Monday, September 19, 2011

Empty road, loaded bike

Solo is a lonely place

So here’s a question.  Should I blog when I’m frustrated by the bureaucratic labyrinth that I am navigating to get into Angola, or about the doubts and fears I feel most acutely when I lie awake waiting for sleep to come?  Or when this wretched, niggly knee injury keeps me off the bike for a week and counting?  Ok, so I just did.

I’m being reminded of the loneliness of a solo expedition.  There’s no support team, no partner, just me.  If I fail, it’s my failure alone.  No collective sharing of the disappointment, no-one to help justify a decision to push on against sensible advice, or to pull out, postpone, cancel or change plans.  Just me.  I have supporters, to be sure, people who believe in me and in what I’m doing.  But the journey is mine alone.  And I chose this path.

So to solve the various practical problems I’ve found a visa agent who specialises in Angola visas, and a physiotherapist to work my knee back to full working order. 

I’m aiming for 10 October as a start date.  Beyond this and the expedition is off.  The rains will start and the roads will become increasingly difficult to navigate.  The heat will become a serious factor.  I think I’m already pushing the timing envelope.

On a more positive note, I’ve found a great Portuguese teacher.  We meet in a bar in Melville and I learn how to order beer in Portuguese (and a few other useful words and phrases).  If only learning language at school had been this much fun!

A Note of Thanks

Thank you to Atlantic Philanthropies for their generous and necessary donation to my expedition fund.  Thanks also to Theresa Edlmann and Adele Kirsten for supporting this donation.  Theresa’s moral support and kindness has been of immeasurable value to me over the past months.

I would also like to thank Paul Weinberg, the freelance photographer and now Senior Curator at the UCT Visual Archives.  He was one of the first to point out the broader significance of what was at that point just me going for a long ride.  Paul’s ongoing support has helped rescue the expedition and has provided me with moral and technical support.

Of course, without the love and support of Jen, family and numerous good friends I’d still be day dreaming rather than moving on this project.  I’m deeply grateful to you all.