I am happy to welcome Francis Tapon again, this time to the latest interview session of EuroTribe. He’s an author of Hike Your Own Hike and The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us. Enjoy!
1) Hello again Francis! Could you introduce yourself for those who may not know you?
I’m an author of two travel books. My travel style is that I like to immerse myself in one region for a few years instead of globe-trotting all over the world randomly. For example, I spent 3 years in Eastern Europe to research my book about the region.
2) The last time you got covered on EuroTribe was back in 2012, when I wrote about your book “The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans can teach us”. Now you’re in Africa, on a 4-year trip to visit all 54 countries. How is it so far?
It’s been as I expected: lots of unexpected things happening! Although sometimes misadventures are disagreeable when they happen, they often end up being the best travel stories and memories. Part of being a happy traveler is learning to enjoy moments when things don’t go according to plan. This is especially true in Africa, where almost nothing goes as you plan!
3) You must have a lot of crazy and interesting stories from your African adventure. Would you share something with us?
When I was climbing the tallest mountain in Liberia, my guide abandoned me. We were hacking our way up with a machete. He was getting tired and wanted to go home because the sun was starting to go down. I encouraged him to persevere.
While he was resting behind me, I kept hacking my way up the mountain, blazing the path. While I was doing that, he sneaked away without saying goodbye. After summitting, I got lost on the way down because it was night and I had no flashlight. I had no sleeping bag or shelter. I spent 2 rough nights on the mountains, getting ripped apart by ants and thorns.
4) You will also write a book on African countries. Do you think it will be easier or more challenging than writing a book on Eastern Europe?
It’s a bit more challenging because Africa is 10 times bigger and there are more ethnic and linguistic groups than in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, Africans don’t obsess about history as much as Eastern Europeans, so that makes it easier since Africans tend to focus on the present, not the past.
5) Besides the book, are you working on any other project?
Yes, I’m creating a TV show called The Unseen Africa. To make the show happen, I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make the pilot episode. If you want to see a travel show that shows sides of Africa that we’re not used to seeing, then please support the project. Even if you can’t give financial support, telling your friends about it will help too.
6) Anything else you wish to add?
If you ever have place that you’re scared to go to, or if you have negative stereotypes of its people: go there. You’ll almost always find it that the reality is better than you imagined.