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Stupid, but Lucky – Part One: Questioning My Sanity

“Why would I ever go to West Africa?” is a question that will take some length to answer. To spare you that very long blog entry, I have instead written a number of entries that each can be read separately.

sunny 19 °C
View West Africa on askgudmundsen's travel map.

Navigating Iraq

Navigating Iraq

People often react with disbelief when I tell them where I am planning to go or where I have travelled in the past1. Through the years, these comments have questioned my sanity, intelligence or both – and sometimes deservingly so. But most times, it is simply a matter of armchair experts who's advice and opinions rely primarily on whatever they saw on the news three years ago. Often combined with an impressive lack of knowledge about local geography or the current situation on the ground. Throw in a few negative presumptions about the given places and that is usually not a wrong description of what some people think about some of my favourite travel destinations.

If I do have the time, and I am allowed, I can talk at length about how and why countries that frequent the news for all the wrong reasons can be great travel destinations. Then I am happy to correct the armchair experts. This is also why I am writing this particular piece of the blog right now. However, it is not everybody who are willing to listen and when my listeners become too dismissive, I sometimes loose interest in explaining just why “dangerous” place are fantastic to travel in. Then I usually go to my favourite short answer: “I’m somewhat stupid about choosing my destinations and have just been lucky not to get killed or kidnapped on my previous trips.” In other words: I am stupid, but lucky.

Making friends in Afghanistan

Making friends in Afghanistan

Though most of my friends have accepted that I visit weird places with a somewhat head-shaking attitude, this trip to West Africa has not been spared the usual comments. The curious questions about why, of all places, I want to go to a part of the world where extreme poverty and diseases are making life miserable for most people living there, are still frequently asked. If I am in an expressly sarcastic mood, I happily extend the list of ills before answering their questions. I mean, they should not forget that West Africa is also home to Islamists kidnapping Westerners for ransom; civil wars in Mali and Niger; Boku Haram in Nigeria; bombings in Burkina Faso; general instability across Côte d’Ivoire; and an Ebola endemic, which have just reemerged in Guinea.

A map frequently in the news

A map frequently in the news

This is all very terrible for the local populations. It is, however, not something that would ever deter me from travelling here. Since I am still in Morocco, which is more a part of North Africa, rather than the west, I figured that I would spend the next few blog entries explaining exactly why I am going to West Africa, why I travel to all those weird places, why the list above is not what worries me about my travels, and how – in general – I plan to survive all of this.

1) Should anyone be unfamiliar with my earlier trips do they include, amongst others, the Middle East, six months after Danish embassies were burned due to the Mohammad cartoons; Central Asia, including northern Afghanistan; Northern Iraq and all of Iran; Central America’s drug circumnavigationsmuggling trail; and now I am in West Africa – the allegedly the toughest region to travel on this planet.

Posted by askgudmundsen 09:24 Archived in Morocco Tagged travel west_africa exploration dangerous_places why_travel

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