Well here we are again, on the cusp of another hair-brained adventure…..its a mere 9 weeks until I fly to Gibraltar and the starting point of the 6 month West African odyssey.
In the meantime my time is taken up with sourcing random items from Amazon like extreme super glue, duct tape, rope, padlocks, cockroach spray and a waterproof groundsheet which clearly makes me out to be some insect hating murderer. (They are actually useful emergency tent fixing items in case you are interested, apart from the cockroach spray which is essential if you have a deep hatred of the hideous creatures.)
Thankfully, I have now finally sourced the tent for this expedition….I am sharing a tent with my Travbuddy Nicole and our remit from the trip organiser was that we could have a 2-3 man maximum. Well we took slight liberties with this and have sourced a 2-3 man tent, it just happens to have 2 rooms…a bedroom and a ‘front room’. Our thought process was that rather than 2 of us squeezing into the bedroom with bags and having to do the whole taking off of shoes in the bedroom we have a ‘front room’ to leave non valuable items/bags and shoes etc. They are zipped away so little thieving monkeys can’t nick them and they won’t get wet but not cramping our sleep area.
One other bonus of a ‘front room’ is that it creates a sand barrier so that you enter and remove shoes there, thus leaving any pesky sand there rather than bringing it in to the bedroom and trying to sleep whilst being sand-foliated and as most of our camping will be on the West African beaches, I feel this could be a sanity saver!
I have yet to practice putting said tent up…I did get it out of the bag one Sunday and attempt to put it up in the garden with Dad, but it was too windy so we gave up and rolled it back up again. I clearly need to practice the whole packing away malarkey too as currently the tent is rolled up and on top of the bag it should be in due to size issues! I thought I had done an ace job of rolling up the tent but it appears not as its twice the width and length of the bag. I will try again on a less windy day and if the packing away becomes an issue I will buy a bigger bag to pack it into! Problem solved!
I still detest camping and tents with a passion and cannot see why anyone would want to spend half an hour putting up their ‘room’ manually which then gets full of sand and ants and creates a cramped and dark canvas coffin which has zero sound proofing and in which I am supposed to sleep well!
Still its an adventure, right???
The next task will be visas….thankfully we only need to get 2 before we go…Ghana and Nigeria. We need to obtain 6 month multiple entry visas for both which they only give out to people who have been before…Ghana won’t be a problem as I travelled through Ghana, Togo & Benin in my 20s but Nigeria is a whole other ball game. We basically need to beg, bribe and lie to get the visa and if unsuccessful we may need to send our passport home mid trip to obtain the standard visa and then wait for it to be returned to us! Can’t see that working myself!
The final challenge will be packing…currently I have a 23kg allowance with the airline and with that I have to take the tent (6kg), spare groundsheet (2kg), 2 sleeping mats (Mine & Nicole’s), sleeping bag, the murderer’s accessories listed above and then my actual possessions, medications and extensive African first aid kit! Christ alone knows how I will get it all to Gibraltar!
Still, once there I no longer need to worry….and that’s when the real fun starts. I will be composing regular blogs and will hopefully be uploading some vlogs (video blogs to you technophobes) to my Youtube channel so will link those up with the blogs so you can experience the trip vicariously.
Its likely to be a roller coaster of a ride….I am recalling the random voodoo ceremonies we attended and participated in last time, the visit to the Python temple in Ouidah (Benin) and the general calamities akin to overlanding and camping along the west coast of Africa.
I haven’t planned too much after this trip yet but there will be a trip to Uganda to visit some of the projects funded by a brilliant charity called Build Africa that I support,
followed by a quick trip home to dump the tent (if it still lives after 6 months…..I may have burnt it!), replenish the rucksack and say ‘hi’ to friends and family.
The plan then is to roam about a bit going wherever the wind and funds take me whilst checking out volunteer teaching placements in refugee camps and also paid TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) work.
Potential trips are on the cards to…… Greece (obviously), Italy, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Reunion, Madagascar, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Mexico (taking in Day of the Dead in Oaxaca), Belize, revisit Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama. There are still 4 or so months devoid of potential trips so lots more planning to be done…I am attempting to spend as much of my 40th year on the planet as possible travelling, so that when I finally turn 40 I can look back at my 30s with a wry smile and endless memories and stories and then start making plans for my 40s!
Anyway I shall sign off now….. but stay tuned for a totally unrelated blog coming end of September all about my upcoming Western Balkans Adventure which will see me traverse Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina & Croatia before taking a roadtrip up the Dalmatian coast where I shall marvel at the Roman ruins in cities such as Split, Zadar & Pula.