I've been back in the UK for nearly three weeks and it's about time updated my blog. So, what's been going on.
Well first of all I had to adjust to being back home. It was all a little weird to start with. On the one hand it was nice to be back. After 6 months of travelling around and finding food and accommodation every night it was reassuringly nice to be back home and not have to worry about that sort of thing. However, on the other hand I very much felt that my trip wasn't over yet and I wanted to get back to it. I've missed riding my bike and being on the open road.
I suppose it's all good practice for when the whole trip does end. Very few people who plan a big trip put much thought into what they are going to do when it's over. There's the potential for a huge anti-climax as you get home with fantastic tales of your adventures to find that friends and family are only marginally interested. ( They've probably dipped in and out of your blog so are aware of what you've been doing so have fewer questions.) And anyway, however interested they are they just can't relate to what you've been up to. When in the middle of a big trip, everyone you come across is interested in what you are doing. You meet fellow travellers to whom you can relate and at times the whole thing can take on a life of its own. When you get home you're just an ordinary guy with a few interesting stories and way to many photos. It can also be difficult to relate back to people at home who have there own issues and problems which, to you, can seem very mundane and trivial.
And perhaps, for me, it's doubly weird as I haven't even finished my trip yet. I've got this long half time interval. I've come into the dressing room, have changed my wet and muddy kit, eaten my half time orange and am raring to get out there for the second half.
Don't know why but thought you might like to see a picture of my garden.
On a more positive note I do now actually have an ETA for the bike in Cape Town. I'd waited two weeks to get this information, thinking that I wouldn't actually book my flight to South Africa, or the voluntary work I want to do in Cape Town until I have an ETA. But after two weeks of waiting and being fobbed off by the company I'd shipped with in Panama, this Monday I decided I just had to go ahead and book. So I booked a flight to Cape Town (return from Nairobi). I fly out on March 1st. And I've booked three weeks of voluntary work,as a teacher, in a township in Cape Town starting on March 7th. I picked those dates as I'd been told it could take 65 days for the bike to turn up – which would be March 24th. Then, 30 minutes later I get an email informing me that the bike is due on March 5th. So the bike will, hopefully, arrive the day before I do. That's great as it gives me a couple of weeks to clear customs, get it service and ride it around Cape Town before heading off for Namibia. (Two hours after posting this I got an email telling me the ship my bike was supposed to go on was stuck in South Africa because of bad weather. I'm now on a new ship with a new ETA - March 10th. Oh the joys of shipping by sea.)
I've also just got my “Carnet de Passages en Douane". Now this is an important document and can be one of the biggest headaches for overlanders, especially if they don't know anything about it! I did a talk, last summer, at the Horizons meeting in the UK and was amazed at how many people who were seriously considering doing a trip hadn't heard of the “Carnet”. Let me clarify...
If you are travelling overland anywhere in Africa or Asia you have to have a carnet for your vehicle. It works as a passport for the bike. (In north, central and south America you do NOT need a carnet) At every border it gets stamped and filled in and again when you leave the country. It is a guarantee, backed in the UK by the RAC, that the vehicle will be taken out of the country. It's to stop people taking a vehicle into a country and selling it. To get the guarantee from the RAC I obviously have to pay for it. The actually carnet cost me £195 for a 25 page booklet. But I also have to leave a deposit. Every country is graded (by the insurance company the RAC uses) by a %. For example, to take my bike into Namibia I have to leave a deposit of 100% of the value of the bike. I've given the RAC a list of all the countries I'm going to and they take the value of the HIGHEST country. That happens to be Kenya at 200%. So, as my bike is valued at £5000 I have had to leave a deposit of £10,000 with the RAC. When I import my bike into the UK I will get the full £10,000 back.
The problem arises when you have to leave a deposit higher than £10,000. This is the maximum the RAC will accept as a cash deposit. If it is higher you have to take insurance with the company the RAC uses. As I haven't done this I'm not totally sure how it happens but it's something like, you pay £2000 and get half of it back. It all depends how much your total is. And some countries are graded higher than 200%. Unbelievably Egypt is 800%, and I think Iran, Pakistan and India are 400%. So you can see why I'm not going to Egypt! In fact, as it stands, very few Brits will be doing the classic Cape to Cairo route at the moment for this very reason.
One final point – this is based on being British and using the RAC. Other countries have different percentages. I know that many Canadians ARE riding through Egypt as it's less than 100% for them. Anyway, I hope I explained that clearly. It's actually quite simple, and Paul, the guy at the RAC you talk too is extremely helpful.
If you read my blog when I was in North America you may remember that although I loved it I did bemoan the lack of history (I am after all a History teacher.) And I did get a little excited about a small fort/castle in Guatemala. Now that I'm back in the UK let me introduce you to the best castle that England has to offer. Not two miles from my house we have..
|Not great weather - but it is February|
Built in the 13th century, it has hosted royalty through the ages, including Edward II, Henry III and Henry V - who moved in fresh from victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt.
But it is most associated with Queen Elizabeth I, who stayed in 1575 when she was famously romanced by the dashing Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. With spectacular pageantry, plays, music and dancing, Dudley lavishly wooed the ‘Virgin Queen’ within the walls and extensive grounds of Kenilworth Castle. It is rumoured that Elizabeth tasted her first potato at Kenilworth and disliked it so much she threw it out of the window -only for it to take root and grow. (Rubbish, I know, but it makes a good story)
So, two more weeks until I head off to South Africa (via Dubai).