Introduction after 3 weeks

Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
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Trip End Jul 31, 2013


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Thursday, November 1, 2012

After three weeks of our big African adventure I finally get time to sit and reflect on how it's all going. We’ve signed up for around 40 weeks of trans Africa with a company called African Trails and have no doubt at this stage we’re all going to pull through and get to our final destinations having had the time of our lives ...."Inshallah”. I say "destinations” rather than “destination” as people will join and leave at different times.

What makes me start a blog with that kind of sentiment? I guess you have to look at what overlanding with other passengers mean. It’s certainly not just about hopping on a truck and getting shuttled between the sights. Africa is a tough place to travel. Just when you think you have it all sorted it will throw another curve ball to shake things up again. Much of the continent is in some kind of turmoil, be it political or environmental. Crime and corruption is rife and infrastructure is wanting in most places and totally non-existent in others. We’ll be travelling through deserts, rainforests, jungles and vast plains with all the inherent logistical issues attached. We will be bogged any number of times and may need to build bridges or roads to forge our way through. As tough as it is, our truck will break and as tough as we are, we will break too. Diarrhoea, dehydration, malaria and any number of other illnesses will always be a risk.

This kind of travel is definitely not luxury. The truck is big and old and built to take a hell of a beating, but it is comfortable in a rugged kind of way. There is plenty of room and has padded seats but the tarps let in freezing cold wind as well as cool breezes. The high centre of gravity that makes it perfect for game viewing makes for a rather rockin ride and our sheer size means that manoeuvring and stopping suddenly can be a challenge, especially with lots of heavy stuff sliding about the carriage where we sit.

We are camping almost every night come rain, hail or shine and the majority of time that means “bushcamps” out in the wilds...ie. no toilets, hot showers, electricity or ..”God forbid” ...WIFI! When we do get a campground there will often be cold showers where you have to dance around to get wet and dubious toilet facilities that make you wish you were back in the bush. We take it in turns preparing breakfast and dinner for the group. That also means shopping ...sometimes in supermarkets, much of the time in local markets (read language barriers, negotiating skills and getting over hygiene standards that would make a garbage man wince!!)....and washing up (cold water and headlamps). If you’ve never been creative with minimal ingredients for large groups this can be just a little stressful...

And then the biggest challenge of all...How on earth will you successfully cohabitate with 14 other people of varied age, cultural background, temperament and life skills for 39 weeks and not kill each other???? This may be not such a problem when the sun is out, the camping comfortable, the locals friendly, tourist sites interesting and accessible and everyone’s bowels are functioning properly. However, having been schooled, in lots of team and organisational development AND having watched lots and lots of episodes of Big Brother and Survivor, I am 110% sure that stress levels are inversely proportionate to people’s poor behaviour towards one another. Let’s face it...some people are extremely self absorbed and totally oblivious to the effect their actions can have on others. Clean freaks can live with mess heads for a decent period of time provided their personal space is not being desecrated. Loud, brash and boorish behaviour can be ignored when all other variables are in calm mode and “off with the fairies” cluelessness is kind of cute when it really doesn’t matter. Laziness gets noticed and what goes around comes around.

All that changes however when “Shit hits the fan” and a team will either get their act together or self implode. I am also 110% sure that “Shit will hit the fan” more than once on this trip and to a certain extent, already has....At this point in time, I’m happy to say...I think we’ve got each other’s backs....I hope it stays that way.

After all that, you may well be wondering why the hell we have chosen to do this trip....I hope the rest of this blog as the trip develops shows you why.
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Comments

Cecily Wilson on

Thank you Sharyn: I really like the way you write: very interesting, thoughtful, to the point and realistic:-)

Take care ~ Cecily X

Jenso on

You really know how to write Shazzy!
Good luck and enjoy the journey.
Jenso xxxxxx

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