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On the start of my first trip out of Europe and into Africa (June 2-13, 2007)
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE FIFTY-EIGHT
I am what they call a nervous traveller: the kind who takes an early dose of anti-anxiety medication then checks his passport eight times anyway; who frets and sweats in the check-out queue then tries to guyrope his fear-stricken face into a carefree expression during take-off and landing, and on arrival needs a pride of stiff drinks just to get used to his first day in a foreign country, even when he visits a nearby nation that he knows pretty much like the back of his hand, such as Holland, say. Or England.
So it isn't surprising that right now I am in a state of the sheerest pre-travel fear I have ever felt, given that I will soon be making the longest journey in my life to a place I know so little I can't even imagine it: Tanzania. And I will not be on safari.
Over the last twenty years I have written seven different versions of a novel in English, all of which are unmistakably abject failures. I am now on version eight, and am as sure as sure can be that I have finally hit upon the right track. However, in order for the novel to be credible, I need to see things from an African point of view (whatever that might turn out to be) and the only way to do that, I have realised, is to go there.
So on June 2, one nervous little middle-aged white man, his veins flowing with vaccine and probably vodka, will be winging his way into the cradle of humanity, without any real idea as to what awaits him. When I get back, I will let you know if anything was. Until then, kwa heri, watu woto.