Saturday, 17 October 2020

Getting ready for CAIRO to CAPE TOWN

The current situation around the world is not something I need to explain really, and I'm certainly not going to bore you by adding yet another post to the internet millions on the pandemic and lockdowns. What I can say though is that there's a phoenix rising from the ashes and in my case, taking on the shape of an overland expedition from Cairo to Cape Town in 2021.

During August I was approached by Noa, a friend in Ushuaia, about travelling through Sudan in 2021. Needless to say this got me all fired up as in addition to not having visited Sudan yet, it was Africa - there where my heart will always be. She mentioned that they would be a group travelling from Cairo to Cape Town with 4x4 vehicles and filming a documentary. I dug in a bit and helped her with all the information that I could relative to overlanding in Africa although I obviously didn't know the details of the trip.

Only a few days later I found a message on my Messenger app from Jared Currie saying he's the Executive Producer of the documentary that Noa had told me about and asked if I would be interested in joining the project as a Consulting Producer. Now those who know me and know how I got involved in doing the West African expedition, would know that I couldn't even pretend to resist the temptation of saying yes in an instant, but I did! I thought if this was really worthwhile, then I need to at least have a good idea what the documentary is about and that I could align myself with the content they want to produce - meanwhile, the little expedition gnome on my shoulder is jumping up and down telling me that I should already be busy working...this little dude was not giving me much peace to whilst everything was flying through my brain like a force 5 tropical storm.

Well, I liked what I saw and said yes and we had a chat about the project GROWING to AFRICA and me briefing him on what I could help with. That same day I started digging into the information there was and immediately getting word out to friends in Africa, asking for status and location updates and info. Sleeping was not on my list of priorities, I was on a roll with something that I absolutely love doing - planning an expedition.

Working full-out! The cables of the Macbook has since
literally fried so I'm on only one now.

There were probably a few members of the expedition team just staring at their mobile phone and computer screens as I pummelled them with information, spreadsheets and on top of that asking for information. All in all an awesome team and everyone had travelled before albeit alone or with one other person, so expedition-wise this whole expedition planning and logistics thing I threw at them was probably a bit overwhelming, to say the least...and I will take the blame for kicking everyone out of their comfort zone although it wasn't meant badly. I want people to visiting Africa to have the best experience with the least hassles, or at worst, prepared for the hassles. 

Kudos to them all though, they swallowed all the big pills I was throwing at them and I think quickly realised that Marcell is in his element and doing what he does best, and is passionate about. I was pulling 15-18 hours a day with two laptops open and on calls and messaging through 5 different time zones, catching a siesta sort of between long sessions.

The initial idea was that I would submit a budget to be the remote Operations Manager and expedition support looking after them and coordinating everything, which I was happy to do. We needed to iron a few details out but yes, it was certainly workable and it was crucial there was someone at the side coordinating and managing the operations and logistics. But then, on 11 October 2020, in a team Zoom meeting, Jared asked the team what they thought about having me on the trip with them - me, like a monkey hearing a strange noise, my head sort of inclined and not really believing my ears, watched and listened what was going on...trying extremely hard to remain relatively "normal".

Andu (centre) and Noa (right) did manage to drag me 
away into the sun though.

All replied that they wanted me on board out there and even though I didn't jump up and down, only my ears limited the width of my smile! I was chuffed beyond words and on top of that, it was a great team to be working with. Of course, these expeditions are never simple and easy but that's what feeds the explorer and expeditioner in me...the challenges. Naturally I accepted, unsuccesfully pretending to think about it, and so the planning just shifted into a higher gear from a personal perspective for me too as I would be managing operations and logistics right through the expedition - a very attractive and alluring challenge!

Walking around Ushuaia with a bigger than normal smile, friends and acquaintances who already knew about the project, immediately assumed that I was now going with the expedition - apparently it's that obvious. So, here we are now getting into the last stretch - finding sponsors, refining equipment lists, planning alternative routes for the contingency plans, and getting down to the nitty-gritty of the details of filming permits (it's going to be an 11 episode documentary), visas that all have to come together in a nicely wrapped package.

Of course, I will be updating the blog about the progress and then on expedition as well as the team makes their way from Cairo, about 22,000 km south to Cape Town with an estimated departure date around March 2021. Check out the website and if you think someone could contribute to the expedition as sponsor, in any way, drop me an email and we'll get you onboard.



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