It is day 1, wait, it is really the start of day 2 of my journey to Taize. It is 03:59 in the morning, somewhere west of Mecca and a fair bit north of Khartoum, some 40000 feet above terra firma (because it sounds much more impressive than 12000 meters) with daybreak imminent. What an adventure!

 

Like all journeys, this one started bitter-sweet. With the sadness of saying good bye to loved one whilst at the same time bubbling with the anticipation of new experiences. South Africa definitely gave a huge step in the right direction with the Gautrain project. A short drive, 2 kilometers to be precise, to the bus line got me on my way. An easy commute to Sandton station and, from there, arriving at OR Tambo with a swipe of card, effortless.

 

You can only imagine, from here the excitement only grew with every small step closer to the plane, the arriving of travelling fellows in ones and twos, the conversing with strangers in the queue, the opening of the check-in counter, a meal shared, walking through passport control, boarding and then, finally, into the airplane and lifting off.

 

Flying in an older plane, with Egyptair, is a bit of a throwback and even a bit of a disappointment; centralized tv screens, limited music channels and a choice of drinks limited to juice and softdrinks. This prompted the first critical reflection of the trip. Why disappointed with the lack of personal entertainment and a glut of choice? Surely it’s not the result of marketing ad nauseam telling me that it is my right as a consumer to demand the best, to demand more while partaking in an activity that is only reserved for the very elite in the world.

 

This prompted me to take a second look at the environment of the flight, and what a surprise! The staff are friendly, the newspapers and cabin announcements in Arabic, space sufficient and the conversation on the plane flowing. The first opportunity offered to deconstruct a little bit of the consumer ideology that is so pervasive throughout our daily lives. The lack of choice liberating, allowing me to let go and enjoy the moment, not worrying about which movie to watch, how to fill my already image and sound fatigued mind with more flickering lights and tripping notes.

 

My sincere hope for the trip is that an opening of the mind, the broadening of horizons and stilling of the soul will be the order of day.

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