Listening for the Alien Heartbeat

I have in the past hosted no end of unpleasant diseases, almost always in unpleasant places.  So I pack a mosquito net, a water purifier, a water boiler, anti-insect pants, anti-insect shirts and a sub-zero sleeping bag.

A little late, I check the various foreign service websites, who generally give Madagascar their 2nd highest negative rating (catastrophes and coups), but still less negative than Somalia and Afghanistan, and suggest “Reconsider your need to Travel”.

So I reconsider, and pack a larger pocket knife, and extra vitamins.

A ridiculous hat is unfortunately a critical piece of gear.  When buying a ‘jungle’ hat the only real decision you have to make is exactly how ridiculous you are prepared to look to avoid insect-borne pestilence.  While I do fear death, my fear is not unlimited,
so I went for a model with vents, straps and ties, but spared myself the flaps.

Trying it on I can only assume that the lean and leathery guys who work in these trek equipment shops are working deeply on their karma, and that this high and singular focus on karma leaves no room for falling about laughing.

Nice Woman with Kid - Moramanga

Even so, I was reminded of a chance meeting in the Hindu Kush between Wilfred Thesiger, the hard as nails English explorer who had twice crossed the Empty Quarter and Eric Newby, exhausted after a poorly prepared month in the Hindu Kush.  From poor Newby:

The ground was like iron with sharp rocks sticking up out of it. We started to blow up our air-beds. “God, you must be a couple of pansies,” said Thesiger.

Finally, in case of disaster, currency in the soles of my boots.  Though the effort made me wonder how those busy 14th century recidivists get bombs in there.

Finally, I put the big boots on, hoist my pack, and head out.

Antananarivo - two girls striding with papooses

4 Responses to “Packing For Apocalypse”

  1. lorenzoborghi

    Thanks a lot for pointing me to your experience, it is really useful to plant a trip to Madagascar. But still, I feel it might be bad traveling alone, I will see if some other crazy friend will join. And also, what about electricity and recharging batteries? I understand knives and pills are important, but batteries too for a photography travel 🙂

    • alienheartbeat

      i keep a spare battery for phone, and a spare phone.
      i carry a small powerboard with 3 slots so i can recharge everything quickly when i have power. many places have only 1 power outlet.
      for my laptop i carry a small line filter so if the power is to bad it won’t blow up.
      i make sure there is always some power in the phone in case of emergency, and hope there will be signal.
      camera: i have never run out of battery and use a 64gb memory card.


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