I recently read a piece by Girl vs Globe who, with her 21st birthday fast approaching, mapped the first 20 years of her life by sharing 20 of her family holiday snaps. While my 21st birthday has long since gone (where did the time go!), with this year marking the 20th year of my own travelling odyssey I thought I’d share a photograph from each year in the coming weeks as my ‘Throwback Thursday’ homage to mark the milestone.
For me, the journey to my life as a travel writer and perpetual wandering soul began with my first trip to South Africa in 1996. I had spent my final year of high school hearing stories from a South African exchange student, who, being of colour in a country governed by apartheid, had lived a very different life to me. A life could not fathom as a 17 year-old white, middle-class girl growing up in a conservative country town in Australia.
His stories stayed with me though, and, some 10 years later after apartheid had fallen, I finally decided to visit him and experience his country for myself.
Two years after South Africa’s first democratic elections were held, the country was still only awakening from its dark years of tourism exile. There were few tourists around and even fewer who’s travelling companion was a local person of colour. So you could say we raised more than a few eyebrows.
Yet in spite of everything it was this trip to South Africa, that forever seared the country into my heart and, ultimately, led me to pursue my dream of becoming a travel writer.
This picture of me was taken at the Huguenot Monument in Franschhoek on a road trip my friend and I took to Cape Town and through the Cape Winelands. Funnily enough, except for the length of my hair, not much seems to have changed since then. I still sport the same bad fashion-sense and same odd, deer-in-the-headlights-look whenever a camera is pointed in my direction.
Interesting side note: The suede jacket I am wearing – which I had proudly purchased the day before from Aca Joe at the Victoria & Alfred Mall in Cape Town – was recently on sold from a boutique in Bangalow to The Mentalist himself, Simon Baker. He said he thought it was so “1980s retro” and would be perfect for his daughter who was moving to New York to study… Perhaps there is hope for my sense of style yet…