The time draws nigh.

Disappointed by the non-manifestation of my much anticipated midlife crisis one entire year after my 40th birthday, and without the financial or legal means to acquire an appendage-extending Porsche 911, I have decided to take the matter into my own hands. So goodbye job of 14 years, au revoir beloved flat of 7 years and arrivederci London, home for the best part of two decades; the corporate calamine lotion can no longer soothe the travel itch and it is time to hit the road again. Not wanting to undertake too large a challenge at the beginning of my new life, I have decided to travel from the southernmost tip of Africa to its northernmost metropolis: Cape Town to Cairo, travelling through 14 countries. Overland. With a detour via North Korea to run the Pyongyang marathon.

As immense a decision as it may seem to abandon a comfortable existence at the very point in my life when my pace should be slowing down, as I ought to be thinking about padding my nest for the future, this feels absolutely right. The initial clouds of self-doubt and anxiety that surprised me by their intensity have long dissipated and I am now experiencing the familiar euphoria of an impending adventure. The only trepidation that I am feeling concerns the veritable A to Z of exotic-sounding tropical diseases that await me at every turn, hike or splash. Hoorah for Bilharzia! Ding dong dengue!

For all the excitement of the unknown that lies ahead, I will miss London. In fact I miss it already. I have not yet left the country, but I can feel the inexorable pull, the siren’s call of the city I called home for 18 years attempting to seduce me into returning and resettling in June. And strong will be the temptation. It is almost unbearable to imagine Monday and Wednesday evenings without my pub quiz team and running club, and to miss Putney riverside in the summer will leave an aching hole in my heart. But I will not go back to London when I return from Africa. Not yet. I need to call another city, another country my home before I can revisit London. Madrid, Buenos Aires or Tokyo – brace yourselves for a new arrival.

But this is no time for the future, the open road is calling now! No sequence of consecutive syllables could possibly sound more exciting or enticing than Kalahari, Serengeti or Kilimanjaro right now. Whether it is Sudan or THE Sudan I am going to, it matters not one bit – only that I make it out of one country in one piece, and into the next. I look forward to locking horns with unscrupulous border guards and negotiating sanitation only otherwise found in France; to reviving my international dormitory snoring ratings scale and thinking I have gone blind from the local cashew wine only to realise that I have fallen asleep with my contact lenses in; to encounter the most fascinating people I have ever met only to go our separate ways the following day.

Most of all, however, I am looking forward to rediscovering the very essence of travel: the journey itself, and all the gloriously diverse forms of transportation that will guide me on my quest. From motorcycle taxis to chicken buses, luxury air-conditioned coachliners or sidecars to suspension-shy pick-up trucks and recalcitrant camels; I will embrace it all. It is in the waves of diesel fumes and moist cosy comfort of a sweaty armpit that I find my true travel zen, and I suspect that Mama Africa will not disappoint me in that respect.

It is soon time to go back to the continent where I was born, but know nothing of. Let the new life begin.

Waka waka, it’s time for Africa.

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