There are few feelings comparable to the excited, nervous anticipation of the unknown preceding an adventure. The sensation builds in stages, beginning in fantasy, fuelled by planning, and peaking in the final hours before departure, when everything is prepared and there is nothing to do but wait. For those A-type folks out there, who have their luggage washed, folded, labeled, and packed days in advance, this waiting game can be a foe. I’ve seen travellers far more worldly than I reduced to bundles of nerves as departure day looms.
Fortunately for me, I have a tendency to leave trivialities like packing until the absolute last minute, and thus have very little time to contemplate the likelihood of contracting beastly stomach bugs, getting robbed, or becoming the next front page consular case in a foreign land.
New Years Eve, 2015 saw me scrambling to match socks and unearth clean pairs of underwear mere hours before I was set to embark on the trip of a lifetime — four months travelling through East and Southern Africa.
A freshly minted McGill University Political Science grad, I was aching to escape the confines of academia and stack the culmination of four years of paper writing, analysis, and exams against the realities of the world (and what a rude awakening it was, but more on that later). To my immense fortune, a connection at Solar Ship Inc. reached out and suggested I undertake some market research during my travels. I jumped at the opportunity.
This series of blog posts will loosely document my whirlwind journey, spanning seven countries, over 8,312 kilometres, leaving no stone unturned. You will not find high gloss Trip Advisor-style travel recommendations here. This is a raw account of my first encounter with Africa, my education in finding opportunity in seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
— Jamie Reford