Halfway through, questions and answers

Arriving in Muscat.
Arriving in Muscat.

daysAre you still on schedule?
I think I am. I am planning to be back in the U.S. sometimes in March or April 2011. It means that the trip would have taken a year-and-an-half. If I would have cross Europe as I originally planned, I would be way behind.

Just wondering if you are well protected – what kind of gun do you carry?
I keep pepper spray in my door, and plan to run if something bad happen. Seriously, once I pass Pakistan, I should be OK.

You do tell us interesting things about the trip, but truly, are you having fun, or has it become tiring and tedious? The other night when you slept in the desert, were you frightened at all? Do you just go through the day enjoying it, or do you worry and get aggravated with the delays… fill us in a little on “Nick”
I am still having fun. But it is true that the trip took its toll on me. I feel more tired that I was at the beginning, thanks to sleeping conditions not optimal everywhere. Some days I have low energy. The food requires adaptation, I pass on meals pretty often when I need to be somewhere at night, and finding vegetables can be difficult if you want to stay healthy. Because my fridge is down, I can’t really stock up, and have to eat more street food.
It has been tedious sometimes, especially the bureaucracy involved in the visas quest. But it makes me feel great as well when I finally succeed getting into a new country. I also now have a lot of equipment letting me down. The heat and vibration damaged many items, the latest being my laptop. I plan on buying a new one, along with a new battery for my fridge, in Dubai. So basically, everyday there’s something breaking.
I don’t worry much anymore about anything, finding that everything eventually turns out to be OK. I also learned to not take “no” for an answer. The most recent annoying news is the refusal from the Pakistani embassy in Muscat to give me a visa. I hope to be able to get it in Dubai, or Iran. Because I am on schedule, I have some freedom of movement and ready to adapt.
Being alone can be difficult on a trip of this scale. You really have to take care of everything. Driving, cooking, washing clothes by hand, trying to get information on the next leg of the trip, finding ways of communicating. There is really not one minute of down time. When finally I can crash somewhere for few days, I sleep a lot and usually have annoying paperwork to take care of.
But again, it is very satisfying to be able to overcome the obstacle, and keep pushing through. So yes, I am happy, and proud to be still on the road.

I don’t know if you have calculated your half-way point since you changed your Africa route, but it looks to me like you must have passed it by now!  Keep on going!

Cumulative miles for trans world expedition

I am not sure exactly of the route I will take, but I agree, I think it’s pretty safe to say I am half-way home. But something can happen anytime.

What will I do if I can’t get the Pakistan visa? Cross Afghanistan? Ship my truck to India? Since the beginning of the trip, I drove 23,000 miles (36,800 km).

I take it you have to go to Tehran for touristy stuff or just strictly getting more visas (because it’s quite a detour from Pakistan)?
I was actually planning to go north through Iran to visit some sites of historical interest and turn east toward the border without going through Tehran, but I may have to go there to get the Pakistan visa. It would be interesting to visit the city, but the traffic is supposed to be very bad.

Just curious why your route has you traveling north in Iran before swinging east?
There are interesting places to see going north, especially up until Esfahan.

You’re so matter-of-fact and objective in your reports. Are you having fun? You’re really into your trip now, is it everything you imagined it would be? What have you learned about humankind? Do you read the responses to your journal entries? Are you lonely?
Yes, I am still having fun. I met some great people while travelling, and learned a lot about how people live in the countries I crossed. It was also interesting to spend a bit of time with expats from many countries and see how they adapted in their new life.
Before the trip, I imagined I will have more time to enjoy my visit in all these different places. I reckon staying on the road takes a lot of work. I always think about Asia as the place where I will be able to relax and have more of quality time, as travel there should be easier. Africa has not been easy, and yes, I am lonely sometimes.
People everywhere I wet have been amazing, and I mean it. I think this year has, hand will be, a great lesson for me, and will teach me to be a better person. That was one of the goal of the trip.
And of course, even if I don’t reply immediately, due to limited internet connection time, I read every comment on the blog.

Are you still on budget?

budget for trans world expedition
I didn’t compile all the numbers, but I believe that I still am on budget. Yet, I just tallied numbers on fuel, food and accommodations costs. It shows that I am right on target. But surprises can be found later when I will compile all the numbers.

Even with the issues you’ve encountered (and endured) yourself personally, the Toyota seems to have worn well too. With all the vehicle options available to a world ‘asphalt’ traveler, I’m guessing you approve of your choice. All these months on, are you still happy with the Toyota…?
Yes, I am very happy with the truck. It has done well with very little maintenance. I am just dreading the day where something very bad will happen. Hopefully I will be in a place where I can get parts. But maybe nothing bad will happen?

I’ve been wondering, has your stomach rebelled at all against the local foods and drinks you have been experiencing?
I pay attention to the food I eat, and even if my stomach is never the same than back home, I never have been sick to the point where I had to stay in bed for one day. I avoid meat outside of supermarkets, and wash vegetables with water and bleach. But I always keep toilet paper handy! I sometimes experience low energy because of this strange diet and the heat.

What about gas prices in the upcoming countries?

Gas will be pretty cheap until India, which is good. Unfortunately, I will probably have to pay for places to camp or sleep while in Iran and Pakistan. Asia should be pretty cheap for food and accommodation.

I haven’t seen Nadia post anything on here. How’s she doing any Hoot?
She is good. She is now working in Paris, trying to make some money. She is still not married.

Did you get your new passport with empty pages to get more visa stampings?
I got one back in Tanzania. It is an emergency passport with only ten pages, and next week, I will only have three pages left, thanks to those countries taking full pages for each visa. I will have to make a new one, maybe in India.

I guess you have asked some help getting Indian visa. Did you get that? Where do you plan to get that? I live in US and I am not sure if I can be of any help regarding that.
My passport is at the Indian embassy right now, and I should have my visa next week. The Iranian visa, which I thought would be impossible to obtain, turned out to be easy to get. But now the Pakistan visa is an issue since the country decided to restrict foreigner travels.

I heard that it was illegal to drink alcohol in the middle-east, is this true?
Indeed it has been pretty dry lately. In Djibouti you can drink, but beer is pretty expensive. In Yemen you can’t buy any alcohol anywhere. In Oman, you need an authorization to buy alcohol. Dubai should be more relaxed, but then it will be dry through Iran and Pakistan. I guess it’s good for me, right?

Is your route in the United States written in stone?
No, it is not. My point of arrival will depend of boats schedule and shipping prices. Maybe San Francisco, L.A., or I would also consider a port on the west coast of Mexico. But I definitely want to cross the U.S. from west to east. Often while I am driving, I am thinking of the kind of party I will do when I am back.

56 Replies to “Halfway through, questions and answers”

  1. Eileen: that generation of land cruiser is very popular around the world and there’s many parts and service knowledge available for it. Newer ones are very rare. That and there’s the cost issue… used cars are cheaper than new cars and your warranty is useless overseas anyway. Generally speaking, the newer you go, the more electronic gizmos you’ll see in a vehicle, which is bad especially if you drive through a salt flat!

  2. I was having trouble sleeping the other night and needed something to occupy my mind, so I went back thru the archives and read all the posts I’d missed before I learned of this blog, sometime this past spring. I realized that the detail with which you describe the places and people is amazing, and loved all the descriptions of the jungly rainforests and arid drier places. I ached for you when you were stuck in the mud on top of that mountains! Altitude sickness is extremely miserable – experienced it myself in an adventure several weeks ago.

    Anyway, I continue to be amazed at what you’ve been able to accomplish and see and experience. I don’t know for sure that I’d be brave enough to do what you’re doing. I’m sure it’s much different to be right there living it day-to-day than the way it looks in the mass media. But the things that are reported are enough to scare me, and so I’ve been grateful to read your personal glimpses of what life is like for the real people who just make their lives everyday.

    I manage in a relatively small resort in Northern Utah. If you’re interested in spending time here as you traverse the US I would be happy to give you accommodations. We have all the amenities, including a day spa and restaurant. You’re more than welcome any time and I’d be so excited to host you!

    I keep you in my prayers regularly and wish for your continued safety, especially in those places that are harder to get in and out of. I hope the visas become easier to obtain so that you have less stress. Keep on moving!

  3. Great reporting! This questions and answers topic are great. It really tells a lot more of what goes on on your expedition.

    If you’ve decided for your route to go through Los Angeles, I’ll also be able to accommodate you in my house if you like. I have an extra room, billiards and spa. I can cook some mean BBQ Chicken and Steak. Sounds Good? Let me know.

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