Much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife, I’m a bit of a pack rat, as well as a horizontal filer.
What that translates into is an office that inevitably evolves into stacks of material covering every horizontal surface.
To my wife’s and others amazement, I can locate the correct strata of any desired document, object or material to within a few millimeters in very short time spans, from minutes to seconds. However, in her, ummm, organized perspective, this occasional rapid retrieval speed does in no way make up for her forced long-term exposure to my infinite layer cake of stuff. Consequently, she limits her exposure to my office to brief forays; her bravery accompanied by pursed lips and squinted eyes, all in an effort to avoid catching a bad case of disorganizitis.
However, pack-rattedness does come with some upsides. Among them, the discovery of hidden treasures whenever the strata are moved from one location to another. During this process, like an archeological dig, the layers yield their secrets and surprises.
On this occasion, a dig through six years of strata produced the following fragments from former expeditions.
2003, Botswana, border customs receipt
This brought back a lot of memories of Africa and Botswana, starting with our high speed get-off in a mud hole and ending with a mind-altering visit to the Okavango Delta.
All through South Africa, our local guides kept reminding us that “real Africa starts at the border.”
They were right.
The border crossing featured a huge bound journal entry book, covered in dust, crammed so thick with pages that it looked like the journal must date back to the late 1800s. Each vehicle’s identifying numbers were painstakingly entered into this book.
It was here that I learned a valuable lesson from Helge Pedersen: write your VIN, motor number and license plate number on the back, inside cover of your passport. It’s a huge time saver at 3rd world borders.
Once across the border, indeed, real Africa began.
2003, Namibia, Twyfelfontein Country Lodge receipts
This was the place where we went out on a long, hot three hour hike, only to arrive at a destination completely different than we thought we were headed to. When we asked our guide about the petroglyphs we expected to see, he replied, “Oh, that is the other hike. There are no petroglyphs on this hike.” Our companion, Bud Robinson, a champion cross country runner, proceeded to run back to the hotel and arrange for a driver to take us to the petroglyphs. Once there, we paid the lady overseeing the site to allow us to stay after closing, then gave her a ride home. It turned out to be a great experience, and like many great experiences underway, it all started with things getting off-plan.
2004, Turkey, Speeding Ticket
I collected this while cruising down a back road in Turkey. The police are obligated to put out a warning sign of impending radar speed traps ahead, but I blithely blew past the sign with nary a notice or care. A few kilometers later I was waved over by a very excited man in a spiffy uniform.
While he chattered away in Turkish, I smiled and nodded. Finally giving up in frustration, he turned to Steph and proceeded to communicate with her, the more linguistically talented of the two of us. In a combination of his few words of English, writing vigorously on a notepad in very large numbers, and emphatic, red-tinged-with-purple facial expressions, he said I had been going too fast.
The way Steph now relates the tale, it went something like “60 kilometers per hour, OK. 120 kilometers per hour, NOT OK!”
Meanwhile, while she was getting dressed down, I was investigating the combination radar / photo printer unit in the police car, which had obligingly driven down to our location from its hiding place. I was having a great time smiling, drawing in the dirt, making guy noises, all the usual, when I noticed Steph, still trapped with the Red Faced Officer, was not having such a good time.
Just about then we figured out that we needed to pay the ticket on the spot, in cash. We don’t know if it was a glorified contribution to the Policeman’s New Year’s Party Fund or not, but at least we got this receipt.
2004, Jordan, Itinerary
This is what happens when you overland—things change. If you always put flexibility at the top of your list, then you have a good time. Otherwise, if you cling stubbornly to rigid schedules, you will be frustrated and ultimately, unhappy.
In this case, we needed to completely flip our anticipated travel plans for a trip down to Petra, Jordan, and back. As it turned out, we later modified this schedule again when we discovered just how unhappy a place Jordan was in those days.
2004, Bhutan, Border Visa Receipt
Bhutan is a little known, small Buddhist country located high in the Himalayas. When we visited, they were only allowing about 2,000 tourists a year, and of those, only a handful by motorcycle.
Often ranked as the most pure, untouched remaining culture in the world, the people, customs, and traditions of Bhutan are extraordinary.
Wherever we went, from remote mountain villages to the small cities, we consistently met remarkable people and had equally remarkable experiences.
2004, Japan, BMW business card
Japan was a super trip, one we remember fondly, and the country remains one of the very few places we would return to prior to seeing more countries we have yet to experience.
Along the way in Japan we were consistently treated with something close to awe, being foreigners on our own motorcycle.
We had fantastic experiences with the people of Japan, especially those in the small rural villages, some of whom had never before seen an American in the flesh.
2004, China, Forbidden City Starbucks receipt
This receipt tells a lot about China in 2004. While the rural areas looked frozen in the post-revolution communal era, the developed cities along the coast were overrun with capitalism’s global brands.
This receipt is from a Starbucks located within the Forbidden City, the former palace of the Chinese Emperors. In the days of the emperor, a commoner would be killed merely for stepping through the gates of the Forbidden City. Today, you can sip a triple-shot, skinny vanilla latte while you wander the stones of the vast courtyards and palaces.
Currency and Coins
I also found some currency and coins. We diligently collected stamps, coins and currency of all denominations in each country we visited, which we gave to our nephew for his collections. These are some of the extras.
Full rez version here: http://www.hackneys.com/travel/photos/2003-southafrica-currency.jpg
Full rez version here: http://www.hackneys.com/travel/photos/2003-namibia-currency.jpg
Full rez version here: http://www.hackneys.com/travel/photos/2004-syria-currency.jpg
Full rez version here: http://www.hackneys.com/travel/photos/2004-chinese-currency.jpg
Full rez version here: http://www.hackneys.com/travel/photos/coins.jpg
All photos and images Copyright (c), 2003-2009, Douglas Hackney, all rights reserved.