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ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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MONTHLY ARCHIVES

THE ROUTE

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  • Out of Africa

    Posted on July 3rd, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    Out of Africa
    It is now Saturday, July 3rd. In few hours, hopefully, I should be sailing toward Yemen. It has been easy to find a boat on the Djibouti port. Maybe too easy, so I am still waiting for confirmation of the trip before I can consider this trip a done deal. Around 11 a.m., I will know…
    It has been a week now that I am in Djibouti. I didn’t do much, because of the heat. It is so hot that you can’t move between noon and 4 p.m. Most stores are closed during this period of time. It is the summer here, in one of the hottest city in the world.
    On Monday, I went to the Yemen Embassy to get my visa, and for US$ 35, it was done in one hour. My friends here have a “fixer”, Alex, a local guy who helps getting things done. He drives me around Djibouti and he does make things easier since he speaks Arabic, the country second language with French.
    So we went to the port and found out that a boat, a wooden dhow, would be leaving on Saturday or Sunday. Most of these ships are cattle boat, but I am not sure exactly what mine will carry. Anyhow, no dhow leaves the harbor before it’s completely full, and if we transport cows, we will have to wait for sundown to load them.
    The trip, if you do it alone, cost you US$ 40. With my car, it should cost me US$380. To this price, I will have to add something like US$150 on this side to load the vehicle, and US$100 to unload.
    I will arrive in Al Mukha (Moka) on the Yemenite side, a coastal town right across from Djibouti. Crossing will take 12 to 16 hours, depending on the weather. At this location, the entrance of the Red Sea can’t be more than 150 miles wide, but the sea is sometimes rough. After touching down, I plan on going down to Aden, then east toward Oman.
    Because of the security situation in Yemen, I will need to find out as quickly as possible how to get an authorization to travel from the police. I believe I should be able to procure that in Aden. Some roads across the country and the border crossing with Oman are sometimes closed to foreigners. The situation is changing all the time, so I will have to find out all of that upon arrival.
    This will be the most unstable country I cross since the beginning of the trip, and I am not planning to stay there longer than necessary. I will try to put the few thousand kilometers to the border behind, even so I want to see this beautiful country. Landscapes and cities should be an unforgettable adventure, and I hope to share the pictures with you very soon. Unfortunately, I believe there’s hardly any internet access through the country, so my faithful readers will have to wait a bit to see my report. In any case, you know it will be a while, so please don’t worry and stay tuned.
    Sophie prepares coffee the Ethiopian way.

    Sophie prepares coffee the Ethiopian way.

    It is now Saturday, July 3rd. In few hours, hopefully, I should be sailing toward Yemen. (UPDATE: As of Monday, july 5th, still in Djibouti, and not sure when the boat is leaving) It has been easy to find a boat on the Djibouti port. Maybe too easy, so I am still waiting for confirmation of the trip before I can consider this trip a done deal. Around 11 a.m., I will know…

    It has been a week now that I am in Djibouti. I didn’t do much, because of the heat. It is so hot that you can’t move between noon and 4 p.m. Most stores are closed during this period of time. It is the summer here, in one of the hottest city in the world.

    Relaxing with Dave and Mimi.

    Relaxing with Dave and Mimi.

    On Monday, I went to the Yemen Embassy to get my visa, and for US$ 35, it was done in one hour. My friends here have a “fixer”, Alex, a local guy who helps getting things done. He drives me around Djibouti and he does make things easier since he speaks Arabic, the country second language with French.

    So we went to the port and found out that a boat, a wooden dhow, would be leaving on Saturday or Sunday. Most of these ships are cattle boat, but I am not sure exactly what mine will carry. Anyhow, no dhow leaves the harbor before it’s completely full, and if we transport cows, we will have to wait for sundown to load them.

    The trip, if you do it alone, cost you US$ 40. With my car, it should cost me US$380. To this price, I will have to add something like US$150 on this side to load the vehicle, and US$100 to unload.

    Little celebration for my upcoming birthday.

    Little celebration for my upcoming birthday.

    I will arrive in Al Mukha (Moka) on the Yemenite side, a coastal town right across from Djibouti. Crossing will take 12 to 16 hours, depending on the weather. At this location, the entrance of the Red Sea can’t be more than 150 miles wide, but the sea is sometimes rough. After touching down, I plan on going down to Aden, then east toward Oman.

    Because of the security situation in Yemen, I will need to find out as quickly as possible how to get an authorization to travel from the police. I believe I should be able to procure that in Aden. Some roads across the country and the border crossing with Oman are sometimes closed to foreigners. The situation is changing all the time, so I will have to find out all of that upon arrival.

    Due to security concerns in Yemen, I changed my plates as well as country sticker.

    Due to security concerns in Yemen, I changed my plates as well as country sticker.

    This will be the most unstable country I cross since the beginning of the trip, and I am not planning to stay there longer than necessary. I will try to put the few thousand kilometers to the border behind, even so I want to see this beautiful country. Landscapes and cities should be an unforgettable adventure, and I hope to share the pictures with you very soon. Unfortunately, I believe there’s hardly any internet access through the country, so my faithful readers will have to wait a bit to see my report. In any case, you know it will be a while, so please don’t worry and stay tuned.

  • At the crossroads between Africa and the Arab world

    Posted on June 28th, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    Getting my new shocks on in Djibouti. Ready for more dirt roads!

    Getting my new shocks on in Djibouti. Ready for more dirt roads!

    It took me eight days to get the paperwork I needed. Nervous about taking the risk of seeing myself turned back again at the Djibouti border, I didn’t want to leave Addis without a letter signed from the Ambassador of Djibouti in Ethiopia. This would just be a letter of recommendation, giving me the authorization to drive in the country. The problem I had back at the border was primarily my visa, but I could tell they didn’t like the customs documents I had in my possession.

    Eight days of work to get my leeter and visa from the Djibouti embassy.

    Eight days of work to get my letter and visa from the Djibouti embassy.

    So after going every day to the Djibouti embassy for more than a week and writing two letters to the ambassador, I assume they got tired of me, and wanted to get rid of the guy always in the waiting room or in front of the outside gate. So I got my letter as well as my visa (US$40).
    In the meantime, I got the AC of the truck fixed, bought two new tires and a new battery. When Jim Jackson, the president of ARB USA learned that my shock absorbers did let me down, he decided to send me four new Old Man Emu shocks for free. I asked him to send it to the address of an American friend, David, who works for the military in Djibouti. This way my shocks would be here in no time, transported by military plane from Washington D.C. to Africa.
    Every night in Addis, I spent time with new friends I met there. Riaan, Stephanie and Joel who are from South Africa, Belgium and Canada are going south from Sudan, and stopped at the Holland House to spend time working on their trucks (Here’s where you can follow their adventures). They ended up spending the week there as well, and soon, I moved in the room they rent on the premises. I am not cooking much now anyway, and it is raining every day. I may as well stay dry.
    So we meet every night after every one of us try to get things done during the day, and we watch the soccer games, get some food, drink beer and listen to the rain.

    Back on the desert road.

    Back on the desert road.

    We leave the camp at the same time. Previously, I did copious provision of water and Ethiopian cheese, and I am ready to go. They continue their drive south, and I am going east. Too bad, it was nice to meet them, and I would have like if we could spend more time together…

    Last night in Ethiopia. Kind of happy about it...

    Last night in Ethiopia. Kind of happy about it...

    It takes me two days to be back at the Djibouti border. Now I know the road. This time, it is less hot in the desert. I even got some rain, and there was an electrical storm. Sometimes I had to stop because there was so much sand in the air I could not see anything.

    The infamous Djibouti border crossing.

    The infamous Djibouti border crossing.

    I sleep at the same place than last time, behind the Oasis Restaurant. Late morning, I pass the border with no problem.

    The road to Djibouti.

    The road to Djibouti.

    It is hot in Djibouti. Around 110F again. But this time, I decide I suffered enough, and I do use the AC. I never did that since the beginning of the trip, and I feel like a fake adventurer using it, but at the end of the day, I am in better shape.

    The desert in Djibouti. Hot!

    The desert in Djibouti. Hot!

    In Djibouti City, I stay at the house of my friend Dave and his roommates. They all work as contractors for the U.S. military base nearby. For the first time in years, I am in a French speaking country, which made things easier when it comes to find Dave’s house.

    Arriving in the city of Djibouti.

    Arriving in the city of Djibouti.

    I just rest on Sunday. Anyhow, the temperature is too high to do anything. On Monday, I work on the truck and install the new shocks. I can’t work for a long time outside because it is so warm and humid. As planned, the shocks arrived fast, on Friday.
    This week, I have to get a visa for Yemen. Then, I will try to find a cattle boat to load the truck and sail to the Yemenite coast, 150 miles away. All of that, of course, if everything works well. What I project to do next is to cross Yemen, get to Oman, Dubai, and find a boat to Iran.
    So as you can see, this last week has been better, and I have been luckier. I want to thank you all for the support and all the encouraging comments on my last post. It really helped a lot when the future looked grim.

    Made it!

    Made it!