This is the very essence of adventure; nothing mighty or medal-winning, simply embracing the unknown

I was wrong about Hassan. On first impressions, I thought that he was just a particularly friendly vagrant who’d hopefully refrain from pinching my stuff. But I realise I’ve underestimated him when he reappears the following day and offers me a place to stay. Yesterday’s promised boat ride didn’t exist,…

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Maybe it’s the qat that keeps the peace around here

Djibouti City is a bizarre place indeed. On first impressions, it seems to exist for two reasons – firstly because every country needs a capital and a seat of government, so this might as well be it; secondly because the landlocked nations of East Africa need a seaport for trade.…

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Then I notice that she is in fact topless, and that my African stereotype has finally been fulfilled

Later I spot another group of figures in the distance: a dozen adults walking towards me along the track. Judging by the hairstyles on display they’re not road-building engineers, and since they’ve had plenty of time to see me coming, I put on my harmless passer-by act, smile nonchalantly at…

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As I roll onto the faint tyre tracks, I know that I am venturing into another stereotype

I look out across the dusty plain from my vantage point. Beside me is a rickety watchtower in which a soldier is slumped, dozing, wrapped in a blanket. He and the rest of his squad have been posted here to look after yet another crew of road-builders – all native…

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Maybe I’ll look back at this and think, ‘What an idiot I was back then’

Leaving Hadishahr with our hosts’ well-wishes ringing in our ears, Tenny and I trundled back towards the main road for Tabriz, where we found several lanes of traffic encased by metal barriers. Mountains rose again in our path, solemn and unflinching. Three or four days of this was hardly a…

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