Wide awake at 3am. In a few hours, when the streets are filling with people heading off to work, I’ll be setting out for work too. To Papua New Guinea.
It’s 47 years since I first went there, and in the intervening years, I’ve been back about fifteen times. Why so often? Part proximity, part adventure, part curiosity, but always enthusiasm. I like the place. During those years, my reasons to go there have been to cover the young nation’s independence, several elections, a papal tour; and sometimes I’ve just dreamed up excuses to get back to this bewildering, exciting, slightly dangerous country. This time I’m going there to photograph twenty-four aboriginal Australians walking the Kokoda Trail.
The reason though, is not important. To be travelling, is an end in itself. For me, the camera is not just a creative outlet, it is the key to experience, the key to satisfying my curiosity. For nearly fifty years, a reasonable competence with this instrument has privileged me to travel to out-of-the-way places and corners of the world. Tomorrow, it will do so again. It is more than twenty years since I was last in Papua New Guinea. I wonder what changes I will find?
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote down these quotes from Alain de Botton’s book, The Art of Travel. In the small hours of this morning they seem particularly apt.
“It is not necessarily at home that we encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.”
“Journeys are the mid-wives of thought.”
Better go back to bed. It will soon be time to get up and go to work…