Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Camping Sauvage

I’m trying not to be freaked out, but I am. Throughout all of my trips in Africa I’ve always rough camped and apart from one incident it’s never been a problem. Usually I find a spot off the road and if possible out of sight and have a comfy night’s sleep without a second thought. Often I’m asked about dangers in Africa and I have no patience for those that think Africa is full of thieves and muggers ready to slit your throat for a trivial reason. Like anywhere it’s not crime free, but if you take sensible precautions you won’t need to encounter them. It’s a lack of understanding that breeds the fear.

My ignorance is making me flinch at the sound of a distant rustling plastic bag in the breeze. I’ve parked up on the shores of lake Van in a lay-by with a half finished concrete box house graffitied “Hotel Khomeni”. Eastern Turkey is militarised, and although in no way an inconvenience it’s impossible to ignore and it creates an undeserved tension. Throughout Turkey people have been friendly and protective so why would camping here invite trouble? Logically there is no reason, but it’s not often I’m totally on my own, with no help for miles around and the only other time I can remember rough camping like this, I was woken at 3am by a horny Moroccan tapping at the window of the car miming sex with his finger sliding in and out of his other fist.

The situation rapidly got worse. He opened my door, the only one I’d forgotten to lock, and after a wrestling match in which I have broken a bone in his arm with the door. I managed close it, lock it and get the car started and make a sharp exit back up onto the road. I’m on edge because I’m ignoring the lessons of that night. I can’t lock the door from the inside and when the engine is cold it takes a few minutes to start.

That night there was a good reason to stop and park in a place without company, there’d been a really strong storm that was bringing trees down into the road, so I’d decided to pull over and sleep. Tonight the sun has set on Lake Van. It’s only 6pm, but I’m too tired to drive on and I think it will be a beautiful but potholed drive which needs light and concentration to avoid damaging the bus. I won’t have either until morning.

A short walk 100m from the bus to see how visible it is in the oncoming lights of passing vehicles and I’m reassured that it’s discrete enough, but also for the first time on this trip I catch the night sky. It’s the first time I’ve seen it so full of stars and clear. After a few seconds to acclimatise my eyes it’s as good as any desert starscape I can remember. And the lake has another treat, the gentle sound of the breaking choppy waves accompany the Milky Way. My worries about PKK kidnappers and randy homosexuals evaporate, and are replaced with more realistic concerns about the bus starting in the morning, and how much fuel I have. That should be plenty to keep me awake.

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