Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The curse of freedom

I'm taking a flight in a couple of weeks' time. Anyone got any suggestions where to?

I'm not lacking in ideas or decisiveness, it's just a case of narrowing down the options, now I've completed the Mediterranean circuit as far as I can with these Israel passport stamps.

God has been helping me so far, arranging the planet and its peoples so that the countries with the most interesting history magically happen to be next to each other. But now God is cutting the umbilical cord and I'm out on my own (that's right, God is a woman - didn't expect that, did you? And she's black probably. And Chinese and gay).

If it wasn't for these pesky passport stamps (that's the appropriate word to sum up the Israel-Arab conflict) I'd doubtless continue south, east or west across land, deeper into Africa, but all borders are closed to me now that I'm evil by association. So I'll have to take a flight anyway, and that technically means I can go anywhere. God damn it.

Out of Africa?

Realistic view of Africa

My biggest decision is whether to travel east into the exciting realm of Asia or south to the exciting realm of Africa - a continent I'm finally feeling like I've stepped into now I'm in Upper Egypt, where goats prowl the back streets like cats and large-headed, tiny-bellied kids sleep on their begging mothers' knees.

I'm interested to see more of this depressing and amazing continent where we all began (and where I might end), especially after the countless times I've written about South Africa from second-hand sources and made it sound incredible (though that's my job). But on the other hand, I'm really starting to feel the pull of the Far East - especially after the progress I made in Cairo towards furthering Anglo-Taiwan relations with a friend who said I could visit her in Taipei.

Idealised view of Asia

I was thinking of going to Japan to Teach English as a Foreign Language before I even set off on this fantastically pointless odyssey, and even though I eventually remembered I don't like being tied down to a job, don't like dressing smartly and don't really like children, making the job prospect somewhat less appealing, I'm still really looking forward to travelling there at some point, and taking in the rest of the Far East while I'm at it - whether I have a girl in the port or not.

I'm not under any time pressure, but I do have to contend with my attention span, which already meant I missed out on the Southern Greek islands because I was eager to get heartbreak out of the way in Israel. Maybe I shouldn't be so rash to leave Africa so soon after scratching the surface though. Even if that means embracing the vaccinations and postcolonial guilt so many of its countries require.

But where in Africa? Have you seen it on the maps, it's massive. It's like 100 miles long or something. I've met a few people who've travelled through the continent, including Eduardo who I went to Giza with, who made the trip all the way up the Nile and then some, but any suggestions would be welcome.

Or maybe I should take a starship to the extraterrestrial plains of the Mandarin-speaking world and come back here when I'm more enthusiastic. Africa isn't going anywhere. Plus, if I do keep going east, I'll eventually come out in South America, which seems to be pretty much the same.

Decision time

I think my best plan might be to leave fate in the hands of whichever god arranges last-minute flight deals from Luxor Airport. I think it's probably Shu (god of the air), but that might just be because I'm so enamoured by his perverse creation story.

Thus spake Atum:

"I had union with my hand, and I embraced my shadow in a love embrace; I poured seed into my own mouth and I sent forth from myself issue in the form of the gods Shu and Tefnut"

- Confessions of a Hermaphrodite Lord of Heliopolis

Shit, maybe I'll just stay in this mental country forever! I love it.

Novel progress: 35,487 words (71%)

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