Returning to the places we love is what drives us to travel. Unlike the impetus for adventure, or to get away to someplace new, returning fills a hunger that can only be satisfied by touching what you already know is true.
Unlike my guests who come to my programs for the first time, I make regular visits to these destinations to welcome them. Meanwhile, I am welcomed.
This last sojourn to meet the group in Morocco was a three-day feat. Iceland’s volcano put the squeeze on all of northern Europe closing down airports and all flights for what surely seemed like an eternity to the industry and was a nightmare for travelers stuck in-between. A wayward cloud of ash that could shift at any moment kept us all in suspense and second-guessing where it might go. Making alternative travel plans a game of chance. But when you “gotta go, ya gotta go” and you will do almost anything to get there.
There were marvelous stories of 5,000 euro taxi rides, boat trips, endless hours on trains if you were lucky enough to find a seat. My colleague Merete and I had our own dramas that involved juggling new flights only to find out they’d been canceled. Requiring large sums of cash and swelling stress to make expensive decisions, with moments to spare, that we might regret.
But by hook or by crook. You get on that plane.
Never mind that when we arrived in Casablanca we faced delays, lost bags and more paperwork. We finally made it to Jnane Tamsna in the wee morning hours and fell into bed with abandon.
We woke to birdsong and sunshine.
Coming down the stairs to breakfast, I smile. It was a long hard row to get here. Yet, here I am at “home.” I know it well, the smells, the familiar faces, the bougainvillea. I see my friend Baijah, our chef, who gives me such a big hug of welcome and Majid who greets me warmly. I relax as if I had arrived calmly. My group wandered in slowly having made it from America with less challenging flights, rested, happy and well looked after.
I am so grateful for the relationships that have been built over the years. The secret to any success is in authentic collaboration. They took care of my guests as they take care of me, the hospitality stretched beyond the norm. A message saying, “this belonging extends to you.”
Jnane Tamsna is “a house of belonging.” I feel like I am returning home. And after a tedious journey, there’s no place like returning to what you know is true.