Where Would You Go Back To?

Travel memories often have nothing to do with the split second when the photo was captured. It’s not about a frozen smile, or an awkward clink of champagne glasses. We’re often trying to capture a second in time, but what we want to keep is so much more than that. Smell that air, look at how she’s carrying that basket. What’s that in the tree?

When we return to look at a shot, it’s not about the building or the location. It’s about how we felt when we were there, who we were, and why the memory has stayed with us.

I haven’t taken enough photos. It’s one of my big regrets, but I just couldn’t seem to combine enjoying the moment while capturing it at the same time. Our travel has always been frantic, it was all about crowd control and catching what we could in a stroller friendly, nap co-ordinated process. Obviously it’s much easier now, but I still find digging the camera out of my bag an annoyance, an interruption to the perfect holiday.

So many of my favourite travel memories are of a stolen moment doing the most mundane act. When I travelled to Malta to give birth to our third little traveller, I spent much of my time breastfeeding while sitting on the enclosed balcony of our apartment looking out over the Mediterranean. I was blessed to have my in-laws with me, they took travellers one and two each day, while I fed and fed and fed our very hungry little boy. Often for a break in the day we would wander down to the local shopping area, I spent a lot of time in the pharmacy as you do with a newborn – between my nipples and his bottom we had an assortment of creams.

My walks to the pharmacy were always had in a sleep deprived state, but it was so exciting to be in Malta. A change really is as good as a holiday. The local busses with their quaintness was a highlight, as was the colour of the Mediterranean and access we had to the UK brand stores and eateries. It’s ridiculous the things that stick in your mind. I remember catching a glimpse of myself in a shop window and realizing just how tight my tracksuits pants had become. I remember walking to the pharmacy wishing my parents or my sister could see our very first baby boy. A boy? We were all still amazed, this was a first boy for everyone. I remember being so confused about his boy bits, about the question of circumcision and which way willies were meant to point in nappies/diapers. The pharmacist persisted with my lack of Maltese (his English was great but my Australian accent proved to be troublesome), “willy” didn’t appear to be a universal term.

I had one of those moments about six months ago, a moment where you step back in time and gasp at how familiar it all is. The tracksuit pants, the accents and the sound and smells of the fumes from the local busses hit you as scan the page to another life. Your old life.

I found this site, I’m warning you now, you can spend hours returning to your old haunts, but it was this that took my breath away, the pharmacy. There I was, standing at the counter.

Victor’s Pharmacy, Sliema  – Malta in Malta

I could zoom in and out. I wandered out onto the street and looked at the yellow and white busses. I remembered the Mothercare store where the girls bought Ziggy the Zebra for their new brother, and the Zara where I admitted defeat and just bought bigger pants. I looked closely at the shot and could hear church bells in the distance amongst the sound of traffic.

St Anne’s Square, Sliema, Malta – Europe in Malta

I couldn’t help it. I had to go back to Libya, I knew exactly where I was going to go – The Medina.

Outside the Main Gates in Libya

It was as if I’d parked my car in the car park and was about to make my way across the street. Obviously things look a little different now, but this was my chance to step back to then.

Today I’ve been back to Kuala Lumpur, over to Jakarta and then I had a quick little look in London.

Where would you go back to?

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