The question I get asked more than any other is… when is the next Odyssey Expedition book out?!
My stock answer is “when I can afford to write it!”
And that’s the crazy thing. I have all the chapters planned out, all the material I need, I have the wonderful Jared Bendis of indie publishing house ATBOSH happy to edit, typeset and publish… I just need a bit of cash to keep the lights on while I put it all together.
And that’s where you come in, my friend! If you’re willing to sponsor me, to be my patron through these difficult times, I will not only make sure that you get your name in the book when it is published, depending on the size of your donation, I will gift you plenty more besides.
You can sponsor me here at GoFundMe, or you can head over to my website grahamdavidhughes dot com to find out more!
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TOP OF THE WORLD by Graham Hughes
Prologue: That Was The Year That Was
Before we crack on with the second year of The Odyssey Expedition, let’s just have a quick recap of the madness that was Year 1.
It all began in January with a drunken stumble and the declaration that I was a bit drunk but that wasn’t going to stop me. Within two weeks I had ticked off every country in South America.
A cargo ship to Trinidad was the starting point of the Caribbean leg of the journey, an island hopping adventure on all kinds of floating contraptions: pangas, speedboats, fishing boats, sailing ships, even a cruise! It took the best part of the following six weeks.
By March I had just a handful of countries in the Americas left to visit, unfortunately one of them was Cuba. Even though my application to go and “trade with the enemy” was turned down by the American authorities, by an incredible bit of serendipitous good fortune I found a yachtie crazy enough to take me over there.
April began in snowy Halifax before I took a trip across the Atlantic Ocean via Iceland to my home continent of Europe. I partook in a “five nations pub crawl” with my friends around the British Isles and was arrested in Estonia attempting to cross the border into Russia. Nevertheless I managed to get all the way to down Greece, my 64th country, before the month was out.
May started well, with me ticking off the Southern Europe and the Balkans in record time, but my attempt to take a huge bite out of North Africa ended up as a pathetic little nibble as I found myself getting knocked back from the borders of both Algeria and Libya. Things went from bad to worse as I was forced to make a journey of 4,000km back and forth across the Sahara Desert to get a visa for Mauritania – a journey that turned out to be utterly freakin’ pointless.
Although that all paled into insignificance next to the utter madness that was to come. A 650km trip in a leaky wooden canoe over the Atlantic Ocean ended in disaster as myself and the ten Senegalese fishermen who I paid to take me to the Cape Verde islands were unceremoniously incarcerated for six days. Upon our release, the fishermen were deported back to Senegal. I was allowed to stay and find a boat back to Africa. It took me six weeks.
Then it was West Africa in the wet season, and before I knew it my country count increased to 107. I found myself waiting for three weeks in Gabon waiting for a boat to take me to São Tome. In the meantime I joined a tribe that consumed hallucinogenic tree bark.
My welcoming committee in the capital of Congo consisted of a group of drunk policemen determined to pin some imaginary crime on me. Another week in jail and a race through Angola and it was suddenly October. I thundered throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, fell in love with Madagascar and reached Mauritius before the end of the month. 124 countries down.
November was a silly month which was wasted attempting to return to Africa from Mauritius and failing at every turn. The fact I missed out on visiting The Seychelles particularly stung. Not a single new country to add my tally for the whole stinkin’ month.
After a slow beginning stuck in the island nation of Comoros, December leapt into action when I had just two weeks to get from Tanzania to Egypt via Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. Somehow, against all odds, I pulled it off and was reunited with Mandy at the Pyramids at six minutes past midnight, New Year 2010.
I can’t take all the credit: it had taken my family and dozens of my friends, old and new, to make it happen. But there I was: 133 countries visited in just one year, without flying. A new (and as yet unbroken) Guinness World Record.
Would you believe me if I told you that was the easy bit? Yes there may have been moments of despair, moments of insanity and moments of sheer balls-out terror, but at least the countries tumbled at a decent rate, helped in no small part by the fact I required no visas to complete the American or European legs of the journey.
The road ahead – through the Middle East, Central Asia, The Far East and South East Asia – would not be like that at all. Between geography and red tape, if I got to two new countries in a day it would be remarkable. Three would be nothing short of a miracle.
As a consequence, there was a definite shift of gears. The mood changed. All the running around of the previous twelve months had been fun, but circumstances forced me to kick back and take some time to smell the flowers. As you are about to discover, that was not necessarily a bad thing.
Graham David Hughes
Bocas Del Toro
- Cricket Averett
- Julian O'Shea
- Tracey Morgan
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