Running on Empty

18,000 Miles Down Africa with Parkinson’s

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Pub Date Apr 11 2024 | Archive Date Not set

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At the age of sixty, and having lived with Parkinson’s disease for over ten years, Guy Deacon CBE set out on one last adventure: to drive solo from his home in the UK 18,000 miles and through twenty-five countries to Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa. This incredible journey, across Europe and down the full length of Africa, took the former British Army officer over twelve months. Along the way, he broke down five times, underwent one emergency evacuation, and took 3,650 prescription pills.

There are only a handful of vehicles each year which attempt this difficult journey; many never complete it. Ongoing conflicts in Libya, South Sudan, Mozambique and many other countries make any journey exceptionally dangerous. In central Africa, road conditions, particularly in the rainy season, often make the going treacherous. Further hazards include illegal checkpoints, extortion, contaminated fuel and a lack of services.

Guy drove, lived and slept in his VW Transporter, often in remote spots, hundreds of miles from the nearest village or town. Reliant on patchy GPS, he often got lost. His journey was, quite simply, an incredible feat by a man travelling alone with Stage 3 Parkinson’s disease, when simply putting on a pair of shoes can take half an hour.

But not only did Guy’s journey fulfil a childhood dream to drive the length of Africa, his mission was also to raise global awareness of Parkinson’s disease, for which there is currently still no cure.

At the age of sixty, and having lived with Parkinson’s disease for over ten years, Guy Deacon CBE set out on one last adventure: to drive solo from his home in the UK 18,000 miles and through...

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ISBN 9781802471885
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Featured Reviews

I had to read this book due to my love of Africa, the way Guy Deacon traveled through the continent, and the fact that he did it with Parkinson's is simply incredible. My absolutely favourite things about this book is the descriptions of different places, cultures, problems, and solutions of what he encountered in the different countries, plus all the lovely and extremely helpful people he met throughout his journey.

The things I was less fond of was, probably due to me being a civilian, some of the army things, and of course, the long detour he had to make back to the UK due to Covid.

I wish I could say this is something I will do as well, but I simply will not. I sadly do not think it would be safe for a woman to do this (bummer), plus I lack all the incredible contacts the author has. I know he had quite a few setbacks with the car, medication, and other things, but it is amazing how many people he knew and all the people who were willing to help him. Massive respect for doing this trip with Parkinson's! I have no clue how he did it.

I loved the journey in itself. There are so many familiar things, like crossing the borders, bad roads, but overall the friendliness when it comes to Africans, plus of course the opportunists in between all the friendly people.

Highly recommended, and I hope people reading the book will learn something about Parkinson's as well!

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