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.
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.