“I had a dream of Africa …”
… these kind of stories start usually like this. Who does not know Meryl Streep’s legendary sentence as Karen Blixen “I had a farm in Africa …” This sentence touches me until today. The sound of her voice – how wistfully she says that …
However, there was only one problem: I never had this dream – at least not until I met Rudolf three years ago. For him, however, it was a long burried dream to cross one day Africa on a motorcycle.
Well – the “test track” was completed two years ago when we rode our motorcycles from Leipzig to Kathmandu. Many of you already know the reports from this travel blog.
Africa, however, would be something completely different. We were aware of this from the beginning. For me, this continent has been a blank spot in my travel history so far. Somehow I never went there until I was 46.
But everything in life comes at the right time according to my personal philosophy – and the year 2020 was just reserved for Africa.
The descriptions of the preparations, I would like to keep brief here, in order not to bore you. For me there is nothing more annoying than an hour-long visa research. This is the great strength of the “lovely” Rudolf, who is a real organization crack.
In addition to the bureaucratic and organizational tasks, the shipping of our motorcycles from Hamburg to Cape Town, the vaccinations, the route planning and of course the management in our jobs for our absence of 15 weeks.
We are already experienced in these processes by our first trip, but it always requires a new view onto these tasks.
If you want to know more of how to prepare effectively such a trip in the shortest possible time, I refer you to Rudolf 😉
However, one note is still very important to me. I am often asked by friends and colleagues:
“Tell me Jana, how do you manage it, to regularily take these long trips around the world? You have family, practice etc.”
“First you have to learn to let go!”
Many people cannot let go because they think that they are indispensable and that nothing works without them. They need to be needed. Feel inside yourself.
My learning task and also for my practice employees and my family during these trips is to build up trust and strengthen our own abilities.
We experienced this already on our expedition to Nepal.
And I also want to express my highest gratitude, how incredibly connected and grateful I am with all our supporters of these trips !!!
Bernd should be mentioned first of all. He is taking care of our wonderful boys, Gustav (12) and Franz (10) during my absence. I can’t think of a better father for the two, who masters excellentely all the everyday tasks. And that in addition to building up his new business as a photographer with a very unique view onto his motives (www.beha-art.de & www.facebook.com/BeHa_ART_Photography) . He deserves my highest respect and gratitude!
I consider that as a huge gift. I would also like to thank the grandparents and all friends who have offered their support so that the boys don’t lack anything.
And of course we will miss each other during these 15 weeks. However, I am convinced that by letting go, I give the boys a very important life message “Live your dream and make use of every day!”
And of course travel projects of this kind also need the financial background. However, the more important question is “WHAT is really important to me in life?” And then I make my decisions. Rudolf and I decide to invest our money in this way, rather than still accumulating more material goods. It is never enough anyway and you cannot take anything with you. The last shirt has no pockets and especially in countries of the Third World we experience, that poverty not necessarily means unhappiness. Here you can find out how happy you can be with so little. The laughing eyes of the children teach it to us every day …
Only 40% of the population in Mozambique has access to clean drinking water.
These days I feel a lot of gratitude to the universe for being born in a country where I have these travel options at all. The majority of the world’s population does not even have a valid passport and many people on earth will never be able to see the ocean with their own eyes.
Feeling gratitude is the key to happiness. Rudolf told me only two days ago that people who do not feel gratitude cannot be happy. These words resonate in me for a long time after …
And exactly this exchange during the journey between us, reflecting our experiences is the enormous benefit for us. Through the communication system of our motorcycle helmets, we are constantly connected during the thousands of kilometres on the road. Without this opportunity to talk to each other, this trip would be less fascinating. For me it is again a study trip, in which I soak up like a sponge Rudolf’s enormous knowledge and wisdom.
And of course there are also moments of interpersonal tension. That is part of a project like that. And I am very proud of how responsible and mature we have mastered these challenges so far. Rudolf´s skills as a coach and our tools from Possibility Management are extremely helpful to find the right shift.
So now to the actual beginning.
Exactly 14 days ago our journey started on the motorcycles in Cape Town.
13 countries of the southern African continent and almost 15,000 kilometres are ahead of us – and that is only the distance calculated by Google Maps. Unpredictable extra miles and deviations are not included.
The route and the planned time of 15 weeks correspond approximately to the general conditions of our first trip. However, what has been a particular challenge from the start are the expected poorer road conditions. So far we have been on very good tared roads, but South Africa will not be exemplary for the rest of the trip. However, Rudolf and I were very surprised how good the main traffic routes in Lesotho and Swaziland are. However, as soon as you turn on side streets, it becomes adventurous. We already had our first experience with sand and mud.
Falling down of the machines is also part of it, especially since we are still one of the “middle class students” in the field of off road motor biking. The top priority for us is always safety and then follows the fun on the second position. I always have to remind me to that when my hand touches the throttle.
One or the other of you is smiling regarding the background that our motorcycles have covered more kilometres in two years than some motorcyclists will never ride in their whole life.
After this tour through southern Africa, in three years I will have travelled to three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa) and have visited in total 32 countries (15% of all countries in the world) with my BMW. If you consider that I have started riding a motorcycle in 2017, then you can already attribute a high ideal value to the bike.
So now told again from the beginning …
Our journey started in Cape Town. And picking up the bikes from the harbour and receiving the boxes was the first exciting moment for us.
Then we went along the famous Garden Route at the south coast of Africa to Knysna – the oyster paradise. AND I LOVE oysters. AND nowhere else do you get these delicacies so freshly. “Mission completed” was the subtitle of the photo to our followers on Facebook (www.facebook.com/dentistsonbikes). My comment at the beginning of the trip was “I am not yet in Cape Town for24 hours and I have already a protein shock ;-).”
South Africa seems to be very familiar except for the left-hand traffic for the first few kilometres. There are moments when we think we are in the western world instead of Africa. We meet travellers who affirm their love for South Africa and who have travelled to this country more than a dozen times. However, we are looking for something else – we want to immerse ourselves in the black continent – “Real Africa” - and leave South African main tracks directly after Knysna.
Lesotho should be the perfect start. I had never heard the name Lesotho until recently and I knew – apart from Rudolf – noone who had returned from there alive :))
He told me about his memories from 26 years ago when he was traveling the small country with his school friend Pablo. He raved me a lot about the mountainous country surrounded by South Africa and its special inhabitants – and he hadn’t exaggerated.
The breathtaking landscape with its incredibly beautiful gorges and lush green mountains that rise up to 3.500 meters, highly impressed us. The mountains are called the roof of Southern Africa and you really feel very close to heaven there.
The majority of the population moves on horseback, dressed in colourful woolen blankets and traditional woolen hats. Time seems to have stopped here and in the villages which we pass by I rarely see satellite dishes on the small round huts.
What I would not have thought possible that I should get on a horse again in this life. In Lesotho I can’t avoid exchanging my motorcycle for a one day horse ride.
Okay – it’s just a big pony. For me as a greenhorn on my four-legged friends, it doesn’t make much difference. Here I can perhaps cure my fear of horses, which I developed 30 years ago when a pregnant mare catapulted me into the ditch during my first and last riding lesson. I have never ridden a horse since. Rudolf – as an experienced rider – encouraged me to try it again and so we booked a guide.
We don’t want to be shown around as tourists, but if we ride on horseback, then please in the appropriate traditional clothing of the locals.
At the village market we buy the “props” and then we go over hill and dale. The next day I feel my butt really well – AND it was worth every second (and the sore muscles). When would we ever come again into such breathtaking and untouched landscapes? On top of that, my horse phobia is cured on this day – which, above all, I owe to the world’s loveliest and tamest pony. And again this proves to me: The way out of fear basically leads through fear. 😉
Unfortunately, we have to leave the beautiful blankets behind for lack of space and ask the guide to donate them to needy families in the village. The value is significant and we are astonished by a purchase price of the equivalent of 50 euros per piece. With an average monthly income in Lesotho of 300 euros, such a blanket is likely to be passed on from generations to generations.
In Lesotho we give our first two lessons in two village schools along the way. And like on our first trip to Pakistan and Nepal, our approach works here too:
If we get the impulse to stop spontaneously at a village school, all we need is a short “GO” via the com system.
We stop and immediately a crowd of children comes running towards us. We ask where the “principal” is – the head teache of the school, introduce ourselves and explain our project. It is resolved on both sides within minutes. No bureaucracy for days is needed – just do it. Our tour design does not allow long preparations. We improvise a lesson in oral health in English, hand out the previously purchased toothbrushes to the students and then we start the workshop.
My metaphor for this kind of help is: We don’t bring water, we want to show how wells are built. “Maintaining dental health up to old age due to good dental hygiene” – that is our message for these children.
The interested eyes of the children and the gratitude they show to us touches us deeply. This is exactly what we had hoped for. And it is so nice to see how easy you can help. What kind of giant projects are sometimes started and money and funds invested? It can also be done on a very small scale. And everyone who feels the desire can contribute something.
After Lesotho, our next destination is Swaziland. The small kingdom is completely new territory for both of us. We find the peculiarity that it is the only country in the world that is still autocratically ruled by the king – an absolute monarchy. We learn from reports that the king summons all the virgins once a year and they dance topless in front of him so that he can choose a new wife. He already has 18 wives 😉
The landscape is similar to Lesotho – only here package tourism is more spread. Many travelers who drive from Johannesburg to the South African coast around St. Lucia use the side trip to visit this small country. And the king made it a national goal to promote tourism. This was evident for us in modern holiday resorts and coaches around the national parks.
Here we see our first “game” during the morning walk: Zebras, wildebeests and warthogs trot in front of our hut.
The fourth country on our trip is called Mozambique. In contrast to Rudolf, that was already familiar to me as a former GDR child. Mozambique has been run by one socialist party for 40 years and I am very curious to learn more about the country and its people.
In addition, my son Franz has a classmate whose family comes from Mozambique. I am of course intensely in touch with him and report him special facts about this country, where the illiteracy rate is 40% of the adult population, every woman has an average of 5.4 children, the average life expectancy is only 54 years and an average school class consists of 70 students, only every second inhabitant has access to clean drinking water and 12% of adults are infected with HIV.
In terms of driving it is always a challenge – and now sitting here in Tofo at the Indian Ocean and writing this travel blog – we still have more than 1000 kilometres to the north until we reach the border to Malawi. The country is three times the size of Germany and is connected through a single country road in changing conditions…
Maputo – our first stop shows a very western side. Here we meet two young German engineers Robert and Peter in a restaurant, who bring their knowledge to help building up a giant beer brewery. I am always interested when people follow a life far from the normal path. We spend our first evening in Mozambique with the two likeable men and get valuable information about the country and its inhabitants.
After one night in Maputo we continue north. There we experience our first very simple accommodation.
In Mozambique we want to make our first longer stop to relax, digest the first two weeks, maintain the motorcycles, write this travel blog and plan the further sections.
For this we are looking for a beautiful beach town at the coast, which a Portuguese guy who lives here recommended to us a few days ago in Swaziland. And he wasn’t exaggerating.
Tomorrow morning we will leave this wonderful place and after Rudolf has checked this text here for correctness ;-), spelling and grammar, we will celebrate this last evening at the beach of Tofo.
What is remembered are fantastic beaches, very friendly and shy residents, smiling children’s eyes and small hands that do not want to let go of me.
Before I finish this first blog, we want to thank our sponsors for supporting this trip. The dental factoring service provider “DIE ZA” and the University of Leipzig “ITK – International Trainer Course” supported our project prior to this trip.
Thank you so much that you are all part of this trip. 🙏🏻
Our thanks go to all those who stayed at home and everyone we meet on this trip. You make this adventure a very special and unique experience for us.
I feel I have arrived in Africa and I am looking forward to the next days – sitting and sweating on my motorcycle 😉 and driving towards the sun – which climbs here in the southern hemisphere at noon in the northward sky.
And luckily we have a navigation system which usually shows us the right direction …
Yours Jana & Rudolf