About the author - Jens Finke

See also my Curriculum Vitae, and the formal Project Proposal for the completion of this website.

Jens Finke

Waa! Who let him out?I was born in 1969 in Manchester, UK, to a German father and Lebanese-Egyptian mother, which more or less guaranteed that I would never quite fit in anywhere. Aided by much love and support from my parents, I felt sufficiently confident at 15 to cycle alone from Manchester to Naples. It was a trip I adored, and which made up my mind to attempt something bigger next time around. That came three years later, when I took a year off between school and university. I'd originally intended cycling around the world, supported by sponsors, but that project collapsed in depressing fashion - after five months of writing letters and doing publicity stints for the local press and radio, all I'd got was a year's supply of margarine (?!), six months' worth of tea bags, a nylon track suit (yeuch), and a bicycle which sadly got stolen a week after I picked it up. So, I worked as a waiter for a few months, and finally - with a few hundred quid in my pocket - set off from Manchester one cold and drizzly February morning.

I had no real idea of where I'd go, though I was attracted by the prospect of cycling around Europe. Yet a month later, roundly fed up with the cold, the rain, the wind, and the endless multi-storey apartment blocks of southern Spain, I changed tack and headed south.
   Once in Morocco - my first time in Africa - I started dreaming of the Sahara. And so I decided to spend a week or so cycling around northern fringes of the desert. Except that, "just in case", I also went to Rabat to get a visa for Mauritania. Let me get this straight: I had no idea of how large the Sahara was, where it ended, and where Mauritania was. In fact, I don't think I'd even heard of Mauritania, in spite of an extensive childhood passion for philately. To cut a long story short, the week-long dawdle became two weeks, then three, and four, and before I knew what had hit me I'd decided that I just had to cycle across the Sahara.
   I made it, just - one miracle, a life-changing experience, and fifty-seven punctures later - and from then on my head was no longer where it had been before (prior to this, I'd fully intended becoming a high-flying and immensely rich stock-broker!). I did go to university (Oxford), but dropped out after two years on realizing that that was really not at all what I wanted, or - I hoped - needed. In absolution, and to preserve my faltering memory about the Saharan journey, I finished a book about the trip: Chasing the Lizard's Tail (Impact Books, 1996), which you can also read it in its entirety online - just follow the link.

On completing the book, I floundered around for several years unable to get a job that paid more than my food (and sometimes beer), before working freelance for Rough Guides. I moved to Portugal in 1996 with my sister, primarily on account of Portugal being cheaper and sunnier than Manchester, and am fortunate in still having the opportunity to travel for my work, which basically means staring down toilets and uttering things like "Oh my, now that's a long drop!" for a living. In addition to many updates, I've researched and written three books for Rough Guides: the Rough Guide to Tanzania, the Rough Guide to Zanzibar, and Rough Guide’s First Time Africa. I hope in future to be able to spend time travelling with the sole purpose of recording traditional music and understanding the societies and cultures from which it comes.

For a more formal run-down of my humble self, have a gander through my curriculum vitae.

visit bluegecko.org

Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

also by Jens Finke
Chasing the Lizard's Tail - across the Sahara by bicycle
Planosphere.com - fine art photography