My travels began with Genghis Khan – at least that’s what my father told me as a child.
He said we could trace our family roots to the Golden Horde and to the Mongol Khan, or prince, who swept across the plains of Asia and into Europe, violently subduing everyone in his path. We are Tatars, he would tell me, and we are nomads.
My own travels haven’t included much rape and pillage but I have always felt the call of the journey, the need to move, to be wherever I wasn’t.
I come from a family whose geographical roots are so tenuous they might as well not be mentioned at all. My father, he of Golden Horde descent, was himself issued of murky circumstances, the Turkish son of a Muslim second wife from Jordan, born on an Italian ship barely inside Turkish territorial waters, inexplicably packed off to Saudi Arabia as a child to live with nomadic tribes and plucked back in his teens to attend military school. As a pilot he was stationed in the UK and eventually moved to Paris, where he met my mother.
Her history was equally checkered, born of a Dutch Jewish mother and a French father – he and his six brothers had each emigrated from their native Provence to a different country (he got Egypt). My mother grew up and came of age in the heady Cairo and Alexandria of the 1930s and 40s, navigating back and forth to Europe as though it was her back yard.
Eventually joining the bohemian crowd in Paris, she met a handsome Turk and I was the immediate outcome.
By now you’d think their nomadic streak would have dampened in favor of the good life in Paris but no, at five weeks my mother bundled me onto the Orient Express to Istanbul. My father was arriving by car, the quintessential road trip of the 1950s, deemed too long and tedious for a virtual newborn.
Since that first train journey, I haven’t really stood still. My father became an engineer and moved so often with his work that I rarely finished a school year in the country I’d started it. We lived in Canada for a few years, long enough to become citizens, but I grew up in Spain, the country to we returned after each move.
As an adult the moves continued, back and forth across the Atlantic, until finally, in my forties, I decided to throw in the towel and become a nomad myself, roaming in search of the will to settle down.
It took more than three years to find that will but even now, seemingly settled in an old French farmhouse not far from the border with Geneva, I still roam, leaving home to traipse the world at every opportunity, not by choice, but by genes.
It’s not my fault. Just blame Genghis Khan. Or the Orient Express.
This post is Day 2 of the #Indie30 challenge – 30 Days of Indie Travel, by Bootsnall.