I will be posting a longer entry later this week. But I wanted to get in early to let any interested parties know that I will be a guest on Radio Four's "Excess Baggage" program this coming Saturday, 13th May at 10am. I am on with John Pilkington, who has also been travelling in the Sahara recently.
There is a change some of you might notice on the weblog - I have, finally, put up a paypal connection for those who would like to make a donation to the walk. I want to stress that I am in NO WAY asking for donations, but rather am simply providing the facility for those who feel they would like to donate. I will keep a running tab on the site of what money is raised, so that you can see how close I am to my target of £5000, which will pay for the next leg of the walk. I intend to raise my own funds, through working, selling articles, and hopefully, my book advance - as well as the RGS grant should it come through - but if you feel that you would like to help, of course I am grateful and welcome all offers. Up until this point the walk has been entirely self funded.
I would also like to give something back to those who choose to donate, particularly those who have supported the walk and read the blog for a long time, so if you use paypal to make a donation, please email me to let me know and I will post through the first chapter of my book, "Slow Journey South", via email.
I very much appreciate those of you who emailed me to suggest I take this course - it is something I have felt uncomfortable about doing, as I want very much to make the walk pay for itself - but I am also so grateful for the kind offers of support. Thankyou to all who continue to email and comment on the site, and, don't worry - come September, I WILL be walking again.
Over the weekend I went to hear several Saharawi poets-in-exile (based in Spain) read some poetry about the refugee experience in the Western Sahara; it was very strange to walk down a central London street and see a man in gondora and a woman in melekhva standing there! I felt my heart lurch and for one moment, I was back in the desert.
It is interesting for me to meet up with people connected with the Saharawi camps in Algeria; it is a much different community to the nomadic one I moved in. In some ways I have absolutely no relationship to this community, and find it difficult to understand - although many nomads feel strongly about the independence issue in the Western Sahara, the sheer grind of daily life tends ot overshadow political considerations. I am not accustomed to talking to Saharawi people who actually live in Europe, in a European fashion, and write about their homeland from a political perspective; it is helpful for me to hear them, but also strangely disorientating, as if I am at the beginning again. I don't have the same sense of belonging as I do with the nomads.
Anyway. As I said, I will update this again later on in the week, but in the meantime I hope some of you can find the time to listen to the radio next weekend - the bbc website makes it possible to listen online if you are in another country.