Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Expedition Yemen: “Can it – the GPS – tell me where water is?”

Day 1 June 16, 2012 – in the middle of nowhere waiting to see if we have camel.  We have camel.

Day 2 June 17 – Tanya, Mohammed and I, with camel.

Day 3 June 18 – I’ve written an interesting piece of Day 2 but I can’t send it off – in this heat, the bloody internet doesn’t work.

Day 4 June 19 “Can it [GPS] tell me where water is?”

When we first came to the town Al Ghayday, by nature as an Explorer, I wanted to set off, go, negotiate for camels, and find people who were willing to help Tanya and I.  In many ways, I wanted them to listen to us and see our role as guests, but on my terms, not theirs. The expedition, as all of you know, started much earlier with camel negotiations.  This experience weighed down like quicksand; not to travel by camel may have ended our expedition.  But we got ourselves out of it with patience and re-focused.  On Saturday morning, June 16, we were driven by Mohammed and local Bedouins to the middle of nowhere and in the heat of things, literally, we bot a camel.

From 6 days ago, we have now advanced.

Coming from the Bedu breed, our young, calm, and easy camel was a beauty.  He is four years in age but in personality, cocky!  We’ve named him Kensington, for one reason, in honor of a good friend who wanted to meet in Yemen.  So in spirit, Jeff, owner of Kensington tours, joins us.

The first couple of days, Mohammed joined us but in the 45 degree Celsius heat, he fell into a heat stroke and returned home.  Although he had never crossed areas of his country, knowing he made it as far as he did, I hope he is able to take something from his journey. From having experienced the harshness of the desert, there is an appreciation for the simple things missed.  Mohammed felt it best to feel the ground his feet was most familiar.

Speaking from a lifetime of exploring extreme climates, let’s hope, in hours of smoldering heat, the sand, the terrain underlying our soles, at the end will be physical pampering.  We are up at 4 A.M making our way for 6 hours.  In this heat, we break around 9.  By midday around 13:00 to 15:00, we set off again.  The heat makes it very difficult to sleep but with nature, there is comfort to know it is always on your side.  When the suns sets and the stars appear, the nomadic, wandering life stops, and for that moment you root your thoughts.  I called Pamela the night of June 18, starring up at the amazing galaxy, an island universe and told her I’ve changed my attitude.  As an explorer, ambitions and setting goals can often blind what really matters which in this instance is trying to understand the Bedu ways of the desert.  This is our change of tactic – we are only here for a little time, and it’s time to experience the desert.

“Can it tell me where water is?”

Adjusting to the heat of 36 to 46 degrees Celsius heat, we head north.  We, Kensington, Tanya, and I, meet Mahout, a Bedu from this area curious about who we were.  Also curious about our equipment.  I showed him the GPS which if handled correctly, it will show our exact location by satellite.  It is an astonishing piece of technology.  But to Mahout, what use is this “astonishing” power; “can it tell me where water is?”  If he cannot find water, his survival, all the other material things we in the western world find useful, to Mahout is useless.  There is no need for internet, no need for technology.  What makes the camel vital for Mahout is that it is a source for survival.  Mahout, like many Bedu while in the desert, drink the camel’s milk when water is hard to find.

The expedition is now of Kensington, Tanya, myself and our Bedu friend, Mahout. Yet it’s hard to conceive at the start of this expedition, if my GPS will find water, or will Mahout be a better resource.

I did plan, again a professional hazard of being an explorer, to send a report every 3 days using internet powered by solar energy, but my first try was not as successful.  This report is from my ghostwriter.


One comment

  1. Great to see you are underway at last Mikael. Some serious heat happening for you. The desert sound stunng, enjoy. GPS or Mahout to find the water? My money is on local knowledge & Mahout!!! (unless the waterhole or well is marked on the map) Good luck mate.

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