It was a Thursday. The hot air clung to the smoke rising from the chimney. The dry land echoed tales of drought and years of exertion. We lingered under a tree in brief intervals, hoping the shade might soothe our burnt backs.
We were strangers when we came to this country. I had flown to Zambia from England alone, a young student hoping to change the world. The farm was small. A wooden fence separated the huts from the fields. Spade in hand, we dug into the crusty earth. We planted trees of many kinds, thousands in just a few weeks.
I found a rare connection with the people I spent my days with in Zambia. We were connected by a desire for change. Connected by a passion for a cause greater than ourselves. This passion followed me home and has seeped into many areas of my life since.
In Africa I met people that did things differently. I met farmers and saw their joy as they spoke to me of their work. I spent time with plant specialists, chefs and artists that each, without even realising it, inspired me to see food and our connection to it in a new light.
Eating home-grown food from our vegetable patch was the norm when I was growing up. But it was only by planting seeds myself, and sharing these moments with likeminded individuals, that I became truly excited about food. These were lessons that I learnt far from home. I now see that such lessons truly have the power to alter our lives if we let them.
A change in perspective
This can be translated in a myriad of ways. For me it was my passion for food, and our connection to it, that was ignited through my travels. Yet, we each have individual passions that can be unlocked through our willingness to be open as we learn new lessons.
When I returned home I came to realise the inspiring work that my mother had achieved for many years through growing food. It was the same quality I saw in those I met in distant places across the globe. It was a passion and diligence. A desire to do things differently in a world that is so often telling us to remain the same. While little had changed in our vegetable patch back home, I began to understand the beauty of the process of growing. I fell in love with the scent of soil and the feeling of working so closely with the earth. I began to understand that it was not home that was different, but me that had changed.
The reward of travel does not come from simply experiencing a new destination. We may be inspired by what we see in a distant land, but the true reward comes from bringing these new perspectives back home with us. Introducing our friends, neighbours and relatives to a world beyond our own front door. Showing those around us all that we have learnt, and allowing these sacred journeys to alter our lives as well as the lives of those we interactive with daily.