Daily Post

Why have we changed our route but not our plan?


This plan has always been flexible. Plans must remain flexible. Flexible does not mean by the seat of your pants or to wing it. It means have a plan with a start point and an end state while leaving flex room in the middle. A plan is a foundation, it isn’t the building. The design of a building may change as it is made, but the foundation won’t.

I come from a background that was guided by Commander’s Intent. There was an end-state, a common goal. Plans were made to achieve success the best way possible, with the most efficiency, and the least casualties, but these plans (in whole) never survive contact with the enemy.

In this case we are planning a journey, not just across a city, a county, a State, or even a country, but an entire continent. This continent is filled with countries with ever changing leaders, levels of corruption, borders, and accessibility options. In this plan, race, gender, and nationality must be considered. A Spanish guy crossing Libya is in no way common to an American crossing it.

We have been planning for the last six months, which is actually not such a long time in comparison to other overlanders. In that time, we flew from South Africa to Germany, then on to the United Kingdom where we stumbled upon a truck that I thought would be great to have in South Africa. There were many options open at that time and we looked at shipping the truck or driving the truck. Back then we couldn’t afford to ship the truck and decided that driving it would be best. Building the truck took time and a plan outline began to emerge. Once the truck was completed we needed to test the equipment and give Celine some training so we headed to Morocco for test runs. Those went well and we headed back into Europe so that I could meet my family in Ireland. We completed that part of the trip and returned to Germany to see what options were available to us in the present. For overland, we still needed to determine whether we could even afford a Carnet, but we also needed to determine whether we could still make safe passage.

Since we bought the truck, outfit it, tested it, and organized the administrative side of this immense journey Syria has fallen into a civil war that includes the use of chemical weapons leaving that route impassable, Iraq is still in turmoil leaving that route impassable (based off of information from a friend in country), Turkey began having violent protests and the conflict in Syria has spilled over its border into the town where the ferry crosses to Egypt. Egypt is in the midst of a coup and all ferries into the country have been shutdown, and two Americans tried to enter Sudan from the south and were denied visas.

We determined, through talking with a friend in Egypt, a friend who runs the country desk for Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and some other sources, that most of the trouble we would run into on this trip would be in the north. Why not ship the truck south and start there? Why not give these countries some time to figure things out and cool off? The trip will be the same, just starting from the opposite end giving us more time to prepare for the more difficult (politically) countries?

So the decision has been made. We will drop the truck in the UK on the 6th of September and it will be shipped to Cape Town. The same day we will fly to Cape Town and stay there until the truck arrives October 7th.

For a while I stubbornly struggled with this decision, thinking that I had to come from the north. I won’t let these things deter me. Well, having seen the horrors of combat, mob mentality, terrorism, and the like and having worked for the State Department where I often wondered how people got themselves into trouble, “Didn’t you read the travel advisories?” I decided I was being stubborn and prideful and that there is no reason to gamble our lives over a trip that can easily be flip-flopped to start from the other end.

In the end the Bible gave the correct answer in Proverbs 22:3, which says, “3 The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble.” Did I want to be wise or be a fool? I have been a stubborn fool before, not this time…

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