Custom made tents and final preparations
I have reached the final stages of preparation and now have less then 10 days to go. A year of planning and sorting out what is required for the journey, now I am down to the wire. I find that my days are rapidly diminishing and my list is growing exponentially. Things that could not be done earlier due to one reason or another, are now being crammed into the final week.
The journey thus far has been an exhilarating one and, at times, fraught with frustration. Sponsors that have pulled out at the last minute due to financial constraints, sponsors that have misplaced applications or failed to respond to emails. The endless emails back and forth to secure commitments. These frustrations are just a small part of the effort involved and come, no doubt, with the territory. There are also those sponsors who have excelled at trying to sort out kit, those private individuals who have taken their hard earned cash and handed it over because they believe in what I am trying to do. The numerous hours other people have put in to make this a reality.
It is amazing how fast the expenses mount up, especially as this expedition was started from scratch with no previous kit. I have had to custom design a tent that could be used, both as a tent and a hammock, as I could not find one that would do both commercially. This had to be tested and adapted till it met my requirements as there is a potential that I might end up sleeping in the trees if I have to circumnavigate the swamps in Mozambique. As it currently stands I have kit scattered all over South Africa, a water desalination pump in Cape-Town, a tablet still in transit from overseas, various bits of kit being made or altered to meet my specific requirements. Hopefully they should all accumulate and end up in my grubby paws before the end of the coming week. I am now faced with getting all my electronic kit to work with the solar panels and chargers, getting them to talk to one another so that I may easily transfer data from one to the other. Unfortunately, half the kit is still in transit. Moccasins I still need to make. Sewing that still needs to be done. The flight that still needs to be finalized. The mad rush to put my previous life on ice and pack away everything in storage. Sell my car to make up the shortfall in funds, and sort out all the other commitments I made prior to setting out. Still the day will come and I will meet my commitments by hook, crook or miracle. The point where ordinary structured management slowly morphs into crisis management.
It does not matter how much you prepare, as the time draws near you start to reflect, have I done enough, have I left out anything major, what if? The butterflies also start as so much is unknown, once you set out, fate takes over and for a great part it is out of your control. You also run the risk of over thinking as the best made plans seem to change the second you try implementing them. Half the excitement is in the unknown, in the trepidation of what you will face in the coming months. I have done all the training I think I may need and more. I have gathered the best kit I am able to in order to succeed, I have spoken to the right people and know that I am mentally, emotionally and physically able to do this. Still, somewhere deep in the mind lurks a faint question mark. This is the reason we strive and test ourselves in a bid to put that question mark to bed.
I recently went to pick up my camera, the owner of the company was aware of my expedition and had been given the list of criteria the camera needed to meet. Simple things like, small, compact, extra light, bullet proof, water proof, shockproof, super zoom lens, simple to operate, able to log and categorize photos and possibly write the story at the end. He laughed and said “All you adventurers are the same, you come in here and ask us to do the impossible on a budget of pennies and expect us to preform miracles. The one thing you all have in common though, is a mad twinkle in your eye and a lust to go out and do pretty stupid things, and you seem to enjoy it”. That got me thinking, is the undertaking mad, or are we just so far into our comfort zone that we no longer dare to take risks?
I guess the answer, is what we all seek.