Day 1,426: Day of Days

Mon 26.11.12: Well then. I made it. It would not be unfair to say that my entire life has been leading up to this point. This day. This moment. This photograph: The final vindication of my hopes and dreams, my determination, my spirit, my grit and my stubborn refusal to give up no matter what. +++++++++++++++++++++  I DID IT +++++++++++++++++++++ At 0814 this morning, the 1,426th day of The Odyssey Expedition, I crossed the border from Uganda into South Sudan. After queuing for an hour to be stamped in, it was official. Some may do the same thing in the future, and they may well do it faster, other may scoff and think the whole thing ridiculous, but NOBODY can ever take this achievement away from me. I am, and always will be, the first person to visit every country in the world without flying. A FEW…

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Day 1,425: The Impossible Dream

Sun 25.11.12: The coach arrived at 9am in an strangely subdued Kampala. Where the hell was everyone? Then I realised it was Sunday and it all kinda made sense – they be at church being told how homosexuals make Baby Jesus cry and therefore should be put to death. The bus office next to the buses back to Dar was advertising overnighters to Juba, South Sudan, leaving at 9pm. I bought a ticket with a strange sense of calm elation. I’ve learnt time and time again not to get too excited about ANYTHING on this journey, just in case something goes horribly wrong. I set off to find myself a cash machine, a SIM card, some camcorder tapes and Internet access. Only the ATM was forthcoming, everywhere was shut. After wandering around Kampala for a bit too long, I was pointed at the direction of the…

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Day 1,424: Where It All Began

Sat 24 Nov 12: Today I headed north from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, across the plains of the Serengeti, and yes Mount Kilimanjaro did rise like an empress. Crikey it’s big. Maasai tribes people in their traditional garb trotting along the side of the road, spear in one hand, mobile phone in the order. Welcome to 21st century Africa. I had nothing left to read on this trip, so instead I looked out of the window into my distant past. In a way this is not just a return for me to this particular dusty corner of Planet Earth, this is a return to where it all began. The beginning not of my odyssey, but of humanity’s odyssey. Eons ago, a relative of the Australopithecines stood tall on their hind legs, picked up a bone and began a journey. A journey…

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Days 1,422-3: This Is Africa

Thu 22 - Fri 23 Nov 12: I didn’t want to use this as a title, said while pointing to at the red earth, imitating Leonardo DiCaprio ’s Rhodesian mercenary Danny Archer, but bear with me on this one. We were supposed to arrive over the border into Tanzania at dawn, but as we ran out of petrol last night and the engine overheated (hey Africa! Try turning it your engines off when you’re not going anywhere OR REFUELLING!!), I didn’t get stamped in until just after midday. Incidentally, Tanzania is a portmanteau word which combines ‘Tanganyika’ and ‘Zanzibar’ into one. This is novel but not unique in the world. The letters PAKSTAN of ‘Pakistan’ stand for Punjab, Afghan Province, Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan and the first six letters of The United Nations stands for Useless, Nefarious, Idiotic, Tyranny-Endorsing Dickwits. (One can only presume.) At the…

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Day 1,421: Wham Bam Thank You Zam

Wed 21.11.12: So then, Zambia, my third country in three days. Zambia has always been Zimbabwe’s poorer neighbour, even back in the day when it was Northern Rhodesia, it was always neglected by its (actually not very) benevolent overlords. The general indifference towards Zambia continued into independence, but in the past few years, things have started to pick up. After being freed from the burden of billions of dollars of debt in 2005 as a result of the successful ‘Drop The Debt’ campaign, Zambia has been finding its feet. Transport infrastructure has improved, as have literacy levels and a lot of work has been done on AIDS awareness. It never suffered the rollercoaster riches and rags story of Zimbabwe, so in the long-run, it seems as though the tortoise might just beat the hare. But there’s still a long way to go. As we approached the…

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Day 1,420: Who Wants To Be A Trillionaire?

Tue 20.11.12: After grabbing a whole three hours of sleep, it was time to SLAM DUNK DA FUNK and hit the road once more. NORTH MISS TESCHMACHER!! Janine, being the great sport that she is, agreed to drop me off at the local train station through some rather horrific traffic jammage. The bus for Lusaka, Zambia, departed at 0900. By 0830 we were still miles away, stuck in traffic and my chances of making the coach was looking slimmer than Victoria Beckham after I drive over her with a steam roller. We arrived at the train station at 0840. It takes 10 minutes to get to Park station from where the buses left. After hugs and see-you-agains, I ran inside. The next train was at 0848. I rushed down to the platform, pacing like that’s going to help. On the train it was all I could…

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Day 1,419: We Advance At Dawn

Mon 19.11.12: It was 0600 when my wake-up call came through from the third officer, but he need not have bothered: I was already wide awake. Giddy with that I-can-believe-this-is-actually-happening vibe, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. From now to South Sudan there is an open road: no ships to organise, no visas to be purchased in advance, from the moment I step foot on African soil it will be go go go to the end of the Odyssey Expedition. I’ve been doing this for nigh on four years. In less than a week I’ll have achieved the impossible. Or at least something that nobody has ever done before. By 0700 I was posing for photos with the crew, ready to depart with Alfred, the ship’s agent. I was getting off at the same time as second engineer Jay from The Philippines. By 8am…

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Days 1,411-8: The Maersk Sebarok

Sun 11.11.12 - Sun 18.11.12 I was up an’ at ’em! by 8am, and by 8.30am I was on the bus back to Port Louis. I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to Arno, but not to worry, I’ve a feeling I’ll see him again some day. I was met at the old Post Office by my driver who would be taking me through immigration and then to the port gates. The immigration officer was incredibly friendly (Mauritius is a very friendly place) and he happily stamped me out the country. And then it was through the port gates (the officials nodded me through) and onto the minibus that took me across the port to THE SHIP: The Maersk Sebarok. Wow. When I say this ship is BIG. Understand: this ship is BIIIIIIIIG. Check out these stats: Length: 336 metres Width: 40 metres Height: 25…

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Days 1,408-10: Made It Ma, Top of the World!

Fri 09.11.12 - Sun 11.11.12: After an hour’s sleep, I was back up an’ at ‘em, ready to take on my final day in Réunion. Geraldine left for a work meeting at 9am and I made good use of the morning, updating my blog and uploading a ton of photos onto Facebook. I spoke to Mickael and he assured me that the ticket for today’s ferry to Mauritius was in the bag – all I needed to do is turn up and show my ‘onward ticket’ (something I knocked up on Illustrator) and we were done. I was hoping to see Mickael for lunch before I left, but he was busy with work. At lunchtime, Geraldine returned and we ate together before I gathered my things together and headed for the bus station. Bye Geraldine! You’re the BEST! I had been told in no uncertain terms…

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Day 1,406: The Lava Meets The Sea

Thu 08.11.12: In many ways, Thursday was (yet another) D-Day for this phase of The Odyssey Expedition. I had a choice to make: I could stick here on Réunion and wait for the PIL ship, but that would mean once I got to Madagascar racing to Antananarivo and back (at least a 15 hour round trip) to pick up my passport with the visa in it for Mozambique. There would be a chance I wouldn’t make it there and back before the ship left port and in any case, it would also mean there would be no chance of getting back to the UK for Christmas. Or I could twist: take the Trochetia ferry tomorrow over to Mauritius and hope that Maersk come through for me. But going to Mauritius would be a big risk. Not only would it mean spending a fortune on the Trochetia…

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