"His taints and honours waged equal with him" – William Shakespeare.
"Taints and Honours" finally completes Jonny Blair's "Backpacking Centurion" hat-trick. It's not quite your James Hayter hat-trick in 2 minutes 20 seconds. Nor will it match Robert Lewandowski's 5 goals in 9 minutes. But it's a dream closer. I mean, it closes the dream. It completes a milestone.
The journey sauntered on. And on. And now, this long-awaited trilogy is complete and it is here in print as Jonny homes in on 100 countries. Will he make it without any mishaps? That's unlikely, as this has always been a story of lows and highs. Volume 3 is no different.
Volume 1's "Don't Look Back in Bangor" began in the seaside town of Bangor in Northern Ireland and tracked Jonny's childhood and early travel days. Teenage misdemeanours were shared without shame. Entwined profoundly with a love of love, and of travel, and of football of course.
Volume 2's "Lands Down Under" was a more mature volume, which saw Jonny start to backpack more intensely as he relocated to Australia and then Hong Kong. This volume, with its William Shakespeare-inspired title, "Taints and Honours" is the clincher. The final triumphant descent to becoming a "Backpacking Centurion".
This volume starts off on a magical night in Jordan with the realisation that Jonny has lived away from his Northern Irish homeland for ten years. With this, comes an insatiable desire to ensure that this dream doesn't need to end. The next four months are bunged with hardcore backpacking through the Caucauses and the Middle East. We're getting closer.
What follows next is a World Cup in Brazil, a soul destroying moment in Bucharest, vintage nudity in Finland, a few "20 year reunions" and the final countdown to the century.
We have a fire festival in El Salvador, a visit to Saddam Hussein's "House of Horrors" in Iraq, some visits to countries that don't exist and a reunion with the GAWA. All that comes before an important flight to Tunisia.
Don't expect roses, champagne or works of fire. Be ready for trauma, distress, anguish and all that tends towards a true whackpacking madliness.
In the words of Neil Finn, "Don't Dream It's Over".
Jonny certainly won't.
Jonny Blair is a Northern Irish travel writer based in Poland. Jonny was born in Newtownards in 1980 and grew up in Bangor in Northern Ireland. Since leaving his hometown in 2003, Jonny has travelled far and wide, detailing his journeys on his one man travel blog, Don't Stop Living. Jonny has visited over 180 countries across all seven continents including Iran, Ethiopia, Andorra, China and Suriname. Jonny has also travelled to some lesser known places such as the Republic of Uzupis, Podjistan, Nauru, Kugelmugel, Sark, Antarctica, Nagorno Karabakh, Iraqi Kurdistan and The Empire of Austenasia. As well as working as a freelance writer, editor, teacher and copywriter, Jonny has also worked in bars, hotels and restaurants as well as on ferries, in farms, in schools and in offices. Jonny writes every day in some capacity and is also a poet and a football fanzine editor. Aside from travel, Jonny is a passionate football supporter of Glentoran FC, AFC Bournemouth, Klub Pilkarski Starogard, Legia Warszawa and Northern Ireland. Jonny aims to inspire other people to get out there and see the world with their own two eyes.