There are only 80 days to go until we leave, so it's time for an update here ...
We intensified our contact with our sponsors and planned our collaboration. Especially in the case with Reise Know-How in Bielefeld, a German guidebook-company, with the workshop of our choice, the Offroad Manufaktur in Hamburg and with Petromax, this really has become a very personal and deep contact by now. We are sure that this is just the beginning of a long friendship and cooperation. We really look forward to that!
Concerning legal issues and paperwork, we have asked the administrations to issue international birth and marriage certificates for us which might be of importance concerning visas in some coutries (e.g. for South Africa it is mandatory to have those certificates if you travel with children; otherwise they will not be allowed to enter the country). We also took the chance and had a testament drafted by a notary and also have given each other authority to decide on everything on behalf of each other. In addition to that we have notarized a chief representative who can act on our behalf here in Germany in any possible way if necessary.
At the moment, we are checking all our gear to make sure that everything is in order and to find out whether some things are missing still. One important thing are the mosqutio nets for sleeping inside the Land Rover and for exterior sleeping in the tent, in a hotel or B&B. What we also found are repellent sheets one can put under sleeping bags to avoid being bitten by fleas et cetera.
Currently, we are also checking the medication we will take with us. We have several GPs and other medical specialists who check our medication list and give us advice what is still missing. What we did to make sure that when crossing borders there will be no (or less) problems with the customs officials, we have a full list of medicines, which includes the trade name, the active ingredient and the amount we are taking with us. This list is in German and English and put down on clinic paper, stamped by a medical superintendent stating that we need this medication for our journey. We are also checking with our family doctor which malaria protection is the right one for our "route" and which vaccinations are missing. We are not vaccination opponents, so all the four of us are fully vaccinated and at the moment only the vaccination against cholera is missing which we will change within the next two weeks. So far both us and the children did not have any problems with the vaccinations, not even with the yellow fewer vaccination which is said to have side effects with many people.
Camp kitchen training: As we are foodies and really want to eat good and versatile food when on the road also, we try out different recipies on the barbecue and dutch oven (we will soon come up with more of that!). At the moment especially baking good bread and rolls is something we are doing some "research" on.
Then, we try to improve the outdoor skills of our children. This is not only concentrating on how to properly work with fire, but also how to avoid being bitten by snakes, scorpions, how to be out in the bush with wild animals around and what are the dos and no-dos.
For the classes we want to give our children while traveling we are collecting lesson materials which fit the children's interests, our route, the countryside, nature and cultures we are going to visit and experience. It is great that today a lot of books are available as ibooks, ebooks, kindle et cetera so that we don't have to carry along kilograms and kilograms of books and can put that material on an ipad instead.
Whenever we have time, we try to get up-to-date information on possible routes, countries, cultures, overlanding et cetera by reading other people's blogs or travel books.
Well, and then, there is one last thing we are almost constantly doing at the moment:
We listen to friends and family who did not seem to believe that we really want to do the trip through eastern Africa for a long time and who now try to convince us to change our route-plans by stating that it is downright suicidal. I have to think about the good and experienced friend who recently tried to put us off our planned route through Africa. "Northern Africa is far too dangerous! It's a suicide! Think about the long days of driving on roads with no or just a bad surface! Where do you want to sleep anyway? Did you read the foreign ministry's travel warnings?" ... It is certainly well meant, but still I have to get a bit philosophical about this, I am sorry!
His view certainly is one way of looking at the whole thing, but last Saturday, after a very long working day with not enough time for children and family, after the attempt to go out for a beer after that and in spite of that, which actually miserably fails because work catches up with us even there, we ask ourselves what this routine actually does to us day-to-day. The hustle and bustle according to calendar, watch and schedule, fitting the needs of everybody but oneself ... Isn't that committing slow suicide in a "gilded cage"? The life in the grinder without escape always onwards more and even more ... but stating it properly it is "less and less", less real life, less experience ... instead of that everything has been tested, made "safe and secure" (impossible anyway!), charted, chewed for by others, flavoured ... and thereby disguising the actual stench! But it is exactly that stench that we need because that is true and not "Brave New World"! I know, we are living in pure, unrivaled affluence. And I am thankful for that - somehow - but, then, also not (always)! We insure our lives, are third-party, legal protection, car, health insured and whatever else in addition to that ... still all that doesn't make us happier, especially not the false security. Are we unthankful? ...
Why do we want to go traveling? Get out? Away into the bush? Leeding the partner, children and family which we love idolatrously out into the unknown uncertainty? Nomadizing in media-reported real-life jeopardies everybody knows ... only that scarcely anybody has witnessed them personally ... or wants to do that! ...
Well, because, believe it or not, even out there there are people, humans who can - have to - survive without the socially-insured and chemically artificially flavoured safety and have not lost or forgotten their humanity, their Ubuntu even though they are materially poor beyond any comparison. It's a humanity we sometimes miss so very dearly in our "developed world" that they keep in spite of all the hardships they have to endure! There are families out there just like ours. With exactly our problems. With less and even more so! Less of everything! But with an immense wealth of humanity, of grip on reality, history, cordiality, willingness to share ... and help ...! I could go on reciting here, but only those who did and do go out for a while meeting the locals can really understand!
We are looking for reciprocal interest in other people's ideas and thoughts. We are looking forward to sharing stories, thought-sparks around a campfire which jerkily burn out in the night breeze ... but definitively leave deep imprints in people's hearts ...
... But I have heard from Herman Zapp that this inability of many to understand our common wanderlust is part of the process and that he, Cande and their kids have experienced that in exactly the same way. People gave up discussing things with them only after they had published their book!
Open questions still are
How to get to north-eastern Africa: ... no news ... still looking for a way to ship our Land Rover to Egypt ... Grimaldi we have contacted several times and there was absolutely no reply to emails. Phone contacts gave me email addresses and asked me to send my details; still no reply!
Do we need a Sat phone/Sat messenger? We have been thinking of buying an InReach satellite messenger and friends and family members would be super happy if we did carry such a gadget as it would allow us to send short messages home from almost any point of the globe, to receive messages everywhere and track our trip. False security again?! We are not sure really whether we want to have such a gadget. The Zapps have been traveling without one for the last 14 years or so and the 650 Euros we would have to invest are an awful lot of money that on the road is worth much more thinking of eyeryday living costs. The mobile phone network in Africa is way better than that one in Europe, so a basic mobile with local sim cards might be everything we need ...
We will keep you updated! Adventurous greetings,
Juliane, Mischa, Anouk and Sóley