A very fabulous little company called Forever Living produces some of the best Aloe Vera stuff on the market. I tell you this not because I have turned into a mad marketing queen or horrendous pyramid seller (I can't believe those things still exist) but because out of the kindness of their little hearts, this company donated a shed load of their stuff to me in support of my walk. So I had a little idea. Since I am never going to use a year's supply of sunscreen, moisturiser, lip balm, shampoo and drinking aloe - no matter how great I may think it is - I am instead going to hold a little raffle on this site. The extremely fortunate (Oh, come on, I have to pump it up) individual who wins this box will also receive a signed advance copy of my book, "Slow Journey South"; and (whether or not you have ANY interest in this, I don't know) a melekhva that I brought back from the desert. Basically, this is simple. Every person who donates £5 or over is automatically entered in the draw, and the results will be announced HERE on the 25th of August, just before I return to the desert, and the winner contacted by email.
Half of the proceeds will go to paying for the walk, and the other half will be donated to Breakthrough and the NBCF. If I manage to get full sponsorship before then, all proceeds will be to charity - but at this stage I am still struggling to get the money together to walk, so I hope that this will help me to continue. At the risk of now sounding like the very pyramid sellers I have just taken the mickey out of above, if all of you told a friend who told a friend....well, you get the picture. You can donate using the button on this page to the left. It is actually pretty good stuff (ok, I exempt my book from that, which you have every right to think utter crap should you choose) and given that any one of the products cost ten quid or over in a shop, it is actually a pretty good deal. I will send it to you wherever you are - Transylvania, Oregon or, God forbid, Milton Keynes. Since I get an awful lot of emails from people who are obviously reading this blog on a boring Monday at work in order to relieve the tedium and get a laugh out of someone doing something rather insane, you can feel free to con your boss into donating a whole lot more than a fiver. Especially if you work for Richard Branson. Actually, if you do work for him, give him my number, would you? The same goes for Bill Gates...Prince Charles... (okay that is scraping the barrel a bit) or any other suitably solvent individual who fancies sponsoring a lone woman about to walk five thousand kilometres across the Sahara. I can dream, huh?
I have been having a pretty interesting time of it really. I got all of the maps last week, and began to trace my route through - the next part by all accounts is absolutely beautiful, cutting down into the top of Mauritania and across into Mali. I was originally going to walk all the way down to Nouakchott, but have since been told of yet another contraband route that apparantly is quite glorious, with good wells and grazing. After I reach Timbuctou in Mali, I can begin walking with the salt trade caravans, which has been a long held dream. I shall have to pick up my pace a bit, since those guys walk huge distances daily. After Mali I am heading into Niger and Chad, following the Niger river for a long distance, then up into Libya and into Egypt. I have always wanted to go to Libya - the archeological sights there are amongst some of the most staggering in the world, I believe, and it is also going through such an extraordinary process of change, opening up to tourism and trade, that it seems a fascinating place to be. Although I wanted to walk my original route, the situation in Sudan is just too precarious at the moment; which gives me a great excuse to see both Libya and Egypt!
I have had a lot of help and support in planning the next leg, and even though I am still to raise the funds I need, I am heading back in September as planned. It may mean walking with just three camels and one guide, something that poses a few logistical problems; but however it happens, I will be there. I need to be - all this good living is not doing my waistline any favours, not to mention my liver. Another six months here and I'd have trouble walking to the supermarket. As if there is a conspiracy out there to keep me in the manner to which I have been unaccustomed, my friends Cat and Terry, who run On Trade media (and who have been long supporters of the walk and site) have contracted me to do some pub reviews and other alcohol related articles for this year's publication. I can think of few jobs to which I am better suited than being obliged to visit a variety of pubs and sample their Real Ale. It has been a ture hardship, let me tell you.
So I had better go and actually write them; or maybe meet Terry up at the pub to just talk them over a bit more....
Please do enter my little competition. The box (it's a BIG box) has to go to someone. And all the girls are eyeing it off covetously, so I need to get it out of the house before they get their grubby little paws on it. And you don't actually HAVE to take the book as well!
Just an added aside to Avid Reader - please feel free to email me directly with your questions, and a name to go with them. Whilst I have no objection to responding to you, I prefer to do so in private, as I am sure you can understand. Gary is also contactable via gary@constanttrek if you should like to contact him.