Day 450: The Incident

26.03.10: I had real trouble dragging myself out of bed this morning. I asked Fred to wake me up, which she did, but what I should have asked is for Fred to wake me up by throwing a bucket of cold water over my head. I got to the bank to pay in the money for the Afghan visa at 9.30am, meeting Atabeck there and (stupidly) thinking that paying $30 into a bank would be an easy process. Ha! No. It took the best part of an hour. Seriously. I had to go to three different desks (on different floors no less!) and fill out paperwork at all three of them. It’s quicker to book a seven-stop Round The World ticket at STA Travel. I know, I’ve done it. We now had our backs against the wall – if I wanted to get off to Kyrgyzstan…

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Day 360: Boxing Day In Somalia

26.12.09: This was it. The most critical day of The Odyssey so far – make or break, do or die, cake or death. Dino Deasha, that magnificent chap, had cadged me a lift on the MV Turquoise, a huge container ship affiliated with those good folk at CMA-CGM and bound for Suez in Egypt, due to arrive on the 31st December. But first, I had not just to get to Djibouti City, I also needed to get to Somalia and back. Yeah, Somalia. Don't panic! Somalia is perfectly safe. Well, no, it's not – it's the most dangerous country on Earth. What I mean to say is that the part which I intend to visit is perfectly safe – I'm going to Somaliland. History lesson! (Cos I know you love them soooo...) In the same way that we had British, Dutch and French Guyana and Portuguese,…

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Day 355: Mr Stanley, I Presume

21.12.09: Woke up on the bus, which had come to a halt sometime earlier in downtown Nairobbery. It was 5am as I staggered into a taxi and asked the driver to take me to The Comfort Hotel. There I would meet Matt, who would be my cameraman for the last 10 days of The Odyssey 2009. Brilliantly enough, my contract is up at the end of the year so it's going to be YOUTUBE TASTIC from then on, the only person with a say on what goes up will be big fat me. Woo! More good news from the road: The Odyssey TV show (and yes, for us Brits, it will be called The Odyssey) is going to broadcast on the BBC next year. No obscure cable channels for this little Odysseus. Matt tells me that the Director General of the beeb has actually seen a…

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Day 312: Madagascan Surprise

08.11.09: Oops, Guatemala is spelt with an 'e' not an 'a', so my factette about Madagascar being the only country in the world with 4 'a's in the name seemed almost valid, that is until I woke up this morning in a cold sweat, the name of another country with 4 'a's in it on my quivering lips. I'll leave it to you to figure that one out. So, as a pleasant surprise, I'm back in Tamatave, Madagascar – a day earlier than I was led to believe. This is wonderful news. I said my hearty thanks and goodbyes to Chief Mate Richard and Capt Klaus and shuffled off the DAL Madagascar. The wonderful shipping agent, Ricky helpfully gave me a lift to the taxi-brousse area, where a minibus was leaving as soon as it filled. By about 10am, I was on my way back to…

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Day 309: The DAL Madagascar

05.11.09: The guys from next door came over for a farewell breakfast, which kind of spilled over to a farewell elevenses and then a farewell lunch. In fact, before I left, Mickael had come back from work already. So we posed for some hilarious photos in the back garden before Pierre drove me down to the bus station. What a brilliant, brilliant bunch. You know, if there is one thing I've learned this year is that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, people are great. And although it's the nasty ones that have a tendency to stick in your mind, they're outnumbered by the good'uns 100 to 1. I'm telling you. Had a bit of a drama getting to the port – first, I had to wait an age for the next bus, then there was the (typical) traffic jam followed by the massive hike from…

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Day 286: Zam, But No Beer

13.10.09: Jason was a Peace Corps volunteer for a couple of years in Malawi (luck of the draw I guess) and decided to stay on and set up a business here, and why the hell not, eh? Malawi is a remarkably great place, landlocked, sure, but at least it has roads (wouldn't that be a fine thing, Guinea?) and electricity (oh Nigeria, you tickle me you really do). We chewed the fat for a couple of hours in the morning over (rather excellent) coffee. After getting him out of bed at some ridiculous hour last night, it would have been infradig not to. The question was how on Earth I planned to get over the border to Zambia and then catch the overnighter to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It all seemed so simple... there was a bus later that night that left at 7pm. It…

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Day 282: Havin’ a Mozey

09.10.09: You know when you should really be getting up but you just really can't be bothered? That was me this morning. Feeling a little bad for waking Lilianna with my snooze alarm every 15 minutes from 5am, I eventually elected (after several recounts) to rise from my slumber somewhere around the wrong side of 7. Lilianna drove me down to the minibus park and before I knew it, I was whisked away back from whence I came to the crossroads town of Manzini. There, I caught another minibus to Mozambique, Nation 117, feeling like I've arrived at the party a little late. But to be honest with you, even if I had left Durban on Wednesday, I would have only got to Mozambique yesterday, and the buses up north go VERY early in the morning, so I would have been stuck there until this morning…

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Day 278: Sunrise

05.10.09: Crikey, I could have done without this early start, but it's all power for the cause. Today in a move guaranteed to get me another 500 clicks on this website, I had been invited to appear on Breakfast Television; always an ambition of mine. David graciously hauled his ass out of bed to take me down to the 'Sunrise' studios. With his gleaming, smart banker's suit and tie and me in my scruffy jeans and T-Shirt, he couldn't have more like my agent if he tried. Soon enough I was on the couch in front of the cameras nattering about my adventures thus far with the presenter, whose name was also Graham (I think it was spelt Graeme, but you can't have everything, even if you quite like diphthongs). It was one of those days when I thought, heck…I love my job! Who else gets…

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Day 273: A Gold Star And A Jellybaby

30.09.09: It was a comfortable night on Tashia's couch, interrupted only by the once-an-hour shrill of my mobile phone waking me to change the video tapes that I was uploading onto my laptop. I would be going to DHL later to send the tapes to Australia and I didn't want to let them go (especially after what happened to me in Congo) without making sure I had a back up. In the morning, Tashia left me to my own devices. Soon I had all of my tapes uploaded and I was ready to go. The bus for South Africa left in the evening, so there was no rush. Tashia came back around lunchtime – her kid had fallen ill and had been admitted to hospital. Nothing too serious, but it looked like he had a bout of food poisoning and the doctors wanted to keep him…

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Day 270: Gung Ho-Hum

27.09.09: With less than 48 hours left on my visa, Emilio’s wonderful driver, Yuri, picked me up at 5am to drop me off at the bus to Benguela, half-way to the Namibian border. Once again, the bus didn’t leave until 9am, so I was once again duped out of a decent night’s sleep. It was a whopping FORTY QUID for a seat on the bus, but at least the road was good and I got a seat all to myself. I think. Actually, I’m writing this two days after the journey and I’ve got to say that I really don’t remember anything other than the fact that I arrived in Benguela in good time, it only taking a few hours to cover the same distance that earlier this week, took me three days. In Benguala, I hopped on another coach only to discover that I would…

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