Day 1,396: Neptune Strikes Back!

Mon 29.10.12:

I knew it. I knew it was unwise to mock Neptune, that most capricious of Olympian Gods. Odysseus’s punishment for a perceived slight is what caused him to take 10 years to get back to his Penelope. All I had to do was to get off the Costa neoRomantica in Diego Suarez, Madagascar and I would almost definitely be in South Sudan in November and home for Christmas.

But then I had to be funny, didn’t I? Had to dress up like Neptune, yeah? Pose with his trident, play Gods and Monsters. You smart-assed sceptic, MONKEY MAN WILL MAKE YOU BELIEVE!!!

Neptune, Poseidon-self with anger (see what I did there?), did what he always does when he’s pissed and sent an unseasonable storm our way. The ship pitched and rocked and after the Costa Concordia disaster, you can understand the captain’s decision not to risk taking a high-sided ship in high winds into the Madagascan port of Diego Suarez.

Yep you read that right: THE SHIP DID *NOT* STOP IN MADAGASCAR!!

Oh Neptune, will this grim fandango of ours never end? The horrible truth is this: in the first year of The Odyssey Expedition, I visited 133 countries. By the end of the second year of The Odyssey Expedition, I had been to 184 countries. In the last TWO YEARS I have been to (wait for it, wait for it…) 16 new countries. SIXTEEN!! Battling King Neptune, shipping schedules and Somali pirates every step of the way. Of course I’ve been to many more countries than that (most of SE Asia and India in fact), but only virgin soil counts towards the goal.

And so I found myself heading to the French island of Réunion, a place I had already been to TWICE on this journey… and it’s not even a country!!!

Darn and blast. A few hurried text messages to Mandy (who’s still helping me out behind the scenes cos she’s the best) and she had organised for me to stay with Michael Obrenovich, the French graphic designer and artist that I stayed with here EXACTLY THREE YEARS AGO TO THE GODDAMN DAY.

If you had told me three years ago that I would be here, in Réunion, and have STILL not finished my quest I would have laughed you out of the pub. But, dear reader, here I am! Réunion!!

Maldives, Seychelles: IN DA BAG!! Thank you Costa Cruises!!!

My thanks goes out to all the people at Rooster PR and Costa Cruise that made this trip possible. A huge shout out to Steve and Amy, Ramone and Kelly, John, the Welsh massive, Josie the hostess with the mostess and everybody else who went out of their way to make the journey a happy and pleasant one.

You’ll be glad to hear my team won the grand trivia competition (by a golden mile) despite one of the questions being ‘which film won the most Oscars in 1975?’ and me answering CORRECTLY “The Godfather: Part II” and them saying “no, it was Star Wars“.

Now, there are two things YOU *DO NOT*ARGUE WITH ME about.

One is geography. Seriously, don’t go there, I will wipe the floor with you.

The second is Star Wars. Seriously, I’m the type of (incredibly handsome and well travelled) geek that knows my B’omarr monks from my Corellian Bloodstripes. Again, don’t mess with me on this.

The WTF? factor was ramped up to overload when you consider the following: Star Wars *did* win 6 Oscars (the most that year)… in 1978. You know, since in 1975 THEY HADN’T EVEN STARTED FILMING THE DAMN THING!!!

*Tears hair out*

Let it go, Graham, you won anyway. Let it go…….

The ship got to Le Port in Réunion on the Monday morning. It was a grey and overcast day, which is sad for the people on the ship, because the following days it was blue skies like you would not believe. Off the ship I met an Irish girl called Chloe who was volunteering with a group encouraging tourism in Réunion. One of the things you need to know about Réunion is that when I say it’s a French Island, I mean *IT’S A FRENCH ISLAND*. I’d wager that out of the 839,500 people who live here, Chloe and I might just be the only native English speakers. Time to brush up my bon mots, methinks!

That afternoon I headed to the main town of Saint-Denis, found the Saint Hubert pub (which I remembered from last time had free why-fhy (or ‘weefee’ as the French adorably say)) and set about trying to organise my way off this rock. In the evening as the good ship Costa neoRomantica pulled out of port I met with Michael and headed off to his gaff for a good old-fashioned reunion in Réunion.

It was bound to happen sooner or later…

Nice! Now, where did I put those shipping timetables…?

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.

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