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Day 308: Vans Across The World

My poor old Vans. Used, abused, stuck to my feet for over 300 days of constant toil and hardship and now imbued with a smell that could only be described as unholy, it was high time to chuck them away and find a new pair. But first I had a job to do. The illustrious Lucy dropped me off at the bus station first thing in the morning and within a few minutes, I was on my way back over to La Port. Upon arrival, I realised that I had no map in order to find the shipping agency, so I breezed into the library and memorised the one they had stuck to the front desk. Thanks, Derren.

At the agency, I met Audrey, a delightful Anglo-French girl who would be the solution to all my woes. Yes indeed, there is a ship called the DAL Madagascar, it’s in port today and it’s going to Madagascar, but it’s going to Mauritius first. A trip back to Mauritius? Fair enough. When does it leave?

Today at 1600.

Oh hell.

Audrey kindly copied out the email correspondence between TEAM ODYSSEY (Lorna, Dino and Thierry) and CMA-CGM, DAL and the shipping agency and I ran out of the door as quickly as I could. Would it be possible to get a visa today? I got to the roundabout where the bus stopped on the way back to St. Denis, 20km away – there was a bus! I ran as fast as I could but the rotter didn’t stop no matter how much I shouted and whistled. What’s with bus drivers? Are they making up for something?

It was hot as hell and I did not find the twenty-minute wait for the next bus very amusing. Nor did I find the traffic jam on the approach to St Denis tickling my funny bones. By the time that I got to the Madagascan embassy, it was already past twelve. I explained the situation to the lady on the front desk, but she didn’t really get what I was blithering about. Luckily for me, the Consul himself was in attendance – and he spoke English. Apparently, it wasn’t utterly necessary for me to get an advance visa for a single trip of less than 30 days – I could get one upon arrival, but since I was here…

Thank you.

Oh, and best of all – it was free! I love Madagascar!!

Within five minutes, I was skipping out the front door, my passport now furnished with a stonking great Madagascan visa. I hopped on the next bus that looked like it was heading towards town (my shoddy GSCE French did manage to teach me something – That the Hotel de Ville wasn’t actually a hotel). As I was walking across town to get the bus back to Mickael’s gaff to pick up my kit, my phone buzzed. It was Audrey from the shipping agents. The DAL Madagascar would not be leaving until tomorrow. I leapt in the air and did a whoop, spun on a sixpence and headed back towards the city centre. Mission: New Shoes.

But first… Ice Cream. Bounty and Melon from Le Castel Glacier. Mmm….

Now. Shoes. Found a pair. Normally (being the penniless tramp that I am) I buy one pair of shoes every couple of years for twenty quid from Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village. So to pay €80 for a pair of clod-hoppers is a little out of my league. This is where the ancient skill of the haggle comes into play. I got ’em for fifty. Twice what I normally would pay, but still I managed a whopping discount so at least my wallet was (almost) as happy as my feet.

That night at Mickael’s, Matilde and the boys from next door got back from their hike and so (typically) we all enjoyed a great big feast sitting around the table on the back porch. Afterwards, we all headed out to the hilariously named MacEvan’s Bar for a farewell beer. It’s been a great few days here in Ré, I wouldn’t hesitate to come back.

Upon our return, the time had come for the cremation. Yes, it was time to say bon voyage to my old shoes, and what better way to do it than a good old-fashioned funeral pyre? It’s what they would have wanted. I considered a burial at sea, but the resultant environmental damage would have made even Sarah Palin weep.

So I placed the shoes on the little fireplace in the middle of the garden, covered them in lighter fluid and, with a tear in my eye, set fire to the little buggers. I whistled Darth Vader’s funeral theme as X-Wings set off fireworks in the sky. Afterwards, I danced the night away with some Ewoks.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. gael blaise

    yep graham!! how are dude???
    I’m just return in france and in fact it’s too cold.
    Remember you burn your last van guy!!!!…ahahaha
    So I just want to say that your a f****** cool guy, you make me laughting like nobody else (almost) and I hope i can cross your way soon!!!(I can say that in english?? ..I’m not shure but I hope you can must ahahah)
    Never change stay different..Bye guy

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