A Travellerspoint blog

Gibraltar

The Surprising Lack of Expectations

Sitting on the top of the southern bit of Europe, looking at Africa, I find myself without any real expectations going forward.

sunny 18 °C
View Kurdistan Summer & West Africa on askgudmundsen's travel map.

Do not get me wrong; I am incredibly excited about the prospect of heading out on a new adventure. Like a bear waking from hibernation, remembering the taste of its first kill of the spring, I too have not forgotten the fantastic feeling of arriving in new places, meeting new people and having new experiences, learning more about the world we are living in. But as I am sitting here on the Rock of Gibraltar, or simply the Rock, I have a curious lack of any real expectations for this trip. Wherever my brain would usually put expectations is instead just a fuzzy void.

View of Africa from the Rock

View of Africa from the Rock

It might be because I have done it all before. I am setting out on my fourth longer-than-three-months journey (I will return to why three months is the relevant time frame in a later blog entry), so the routine of it all might be setting in. It just does not feel like the exciting, “life changing” new beginning anymore – though I kinda feel it should be. I mean, a year of anything is quite a long time, especially living out of a backpack.

Entry to Gibraltar by crossing the runway

Entry to Gibraltar by crossing the runway

Maybe it is because the cliché of “expect the unexpected” actually holds true very often on such journeys. If this is true, it is simply easier to go in with as few expectations as possible and then just roll with whatever is thrown at you, good or bad. Or, it could just be because West Africa is simply unchartered territory, even for me. I simply do not know what to expect. Unlike “regular” travels, this is quite frankly a little different. Normally, you would have the comfort and safety of a guide book. But no guidebook really covers West Africa, the one I have is from 2008, so most accommodations mentioned will be closed down, transportation options will have changed, numerous sights will have opened and closed since, and all of the prices quoted in the book will be outdated. So I am to a larger degree than normally travelling in the dark.
Further, most other places have a decent amount of other travellers, English-speaking locals and tourist infrastructure. Even places like the Middle East (increased media attention means for curious travellers going there, where it is safe) and Central Asia (a very traditional route for overlanders and bicyclists travelling between Europe and South-east Asia or Australia) have a rather large crowd visiting. West Africa does not.

Off across the sea

Off across the sea

The only way I know to deal with these situations is pretty much to embrace the uncertainty. The fact that I rarely know where I will be two days from now or where I am going to spend the night will just have to be welcomed as part of the fun. The adventure of travelling in distant lands have always been that the simplest of everyday decisions, such as where to go to bed and how to get something to eat become challenges that define much of your day. Only when that is settled can you begin to wonder about the sights, history or peoples of wherever you happen to be. With those thoughts written down, I sail for Africa. Wish me luck!

Take care, wherever you are.

Posted by askgudmundsen 07:00 Archived in Gibraltar Tagged africa morocco travels gibraltar west_africa Comments (0)

Stop at this Road Blog

semi-overcast 14 °C
View Kurdistan Summer & West Africa on askgudmundsen's travel map.

“Make sure you're at the military road blocks before noon – otherwise, the soldiers will be drunk and abusive...”

Still the weapon of choice

Still the weapon of choice

This has been a sound travel advice for most of Africa in the past decades. Rumors have it that the situation most places has improved. I hope so. Mostly because my next adventure takes me through 18 African countries, most of which are located in what is unchartered territory even for the most seasoned travellers: West Africa. This part of Africa has always been the 'holy grail' for independent travellers. It is isolated, poor, has terrible infrastructure and few other foreigners to ask for help. There is no credible guidebooks (the Lonely Planet for West Africa is appallingly poor; Rough Guide's is from 2008), numerous armed conflicts and diseases like Malaria (and now Ebola)... But West Africa is also home to welcoming peoples, fantastic music and a wild side that promises adventure!

With those words of introduction, I am happy to welcome you to this new blog. As the name 'West African Road Blog' suggests, I will be blogging from my travels on the African roads and off roads. Whether my mode of transportation is buses, bush taxis, trucks, camel or something even more strange – and I shall do my best to poke as much fun at the actual road blocks along my route… To the degree where I won't be shot or arrested. Anyway, I hope you will check in on me once in a while.

West Africa

West Africa

Beginning on March 10 and for the next year or so, I will be reporting back from the following countries: Morocco, Western Sahara (yes, that is a country), Mauritania, Cape Verde, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Mail, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria. At least that is the plan, but plans are made to be changed, so let us see how far I manage to get. So far, I know that the first month will be spent in Morocco learning some French. As 11 of those countries are Francophone – and I speak no French whatsoever – is seems worth it. Even though this blog's action-packedness might suffer a bit here in the beginning.

If you want to keep yourself updated, you can either subscribe in the menu to the right or follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westafricaroadblog/.

Still a little low on pictures from Africa, so here is me in Kenya

Still a little low on pictures from Africa, so here is me in Kenya

Posted by askgudmundsen 12:09 Archived in Gibraltar Tagged africa travels west_africa road_blogs check_points Comments (0)

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