The year behind us and the year ahead

Thinking about the year ahead, which just started very quietly yesterday, feels a bit funny, I have to say. Since there’s this big thing happening about halfway into the year, if everything goes according to plan, a thing that will turn our lives upside down and inside out and force us to give up a lot of materialistic possessions and say goodbye to what we’ve known as home for many years, it does affect how you think about the year. Everything is “before the trip” this and “until the trip” that, “if I buy this now, will I still need it after the trip?”, “we can’t sign up for that long term deal because we leave in a few months”, “it would be great to do that this autumn, but we’ve left by then”… It’s almost difficult to think about our life after the trip. The trip towers in front of us like a mountain and it’s hard to see beyond it. I guess we’ll have to walk around it – or drive over it – to find out what’s waiting on the other side. And by then it will probably be 2013.

So yeah, 2012 does come with this intriguing and slightly frightening mysterious glow to it. A feeling I usually get around New year’s, thinking about the future and never knowing what lies ahead, but this time the feeling is stronger than ever.

2011 was the year we decided to do this drive. Unfortunately it was also the year when a lot of the countries we decided to drive through decided to go berserk. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously support and applaud the bravery of these people and their hope for democracy and freedom. They’re doing the right thing. It just happened to not go so well with our plan. It has made “worries and fears” the main topic above all when talking about the drive lately. A drive like this is no walk in the park to start with, of course, but it doesn’t get any better with outbreaks of violence in, like, half of the countries along the way.

There was the referendum in Sudan, creating the new country South Sudan and causing some unrest in the region. Then there was the Arabic spring with brave uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya (which are an optional route). Then Syria (which is the route we’re still hoping for), where things are far from calming down now, it seems. And then we have the al Shabab planting bombs in Uganda, considering them an enemy for supporting the Somali interim government, and al Qaida apparently having a base in Kenya these days. And, just over a week ago, there was the two Swedish journalists being sentenced to 11 years in Ethiopian jail for what some say was terrorism, what others say was doing their job as reporters.

As much as I feel for the freedom seekers and hope for change and peace in these countries, selfishly thinking about our trip I have to say I liked the world better a year ago. But no, I obviously can’t say that. The life and freedom of the millions of people in all these countries are obviously far more important than our trip. So in a way I’m strangely excited that these things are happening, at the same time as I wish they didn’t. Because they might have quite some impact on our plans and I can only hope we can still do this drive. Freedom and democracy for everyone and us doing this trip, yes? Let’s try have the cake and eat it this year.

Wow, that last passage was difficult to write. I feel so bad as soon as I selfishly think that we must be able to do this trip, no matter what. It is a big decision to make a drive like this, trust me on that, but it obviously wouldn’t be the end of the world if we couldn’t do it. Not like it probably feels like the end of the world for the people protesting against their leaders and violently being stopped. Still, at some point, you have to go back and think about you and your own life. And this trip has become something very important to us by this stage. When I close my eyes and dream about 2012, I dream about freedom and democracy for everyone. And us doing this trip.


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