Embarking on an adventure can mean much more than Rafting down the Amazon or shouldering a backpack and wandering off into the wild.
When I quit my job back in 2016, in order to be more entrepreneurial, to start up a few projects, to run this blog and “see what happens”, I was also embarking on an adventure of sorts. Perhaps more so than any of my trips into the great outdoors, because I really didn’t know in which direction I was going. I have made plenty of mistakes in the past couple of years but I don’t regret changing tack and I don’t think I have learnt as much in any other period of my life (including school years).
This week we have another guest post which struck a bit of a chord with me for two reasons. Firstly because when I was much younger I used to dream about going on an Oasis Overland tour (what prevented me doing anything of the sort was money and self-confidence, or rather a lack of both) and secondly because the author, Kate Floyer, having accidentally gone into a job which took her around the world is now about to move on again, having learnt a lot from an unexpected and unplanned career path. So, here it is:
It had become common place, seeing these big overland trucks trundle through the campsite. I knew that within minutes we’d be inundated with thirsty travellers who wanted to try the famous Tanzanian beer, Kilimanjaro. “If you can’t climb it, drink it” I’d cheerfully quip; a statement well received by tourists and locals alike. I was working at Snake Park Bar in Meserani, near Arusha. Over the last couple of years I’d helped establish an Education Centre nearby, and was considering my next move. I had a return flight to take me back to England, probably to a graduate start up scheme, where possibly I would build a career in London. I’d graduated with a psychology degree and my dreams of becoming a psychotherapist were somewhat “long term”.
I’d met plenty of the Overland crew from the different companies, and heard various tales of their extraordinary adventures. Their passengers spotted leopards in the Serengeti, bungee-jumped at Victoria Falls, slept under the stars in the Namibian Desert, or ventured into the mystical Ethiopian highlands. The crew, the Tour Leaders and Drivers who ran these trips, got to do all of this too, and on every trip they ran! It sounded like a dream job, and a far cry from city life.
The truck that had just arrived belonged to Oasis Overland. I’d got to know quite a few of the different companies over my time there, and Oasis were one of my favourites. Tonight, though, when the driver, Jason, walked in, he had a heavy face. He was struggling with his Tour Leader, a young woman who’d taken the job and presumed it would be like an extended holiday with a bit of work thrown in. She was leaving the trip early, which left him without a partner. I’m not sure who’s idea it was, but somehow, a few days later, I was waiting for the phone to ring for a interview with Oasis’ company director.
I got the job. It was at a friend’s wedding last year where I overheard someone describing me as “the one who did something different”. I hadn’t really thought about it before. I knew I’d followed a different path from all my school and university friends; I knew that I’d missed weddings and babies and new homes and everything in between. I even felt sometimes that I had lost a common thread with the people with whom I had I’d grown up.
But I never regretted my decision that day, to forgo my return flight and to embark on such an adventure. I’ve now worked for Oasis Overland for 12 years. I’ve travelled from London to Cairo via Cape Town in Africa; from Quito to Patagonia and round to Rio in South America, and from London to Beijing across Central Asia. I’ve met incredible people, crazy people, lazy people, kind people, weird people, dynamic people and shy people. I’ve learnt from and shared experiences with all of them. I’ve learnt that when you begin an Overland trip, when you meet your “truck family” for the first time, it doesn’t matter what you do, where you live, what you earn or what religion you are. What does matter is whether you are up for the adventure, and what you can bring to the group! You pitch in and help with everything, the truck becomes your home, and you probably learn more about yourself than anyone else in the group. It aligns everyone to the same level and adjusts your world perspective. Travelling in groups has taught me more about relationships, self awareness and my own limits than anything else I’ve done.
I am now at another crossroads. I’m in a relationship with someone I want to share my life with; someone who isn’t from an overlanding background. I’ve travelled to lots of countries, but hardly spent anytime in my own. The idea of growing herbs - and being able to watch them grow - before I move on again, now appeals. I think I’m ready to enter “real life”, whatever that is. But when I look at the life I’ve led over the last decade or so, and I think about the experiences I’ve had, doing something “different” is what makes me, me. Whether I become a psychotherapist or not, the lessons that overlanding taught me will last a lifetime.
You can follow Kate’s journey on her Instagram account. And if you have a bit more gumption than I did when I was young and you want to be inspired to go on an Oasis Overland tour, here is some more inspiration.