Hurrah! 2012 at last! And might I say GOOD RIDDANCE to all that horrible 2011 malarkey. Yuck. Never going back there again. I saw in the new year in Albert Park in Suva amongst a good few thousand revellers dancing in the mud. I then sneaked back into O’Reilly’s and burnt the midnight oil throwing shapes to terrible music which (when I rule the world) will be outlawed.
I woke up the next day in the South Seas Hotel with a bitching hangover and a load of random photos on my camera that I don’t recall taking.
Okay people, this is it… THE LAST YEAR OF THE ODYSSEY EXPEDITION!
I have just TEN countries left to go. Here’s how I intend to knock them pins down…
In a couple of days I will be leaving Suva on The Southern Lily 2, ready to go to Samoa (192), Tonga (193) and New Zealand (194). Mandy is going to be flying in to meet me and we’re going to enjoy a week or so holidaying around the North Island and generally stalking Sir Peter Jackson. I’m having a little holiday from my epic holiday, okay?!
Once I get to New Zealand I will have just SEVEN countries left to visit.
Princess Cruises have already agreed to give me free passage from New Zealand to Australia. Once there, my friends at Neptune Shipping will hopefully be happy to give me a ride on The Scarlet Lucy (great name!) to the isolated dot of a nation that is Nauru (195). That trip will bring me back to Australia for the beginning of March. Then I’m hoping my old chums in either Swire or PIL will be good enough to allow me to hitch a ride on one of their cargo ships leaving Australia for Taiwan.
The Mariana Shipping Company runs ships out of Taiwan which call into Micronesia (196) and Palau (197). Without their assistance, I may be sunk, so fingers crossed on that one. Then it’s back to PIL to ask if I can ride one of their ships from Hong Kong to Sri Lanka (198). Sri Lanka has a number of small carriers that go to The Maldives (199) and back, so that journey shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange. I reckon I could have all that done by May 2012.
Then we get to the hardest nut to crack. The Fort Knox of surface travel: The Seychelles (200). I can’t emphasise enough how difficult it’s going to be to get there without flying. It will require nothing short of a miracle, or at the very least a huge stroke of luck.
You can forget about cargo ships: there aren’t any that could take me even if they wanted to, not in the pirate infested waters of the Indian Ocean. Cruise ships are few and far between (like, a year between) so that leaves me with just one option: to hitch a ride on a yacht. The closest (and safest) place for me to do this from would be Nosy Be in Madagascar.
But even getting back to Madagascar may present difficulties: the pirate zone has grown year on year since 2006, and now even the waters around Madagascar are seen as areas of elevated risk. I may need to travel to Mauritius and make my own way from there. I may even have to go to Mozambique and then do the Comoros island-hop fiasco AGAIN that cost me so much time and money back in 2009.
One way or another, I will get back to Madagascar. But finding somebody willing to risk kidnap or death by sailing north out of Nosy Be… it ain’t going to be easy.
But let’s assume that I’m successful. I take a yacht up to one of the most southerly islands of The Seychelles and back to Nosy Be and don’t run into any trouble. Then it’s the dreaded Comoros island-hop back to the African mainland before I travel from Dar-Es-Salaam to Uganda and from there I march north into country number 201 of 201: South Sudan.
Cue fireworks, Juba beer and crazy dancing all night long.
I then intend to thunder overland back to the UK, through Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy and France for one hell of a party once I return to Liverpool, hopefully around the end August, so clear your diaries people!
Then, and only then, will The Odyssey Expedition be over. Maybe.