Within not even six weeks after our travel to Ethiopia, we are visited by Samuel from Adigrat. We got to know Samuel in Adigrat, more or less just because he invited us for lunch at his home. Samuel and his wife Genet were extremely hospitable and we were integrated by them in no time at all. Only incidentally we found out that Samuel would be in Oldenburg back home in Germany for some weeks because he would be attending a management/leadership training at Oldenburg University. As Oldenburg is more or less just "next doors" to us, we of course invited him to our home.
After a nearly "African" organisation period with the aim to get him to us on the island of Spiekeroog, we finally succeed not realizing what this visit actually means for Samuel. It is his first time at the sea, he boards a ship for the first time, he is invited for the first time to a German household, he is amazed by the nearly African village community here on Spiekeroog ... and his reaction on our dishwasher is just "wow, that's magic!". Things which are taken for granted or normal for us are suddenly viewed from a completely different perspective. Especially touching is the walk along the beach which is accompanied by gripping conversational topics and a very emotional sensitivity on wind, weather and nature. After a "competition" between Samuel and the waves, Samuel's shoes are dripping wet but we have great fun anyway! He collects seashells for his wife and celebrates the 40th anniversary of his party (the "TPLF") re-dressing in the respective jacket and scarf right there at the beach in the freezing easterly wind.
Also, the interactions of Samuel with our two daughters are really touching: Anouk tries to speak English and also tries to teach Samuel some German with the help of her "Ting-pen" and little chatterbox Sóley chatters on in German not minding the fact that Samuel does not speak her language and thus has no clue about what she says. Anouk cries when Samuel finally has to say "goodbye".
Once again, we experience the warm friendship of someone that just a wing beat of time ago was only a stranger to us. We can give back some hospitality and are immensely enriched, especially because Samuel has a very different perspective on so many things, concepts and topics, because he is so very open and also can word feelings in a better way than it is common for German circumstances.
Contemplating on the bygone weeks ... Ethiopia and her people have really touched us. Touched us so very much that we want to go back.
So, we put on ice all plans for South America, cancel the booked flights to Buenos Aires and plan cempletely anew. Yes, we do plan! Of course we do! We don't plan a "route", though, but health aspects, where and when we will get our visa, which possibilities to ship our Land Rover across the Mediterranean or which overland routes to Ethiopia exist. It may be that we have to take a freight ship from Turkey to Egypt but we also might try the overland route through Turkey, Iran, Oman, United Arab Emirates, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sudan. In addition to that, we inform ourselves on the situations in the countries we might visit on our way to Ethiopia with the help of travel reports and blogs, embassies and the German foreign ministry. We decide emotionally although reason before made us decide on planning South America (safer but also more touristy) instead of Africa. But, based on our experiences in a "dangerous" country from the European perspective, we have a different perception now. Can we really judge the situation in African countries now? In any case, we balance the pros and cons differently now. Crucial is the openness it seems a lot of people in Africa have, which is very important for us, as it can be one factor in travel safety.
Parallel to our new plans, new contacts evolve and old ones are refreshed: especially Herman Zapp ("Spark your Dream") and Lena and Ulli of "A Journey" deeply effect our decision making process and convince us that following our own personal dream is the most important aspect in deciding on where to head. In addition to them, there are so many other people that contact us via our blog or Facebook, offer support, share experiences and facilitate new contact persons. New offers of support by total strangers spring up like mushrooms.
An important role in our decision making process is the deep connection our children have established with Ethiopia. Why exactly couldn't this have happened somewhere else as well? In South America, the language barrier would not enable us to indulge in so very deep conversation due to the fact that we only speak little Spanish. In Ethiopia, we were convinced how important it is to be able to communicate intensively. It seems we are not ready for South America yet ... Still, this idea is not deleted from our long list of "routes" we want to travel. We simply have to work on the language aspect to be able to experience those intensive encounters there as well! What will we decide when we are in South Africa?
So, we will try to accomplish our "old dream" of Transafrica on the eastern route! At the same time, it is totally vague whether we really will be able to accomplish this dream, but we will definitely try! Maybe, it's also exactly this challenge that is tempting us! Also, it may be the fact that this way, we have the chance to start the trip here in Germany and can by and by adapt to traveling and the destination, always being flexible and open for new countries, routes and people - without any shipping date or flights.
In spite of all the intensive affirmation, also some people seem to see our new plans as far too risky. But every feedback makes us inform ourselves more intensively. Parallel to the planning process, we gather with international fellow travelers who are planning to travel the same route with the overall aim to share our knowledge and maybe join on the more challenging parts of the trip.