You know when you’re with a group of friends, maybe sitting around a campfire, or on a patio on a warm evening, and the talk turns to travel? And someone has a crazy story, maybe about traveling in West Africa during a coup attempt, and getting mistaken for a mercenary? Or about visiting a Soviet collective winery with a group of Swiss marxist students, and getting served 12 large glasses of progressively sweeter and stronger wine, which had to be surreptitiously emptied under the table because ‘no thanks, I’m driving the bus’, would have been an incomprehensible insult to the hosts’ hospitality? Or maybe about appearing in court in Sudan to convince the judge (who incidentally wore a black cap, an old sign under English Common Law of being about to pass a death penalty) that ‘no, my scared out of his mind friend here wasn’t really trying to change money on the black market, it was just a terrible misunderstanding’?

Well, more often than not, I’ve been that person. Over the years, people have told me, ‘you need to write this stuff down!’ So here goes…

I admit that my desire to explore started early. Apparently, at age two, my mother left me to nap on the porch of our house (as all good Irish mothers did, since, come snow, rain or shine, kids needed ‘fresh air’!). At some point, I unbuckled myself from my stroller, climbed the 6 foot gate, and dropped carefully to the street below. I was free to explore! Several hours later, my distraught mother and grandmother found me half a mile away, happily holding a big mug of sweet, strong tea made on an open coal brazier, listening to the ‘roadmen’ as they entertained me between sweeping the road, and filling in potholes with asphalt heated over that same brazier. “We knew someone would come looking for him eventually Missus”, they said.

That was how it all started – my desire to explore and travel! Check back for further installments…

Driving from Ngorongoro Crater floor back up to the rim
Driving from Ngorongoro Crater floor back up to the crater rim, Tanzania

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