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The Essence of the Traveller's Tale - Part 4

SOUTH AFRICA | Friday, 21 December 2012 | Views [104]

Travel Log


"Most travel, and certainly the rewarding kind, involves depending on the kindness of strangers, putting yourself into the hands of people you don't know and trusting them with your life."

Paul Theroux, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star


After getting underway with the project in January 2012, I soon realised the critical importance of tourism. The EXPEDITION Project was not well funded by any stretch of the imagination. We had the support of some big names, a few respectful pats on the backs and even a last minute injection of financial support from two well-meaning corporate businesses. But when I left Stellenbosch on New Year’s Day, the figures still didn’t add up. I had set myself an impossible task. It was too late to cancel or postpone. I had to just go for it and hope that ‘something’ would happen along the way. If I could just get going for a few months, I thought, it would all work out… somehow.


In all fairness, tourism was that “something”. It solved the crises of food and accommodation, both traded for marketing exposure and the longer-term benefit of being part of the network for future expeditions. But it also added to the daily workload. For the most part, Internet access was even more fleeting than the brief overnight stops. As a result, blog posts and social media updates soon focused almost exclusively on promoting the project’s hospitality partners. The upside was that this encouraged more people to feed me and put me up for the night. The downside was that our audience got the impression that The EXPEDITION Project had degenerated into a holiday road trip. It meant I could keep going, but not keep everyone happy.


The fact that Maddy and I had become romantically involved along the way only fuelled this fire. Making our relationship public was deliberate. We envisioned it giving the expedition’s story more soul and more realism. This sub plot was a breath of fresh air and became integral to the unfolding of the journey and the way we recorded it. Unfortunately – despite our consistent professionalism – our audience then began to interpret The EXPEDITION Project as a honeymoon road trip. 

To be continued...

Tags: africa, expedition, ghost train, paul theroux, roger wynne-dyke, south africa, the expedition project, volunteer

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