It just came as a matter of fact. The vision.
Ever since returning home from the Siberian Expedition I have had no idea at all what my next Expediton would be. Or what to do with life. That is my life. To do Expeditions and hopefully build bridges of understanding between cultures. When returning home from Siberia in May 2005, life first when to the highest peak professionally in life, than it went all the way down in the gutter privately. Such is life at times. I ain´t complaining. It could always be worse. Suddenly, during a trip as a guide to the Galapagos I was asked by a great guy, Håkan, if I possibly could bring some shareholders of a company he was part of as a leading profile, to Oman. And guide them around this amazing country. I said:
“I would be delighted to do just that, but I need more information.”
At which Håkan answered:
“Came to this meeting of ours next week in Stockholm, the VD is introducing our concept to our shareholders.”
So I went there, mid-December last year, 2008, and when the very amicable and humble, but extremely knowledgeable and sharp VD, Magnus, showed a map over the area, where they had a succesful business, I happened to notice a long word at its top hand right corner. It said;
Suddenly I remembered a hidden dream of mine! The giant Desert Expedition! Biggest of them all! At that moment I remembered reading Wilfried Thesigers book, probably the best desert travler book ever written –Arabian Sands– regarding deserts and, of course, I said yes, please let me take your clients to this great country. However I didn´t know a lot about Oman, but it was decided I would go there for an inspection tour within a month. Which I did.
On the flight over, I took a break in reading about the country, brought out a flight magazine and happened to end up with a map of the world in front of me and what did I see, if not the perfect Expedition by camel, from Oman and the easternmost tip of Arabia to Mauretania or Morrocco and the westernmost tip of Arabia. Just like that! And I have always dreamt about doing an Expedition in the Arab World, somehow to try to build a bridge between these, as it seems according to media, opposite sides of civilisation and suddenly i just realised…THIS IS IT! We have an Expedition, opposite to my cold expedition in Siberia, now I had the hottest and I had a strecth which has never been done before in one go and, most important, a chance to build a bridge of understanding between these opposites and educate each other! But, the question was, how to get it going? I realised on the plane over that I needed the Expedition to be funded half by the West and half by the East.
After a week touring this amazing country called Oman, which I fell in love with immediately, both the nature and its people, I went to the airport to catch a plane and go to Salalah, where two local Bedus would bring me in to this the most beautiful of deserts on earth, Rub Al-Khali. I sat down in front of an Omani shouting orders on the phone, a man used to power, no doubt, and than he started reading a book from The Explorers Club, in which I had written a chapter!
“Woow!” I thought whilst getting on the plane. “Another coincidence!”
Turns out the guy has the seat next to me. He is one of my best friends today, Talib, and I sold him the vision on the one hour plane trip. In Rub Al-Khali, I fell in love with camels, Bedus and realised I was ready for a big Desert Expedition! With Talibs help and contacts I have been able to get very far in my planning and possabilities to put the expedition on its feet!
And from than on, I have just run into an array of personalities and amazing people who understands the vision, the possibilties and the need for such an expedition, and right now, back home again in a grey Stockholm, after ten weeks in Yemen, life looks better than ever!
Yemen even changed my life more than I thought possible, killed the awful memories of the time in the gutter and more than ever, I realise the importance of doing this Expedition. It can change how we look upon life today. That big.
A happy string of coincidences have helped you! But I guess you will agree with me that you make your own coincidences and make your own luck. Good for you!
This is truly an epic expedition and one I am excited about following,
Thanks, bro, look forward to seeing you in London and chat about life bro!
Dear Mr. Strandberg,
my name is Sonja Donovan, I am Robert´s PA. I hope you don´t mind that I have also looked at your photo album of Yemen – it is really wonderful! I have been eagerly following your blog on your trip to Yemen whenever I had time and I find it so fascinating. You have a wonderful way of writing and one can easily imagine how great an experience this must all be!
By the way – congrats on your genuine Yemenite outfit – it looks really fab on you!!!
Back in the 1980s I used to listen a lot to Ofra Haza, the Yemenite singer who unfortunately died a few years back and due to your journey blog I have dug out her CD of Yemenite songs again – very nice music indeed.