…and why Africa?
Because of the elephants and that beautiful starry sky!
Of course there are lots of other things which I find fascinating about this continent as well – foreign cultures, nature, its wide open spaces… All of this simply belongs together.
Initially, my special liking for elephants had brought me to Africa some years ago. And after getting to know several parts of southern Africa on shorter trips, I desperately wanted to go on a longer journey to see what else there is between Cairo and Cape Town. In 2002, I took a long leave for half a year because of the travel industry's critical economical situation (I was working as a travel agent for several years). I had read about the work of Daphne Sheldrick and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and would have loved to work in such an elephant orphanage during this time.
Unfortunately, I found out that there is no chance of helping out there: The young elephants get so used to their caretaker that they would immediately stop eating should he or she leave and would die soon. And that was obviously not what I wanted.
So I wrote to all sorts of charity organisations, because I wanted to do good in any form. But all I received were negative replies. Except from "You can take over a sponsorship for a child." or incredibly expensive work camps in which you help building a school and pay thousands of Euros for this, I got no offers. Finally, I decided to just catch a plane to Cape Town and travel around for a while.
By coincidence, I ended up in Montgomery Heights, a children's home in Zimbabwe. My four weeks there have changed my life and my way of thinking very much, and so I went there again and again to visit the "family". Nevertheless, I never gave up my dream of travelling the rest of Africa or at least parts of it without a time-limit. After having searched for a long time for someone who would go onto this trip with me, I was already thinking of going on my own. Then Michael came along, and his enthusiasm for cycling combined with my passion for Africa led to our bicycle trip to and through Africa.
However, I must admit I feel a bit uneasy when I think of Ethiopian children who enjoy stoning cyclists, the mountains we have to cross or all these illnesses and diseases that might occur (including a very sore bum...). But I am looking forward to discovering new things every day, to mastering difficult situations, getting to know new countries and their people, being in the open all day and experiencing everything first hand. Crawling into my sleeping-bag in the evening after an exhausting but satisfying day, the freedom to decide if we want to travel on and if so, where to, this endless vastness and the phenomenal starry skies of Africa, seeing "my" Zimbabwean children again, introducing Michael to African elephants…
There are still many more reasons why I want to go on this trip, but these should be enough for now...