It seems like only yesterday there were months remaining. My days were as empty as my backpack – only wistful imaginings of trains, dust and adventure lay ahead. Now it’s five weeks away and every morning begins with wondering what it would be like waking up in the Sudan, in Dar es Salaam, on a train. Not an hour slips by uninfiltrated by daydreaming. If it’s going to get worse as the clock ticks down, the waiting will be deliciously excruciating. All the preoccupation, planning and wishing was brought to a complete halt for a few minutes this evening though, when I picked up my screaming phone and the voice on the other end introduced themself as Sihle Khumalo.
For those who have not been following the build-up to this journey over the months, Sihle Khumalo wrote a book – Dark Continent, my Black Arse. It was that book, about his own – very similar – journey from Cape Town to Cairo which planted the seed in my mind of doing such a trip one day. I had no idea that one day would come so soon, but as it became increasingly clear that the challenge was coming to life, I had sent him an email asking if I could put a series of questions to him about his own experiences.
It was an email I had almost forgotten until finding myself talking to Sihle in the flesh (or is that voice?) this evening. At which point I became speechless, in the way that a sixteen year old at a rock concert might does. Some babbling then occurs (on my part), after which I actually manage to calm down and have a proper conversation. So now I will get to send Sihle a litany of questions I have about his trip – to help fill in the details you can’t really find on the Internet, as well as for the simple excitement of hearing his own thoughts as someone who has traveled this long and sometimes uncomfortable path.
So thank you, universe, for the perfect way of marking the five-week point. And for fanning the flames of anticipation one more time.