On the Road Again: Next Stop, Cameroon
Greetings, friends and readers. Today I’m back in Vancouver, Canada—en route to Frankfurt and beyond for my next monster trip.
I tried to head out on part of this trip a few weeks ago, but got “volcanoed” along with so many other travelers around the world. The word on the street is that the volcano is still doing its thing from time to time, but all systems are go for now. Today I’ll fly to Europe, and this weekend I head south to the equator for a week in Central Africa.
Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, where I’m headed, are two places in what I call real Africa. I love South Africa (it’s one of my favorite countries), and I’ve enjoyed spending time in North Africa and the Middle East, but there’s something much different about true sub-Saharan Africa. I haven’t really got my mind around going back there yet—last night in Portland I went to happy hour for $8 martinis, and now I’m flying to one of the poorest regions of the world. There’s nothing wrong with $8 martinis, of course, but the contrast always takes some getting used to.
For some reason, Equatorial Guinea doesn’t require a visa for U.S. citizens. Getting the visa for Cameroon was relatively easy, although they did request a “statement of financial solvency” prior to granting approval. Someone said I should ask them for the same thing, but I figured it would be better to keep quiet. If you get any emails from people in Cameroon claiming to be my long-lost relatives and asking for money, pay no attention.
I’m using my big stash of U.S. Airways miles for the first end of this trip: PDX-YVR-FRA-SSG. Then I hop over to Douala on a one-way Ethiopian Airlines ticket (about $300) and return to Europe a few days later on the second portion of the FRA-SSG ticket. This is called an open-jaw award, where I fly into one city (SSG) and fly back from another (DLA). No extra charge!
I’ll return to Europe for the part of the trip I tried to take last month. This time I’ll visit Belarus and Lithuania, two of the few European countries still on my list of unvisited places. So far my experience with sorting out travel plans for Belarus leads me to think it should probably be in real Africa along with Cameroon, but the less said about that before my visit is over, the better.
The European portion of the trip is also an open-jaw awards ticket: I fly to Minsk (MSQ) from Zurich, take the train about six hours across the border to Vilnius (VNO), then fly out a few days later via Copenhagen. I’ll eventually come home through Asia (CPH-LHR-HKG-NRT-LAX-PDX), making this the first complete round-the-world trip I’ve done in a while. The return flight is actually the final portion of my OneWorld RTW ticket that I purchased last year in Seoul.
Sorry if it’s confusing… it’s confusing to me sometimes too. I know we have some travel fanatics out there who like to read about the itineraries, so that’s why I write them up. Speaking of caring…
If you’re new here, why should you care about this?
We have about 500 new readers in our group from all the Tuesday reviews and endorsements for the Empire Building Kit. I’m glad you’re here! But I should explain a little about what we’re up to at AONC.
To answer the question of why you should care, I’m not always sure myself, actually. But I try to write about what it takes to achieve big goals. A long time ago I had the idea to visit every country in the world, and now I’m more than halfway there. I write about the process of travel and how to blend life and work with it. I’m interested in living a big life with no regrets. I’d rather do more, not less.
I also work from wherever I am, so my travel style is a bit different than what you might read about elsewhere. This week I saw a note on Twitter from Amber Naslund that resonated with me:
When you ask how I find the time to do what matters to me? The answer is that I MAKE the time to do it and sacrifice other things.
I agree with that, and that’s also how I feel about
seeing experiencing the world. It matters to me, so I make time and space for it no matter what else is going on. That’s what all of us do with our priorities one way or the other, so I’m an advocate of being intentional about it.
If you’re new here and trying to decide if you want to stick around, keep that in mind. If it’s not for you, that’s OK—it’s a big internet out there, and there are plenty of bloggers who are more interesting than me.
Anyway, I’m headed out to FRA and elsewhere. Hopefully I won’t get volcanoed or stuck in Equatorial Guinea. And wherever you are in the world, I hope you take the time to do what matters to you. Empire building is nice, but legacy building is even better.
See you again soon!
Wow, what a trip. I did an around the world venture several years back but Cameroon wasn’t on the itinerary. Hopefully you will do a write up on the country and Sub Saharan Africa. It would be very interesting to hear what that is like. Safe Travels.
Have a good trip man! There’s no way to do everything that you want to in life unless you make it happen, so true. Experiences don’t come to you. You go the them.
Fascinating juxtaposition of countries you’re visiting on this one: Belarus, Lithuania, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea. It sounds like an immersion to potentially opposite cultural worldviews. One of my personal favorites in travel experience.
I like your comment about finding the time to travel. People used to ask me how I find the money to travel so much, and I would always respond: it’s the first item in the budget and if there’s any left, I pay rent, buy food, etc. I’m only half joking. We can all find the resources to do the things that are really really important to us.
My daughter is in the Extreme North Cameroon, Mokolo—if by some chance you get that far, say “hi”. Better yet, I should go myself, but I keep hearing how it’s a tough jaunt to get into the north. Still, I would love to go before she leaves. Have a safe trip, Chris!
Totally agree with making time for what you really care about and sacrificing all the rest! That is the big difference in people I think. The ones that make happen what they want, and others that let stuff happen to them and let that control them.
Very interested to hear what those sub-saharan countries are like. I hope to do extended travel in Africa sooner than later!
Enjoy your round the world trip!
Have a great trip. I look forward to reading about it. I’ve heard that you’re very creative/super-informed about your flight arrangements. Do you have this in a resource somewhere?
Sounds like a great adventure! Glad to see you on this side of the pond again! 😉 Waving to you from Spain as you fly by! 😉
Just found your blog yesterday and have to say, wow. I shall now live vicariously through you while I simultaneously do what matters most to me. Rock the world!
“MAKE the time to do what matters to you”…
Thanks for the reminder!
Have a wonderful time! I am sure you will.
Funny that, really… The fact is, there aren’t really that many bloggers out there that are more interesting than you.
I always enjoy reading your e-newsletters, even if I’m not particularly interested in their subject matter. It’s the way you write them – and the way it makes me feel reading them. Like getting a nice letter from a distant friend.
And I make the time to read them, even three times a week. Not something that I can say about many other e-newsletters or blogs!
Keep rocking the world (as you would say).
As a young person (pre-25) I was absolutely resolute that I would never leave the country. Why? I was terrified of airplanes. Since turning 30, and increasingly every year since, I feel the travel bug upon me.
I’ve connected with you primarily because of your stuff that is not explicitly travel oriented, but I must say that I’m inspired by your trip, your attitude towards travel (and life) and looking forward to more.
Maybe you’ll inspire me to get over my downgraded terror of enclosed spaces hurtling tens of thousands of miles over the globe. 🙂
Loving the EBK, btw:
What a great post. You do it again and again— inspiring. I especially like the bit about sacrificing and making time for what you want to do. I am constantly on about that– with a small business it’s easy to sacrifice for the “work” but there’s a magic in following the heart that attracts everything else that you need. Thanks again for being a shining light.
Thanks again for your amazing motivation. Your actions far outweigh even what your words convey. You’re truly living it and truly an inspiration. Keep on keepin’ on and stay safe out there.
I leave for Iceland on Wednesday and then onto Bergen, Norway. Perhaps I can deal with the volcano while I’m there for you? Make sure it doesn’t interrupt future AONC travels 🙂
I’ll wave across the water, Chris.
I don’t know if I agree that there’s a lot of bloggers more interesting…to take the time to travel and get to know different cultures, one must possess an interest in others/other ways of thinking, doing, and living….
Chris: In two short weeks you have become my newest role model and mentor. I’m waiting for the ‘right’ time to purchase one of your products, which of course, is just Resistance on my part. But I’m into your website and blog and that’s a first for me. I’m attracted to the notion that I have a legacy to build upon and take on the road. I keep telling myself that I don’t know what my ‘product’ is but that also is Resistance. At least for now, I’m hooked on your thinking and ideas, and eager to build my new path. Enjoy your travels.
I just discovered your blog & it’s really resonated with me. My goal is to travel with my children to 6 continents (my boys want to do all 7 but the hubby and I aren’t feeling Antartica).
Thanks for the inspiration! Have a great trip!
The humility you have is always so… humble.
This was the first blog that truly connected me with the blogosphere, but I don’t read it all that much any more.
No, not because it doesn’t have value, but mostly because my ideals have changed and now I blog. Neither of those should really keep me away from here, but if they’re not what’s doing it, I don’t know what is.
It probably has something to do with moving forward and leaving the past where it belongs. I know I’ll stick around, though. There’s a lot here left to be said.
Safe travels Chris and look forward to your posts. You inspired me to at least try to visit 100 countries as I also combine work and travel and love the cultural experiences. It opens my mind to other ways to live one’s life and challenges some of my constraining beliefs about other cultures and people. I do believe that travel has made me a less judgmental, more open, and more compassionate person. So far I’ve visited 41 countries and now that I’m officially a senior (65 in Canada), I need to step up the pace. And also thanks to you, I collected a big pile of US Miles!!
All the best from Canada, Lorraine
Thanks, everyone – so glad you’re all reading. I really appreciate your kind words.
You inspire me! Well done.
Don’t worry about the product stuff – if the time is right to buy something, that’s great, but you (and everyone) are more than welcome to be a part of AONC without doing that.
Have a fantastic, safe and revelatory trip, Chris. Looking forward to your updates. I must admit I’m envious of how you’re spending your next few weeks, but also inspired to figure out how to make it happen again for me too. And if you have time for tea on your way back through LAX, let me know.
p.s. two days into empire building, and digging it!!
Bon Voyage. Not sure about the $8 margaritas though! 🙂
Have a great trip, Chris! I love the response from Twitter. The big question: what are the ingredients for making time?? Please share your secret recipe!
Good post. I agree that making time is critical. I’m busy with two jobs but still make time to do what I am passionate about. I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thanks for the EBK, by the way. It has really helped to focus my attention on the most important things that I need to be doing. Have a good trip.
I love that you put the thing that’s really important to you at the top of your priority list. How many of us don’t do that? I’ve been making a conscious effort to *make*time* — by literally scheduling it in — to make art and write, two of my biggest passions.
I’ve figured out that when I *do* make time for my passions, I’m just happier. My life feels so much more like the life I want to be living! (Huh, imagine that!)
When I was able to focus on *that*, it helped me *make* the time for the things I wanted to be doing, instead of spending my time *wishing* I had the time to do them.
Bonus: I resent the stuff I *have* to do a lot less when I’m making time for the things I really *want* to do.
Hey Chris, I’m in Copenhagen at the moment. You should stop by for a coffee/beer 🙂
Love hearing about your travel itinerary – it’s complicated even for an old travel agent like myself – the “real” Africa does get in your blood and I find my mind sometimes wandering back to those little villages again – didn’t have the stamina to sort through Belarus stuff, but did get to VNO – some of the most beautiful women, with the longest legs, eating a delicious national meat dish with potatoes and drinking a large mug a beer – loved it -have fun!
Chris, your life inspires me. I have big dreams – but sometimes find I limit them because of fear of failure.
Thanks for another reminder to quit being afraid and to keep dreaming big. 🙂
Hi Chris, I started reading your blog about two weeks ago. I am so impressed and inspired. My travel aspirations are not as lofty as yours, but I really want to take my daughter to Europe ( France) the summer she graduates from high school(2012). I am determined to save and make my(and her)dream come true! Thank you!
Vilnius has some of the most beautiful architecture in Europe. There is also a good English pub there called “The Pub.”
I missed the Frank Zappa statue though.
I’ve been receiving your blog updates for a few weeks now and have appreciated your take on many things. They’re quite informative; thanks for them.
This particular post got my attention more than the rest because I am cameroonian and I live and work in Douala, Cameroon. Do you have specific places you want to visit in the country. If you like, I could give you some ideas.
If you need someone to talk to while in Douala, my tel. no. is 7798 4786.
Do have fun.
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