Monday, September 11, 2017

Chernivtsi, Ukraine: What's next?

The more astute reader, who has been around for a while, might notice that I've deviated significantly from my originally proposed route through Europe. This route would have put me in Africa for the low low cost of a boat from Gibralter to Morocco sometime around November. While I don't have any regrets about my deviation, I am now in a bit of a pickle... because... you see...

winter is coming.

While this is actually an ideal time to do some parts of the Middle East (the otherwise very hot parts), it's a less-than-ideal time to do some other parts (the very cold parts – yes, there are cold parts of the Middle East). As I'd like to be able to mix the two (in particular, I'm dying to do the Pamir Highway, which includes some mountain passes at 4,000+ meters – often impassible in the winter months), I need to figure out a way to (A) occupy myself until it starts getting warmer, not colder, and (B) end up about where I am now so I can continue on my way through the Middle East when the weather is right.

My thinking is... fly to Africa.

Which would make me regret, if only slightly, not sticking to my original plan. And only because flying to Africa would cost money.

BUT... can I say I biked around the world if I don't at least touch Africa?

This is a dangerous road. What's next? Can I say I biked around the world if I don't at least touch... Australia?

(A host of mine had this take on Australia: "You bike to the end of the world to see white people.")

Can I say I biked around the world if I don't at least touch... South America?

There is something alluring about Africa. I would rather say I biked across Africa than Australia. Also, another cyclist I've been meaning to meet up with is currently biking across Africa. So, I'd have company.

That's one option.

The cheapest, but arguably least exciting option, is to WWOOF around where I am. But four months of sitting on my butt? I think I'd go crazy (I do like my current WWOOF. It will get its own post shortly).

I could also bike to Turkey, fly over Syria (much as the people there are worth visiting, now is not the time), and... big as Saudi Arabia is, I think I could only kill a month there. I can't visit Israel until after visiting Iran, because you can't get into Iran if you have an Israel stamp in your passport.

I can't really come back to the US because I no longer have health insurance. Not to mention the flights would be even more expensive than flying to Africa and back.

So... I think I've pretty much stuck myself with:
(A) Stay in Europe, dance between countries to stick to visa-free time limits, and WWOOF. Travel a bit, but at some point I'd only be left with so many countries that aren't cold and that I still have free entry to. (B) Fly somewhere else. Like Africa.

Right now I'm thinking:
- Bike to Italy via Venice. Because... I want to see Italy.
- Bike down Italy and take a boat across the Adriatic.
- See Greece. Because I also want to see Greece (noting that I have only 35 days left in Schengen countries, which includes both Italy and Greece).
- Bike to Turkey.
- WWOOF until my flight.
- Fly to Nairobi (about $500), where my friend will be in early November.
- Bike to Cape Town. This should take until February or so. There is a path from Nairobi to Cape Town that doesn't require visas.
- Fly back to Turkey (about $500).
- Continue through the Middle East as planned.

I am, of course, open to other suggestions... preferably ones that don't cost any more than flying to Africa and back.

In the longer term, I've also been offered a job in India. I don't want to reveal too much about it, but suffice to say I've been to India before (in 2013) and some of the people I worked with want me back. So it's possible that when I get to India (hopefully mid-2018) I'll have a job waiting for me, which should help recoup the costs that haven't been made by selling postcards, and either become a permanent position (that is, I'd live in India indefinitely) or serve to fund the next part of the trip. I'd plan to work there for at least a year and see how I feel afterwards. It's possible I'll stop the tour in India; somewhere in India is halfway around the world from where I started in Minneapolis. I also still have a deferral to study psychology starting fall 2018, if I so desire. Options...

If the job in India does wok out, I'd probably learn Hindi. More than I know from my last trip, that is.

So, that's where things stand. I'm hoping someone will drop an awesome, free, totally-feasible winter plan on me, but I got myself into this mess by not following my original plan... how I get out of it is, almost certainly, up to my planning as well. Come to think of it, the ideal plan would be that someone donates the "Get any story anywhere in the world" option for a story in Africa. But I'm not betting on that.

Even if you don't have a solution, dear reader, your thoughts are always welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Your plan sounds great. Also found out that Petra, Jordan and Madagascar are great winter destinations. Thailand and Vietnam are also supposed to be good in the winter, but that's way ahead on your route. Came across a round the world bike touring blog called cyclingthe6 with an interesting route map. Good luck figuring it out. Love you, Mom