England - Round The World Tour 2003 T-26

pre-departure

Leigh-on-Sea

Saturday 15th February

Went to see Mum & Dad today. Dad picked us up at Jacqueline’s house and drove us to West Thurrock where he and Mum have been living in Paul David’s house for the past few years. Due to Mum’s ongoing medical condition(s), they should have moved out into a more suitable abode over a year ago. They are at the top of a priority waiting list but the problem has always been the suitability of the places becoming available with respect to Mum’s medical and physical needs. Mum gave us all quite a scare about a year ago when she was taken ill and required a life or death operation that she was not expected to survive. Luckily, she did but is now left in a stable but awkward situation with limited mobility, severe breathing problems and various other medical ailments.

At the time of Mum’s emergency operation, early last year, I was extremely fortunate enough to be working for a company, and in particular a manager, for whom I am eternally indebted. I learned about Mum’s problem just days before her lifesaving operation and had discussed the situation openly with Scott, my then manager. I told him of the possibility of an abrupt need to depart for an indeterminate period of time. I doubt that I will ever again get the opportunity or to have the privilege with working under someone who was so understanding and accommodating. It was practically as if Scott had written me a blank check to do whatever I needed to deal with the family emergency. Not once was there so much as a comment related to the time I lost at work as a result of my sudden departure to the UK – I told Scott I was leaving for the UK whilst we were in the car on the way to the airport shortly after hearing from Jacqueline that ‘now’ was the time to be here and to not waste any time doing so. I was even allowed to claim for some hours that I attributed to keeping up to date with my work e-mail traffic whilst in the UK. I wonder if he ever knew just how much I appreciated what he did for me back then?

The crisis with Mum is long behind us now although life for both of them is far form a bed of roses. Still, they do make the best of the situation and it was a real treat to see them both again today. Mum is on oxygen most of the time now. There is hope that she will be able to reduce her dependency on the oxygen somewhat when the doctors get her blood sugar problem a little more under control. Her diabetes was largely under control the last time I was here through diet alone but now she is on 5 injections a day whilst they try to find the correct combination of insulin drugs to restore her blood sugar level to a more stable level. I’m told that it often takes time to narrow in on the correct combination and doses of the various drugs before they find the right balance. Hopefully, things will be under control soon. A nice new addition to their long-term, temporary home was a projection unit for the TV. A projector mounted on the wall at one end of the room projects a crystal clear image onto a large screen at the other end. All the TV and satellite channels are directed onto this screen as apposed to the TV. A recent windfall from a long forgotten pension fund landed in their lap and this is what they decided to do with it. With all the problems that they have endured over the past few years, it’s a luxury item that they deserve to enjoy.

Another milestone occurred also today. I actually booked the first leg of our round the world trip. We are booked on a flight from London to Johannesburg in South Africa (via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates) for March 12th. We will travel overland in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi & Tanzania. Then we will need to book another flight from Dar Es Salaam to Cairo in Egypt when we get to Tanzania. It will be much cheaper for us to book this flight locally. Once in Egypt, we will again be travelling overland throughout Egypt and Jordan before departing from Amman (the capital of Jordan) on to Dubai in the UAE. After 5 days in Dubai, we then head back to London. The whole trip should last about 105 days. The nice thing about this trip is that we can change the return dates from Amman to Dubai to London without incurring any financial penalties – so long as we return within 4 months of departure.

So what will we do once we get to all these countries? Well, that’s a very good question. I truly don’t have an answer. We intend to just follow our noses. Sure, there are some things that we want to do and some places we want to see but ultimately, we do not have a fixed agenda and will, in large part, be leaving things to chance. No sir, none of that pre-booked, packaged holiday type of arrangement for us! Just head out and see the world as it is. We will be staying in cheap accommodation such as youth hostels, bed & breakfast rooms, cheap hotels and so on as we tour from country to country. We will, however, occasionally splurge on a nice hotel from time to time – as a kind of holiday from the holiday, if you will.

It will be interesting to see just how many of the things we want to do will make it into our journey. Here’s a run-down of those things we are hoping to cross off the list as we go:

South Africa: Visit friends, see the wine country, drive the garden route & take in some safaris.

Namibia: Safaris and wildlife.

Botswana: Visit friends, the Okavango Delta, more safaris & wildlife.

Zambia: Victoria Falls & more wildlife.

Malawi: More wildlife.

Tanzania: More safaris, Dar Es Salaam & a week or so on the island of Zanzibar.

Egypt: Pyramids, Sphinx, Cairo, Luxor, Aswan & lots of diving on the Sinai Peninsula.

Jordan: Petra, the Dead Sea & Amman.

Upon arrival in Africa, we will start a more intensive research campaign to narrow in on exactly what we will do once we are there but for now, we are leaving much to chance.

I had to shop around a bit to get a good deal on the airline tickets but, ultimately, I think the £1,170 that I paid for the two of us, was a very competitive price. I still have to purchase two tickets from Dar Es Salaam to Cairo, but think I will still come in under the $3,000 budget that I had originally planned for the Africa/Middle-east flights. Yes, things are now starting to come together quite nicely. Just three and a half weeks before we depart and the butterflies are slowly starting to grow in intensity.

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