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52 days left on the countdown until boarding a flight to the Cape. There remains, as ever, a good deal still to be done – but little by little, tasks are being performed and small nuggets of self-satisfaction are being earned. Such as this weekend, for example, spent trying to find a place in Grahamstown for next year.

After a fair bit of hunting, there remains one last prospect in Somerset street, just opposite Rhodes University, which I am off to see tomorrow morning. With luck, this may be the one. Equal distance from where I will have lectures (the journalism department) and where I will obtain food (the shopping center down the road. Also, possibly, the Rat and Parrot pub). With these hopes in mind, I may finally be able to nail the rather substantial task of arranging where I will stay next year and turn my mind to other, less important things.

nothing injects a bit of focus and energy into your plans like the last minute does, right?

Such as visas. Visa week has been a dead loss. As it turns out, most of the countries I would like to see have a three month validity period on their visas, after which they expire. Given that, for the later parts of the trip, I will be crossing borders in mid-to-late December, this has meant postponing going to embassies in Pretoria until later this month at the earliest – or early next month a the latest. It may be cutting it a bit fine, especially in the case of visas such as the Sudanese one, which takes up to ten days to obtain authorisation, but nothing injects a bit of focus and energy into your plans like the last minute does, right?

I have put what visa information I have found so far up on the overview page, along with vaccination information and even my packing list so far (this will be revised a few times yet) so that those reading these posts as a part of planning trips of their own can get the skinny on the important stuff in one handy page. Then come dip into my verbal fluffiness when they are at a different stage in their planning – such as the pre-trip, looking-for-travel-porn phase. Once the packing list has been finalised, I will also add a bit of a piece explaining some of my thinking around more critical items, such as an extra scarf and emergency chocolate rations.

That, however, is all I have been up to so far. Nothing truly sterling, but all necessary in getting on the road in the (ever nearer) future.