Early on September 30, 2008, an eclectic group of 11 people met in Charles de Gaulle airport to begin a journey to and through Central Africa. Nine of us were tourists; the other 2 had organized the trip and would act as our tour leaders. For the next 3 weeks, we followed the convoluted route shown on this map into areas of the world so far off the beaten path that tourism is barely a concept. Mostly, things were just difficult. At times, they were also terrifying, exhausting, dangerous, mind-numbing, and unbearably sad. Intersperse this with infrequent bursts of spectacular beauty, and you'll have a fairly accurate picture of the trip. Upon returning, it took over 2 months before I even wanted to look at the photos I'd taken. I still haven't looked at my video footage.
Poor planning, bad luck, wishful thinking, and a ridiculous itinerary nearly got us into very serious trouble. Now that it's over, it's possible to reflect on the experience. I learned a lot, met strong, wonderful people, and have developed a deep sympathy for things which were formerly abhorrent to me. Maybe it wasn't so bad afterall.