I just finished a book that I have had tucked into my bookshelves since 1988. It is called The Fearful Void written by a bloke called Geoffrey Moorhouse. It was given to me by a very good friend that I have lost touch with, unfortunately, for more than ten years, Ed Sismey. He is the one to the right on the photo, next to Steve Jewell and me, all resting whilst cycling through the Atacama Desert 1986. Ed gave it to me, because he knew I was going to pass the Sahara on a pushbike. The book scared me then, asmuch as it does today. Regarding, Ed, or Lucky Ed, as we called him, I am sorry to have lost tocuh with him. I don´t even know where Steve is at the present, even though he is one of my best friends. I believe somewhere in Africa, since he is married to a Pare woman he met during our Maasai Expedition 2000. Probably looking, as always, for food. And that brought me back to the book I have just finished, as part of my research into the upcoming Expeditions.
It is an odd feeling planning an Expedition, sitting in a comfortable environment, not realizing all the immense hardships waiting, until suddenly, most likely in the middle of the night, you wake up and feel terrified. This happened to me at four a clock this morning. I suddenly realized, soon I will suffer from the discomfort of immense heat, millions of flies, gut rot, incredible pain all over, acute tiredness, lack of hope, worries of surviving and tons of misunderstandings with people I come across or travel with. Easily forgetting to overwhelming positive experiences waiting. What I look forward to the most is getting away from the Duckpond I live in called the West, away from all gadgets and time limits. But, the book scared me, it showed everything that can go wrong. This git called Moorhouse, writes lovely, but he lacks most things an explorer should have, because everything possible, and then I mean everything, goes wrong. He sets out to become the first person ever to cross the Sahara by foot and camel, makes it half way, ending up in Tamanrasset , which I passed on a push bike and liked 1989, but the story is full of terrible mistakes and he is complaining about everything. Most of all the people, locals, he travels together with. They try to cheat him all te time. He almost perishes but still doesn´t forget what painting he has seen at Le Louvre or chapels visited. Themes he comes back to regularly. It is written in 1973. He does so many errors, because he wasn´t properly prepared and doesn´t just have what it takes.
But the book should be read by anyone attempting to cross the Sahara or doing a major Expedition. Because it shows what one should not do. And it is a good read. He reminds me a lot of Lucky Ed, who is, together with Geoffrey Moorhouse, the unluckiest guy on earth. But Ed never complained about other people. I will dive into Thesigers book Arabian Sands for awhile, to set my heart right.
© Copyright 2013 Explorer Mikael Strandberg | Photos and texts Copyright Explorer Mikael Strandberg