Travel Fatigue and Joni Mitchell

May 10, 2007

Lately, one song that’s been playing often on my iPod is Joni Mitchell’s Carey from her Blue album. The opening lyrics go:

The wind is in from Africa
And last night I couldn’t sleep
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave you, Carey
But it’s really not my home

My fingernails are filthy
I’ve got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean, white linens
And my fancy French cologne.

I imagine she’s talking about travelers’ fatigue and I know just how she feels.

Two days ago, we hit the four-month anniversary of the day our plane set down in Bangkok and this whole journey began. While it’s been one of the most eye-opening, gutsiest, most exciting things that I’ve ever done, this trip is also wearing me out.

I’m tired of five-hour bus rides.
I’m tired of wobbling my way onto rickety boats.
I’m tired of the four shirts that I have and of all my pants being stained by red dust and the remnants of oily vegetables that I’ve dropped on them.
I’m tired of unpacking and packing my bags every third night.
I’m tired of white toast and Nescafe for breakfast.
I’m tired of perspiring my sunscreen off before 10 a.m.
I’m tired of mosquito bites.
I’m tired of eating in restaurants. I just want some salad.
I’m tired of automatically comparing the prices of one-liter bottles of water everywhere I go.
I’m tired of always feeling like my days need to be filled by an activity and tired of feeling indolent when I take a day off to wander aimlessly around air-conditioned shopping malls in the middle of a Tuesday when everyone else is at work and I can’t buy anything anyway because it won’t fit into my backpack.
Etcetera, etcetera.

Like Joni, I long for my own bed, for clean linens that hold no danger of bed bugs. I don’t wear fancy cologne because it gives me headaches, but I ache to sit in front of a mirror and play with my toybox of overpriced, department store makeup.

With only three weeks left, we’re coming down to the finish line. It’s not that I’m itching to get home. I’ve traveled, I’ve given it my all, and, when I board the place back to Japan on May 31st, I won’t shed a tear that this wonderful, exhausting trip is over.


One Response to “Travel Fatigue and Joni Mitchell”

  1. geannina said

    Hey jess! I can’t even imagine how exhausted you must be. As great as it is to travel the world, there is nothing like home! I am glad that you have experienced so much and I wish you a safe trip home. You often pop into my head and I appreciate letting us tag along for the ride.

    With love,


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