Saturday, October 07, 2006

Woman Alone

In the midst of all my planning for trips here and there in Olivia, there's one thing that constantly gnaws at the back of my mind - the issue of safety as a single woman (and perhaps child) travelling on my own.

Many of my trips may be made alone, but in this day and age is that a viable option? Especially here in Africa... There are guys who say they won't travel alone, that the potential for attack or breakdown or lying somewhere hurt for weeks in a remote area is simply too great. And they're right about most of it. Sorta.

On the other hand, travel companions are not exactly plentiful. It's hard to find someone to go with you on a whim, or even on an extended journey (could always hire a hunk for entertainment purposes, I guess... :) ). There are certain trips that should be done alone. But perhaps those should be confined to "populated areas" or places where there is either a cellphone signal or the chance of others happening along within hours?

Yet that kinda defeats the purpose of some journeys. There's an urge to get away from the masses, out into the bush, away from civilization - and letting fear keep you from those experiences is not a good thing.

But I'm also a practical chick. I know my limitations, I know what I can and can't do, what I can and can't handle. I guess my concern is more for other people (potential hazards, worse than the wild things!) than for myself. I don't know the intentions of folk I may run into on the way, nor can I predict what they will or won't do.

I'm aware of the dangers this country holds. Hijackings, murders, rapes, mutilations, theft. Many of them confined to the cities and their surrounds where crime festers naturally. I know how my grandparents live on their Gauteng farm - sleeping with a gun each under the bed, locking everything up tight, shooting first - asking questions later. It's living dominated by fear and suspicion, by necessity. But what of the deserted areas? Surely one is safer there than where people are congregated?

I sometimes doubt my strength of personality to fend off those who don't have good intentions. If I were to travel far and wide, could I deal with the scheming, bribe-seeking masses who pick on anyone who passes through? I'm not sure.

All this and more sits in the back of my head, urging caution. Yet I dream of being alone under a star-spattered sky in the middle of nowhere...

Perhaps I should just pick my "middle of nowhere" carefully?

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