The Mosquito Manifesto

First appearing in a July 2011 travel company newsletter, this is the second and, sadly, to date last in a series building up to a now cancelled trip from London to Sydney…

A FEW weeks into serious preparations for the off and, without wishing to jinx anything, it has all been going pretty smoothly.

There was a brief stomach-dropping moment when my Indian visa application was returned unprocessed – courtesy of their need for a 2in x 2in photo, not the standard passport shot optimistically attempted to sneak past them – but the second attempt was successfully returned inside a week.

Nepal, who require much less information, was just as quick and the online Australian application was granted in just a few hours.

That just leaves the Iranian visa, which means playing the waiting game. Details and copy of my passport have been sent off, now it is just a case of waiting for the Foreign Ministry to provide authorisation to apply. Then it is a trip to the Iranian Embassy in London to file the actual application – thankfully without having to be there at 6am to queue up now they have altered their opening times.

Vaccinations have gone as smoothly, just a couple of boosters needed which were wonderfully pain free until waking up in agony having slept on the arm that had received them.

And the malaria prescription is on order – something high on the must-have list with my propensity to attract any nasty little buzzy creature within a few hundred miles (the evidence of which is written in marks on my forearm due to an even greater propensity to scratch any bites).

My mossie magnetism was welcomed by fellow travellers on the London to New York trip when we hit Alaska as they were left largely untouched as word went out around the local insect population about the meal on offer.

It all earned me the nickname Honey Boy, courtesy of tales from exclusive golf clubs where rich golfers were kept free from mosquitoes by the presence of a poor local paid pennies to follow them round the manicured fairways covered in honey.

Honey’s definitely not on the packing list, but malaria tablets and the strongest anti-buzzy thing spray most certainly are.

The rest of that list keeps growing – at least it would if written down. ‘Write Packing/To-Buy List’ has been on the to-do list for days without being done. Instead, it exists merely in my head and grows every time a new travel website pops into view.

A new rucksack definitely needs to be on the list (courtesy of an irreperably broken zip on my last one), along with a smaller laptop/day bag (the current shoulder strap is about to give way in spectacular fashion), three months supply of contact lenses and a new camera, unless some technical wizard can mend either of the current ones which steadfastly refuse to even turn on (to say nothing of the smudge on the lens of one of them).

Clothes-wise, it is a case of working from the feet up as the ultra-comfortable all-purpose outdoor shoes which saw me round the world once are consigned to history – at least on wet days, even falling apart they are just too comfortable to dispose of altogether.

Two hunts for replacements have so far proved fruitless – these are old friends that need to be replaced, not any old pair of shoes. It’s an emotional moment. Less so replacing the pair of sandals which did not get on that well with the soles of my feet last time, judging by the way they repeatedly rubbed each other up the wrong way.

At some point, there’ll be a rifle through the wardrobe to see just how many clothes are suitable, still fit, will stand up to life in a rucksack for three months and are not likely to be pulled out somewhere near the first laundry opportunity to be met with the phrase: “Why on earth did I pack that?”

At least one top will be consigned to the bottom of the rucksackĀ neverĀ to be worn – at least not after the first week or, on London to New York, the first day – or only as an emergency to signal the urgent need to do some washing.

Only then will the list be completed and the mad dash round the shops squeezed in, at which point the intended clothes for the trip will be laid on the bed and the realisation that there’s way too much there to qualify for the intended target of packing light.

It’s an admirable aim and one that is being strictly adhered to, right up to the point where temptation takes over and that bout of just-in-case seeks me out like a persistent mosquito.

If only there was a spray for that.

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