So what are we going to do when we embark on our trip? Where are we going to go? These are questions that we do not have ready answers to. I can not imagine how we could have a concrete plan extending several months and stick with it. For a start there are so many practical uncertainties. How will the Zil hold up on long journeys? What will our cash flow be like? Will Anika enjoy herself and what would she like to do? How will Miki survive in the hotter climates?
The destination of Morocco was my story that has received a warm endorsement from the girls. It is very close to Europe should we need to be rescued. It is also culturally another world of sights and sounds to immerse ourselves in. I feel particularly drawn to the empty deserts of the south. Whilst doing some research I came across a photo taken just south of the Moroccan border in Mauritania, in Nouadhibou. It is of a beached cargo ship.
This picture has an apocalyptic feel to it. A human endeavour wrecked on the barren shoreline. What I love about it is the loneliness of the ship, like a ghost never seen. I am resolved to attempting to take my own photo of this hulk.
Mauritania is a dangerous country. Currently the bulk of the country (including the shores where the ghost ship rests) is a red zone (advise against all travel) as advised by the Foreign Office. This is due to the increasing militia, criminal gang and terrorist activity spilling over from Mali. The rest of the country is a yellow zone (advise against all but essential travel). The conflict is a tragedy for the region which only a few years ago was open for extensive travel. Now cities such as Timbuktu and Atar are closed off, their heritage under threat.
So my proposal now to the girls is that since we are in the area lets keep driving south (depending on getting a Carnet de Passage), through Mauritania (quickly and in convoy with other overlanders), Senegal, Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana. My old school SOAS has ties with schools in Gambia and Ghana. It would be possible to contact them with a view to offering some teaching hours there in English. This would be my ideal second leg of the journey. There is a condition here though. That is the small window of travel, mid winter, which is the only time Miki would be able to cross the desert in any kind of relative comfort.
Well, I am very excited about this plan. I hope we can find a consensus to test it out. If one or both Mara and Anika block the proposal then I guess we have to find a second plan. I have heard that the border between Morocco and Algeria is still closed (despite an Algerian promise last year to open it). This means one possible route through to Tunisia and then a short ferry ride to Italy is no longer an option. Oh well, we will wait and see how we feel as a family.
For now I am doing further research into the health side of travelling through west Africa. I compiled a database (sourced from the National Health Travel Network) which I made pretty on gimp. Not wanting to sound dramatic but this is the data:
Reassuringly Hepatitis A, B, Tetanus and Rabies are found in most of Europe.