning. And the woman in me made a promise to the little girl that they would go together.

I woke up at sunrise. My guide was already up. His “day in the office” as he called it, started pretty early. He had to start preparing breakfast and coffee, clean up the remains of the feast from the night before, and get things into boxes and boxes into cars. “See you later,” he had told me before disappearing in the direction of the camp with his rolled bedding on one shoulder. “We’re leaving early today so see that you’re ready soon.”

Yes, I knew we had a lot of distance to cover that day. All of the centuries between wilderness and an airport terminal. I stool still and did not speak. From where I was lying I could see the colours of the sunrise dancing on the horizon, first some sort of grey that turned gradually into purple, and then lighted up to bright pink. The sun was about to rise and with it a new breeze of hope would descend on the surface of this earth, with the promise of a new beginning. The first rays came out and the light was deep orange. There was no time to waste any longer, there was no time not to be ready, the world was going round and willingly or not I had to go with it. And there would be another sunrise tomorrow only I would not be there, I would be in another country, far away from all this, where an alarm clock would shout at me the beginning of a new day, of a new rush. But today I was still here, alone in the vastness of the plain, and that day was unique and that sunrise was unique because no two sunrises are alike, and no two chances we are given are alike. “I have to stop thinking otherwise I will start crying,” I told myself, and I tried hard to stop thinking.

I was lying there for a while until I decided it was time to stand up and roll up my sleeping bag. I started to walk towards the camp. The smell of the coffee was already in the air and I could hear voices. Chris was already on the roof of the cars loading the tents.

I could remember all the details of the previous night and all the words that had been spoken were engraved in my memory. I was still trying not to think but I felt I had to stop walking. The panic had spread its poison into my blood and I looked around in despair trying to contain it all, the smell of the grass and the purple light on the horizon, the shapes of the mountains far away where the plain and sky were melting. The vastness and the silence and the breeze of wind touching my skin, I wanted to grab all of those and take them home with me so that I could wake up with them again.

Then, I realized I couldn’t. Tears started rolling down my face and I stood still and I cried, I cried out my sadness to say goodbye and my happiness at being there in that very moment, I cried for my loneliness and my grey life I had to return to and I cried with hope that I would one day find my way. I cried silently and without desperation until I could not tell why exactly what I was crying for. That moment, under the sunrise of that morning, I realized that something had been moved inside my soul, and somewhere in between the rise of the moon and that of the sun the transformation took place as if I had been bitten by a scorpion that night, and I woke up in the skin of another being. And, having come to terms with myself, I cried a little bit more, for my memory of running down a dune, for the grass and the sun, for the silence and the dreams I had given up one day and which were now brought back to me by the sunrise of this morning. I made a pledge with myself: I would return here.

The way to the airport seemed to pass in a moment. “Take care of yourself,” Chris was smiling when he said goodbye. I knew he was happy to get rid of this heavy group. “Take care,” he repeated, “and keep in touch. Let me know how it’s going.” The end of a holiday, the end of a tour, was he saying this to all of his tourists, or did he really care? Would I ever talk to him again?

“I will be back,” and immediately after I said it, I regretted saying it. It is always easier to leave when fooling yourself that you would return. It’s not a proper goodbye because there will be another occasion. Yes, I was fooling myself because I felt sad to say goodbye. But I knew it would become true somehow, sometime. I had to return there.

Back to Europe

“It will start as soon as you board. The transformation, I mean. As soon as you get back in touch with your cold, impersonal world. A world with all those wonders of technology, and an airport is the best place for that. You will start to slowly doubt whether all that you have felt was true, and all that you have seen was indeed that beautiful. A part of you will slowly die and another one will grow to take its place, and you will tell yourself that you have a house to return to, and work to resume, and friends to see again and a lot of washing to do after this trip, and you’ll show the photos to others and chat about your amazing trip. But guess what, even the pictures will seem somewhat faded and the colours will not look that bright any longer. For a while you will try to fight back and keep your memories alive, but then it will become a matter of survival and you will begin slowly but surely to let go and turn back to the self you were before the trip, just like an animal who changes its skin colour to match a new environment. And you will even doubt you had questions and ever searched for answers.”

Chris had warned me that the transformation was about to take place and he was right. I could see it happening. I tried fighting back and I tried to keep alive in me the purple of the sunrise of that morning and the smell of the grass, and my tears falling down my face in the middle of the fairy circle. But it was more and more difficult and the marketing assistant with hopes for a management job took the place of the girl from the savannah, and I no longer had to put up tents but had to deal with marketing campaigns instead. And my alarm clock did the job of the first ray of the morning sun and planes replaced the old Land Rover, and even the questions were forgotten.

I had come back to my old life.

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