March 02, 2010 GMT
On Burning Your Boats

Another country - another map.

And another decision - what to do with the map for the previous country?
It's been like this since Turkey.
It's a serious question.
You can't continue to carry all the maps for past countries, you'll need a travelling library for them all.
But there's something chillingly final about disposing of the map for the last country.

How will you return home??

If you burn your boat, you can always make another. But throwing away, or giving away, a map??
That definitely destroys all possibility of finding a passage back to Whyteleafe - despite it having three railway stations, two bus services and Gatwick Airport.

It was the same a few years ago, walking to Knivskjellodden, near North Cape, Norway, in the middle of June, after leaving my old Yamaha Serow in the deserted roadside car park. I set off on the three-hour wilderness trek at ten in the evening, wanting to arrive for the midnight sun at one the following morning. But after an hour, 11:00pm by then, I realised it would be impossible to ever find my way back across peat moors, snow fields and rock plateau when it got dark. Only over a few small areas of scrubby grass was a worn path discernible, the rest of the route was marked solely by occasional upright rocks with a splodge of red paint. Some already hidden in the long dark shadows.
And I had no torch.
And it was now past eleven o'clock - it would surely be dark soon!
I found it all but impossible to convince myself that it wasn't going to get dark. At all.
Not until late July.
Five weeks away.

It's the same with the maps - all but impossible to convince myself that I'll ever find the way home after disposing of my maps for Sudan and Egypt. I'll just have to keep them!

So much riding (9,000 miles now) - so much time for crazy thoughts.
Must write a new essay - 'On Dealing With The Paranoia'.

The plan is to leave Gonder tomorrow for Bahir Dar on Lake Tana (source of the Blue Nile).
We'll look at the road to Lalibela on the way (gravel road under re-construction), visit a co-operative village about five miles along it, and decide whether to attempt the two days to Lalibela instead.
We'll see.

Posted by Ken Thomas at March 02, 2010 11:58 AM GMT

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