All the Way to Timbuktu
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
Nina Sovich is a brave woman. Not only does she travel alone in Africa, but she also travels alone in Africa while four months pregnant. Though she is (mostly) happily married and living with her French husband in Paris, she is frustrated with her life, and so she takes off on her own to discover what she’s made of and what is really important to her. She relies on the kindness of strangers in Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, while learning life lessons that she wouldn’t have gotten, had she stayed at home.
Sovich’s journey through the Sahara and her simultaneous journey inward are detailed in To the Moon and Timbuktu. In the beginning, she is an American in Paris, stuck in a stressful job at a news bureau and unable to come to terms with the strict social rules of the Parisians. When she has a mini-breakdown in the supermarket, because she can’t find bread crumbs, she recognizes that it is time to do something. Having spent years in foreign countries, she decides to take a trip to Africa, using Mary Kingsley, a Victorian female solo traveler, as her inspiration. Sovich puts it best: “The bitter sweetness of travel fills me up and makes me feel whole.”
While in Africa, her mettle is tested and she is challenged both physically and mentally, but the experience teaches her that she is stronger than she realized. She meets people who have very little and yet still find happiness in their lives, and she sees how lucky she is to have so many options of her own. She reconciles her wandering soul with the banal, day-to-day life that almost haunts her. Through travel, she discovers that she can be a mother, a wife and an adventurer.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel more, this book will convince you to start booking those flights!