Only a day remains before I must board a flight back to Mauritius, and leave the island of Rodrigues behind forever. I came knowing or expecting nothing from this tiny little dot in the Indian Ocean, and I found everything.
I fell in love with its stunning coastline, the volcanic landscapes of its interiors, the smiles forever pasted on the faces of its residents, the casual pace at which life moves here, the handful of cafes.
I fell in love with it all. And just as I thought I could live here forever, time has come for me to move on. I feel my heart crumbling to pieces, and like a lovelorn soul, I walk into the Rodrigues tourism office to ask if foreigners like myself can buy land in this little paradise. Who am I kidding, right? I’ll never afford it in a thousand years, and even if I do, my itchy feet won’t let me stay for too long. Rodrigues and I part with a heavy heart.
Two days later, I’ll bid yet another teary goodbye to Mauritius, to the wilderness it has preserved for hundreds of years, to the seasonally changing colors of its sugarcane fields, to its pristine beaches and coastlines, and to its warm-hearted French-speaking Indian residents.
This is slowly becoming the pattern of my life. Since I quit my job to feed my wanderlust, I have fallen in love, and had my heart broken multiple times. I left a part of me in the Alpine countryside of France.
The culinary delights and larger-than-life living of the Italian people still beckon me. I miss watching time move backward along the canals of Amsterdam. The warmth and beauty of Turkey’s Black Sea region is etched in my heart. The tropical wilderness of Malaysia, the postcard landscapes of Vietnam, the untouched treasures of Indonesia, I long for it all.
Perhaps the best and worst part of these love affairs is the self-imposed endings; if I really want, I can move my life to the next country, city, town or village that woos me, but what will happen to my endless romance with India and all the other countries, cities, towns and villages waiting to woo me? I know my love affairs must end and continue in another life, but each ending steals a small part of me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve woken up to sporadic yearnings of lands far away, and spent the day traversing them in the crevices of my mind. I’ve spent mornings with a beer in Germany, afternoons in the underground cities of Kapadokya, evenings driving around Rodrigues, and rounded off the night with a hike in the jungles of Kumaon, albiet in the timezone of my mind. I have forgotten what it is to live in one place at one time.
I know that I have only started to scratch the surface of the world. I know that the wildernesses of Scandinavia, the Pacific, Latin America, Northeast India, and the forever growing list of places on my bucket list await me, and will have me head over heels in love in no time once I make it there. I also know that I’ll carry the memories of all my past loves wherever I go next. Maybe we are indeed the sum of the places we travel to.