I booked my flights six months in advance so I was able to get a good deal on prices. That’s when I decided to apply for sponsorship with Kathmandu. I knew I would need specialist equipment as I was spending so long in the field. Even to this day I am so glad I requested walking boots and walking shoes. After hiking 8 hours, often through rivers, the amount of sand and mud that ended up in my socks was insane! Being able to get back to camp, have a shower and put on clean shoes was amazing.
As the expedition drew nearer I tried not to think about it too much as I didn’t want to get nervous or worried. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting it to be like but it was definitely a big challenge. I expected to have basic facilities such as cold running water and electricity in camp. In reality we had to collect water from a well and walk 15 minutes to the nearest plug socket. Although this was inconvenient when trying to write up my research when my laptop battery was low, it really did make me appreciate the life I have in the UK.
But as I was reminded countless times “TIA – this is Africa”. After surviving for three months on a basic diet of rice and beans I was even more appreciative of the food! I managed to lose over a stone in three months, and I wasn’t even overweight to start with.
I knew the culture would be different and we would be in a remote village but I was still surprised by how friendly people were. The staff at the centre said it was because they don’t often see white people. The children would line the roads and shout 'Mambo Mzungu', which means 'hello white person'. I learnt a few basic phrases, top of the list is probably “Cheeze Cmon Deeze” which meant crazy as a banana!