I write this with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart. As of today, our #Cork2CapeTown adventure is over. As with everything in life, the reasons for this are complicated. I’ll try to explain. I know many people will be disappointed to hear this news, and I feel the reason I’m most upset is that I feel I have failed my readers, my friends, my family. I’m also devastated that a trip I planned for so long, the trip of a lifetime, one that I was hoping I would never forget, has come to an abrupt and early end.
To start with, anyone who follows my adventures on Facebook will know if the insane visa problems Ian and I experienced over the past 2 weeks in Cairo. There was so much red tape you could probably use it to decorate the Christmas tree in time square. We spent day after day trekking to various embassies trying to secure a visa for Sudan and Ethiopia.
We landed in Egypt at a time when the government is trying to curb the uncontrollable rise of the US dollar on the black market. A time when 6 banks refused to give us US dollars, the only currency the embassies will accept.
Even when we eventually got our hands on these precious dollars we were again turned away by the Ethiopian Embassy, who told us they can not issue visas in Cairo if you are travelling overland.
The stress levels continued to rise.
Two days ago my travel buddy, Ian, told me that he plans to cut the trip short and fly home. This was about 20 minutes after I got my hands on the US dollars. I went from a total high to feeling like my heart had just been ripped out. I guess the real shock was that I had no idea he was feeling like this. I had no idea he was so homesick, how much he longed to be home for the holidays.
While travelling through Africa is difficult beyond words, I’ve always loved every minute of it. I also assumed that anyone travelling with me would view the continent in the same romanticised way that I view it. The truth of the matter is, he was very much missing his younger Brother and Sister, as well as his Mum and Grandmother. This is the longest he has ever been away from home, and I guess the stress of getting visas (along with Christmas and Thanksgiving fast approaching) just pushed him to a breaking point.
You have to be in the right mindset to travel Africa, it’s bloody tough work, and Ian just isn’t there right now. That’s not to say that he won’t do it in the future, and no doubt will love it as much as I do.
I had some tough decisions to make. I talked to my friends, close family members and even some of my closest blogger friends. Should I continue on solo through Sudan and Ethiopia? I don’t admit this much, always trying to stay brave and pretend nothing in Africa phases me, but I was shit scared. The thought of backpacking Sudan and Ethiopia by myself was not filling me with excitement as it should be. The thought of it actually brought me close to tears.
What’s the problem with Sudan and Ethiopia?
For the past few months, Sudan has always been my biggest worry. From internal conflict and instability to crazy and complicated visa procedures, I always knew it would be the biggest obstacle. It’s also the only country on the route that I had NOT been to before. I was excited to “tick another country off” and to spend time in a nation so few people go to. But….alone? Not so much.
On to Ethiopia. This came as much as a surprise to me than it will to you, but essentially the shit is hitting the fan in Ethiopia right now. There is widespread civil unrest, government warnings to stay away from all borders and a million other parts of the country, and two sets of tourists have been killed there in the last few weeks. On top of that, as if that’s not bad enough, the government has cut off all access to 3G internet to stop people from organizing protests through social media.
I work as a digital nomad, and write for many clients each month. Not having access to internet, besides being a little scary, would cut off all my sources on income. I don’t think I need to explain why that was a big factor in helping me make my next decision.
While Ian has his heart set on going home in time for Christmas, he told me that did not automatically mean he wanted to leave straight away. It’s beyond complicated but essentially he is happy to hang out for another few weeks, but that is not enough time to get us 4,000 km across Sudan and Ethiopia.
Without my travel buddy, who I’ve spent every day with for the past 3 months and 3 days, the trip just would not be the same. It’s been the most incredible journey, and while it most certainly did not go to plan in more ways than one, it’s an experience and adventure I will never forget. An experience I hope neither of us will ever forget. We’ve traversed 14 countries over the past 3 months, had some hilarious adventures and I’ve made a lifelong friend. He has been the best travel buddy I could ever have asked for, and I guess that’s why it makes it all the more difficult to admit it’s all over.
Travelling is tough guys. So unbelievably tough. It’s time consuming and stressful, tiring and frustrating. It’s just never as easy as you initially think, and no matter how well you *think* things are going, there’s always an obstacle around the corner.
I’m admitting I was scared. I’m admitting I’m still scared. I don’t know what lies ahead, I don’t know what will happen now, all I know is I need some time out to regroup my thoughts, find my happy place and make a new plan.
We are off to Luxor today for 5 days. Our Egyptian adventure is not over yet and we are keen to see as much of this incredible country as possible. I can’t wait to share this place with you, it has honestly won a special place in my heart.
From here, we are both going to Cape Town. That’s right, both of us. We want to end this adventure on a high note and what better way to do that than in beautiful South Africa. In a weird way, we will indeed have travelled from Cork to Cape Town, just not quite the way we had planned!!
We will travel around for two or three weeks and then Ian will fly back to New York in time for Christmas. As for me? Adventure awaits, I’m just not sure where.
Want to avoid a travel disaster? Don’t walk in my footsteps and get prepared with this ultimate travel check list.