HELLO + WELCOME as we drive ourselves from Sydney to London, via Africa.
It’s Kirsty here, today. And I am so GOD-DAMN-HAPPY to write this Wrap Up.
Lately we have been pretty relaxed with the website. It felt right to step back – while we were busy with the actual travelling it takes to drive across one of the worlds most intense continents. And here we are, back at the keyboard to catch things up with a WRAP UP. Then we will roll out the travel tales as per usual.
WE DID IT! WE CROSSED AFRICA!
:: Six hours away from crossing Africa, waiting at the Egyptian port
:: Pulling away from Africa! Proud, happy, sad, reflective… we did it!
Tears flowed as we made it across Africa. We had realised our dream after years in the making.
It was 2AM and it was the dark of the night in Egypt. There was a guy out the window attempting to sell us shisha and beer and vodka
It had been a day of GO and STOP. A day of GIVE and TAKE. And finally it had been a day of WE CAN SEE OUR SHIP OUTTA HERE!
At two hours past midnight we traversed Africa. Six hours beforehand we had left our $12 hotel room, to sit dockside waiting to be allowed onto the ship. We were something of a spectacle being the only travellers on this trucking route.
I had fallen asleep sitting up. Gareth, had one eye open with a window half closed from a suss police officer. And then the loud words came “OK, GO!”
Within a seventh of a second we were fully awake. My blood was pumping. This was it. I scrambled for the small camera – which was already in my hand. Gareth yelled out a ‘yewwww!’ and grabbed the steering wheel. We grabbed each other’s hands tightly.
Troopy held onto the ramp and climbed up ten metres onto the ship. We smiled out the window like we had done over the past nine months and waved ridiculously at the ship’s crew. They smiled warmly at us. Which was kind, because I’m sure they were wondering ‘Who are these weirdos?’ The air was thick with emotion. Tears flowed.
As the Troopy was lashed down a Turkish crew member grabbed both our arms and took us to the upper deck. ‘You eat with crew, not with truck drivers’ seemed to be the vibe. And with that we cracked our warm Egyptian beers and said goodbye to Africa.
It was a Stella moment.
ENTERING A WHOLE OTHER WORLD
:: Tar and tunnels in Europe.
Right now we are driving towards our end goal. The trip has always been about crossing Australia and Africa. So crossing Europe feels like a bonus. But it’s taken some getting use to. Reverse culture shock, if you will.
Things are so orderly. So organised. So wonderful. So easy. So… boring?
People are dressed in fresh clothes and new shoes. BMWs and Mercs are the norm. The roads have so many lines drawn on them. There are billboards. And flashing lights. And barcodes to scan. Our first beer in Turkey cost $5 which was ‘Outrageous!’
Within months of seeing children collecting filthy water roadside in Ethiopia we passed under a spout shooting fresh water into the air to cool down passing vehicles.
In Montenegro we stood in line to purchase a new camping chair. A British couple in front of us had their arms full with all sorts of useless items. The wife then squealed at some figurines “Ohh! We should get ‘em for the kids!” Husband replied enthusiastically “OK!! But What are they?” She replied “I don’t know but they are cute!”
I don’t know, but they are cute…. has become our sarcastic catch cry for describing any idiotic western behaviour we witness.
The wastefulness and the intense consumer culture has been difficult to get our heads around after nine months in Africa. It doesn’t seem to ‘sit’ with us anymore.
:: We aren’t in Africa anymore Toto
:: Traffic jam in downtown Istanbul, Turkey
:: Anyone who knows me well, knows that face means ‘I’m happy. But I’m sad. And I feel like I’m having an out of body experience. Might just grit my lips and breath. Hmmmm’
:: The view from those beers above, overlooking the city and it’s traffic. The soulless faces onboard the trams said a lot.
:: Street side in Turkey. The ladies in the burkas are looking at a ‘Fortune telling rabbit!’
EXPLOSION IN THE ENGINE
:: G operates on Troopy
:: Turkish speaking, smoking mechanic man operates on Troopy
Well we have officially crossed Australia and Africa on the one set of tyres without a puncture! While feeling pretty chuffed about all things Troopy we drove out of Istanbul and began to smell diesel!
Upon inspection we saw diesel pouring out from the engine.
A concerning sight. Even more concerning when diesel costs $2.20 a litre.
The entire engine was saturated. ‘Seriously?!’ we groaned. The thought of Troopy collapsing on tar seemed ridiculous.
We turned the engine over again to see where the fuel was pushing out from and it became clear the diesel filter had exploded. Perhaps it had been hit with a rock and dinted? Or perhaps just a piece of rubbish filter that was the ‘best’ one we could get in Kenya.
Gareth changed the filter by the side of the road and now Troopy didn’t want to start. Clearing the fuel lines of air is something that takes a bit of doing in the old Troopy. But we tried all our tricks.
After about an hour we couldn’t get it going. We gave it time in case it was flooded. G let air out of various valves. G pumped. G did lots of stuff. Mind the technical term. While I soaked up towels of diesel and took the opportunity to degrease the engine.
Not one soul stopped to ask if we needed help. “We’re not in Africa anymore are we!” We joked grimly with each other in a rather depressing moment. You see, in Africa we would have had a crowd of helpers. Eventually we asked for some help and a fellow whipped out his iPhone to translate and call a local mechanic. A painful moment!
The mechanic took one look at the engine and pumped through two cigarettes. Then ten-minutes of work began. He cracked open more injector lines and a drain plug at the base. Took off the air intake and sprayed brake cleaner! Gareth was instructed to turn the engine on. and rev. It made the most awful sound. Roaring. Spitting. Shaking. And then came the smell of burning…
At that point we both started to sweat bullets. It felt like a small problem was exploding into a big problem. It felt like Troopy was a moment away from an engine replacement. The fellow didn’t exactly inspire confidence. But we had no other options and couldn’t speak a word of Turkish. And just as I got so tense I walked away from the car, looking upwards asking for some kind of intervention… Troopy rumbled into life!
LOVING and NOT LOVING SO MUCH
LOVING: Driving up the ramp onto the ship – the moment all 3 of us succeeded in driving across the World’s ‘darkest’ continent – is a lifetime highlight. People told us we would die, that we wouldn’t make it, that it was impossible, that it wasn’t worth it. But we held true to our dream and took on our challenge. It was the most satisfying moment of my life to date.
ALSO, LOVING: The incredible support from our crew on Facebook. Europe’s food. Feeling free to dive into the salty waters of the Mediterranean in a bikini! After the strict Muslim cultures we had just passed through. Good roads.
NOT LOVING SO MUCH: Being back on the tourist path.
:: LOVING: The moment we crossed Africa. I like the blurriness of the photo, because it reflects exactly how we saw the scene ourselves. Through teary, blurry eyes.
:: We were the only travellers onboard and the ship’s crew insisted we eat with them and steer from the bridge!
A BOOK TO REMEMBER
I will be creating a coffee table book full of stories and photographs from our travels.
We will work with KickStarter to make it possible. Which means we will be asking for your help to make it possible too. Although this expedition is not finished yet it feels right to start putting this intention out there.
So, get ready to pre-order! We are cooking up all sorts of awesome ideas for people and companies who want to back the project!
Note: This isn’t a ‘BUY THE BOOK NOW’ offer. This is a ‘invest in the creation of the book’ offer.
The book will only happen if you want it to happen.
We will be offering exclusive merchandise, opportunities to hear us speak, advertising within the book and the opportunity to be the FIRST to receive a signed book.
You can take a look at Kickstarter.com.au to get an idea of what we will be doing. If you aren’t accustomed to Kickstarter this might sound like an ‘out there idea’ but people do it every day with great success.
To be honest, the coffee table book will be about saving the memories for ourselves. In years to come we want to have something physical (other than an ageing website) that pulls together our experience in a beautiful way. It will be hardcover. It will be premium quality. It will be superbly designed and expertly edited. It will be the most honest and raw recount of our experience to date across this expedition of our lives – with all of our most stunning photos we have never published anywhere before. Three Aussies, Three continents, and the road-trip of a life time.
From the amount of emails we receive daily, it seems we might be lucky enough to have a crew of people out there who are interested in the idea of a book too. And we would love to share this journey with you on a whole other level. If we are all keen on that idea… then let’s do it!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to make sure you hear about the opportunity to pre-order the book. The pre-order will be open before Christmas. You can also join the thousand plus legends on our newsletter by clicking here and receive a FREE e-book immediately of our favourite photos from the first 100 days.
As always guys thanks for being here and sharing this journey with us. We feel privileged to have you along for the ride.
Comment below. We will be listening. And even answering, now that we have fast wifi!