Boris Kester’s new book is all about embracing the unexpected, whether in a literalist context, or an introspective one. “In every chapter…(in The Long Road to Cullaville: Stories from my Travel to Every Country in the World)… situations arise where I had to make choices, often without overseeing the consequences. Some stories are situated in countries that are generally labeled ‘Dangerous’.
Others describe adventures with people I met along the way and obstacles I had to deal with to achieve my goal, as well as moments where I was plain lucky — or not. The bottom line is that I rarely opted for the easy way. I leave it to the reader to judge the sanity of my decisions. Allow me to take you to Somalia and Yemen, Cameroon and Kyrgyzstan, Nauru and Afghanistan — and other destinations that are probably very different from what you would expect beforehand. Just like those countries surprised me when I traveled there. And I always came back safely.”
Kester also writes, “Adventure begins where the familiar ends. A city you’re visiting for the first time, a path you’ve never followed before, a mountain you’ve never climbed. Unknown scents, unusual sounds. Meeting people whose language you don’t speak and whose traditions you don’t know. Together with curiosity comes surprise and wonder about all that is odd. However strange the experience seems, the biggest mistake you can make as a traveler is to forget that you are the stranger. It’s up to you to try and make sense of it all. It’s crucial to leave your prejudices at home, together with stereotypes and clichés. Only then can you really start to appreciate your new environment for what it truly is. ”Adventure begins where the familiar ends.”
I took that to heart. It’s something that can be universally applied. Much like the highly impactful essay The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, there’s this visceral sense of get up and go, seize that opportunity. Really, in the end, seize that moment. It’s not necessarily an easy process to do, but once you get the hang of it — in my experience such an instinct becomes almost like a compulsion, like a benevolent form of addiction. Your eyes are open, and now you see your own perceptual awarenesses are, at best, just the very tip of the iceberg…
In Kester’s version of this, he writes: “When you arrive in a country you’ve never been to before, that amazement is all but guaranteed. Everything is new. You’re besieged by impressions and you’re often short of the senses to absorb it all. Gradually, the unfamiliar surroundings transform from curiosity to the stage of new experiences.
You just don’t know what meaning they will have in your life and what feeling they will evoke when, later on, you recollect the memories of your journey. The first moments, immediately after arriving in a new country, are often the most dazzling. Everything is pure. You still have the innocent look of the child who is dying to experience something new and is open to anything.”