Thursday, February 7, 2008

Halfway to jetlagged; our path through Africa

I don’t feel much like writing but I don’t feel like much anything else either. It’s 6am in Dublin and the plane to Barcelona leaves at 7:10 and if I had any better ideas I’d be doing that instead. There’s a bar 20 feet away serving Guinness and I’ve found in the past that the cliché is true and Guinness tastes much better in Dublin but I’ll refrain even though my New York body clock is just now striking 1:00am.

On my yearlong trip I boarded 30 planes and it strikes me here at gate A4 that I’ll be on a different kind of trip these next four months. From Barcelona, where I’m meeting the boys from The World by Road, we’ll drive to Spain’s southern tip, ferry to Morocco and head south until we run out of land.

Gate A4 is a lousy place to fly to Barcelona as it turns out. They’ve just told us to go to A11 instead. I could stay here and try to get on this plane to Paris and sip a café au latte along a drizzly Sein but that’s for another time I think. Now I’ll walk to A11.

Now I’m here and they’re serving coffee instead of beer but I’ll skip that too and sleep on the way to Spain.

This seems like a good time to pull out the African map and specify our best laid plans. Go get your map and meet me back.

From Morocco, where we hope to square away the rest of our African visas, we’ll drive through Mauritania and into Mali. We’ll head for the coast through Burkina Faso and into Ghana; then east to Togo and Benin. We won’t keep on into Nigeria because that wouldn’t be safe so we’ll probably drive up into Niger and then back south through the less-dodgy quadrants of Nigeria.

Then there’s Cameroon and Gabon and a sketchy bit of both Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By then we’ll be in the southern hemisphere and in Angola I’ll learn just how much Portuguese I’ve lost in the two years since I left Brazil.

By then it’ll be April or so and we’ll figure out if there’s time to head east towards Kilimanjaro or not. Either way, by the end of May the TWBR boys will have to pack up the trucks for Argentina and it will be getting warm in New York.

It strikes me that no day on this trip will move me as far as the last six hours, but here I am on a new continent with people who speak the same language and use the same electronics and share the same complexion. My UPS man made a delivery yesterday and when he did he left a cart of other packages unattended on the sidewalk. “I can do that here, but four blocks north you can’t do that.”

Four blocks north are more rich Upper West Siders so maybe he was just wrong or maybe change can’t be measured in distance but my second and final flight of the next four months should be boarding any minute in the pre-dawn bustle of A11.

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