Having stopped bouncing around from unrelated task to unrelated task long enough to actually sit, stop and give my blog some more love (love ya blog!) – I managed to add the nondescript little sidebar widget which counts down the days to departure. This is no guesstimate, no “gosh i’d like to leave by…” date. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the launch timer. The flight is booked, the mind is made up and the time for second thoughts has long since passed. In 78 days I get to begin the most challenging rough adventure that i’ve done yet. 78 days doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to get all of the things that must be done, done.
As the day of departure draws closer, I will begin posting more and more planning-related goodness on these pages. Partly for your entertainment (ok, mostly for your entertainment), but also as a means of trying to dispel the unbearable attention deficit disorder that usually plagues me as I become progressively more and more like an excited five year old before christmas. Though I promise to be more coherent in my writing than the five year old might.
So today, it seems appropriate to celebrate the auspicious landmark of seventy eight days by taking stock of how far I have in fact organised myself – and how many potentially story-worthy tasks remain to be accomplished before departure.
I can now staunch severe bleeding, do CPR, have worked out what the triangle bandages are for, can splint broken limbs and buy the severely wounded (which would be Audrey, Jonathan or I) some extra time
First Aid (as in, learn some)
This little box was actually ticked this afternoon, with the end of a brain-addlingly fact-filled course at the St John ambulance offices. I can now staunch severe bleeding, do CPR, have worked out what the triangle bandages are for, can splint broken limbs and buy the severely wounded (which would be Audrey, Jonathan or I) some extra time for medical assistance to arrive. Unless we are somewhere in the Sudanese desert, in which case studying last rite prayers will turn out to have been a better investment. Cue nervous chuckle.
Nevertheless, I now know how to make proper use of the contents of the little box marked “First Aid” that I have always brought along. This can only be useful.
Get my Sudanese Visa
The unicorn of the Cape to Cairo forest, people on many sites seem to agree that this is the hardest visa to obtain. Many of these people are from the States or the UK, though. It is nothing if not a sunny little perk of being African that travelling on the continent is actually surprisingly easy. Bureaucratically speaking. The only two visas which appear to need obtaining in advance are the Sudanese and the Egyptian. I had actually gone to the Sudanese embassy last month, handed in all my forms and they seemed to think it would be no problem to issue it to me in ten days. It was only as I left the embassy that I realised that the visa needed to actually be used within two months of issue, which would have made my July-issued visa a pretty, if useless, addition to an already overcrowded passport. So I had to go back and sheepishly get the forms back, promising to return in October. The Sudanese embassy in Pretoria also sports a large version of their secretary bird emblem, which not only looks awesome, but seems to imbue the surroundings with an air of sternness which made me feel like so much more of a naughty child for having to ask for my papers back.
But back is where I shall need to go in a month. And with that visa in hand (or passport, as the case may be), the full path up East Africa becomes legally navigable.
For Hepatitis A, at least. I had asked the nurse at the travel clinic, in passing, what I needed to be injected for and she tapped a few keys on her travel clinic-o-puter and my file came up with little counters next to the various diseases I had been vaccinated for two years ago when going to Thailand. The counters all indicated a good deal of protection remaining, except for Mr Hep. A – with whose vaccine I will need to return to become acquainted with.
One of my favourite parts. I am sorted for camera gear, backpack, quick dry pants of +10 to coolness, and some other bits and pieces, but need to fill in some missing items in the inventory. In particular, I have lost my sleeping bag, and do not have a tent light enough to carry strapped to a pack for weeks on end. The likelihood of heat even more stifling than that in Mozambique will make looking for light, breathable shirts of some sort a shopping priority. As are a range of other assorted bits and pieces that I am surprised I don’t actually have. Like decent socks, glasses and a first aid kit.
This most short-term satisfying of tasks will most likely occur over the next few months in dribs and drabs in response to spotting pretty things that I need on sale in Cape Union Mart or the like. They definitely have a tent and sleeping bag I like, but not so much the shirts. Anyone know of good, breathable fabric to wear while running around the equator?
Either I will be given a clear plan of paper-pushing action, or her brain will implode. Either would make for an interesting story.
Last of the obviously important things to arrange before I go, but the one for which I have no real plan of action at present. South Africa’s particularly draconian forex laws make it almost impossible to exchange rands (that’s what we call our colourful money) for dollars (which are less colourful, but far more useful where I will be going) without an airline ticket. Which someone travelling by public transport (cough) would obviously not have. The most cunning plan I can currently come up with is to simply go and ask one of the polite, but unhelpful-without-a-ticket forex shop ladies how someone doing a journey like this would arrange to exchange dollars. Either I will be given a clear plan of paper-pushing action, or her brain will implode. Either would make for an interesting story.
And so that, readers, is a brief taste of the bigger items on my to do list at the moment. Flotsam on a sea of smaller tasks that I must really stop ignoring and start looking at. I’ll be posting short Q&As with Audrey and Jonathan, who will be travelling with me for large sections of the trip in the next few days as well, to give you more of a flavour of the personalities who will be embarking on this voyage along with me. It’s going to be amazing. That fact is increasingly galloping out of the world of literary cliche and smack into that place that the little excitement butterflies come from.