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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 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will have changed, numerous sights will have opened and closed since, and all of the prices quoted in the book will be outdated.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

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