Overlanding: The Things They Don’t Tell You

Day 22 of the blog post a day in May and back to overlanding – those little snippets of information which don’t really fit anywhere else

HAVE written a few pieces about overlanding over the last few weeks, but there is still plenty of ground to cover (hey, they were long journeys).

And there have been a fair few bits of wisdom, picked up over a couple of differing trips, to share which do not really come under a specific heading.

Unless you lump them all in one place.

Life On The Truck

  • The further back in the truck you sit, the higher you bounce when you hit a pothole (Oasis Overland recommend you wear your seat belt at all times).
  • Cool boxes (eskies, chillies or any other bizarre Australian term you use) are very useful for foot rests and card tables. Preferably not both at once. Also useful for preparing food on the truck, holding ice – all important – and as punch bowls. Also for storing food and drink, supposedly. Lids not so good for sand boarding. Trust me on that one.
  • If you choose to sit under a speaker, the music will be louder. Sounds obvious…
  • Falling asleep comes with the risk of being photographed or filmed.
  • It is possible to fall asleep standing up while holding on to the luggage rack. It’s just not that advisable.
  • Not being able to see the sea does not mean we are nowhere near it. It might have been behind you for 100km.

Camping

  • People snore, accept it and move on, you going on about it will not make it any better. Let them pick their tents on the edge of camp – we are happy to help out – and work from there. Don’t go the far end of the campsite and get upset when the snorers pitch their tent next to you to keep away from the bulk of the group.
  • That hot water in the kettle may be needed by the cook group – check before using it to make yourself a cup of tea or a bowl of noodles.
  • Moving something off the heat on the fire to cook yourself some sausages will not go down well with food group (take it from one of cook group on those last two).
  • When someone is cleaning the truck, it is not more important for you to get on board to get something you might need in a few hours.
  • Warnings of bears or the sound of lions leads to a huge reduction in people’s needs to go to the toilets overnight.
  • Bodily functions quickly become perfectly acceptable topics of conversation.
  • Take a torch with you – relying on your instincts may not keep you from the cliff edge.
  • It is acceptable (and at times advisable) to, ahem, nip round the back of the tent during the night when bush camping. At an organised campsite, the dilemma of whether it still is can be settled by whether there are men with guns on guard – if so, best not to risk it.
  • Make sure you know where your tent is pitched, especially before a few beers. It might just save you from climbing in the wrong one or getting totally lost on the wrong side of the truck after a late-night pitstop.
  • When heading into the bushes during the night, be aware of where people’s tents are – particularly those sleeping in mosquito nets. They can see what you are doing. And will never be able to unsee it…

Hygiene

  • It is perfectly acceptable to wear the same clothes several days running.
  • If you do find a shower out of the blue, don’t wait until the truck is leaving before telling everybody else (you will never hear the end of it).
  • When you have the chance of a shower, take it.
  • And when you do have the chance of a wash – be it in a shower or a river – do scrub off what somebody has drawn on your back in mud.

The Things Overlanders Obsess About

1 WiFi
2 The WiFi Password
3 Ice
4 Cold Beer (or cold Coke to go with Captain Morgan Spiced Gold Rum)
5 Electricity
6 The Rules of Uno
7 Food
8 Showers
9 Beds
10 Laundry

Things You Absolutely Must Pack

  • Sense of Adventure
  • Open Mind

Things Not To Be Packed

  • Preconceptions
  • A Spear Gun
  • A Cow’s Head

What To Do When Lost

  • Ask a local if they have seen a big yellow truck. It tends to stand out.
  • If near camp – stand on someone’s shoulders (if not alone), shout or remain really quiet and let the snorers guide you in. If nobody notices you had been gone, keep quiet about it for weeks to avoid ridicule.
  • If in civilisation (or somewhere close), log on to the company’s website, go on live chat and ask the office back in the UK where the hell you are supposed to be. Has the dual benefit of reuniting you with the rest of the group and giving everybody a really good laugh.

Things Learned About Nationalities While Overlanding

  • Ay carumba is not an everyday Spanish phrase. However much you try to make native speakers say it.
  • Germans cannot pronounce the word squirrel.
  • Being fluent in several languages will not stop people stuck with just one teasing you about an inability to pronounce squirrel.
  • Relying on Portuguese being similar to Spanish is not likely to help you get directions.
  • MEPs are elected at European elections. Or what New Zealanders use to navigate.
  • Brits cannot roll Rs. Apologies if that means we keep mispronouncing your name.
  • Asking some people what nationality they are can be complicated.
  • Africa and avocado can sound similar in a Dutch accent.
  • Brits and Australians speak a totally different language.
What happens if you let someone near your camera. Could be worse, could be your watch.

General Advice

  • Asking someone to take a picture of you or hold your camera is likely to produce a few surprises when you check your pictures.
  • Before locking the door on a toilet, make sure you know how to open it again. Or that there is room at the top for someone to climb over if you have had a bit too much to drink (had to do this twice for the same person).
  • When taking a picture of the place you are staying to show a taxi driver for the journey home, make sure it is not next to the German embassy with armed policemen watching. They don’t like it.
  • The same is true about selfies near to an African dictator’s palace.
  • Leave the whisky alone when you are on cook group duty.
  • There is only one sunset. Whatever the oil rig flames may look like.
  • Missing truck clean is likely to get your tent let down. With you in it.
  • When you leave the truck and padlock the door behind you, make sure nobody is left on the truck as you wander off to join the others watching the spectacular sunset. My bad.
  • Do not leave your watch lying around. Changing the time on it may not get boring to your travel companions all the way from Gibraltar to Cape Town.
  • Being able to see the sea is a good gauge for how close to sea level you are.
  • Pescetarians eat fish. Presbyterians have a more varied diet.
  • It is not always Christmas somewhere.
  • If you are entrusted with a key for anything on the truck, do not leave it in your room or pack it in your kit.
  • When you get home, you will try to press a button to stop a journey for a comfort stop. It is unlikely to work.
  • Get ice. Whenever you can, get ice.

And finally one final piece of advice for anyone wanting to chronicle their adventures – you are blogging because you are on an adventure, you are not on the adventure to blog.

Don’t miss doing something because you think you have to write your blog – it can wait.

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