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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Africa2Anywhere

Twice this month, via that marvellous invention called “Skype,” I’ve recieved a call from one of my many charming cousins. One call came from the shores of Lake Malawi and another from Big brother’s home on a coffee plantation in Tanzania. How cool is that!

Okay so a South African in Malawi or Tanzania is not an odd occurrence so why should I be so thrilled to hear from him? Well that’s simple, he’s family of course, and despite the age difference we’ve always had a good relationship. That and the fact that he and his girlfriend packed up or sold off their entire lives, left very promising and lucrative careers, loaded up a pair of motorbikes and headed up through Africa on a world tour! I remember thinking how different that approach to travelling was but have since discovered that it’s not as uncommon as I originally thought. It does, however, suit the type of people this couple are. This adventurous couple seem happy outdoors “roughing it” in a tent or doing some kind of adventure sport so a world tour on the back of a bike seemed natural.

But how does one come to a decision like this? This is how the adventurous couple explain it:

They were sitting at the bar in their flat looking out at their view of the Durban nightline discussing their future. They both like to travel and knew that the one thing they wanted to do before they settled into a life of responsibilities and “normalcy” was to see as much of the world as they possibly could. “The seed was planted,” and so began the discussions and decisions. Deciding that a trip through Africa was a good place to start was also the beginning of what would come to be known as “Africa2Anywhere.” So about two years on armed with a basic travel plan, a list of contacts all over the world, basic essential and a lap top they began their “epic adventure” and are now about Four months into their trip.

From the moment they told me of their plans I have followed the progress with enthusiasm. I have shared their excitement and disappointment and was thrilled when they were finally able to set a departure date and stick to it. The fact that they mark my birthday with their departure is something I’m sure that was completely lost on them, but not to me. I choose to attach significance to that fact just because I can. They also began their own “Blog” to enable them to keep some form of contact with friends and family and update everyone about the trip; I have read each entry over and over. I enjoy the way the way they write it like they are sitting across the dinner table sipping on a glass of red sharing a past experience. They spend the evenings writing in their own diaries and have already amassed an impressive number of photographs. All in preparation for that travel book they will publish at the end perhaps? I’ll be the first in line!

One cannot help but be impressed by a person’s decision to do something that is deemed outside of the ordinary. Everyone travels somewhere at some point in their lives, how many of you know someone who has done the usual in an unusual way? I can proudly say, “A cousin of mine is circumnavigating the globe on a motorbike!”

So it transpired that while I was sitting at my computer managing to hold three separate conversations with friends on “Face book” when my “SKYPE” rang. Annoyance at the interruption turning instantly to pure excitement when I notice who was calling, aandoning my friends to “Cyberspace” I eagerly clicked on “answer.” So egan what may be the only conversations I will have with my adventurous cousin for the next two or so years. I was thrilled, still am in fact!
What struck me about our conversations was how he struggled to put his experience into words that was written so clearly in the smile that radiated from him. He describes how while riding through Namibia he looked to the side and saw a Springbok gliding along beside him. The awe he felt from the experience written all over his face, it is something that will stay with him and shape him for the rest of his life. There is no doubt just how much they are cherishing every moment and experience, how unprepared they were for the intensity of emotions they are experiencing so early in their journey. I really am so proud of this adventurous couple, I think it’s marvellous what they have chosen to do with the next few years of their lives. Without any introspection or soul searching they will learn so much about themselves having willingly denied themselves any creature comforts and material influences. They have put themselves out there at the mercy of Mother Nature, reliant on the kindness of complete strangers, with the bare essential for survival and maintenance for no other reason than to be able to say, “We’ve done it!”