Something is wrong.
Do you ever get that feeling? I do, and it seems to happen more often when I am in western countries like Britain and the United States than it does when I am in Botswana.
Well, actually I do sometimes get the feeling in Gaborone, but not so much in Francistown and almost never when I’m in rural areas or out in the bush.
I think it has something to do with the environment and local expectations.
I’ve been thinking about this ever since a friend who used to work in Tonota told me about a camper van trip she and her husband are planning.
The couple live in the north of England now and they are about to set off across Europe down to Greece and Italy.
During that time, the seasoned travellers will never be far from civilization and there will be plenty of interesting restaurants and cafes along the way.
You would think that would make the journey easier to plan and less stressful than the totally self-sufficient 4×4 trips we used to make together into the Kalahari.
According to Sheena, however, that has not been the case.
Our friends had a young son and we had two small daughters when we used to venture into the desert but we didn’t have a GPS, internet access or a phone signal, and I am happy to say none of those things was a major problem.
We just took the things we thought we might need, including spare parts, mechanical knowledge and lots of water, and got on with it.
For this latest trip, however, Sheena says she feels like she needs to research what is on offer, book things in advance and take out insurance on the things they will be leaving behind.
She admits she hasn’t enjoyed all the planning and says she never would have bothered doing it when they lived in Africa, but she lives in England now so she feels she has to do things the western way.
And I believe that brings us to the core of the problem.
All of us want to fit in to our surroundings so we tend to do what society tells us to do… even if it doesn’t feel quite right.
If most people where we live have insurance, we tend to take it out without giving much thought to whether we really need it, and if everyone books things in advance, so do we.
Unfortunately, when we do what we are told to do instead of thinking for ourselves our lives feel out of control.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be like that. At the end of the day, we really are in charge of our own lives.
The bad news is going against the flow doesn’t make our lives any easier.
Thinking for ourselves is more difficult than simply following the herd but I think it is worth the effort because it makes life more interesting and things don’t feel wrong nearly as often.
And when they do, we are in a better position to make them right.