Tonight marks my final flight from Africa, at least in an official capacity. Since my first trip to Morocco in 2010, I’ve logged 15 individual trips to the continent, visiting eight countries. But it is the end of an era, not just for me personally, but for my frequent flyer status. Countries visited include Morocco and Senegal (4 trips each), Uganda, Malawi, and Gabon (2 trips each), and Djibouti, Ghana, and Kenya (1 trip each).
Despite my travel accomplishments, I refuse to say “I’ve been to Africa”, because doing so would imply that I’ve experienced 54 unique countries, and countless peoples and cultures. The truth is, I haven’t even scratched the surface of the eight African countries I have been fortunate enough to have my passport stamped in. All of my trips have been for business, so any culture I’ve had the opportunity to experience has been limited to a certain radius of a four or five star hotel on a regimented itinerary.
This goes back to what’s often been a topic of thought and conversation about our travels, many of which are documented here. If given the opportunity to experience something, anything, take as much advantage as you possibly can, even if it doesn’t seem like much. So we’re stuck in a hotel? Get together with your colleagues and go experience a local restaurant. Restricted itinerary? Ask the concierge what’s available to experience in the neighborhood. Be smart, don’t eat raw shellfish in Senegal, take a buddy along, follow the guidelines of your organization, and have a genuine cultural experience!
Up to this point, I haven’t been able to bring Alicia along on any of these trips. It just isn’t feasible. However, as the African sun sets on this chapter of the adventure, we’re really looking forward to experiencing all our future cultural experiences together.