Looking back

It’s been over two months now since I flew out of Cairo, the first time I’ve left Africa without a return ticket for over two years, and I’ve been meaning to write this ever since.


So why didn’t I?


Laziness? It plays it’s part. Not having Guilherme writing his blog and making me feel bad about not writing mine was also a factor.


A new routine? Partly, for three months everything was about that. Getting to Cairo. Getting to the next town, then the next and the next. Cairo. Will we make it? Won’t we make it? Writing about that was easy. The daily struggles, the things we saw, the moments we shared with the people we met along the way.


But once it’s over? It gets more difficult. A new routine and travelling from Cape Town to Cairo becomes almost as difficult to imagine as it was before we set off. A jumble of events and experiences, memories, some vivid, some already fading, the mundane already gone in part.


It was a mammoth trip, an endurance expedition where the longest we stayed in one place was five nights, and that only because we were stuck waiting for visas. After so many miles, so many countries and such an assault of experiences my delay in writing this at least partly comes from my own incomprehension of what we did. My inability to successfully summarise all those moments that made the trip so wonderful yet so difficult, so predictable yet so unexpected. And to answer all those questions people ask for which there really is no answer.


Despite all that, I’m finally ready to give it a try!


……and that’s as far as I got. I’ve come back to this a month later (now over three months since flying out of Cairo) and it’s impossible. I can’t even understand the thing myself now, never mind try to explain it to others. I know it was hard, it was intense, and at times I wanted to be anywhere but where we were. By the end I was ready to leave, more than ready, to be in one place, to stop packing and unpacking and constantly battling to get anything, to do anything, to go anywhere. I didn’t find myself. Although at times I was worried I had and didn’t like what I found.


Since getting back I’ve realised I’m actually not the terrible person I worried I was at times on the road. There are places where it’s a battle to survive and to survive we joined the fight. And, although I struggled to see it at the time, this was part of the beauty of travelling on public transport. We didn’t just look on from a comfy seat in an air conditioned tour bus, we got involved, we interacted, we got bitten and we bit back. We had some spectacular highs and some pretty low lows, we fought like the locals and we survived, after 81 days (a fifth of which were spent on public transport) and over 10,000 miles through 12 African countries we made it to Cairo. And that’s enough of an achievement for me. The end.


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