When I started to speak to people about my idea to drive through Africa to reach home I have to confess I did so reluctantly as there are those people who are dream stealers and while I have thought through all (well probably not ALL, but many) of the pros and cons I still want to do it and I didn't want to be drowning in alarming stories or warnings. However, I was surprised and delighted by the response and support I've received by most people.
Of course there have been many comments, like you're very brave, which somehow I've always associated with bad haircuts, the ones where you see your friends after a bad haircut and radical new style and they say "that's a very brave look", usually meaning "Wow, I wouldn't go out of the house looking like that". So I'm hoping that the connotation isn't similar! But there have been others telling me that if anyone can do it, then it would be me. I guess I find that surprising as I think there is something in everyone that they could do that others couldn't dream of doing.
I've also had lots of questions so below I'm going to try to answer some of these in general terms to clarify things.
When do you go?
To be honest I have not got an exact date in mind. I hope it will be early next year but there is a tremendous amount of planning to do before I go. I also need to raise enough money to go, and as my research has told me I must take a 4x4 that has doubled the bill! But I promise to keep you posted here!
What type of vehicle are you taking?
I decided that I wanted a vehicle I can sleep in and sort of be at home in. Essentials for me are: a bed (no camping and setting up in the rain), a toilet (not afraid to go into the bush but in the dark ... NO!), space for my things (after all I'm taking what little I have whittled down to with me), a place to cook a meal (don't always want to be in cities) and solar power! These are a few of the things I think will satisfy me.
Having done a lot of research in the last couple of months, reading books and watching videos there are two more things that are essential, a van (which is a bit more stealth and doesn't look like I'm a camper) and 4x4 ability (the roads in Africa are variable). Now the moment you move into 4x4 the cost doubles and the options become limited. I'll do a blog about vehicle options later.
Isn't Africa dangerous?
The world as a whole is more dangerous today than I remember it, afterall in Europe in the last year there have been several terrorist attacks. There are of course dangers everywhere and do not think that I am not thinking about ways to ensure my own personal safety along the way. But we live less when we try to stay away from potential dangers that may or may not be there. I also have a firm belief that bad people exist everywhere but that good people do too and my experience of the people of Africa, the ordinary, everyday people is that they are warm, hospitable, kind and I plan to meet them.
What route will you take?
There are several routes that are viable but after consideration (part of this being that I'm a woman travelling on my own) I decided that the most direct route from Tangier, through Algerian and down through the Sahara, Congo, etc would not be ideal. Firstly I hate beaches so I imagine that driving through the Sahara will not only be hot but full of sand (grains of sand, stand storms, windy sand, aaaargh) and I'm not sure many people traverse that route regularly in case of a problem, like sand in the engine ... nope that one's out! The second would be Tangiers, Morocco; Algeria; Libya; Egypt ... right now not the most sensible for me. Then the only other option is to go West ... along the coast so from Tangiers, Morocco down and around the 'bulge' of Africa, through the 'armpit' and down to Namibia and then across to Botswana and then Zimbabwe. I'll do a blog on the route and countries too.
Will you stay or return?
I've been in Europe for almost 20 years and I've experienced much and seen much but only when you are African do you understand the pull that Africa has on your entire being. For me it is time to go home (Zimbabwe). I have some issues around going home ... oh I feel another blog coming on ... but I'm going to do what I can to see if I can stay and if I can contribute to bring the country back from the devastation that has been the affect of 36 years of Mugabe's rule. So I plan to stay ... but one thing in life I've learnt is never say NEVER ... it's then a very short time.
Why do you want to go alone?
That's a tough question to answer, for a variety of reasons. I think when it comes down to it I am entering a new phase of my life and I want to work out what that is and there is no better way to do that than when you are alone. I also have a perverse thing about coming up to 60 and still feeling 36 and able to do whatever I like (of course my back reminds me that's not true!) I'm probably like many of the Baby Boomer generation not wanting to get old, but I also don't want to stop living because I'm getting old. When I was younger I mostly had friends that were older than me and now I find that most of my friends are younger than me.
When I was young, someone who was 60 was retiring, finishing up, old, over the hill and today 60 is the new middle aged. I don't want to relive my youth, I just want to live this phase of my life without conforming to the idea that I can't because I'm too old!
If you have a question, I'd be delighted if you posted it below and I'll update this blog with any answers.
Thank you for your enthusiasm, support, encouragement, concern, contributions and ideas. Keep them coming I need them all x
(cover image: saying farewell to Luxembourg - my new found African friends from left Mauritius, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Congo & South Africa, Cameroon)