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Making travel plans with my inner chimp

How do you see yourself? If you had to describe ‘you’ what words and phrases would you choose to use? You’d want to show the best of yourself, I’m sure.

I believe we all carry an edited, elevated version of ourselves in our heads. If I close my eyes and think about how I think I am, the details of the more perfect version of myself, include jet black eyelashes – in reality they’re blond and essentially non-existent. I am necessarily addicted to mascara (Huda is my current favourite.) I frequently conjure a vision of myself as a women with a calm and methodical mind – nope! Not so. In reality my brain races away and I have to work hard to keep myself grounded. I frequently tell my chimp to calm down, something I learned in The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters. It’s definitely worth a read. I also see myself as a brave, and independent soul who can please herself. Well maybe. Possibly true, until I thought about booking myself a holiday recently. Then the real and imagined versions of myself clashed, and clashed enough for me to sit up and take notice. 

Here I was booking myself a trip away – an event, that in my imagination, yielded tremendous choice and oodles of excitement, my spirits should have been soaring, but instead I felt flat, confused and indecisive. Why was that I wondered?

In the past I’ve travelled a great deal with my children. Firstly in my twenties and early thirties with my then young sons. We loaded the car and headed to a très jollie French campsite, and I was thrilled at their joy. Their delight in the endless beaches, rippling surf, and most thrilling off all – pastel green pistachio ice-cream – who knew? Later, when we had more cash, we travelled further afield. Heading to Greek islands. On a plane! Oh the sheer excitement of those trips. I shared their frustration on that holiday, our budget apartment should have had a sparkling swimming pool but it wasn’t quite finished, they had to wait until the very last day to enjoy it. We were happy enough though, splashing in the warm Aegean. 

Later, I travelled with my two daughters. By now I had an established career and the world was our oyster. In Sri Lanka my eldest daughter held a snake six times bigger than she was. In Tunisia she was held aloft in a chair balanced on a troubadour’s head in a bizarre juggling act; dubious and potentially dangerous tourist entertainment which frankly I hope is now banned. In Portugal she peeled a squashed creature off the road. How we laughed! I didn’t even have wet wipes! What reckless folly. 

Young girl holding her nose whilst holding 'roadkill' by the tail.
Daughter, Daisy with Portuguese road kill. I didn’t even have wet wipes.

In Cuba. we snorkelled to our hearts’ content. Ditto Egypt. How the coral, the fish and shells enchanted us. In 2010 we were trapped by Eyjafjallajökull – the volcanic ash cloud explosion in Iceland. It was no problem. Our hotel had an excellent choice of cocktails and a wide range of child-centred activities. What else was a girl going to do?  

Girl with cocktail glass
Lillian enjoying her Cuban mocktail.

So there I was planning a trip. After hours of fruitless searching, in reality a few days of doom scrolling, nothing inspired me. I had a vision of myself where I decisively booked a flight and then simply followed my nose, satisfying my craving for adventure. However I wondered why I couldn’t make a decision. Or rather, I was unable to make a plan and stick to it. Instead I found myself researching places I’d been to before. There’s comfort in the familiar – right? The two versions of myself were at war. My adventurous self craved the new, while another voice warned of danger. 

I slept on it for a few night and I realised, shockingly, I was actually not feeling adventurous at all. Not one bit. What on earth had happened to me? 



Calm down chimp, I thought, calm down. 

I rationalised. At 61 I have no idea how long I have left. Admittedly it’s ‘young.’ And I’m in pretty good health, but in the last few years, very sadly and without much warning I’ve lost friends. I can only guesstimate how much fuel is left in my tank. That’s why I resolved to do the thing that gave me butterflies, regardless of whether they are flutters of joy or fear – or a mix. 

Sitting in my little camper-van watching the waves in Ramsgate, I decided to be a little braver and head to southern Morocco, to travel inland to Taroudant, which is ‘in the Anti-Atlas, little known to tourists.’ In the end the edited version of myself won. I believe in being just a little braver. I can’t wait to write about my trip. Keep up with me. See how I go.  

A coastal view taken from inside a camper van.
Ramsgate’s coast, as seen from the comfort of my van.

Please drop me a line, all questions answered and do please spread the word and share.
‘Til soon, Karen xx

Karen Constantine with a glass of wine

Butterfly image by Watts on Flickr.

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