Never say never

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cast your mind way back to January, 2010.  There was I, your humble blogger, at the end of a long stint bouncing around Africa in the back of a big orange truck, sick to death of tents, sleeping bags, camp food and the continent in general.  During a short pause in Livingstone, Zambia, my last stop in Africa, I packed up a load of stuff – souvenirs, sleeping bag, a camping mattress, unwanted clothing, gifts and other assorted gack, and sealed it all up in a big cardboard box swathed in an entire roll of saran wrap and packing tape.  Then it was off to the post office in Livingstone where I was charged the usurious sum of 453,000 Zambian Kwacha (a bit better than $100 CAD) and trusted the good people of Zambia Post to see the whole bunch back to Winnipeg.  

Terrence and package 
Fellow overland traveller Terrence, and the package, 12-Jan-2010.

And then there was waiting.  Karen & Steve in Winnipeg, me in a series of other countries you’ve already heard about.  And we waited.  And we waited.  Three months. Six months. Ten months… nothing.  And I’m sorry to say that by about the 6 month mark my faith in Zambia Post was non-existent.  I was quite certain that someone somewhere had helped him or herself to the interesting bits of the package and the rest was tipped into the garbage, never to be seen again.  The most distressing thing was that Laurie had loaned me her much-thicker-more-comfortable therma-rest mattress before she departed in Dar Es Salaam, taking my thin-and-easier-to-pack one home with her.  So that was gone, which naturally made me feel like a bit of a heel.  Also gone was the sleeping bag I’d bought just for the African sojourn, and a black and white painting of zebras and a carved wooden giraffe I’d bought for myself, and some Zanzibar spices and other bits I’d bought for people.

The giraffe carving I bought at Kande Beach, Malawi, and the guy who sold it to me.

But I was philosophical about it all.  Spending a year travelling as I did, with only the contents of one carry-on sized bag, I gained a more relaxed, easy-come-easy-go attitude to physical possessions in general.  Especially ones I’d been parted from for months on end.  So I apologized profusely to Laurie (who refused to let me buy her a new therma-rest), and had a brief period of mourning for my wooden giraffe, and got on with my life.

And now for the bit you’ve already guessed was coming. 

I’d just got back to London from my Christmas break back in Canada, and I mean just.  I’d fetched up at the doorstep - after three flights, two layovers, two airline-sized bottles of Chardonnay, one Gravol, an interminable wait for luggage and an hour long tube-ride from Heathrow - at about 1:00pm on Tuesday, January 3rd.  At 6:15pm the same day, just as I was finishing a jet-lag defying 7km run, I got a text message from Karen: 
“Check your email… now.”
Hmmm… intriguing. 

The email said:
“You will never guess what Canada Post delivered today.”
Yep.  The prodigal package, looking distinctly worse for wear, had finally finished its epic journey.  And it managed to arrive just 30 hours too late for me to greet it myself, in person.  Good timing!

Weird Food Steve received the package, and reported that it had “been through the wars”.  He was also clever enough to takes some pictures!

The package, after 357 days in transit. It looks sort of like I felt in the same circumstances.  In fact, this poor box was on the road for seven days LONGER than I was.  No wonder it looks a bit rough around the edges… literally. (And I notice my return address mysteriously migrated from the top of the box to the side... neat trick.)

Most miraculous of all was the fact that everything that I’d put in the box a year ago in Zambia was still in the box when it arrived in Winnipeg. (Though I use the term “box” loosely, since it would best be described as a “bundle” or “lump” after 357 of RTW travel).  The painting, the giraffe, the therma-rest, the sleeping bag, the gifts… everything.  Even a mouldy baggie of vanilla beans purchased on the cheap at the market in Zanzibar. 

So to Zambia Post, Canada Post, and whatever other postal systems were involved (Albania? Faulkland Islands? Venus?): I apologize for doubting you.  And thanks.  Now how about that other package I sent on the same day… to Calgary?

Pick of Pick of Pics

Monday, January 3, 2011

One other thing… I’ve decided to have a very small number of photos from the trip printed up on stretched canvas.  And I’m finally going to settle in somewhere properly by hanging things on the walls. But as you can imagine picking six photos out of more than 12,000 is a daunting task.  So I’ve narrowed it down a bit – here are my thoughts about good options.  Please let me know what you think.  Or point me back to favourites you might have seen in the Flickr feed that I’ve long ago forgotten about.

In the order in which they were taken:

Woman on the road, Suzdal

The Grand Canal, Venice

View from the Galata Bridge, Istanbul

Old Man in a sunny spot, Jerusalem

Jerusalem Man
Old Man in a sunny spot close up, Jerusalem

The Dead Sea with chairs, Israel

Kampala Kids
Kids, Kampala

Fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Good luck charm, Delhi

Carpet weaver, Agra

Boatman, Varanasi 

Old Man, Bahkatpur

Soldier, Beijing

Monk at work, Luang Prabang

Young monks, Luang Prabang

Tourist maiko, Kyoto

Tatami Mat Man, Takayama