Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Aah, the BIGGEST question of this entire enterprise! Where to find the cash to start and sustain it?

I guess there are a number of options.

1. Work my butt off until we leave - taking extra jobs after-hours such as baking/catering whatever. I've brought in extra cash now and then like this before, but not yet at the scale I would need. And after a day of office-sitting, all I usually want to do is veg in front of the TV or fall into bed! With the kid's homework to manage, and supper to make, and a household to run, who has the energy to work at a second job?

2. Get that business of mine started, sustainable and able to be managed from a distance - then hire someone to look after the day-to-day stuff while I take off. It would take some capital to start up, enough of which I have available - but can I trust someone else to keep it going in my absence? Will it grow sufficiently in the next year and a half (or so) to maintain momentum?

3. Resign and take my package cash. I'm going to have to resign anyway. I enquired about a "sabbatical" or leave of absence, and it seems that is only granted to a privaleged few... namely the top brass and those who can wheedle them. Resigning though will give me a retirement-savings pay-out, in addition to a few other pay-outs that will keep us going for a good while! If I can save as much as possible until then, I think it would work.

4. Travel and earn. Yeah right - like half the travelling world isn't trying to do this, and the market is glutted...! Especially in the areas of travel writing and photography. But then again, a single white woman and kid trekking across the planet might be a sufficiently unique angle to sell and article or two. I'm not counting on it though. Who wants to buy a book when you can read a travel blog for free? :) But I do have skills that I could market along the road (no, not those type of skills!!!) - in computers, teaching, food technolody and administration. Contract work might be had - who knows.

5. Find a sugar-daddy who is about to kick the bucket and who will leave me a few million in inheritance. Nope - sugar-daddies are more trouble than they're worth! (Been there, done that...)

The main thing is actually just to get started, I think. To work at it bit by bit, to build up equipment and supplies and experience as I go, and then take it from there.

Oh, and winning the lotto would help of course!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Single Parent Issue

I hadn't considered this issue at all - thank goodness I checked in on the Lonely Planet forum and saw a related discussion!

I keep forgetting that others don't see us, the single parent & kid, as we do. I keep forgetting that there are assurances to be given that I haven't taken my kid along with me illegally. It's one of the biggest hassles of cross-border travel! When we flew to Australia recently to visit my parents, I had to get all sorts of signed and stamped affadavits regarding custody of my son, to prove I hadn't kidnapped him or was taking him out of the country illegally.

Trouble is, this is something that's never gone to court. I haven't seen my son's father since I was 3 months pregnant, and it's only recently I've started to hear from him. I don't have any legal documents giving me sole custody - only what I can come up with in sworn statements.

But it's something I'm going to have to look into. I need to ensure I won't have hassles at a border crossing with regard to the kid.

Perhaps this should finally go to court - once and for all.

Those who've gone before

There's nothing as inspiring as hearing the stories of others who have made journeys across Africa. And today I found out that our garden-lady, a wrinkled old British dame, was in the second group of people to cross the Sahara! She was a mere slip of an 18 year old, and made the trip by truck with the Foreign Legion. She says they were all ex-SS - tall and blonde and handsome, really nice guys, and just what a young girl needed to keep her safe in the desert.

She's had an absolutely fascinating life. Her son keeps urging her to get her memoirs down on tape, as he wants to make a movie of her life story. She says "what happened to me would never happen to you" - she's seen it all, done it all.

People like this are jewels - you're lucky if you find them, and even luckier if you can sit at their feet and hear their stories. I wish she'd let me do just that!

I've been hanging on every word I can find of people who have lived the adventure. There's nothing like a shot of inspiration when doubt creeps in!

Why do it?

Vascillating between "this is going to be so cool!" and "what the hell am I thinking?" last night, I tried to dig a bit deeper to find out just why I want to give up my comfy life and go do something way different. Here's what I came up with:

1. Because it's an adventure, and you don't get many of those these days. How many people do you know who truly live life as one big adventure, squeezing every moment for all it's worth and finding the excitement in the ordinary? How many people do you know who WISH they'd had one big adventure, but never took the time to do it? I'm not going to live with regret - I want my adventure, and I'll do what it takes to get it.

2. My son needs it. He's grown up "city-fied", lazy, soft and expecting everything to fall into his lap. He needs to see that there's more to life than that. Some folk struggle. Sometimes you need to make a plan to survive, and mostly it takes a lot of hard work. I want him to experience the African bush the way I did growing up. I want him to do something new and different and way outside what everyone would expect of a 13-year old. I want to get him out into a different way of life, where the boredom and routine and frustration and peer pressure of teenage years can dissipate into wide-open spaces. I want him to learn about other cultures and how to communicate across language and location barriers. I want to teach him hands-on respect for his environment, and what it takes to live WITH and not against nature. I want him to come out of this experience a stronger, wiser and more balanced kid - and to bring some amazing life-learning to his future.

3. I need it. City life gets me down. I long for the open road and endless horizons. I want to know that I possess what it takes to get my son and myself safely through the continent of Africa without starving or breaking down or being overwhelmed. I'm still seeking serenity (see my other blog), and know my soul will find it in Africa's dust, heat and bush. I need a slower pace of life, living in tune with my surroundings, taking time out to think and look and be. I need to grow strong and self-sufficient and confident in who I am - for too long I've let others define me.

4. This could be my only chance. If I let it slip away I'll never do it. While I have the strength, the health, the mind-set - I've got to do this. I don't want to get to retirement age and sit on the verandah with bad eyesight, bad knees, and a huge big regret that I never got around to fulfilling my dream.

5. I want to see the world! I've always said if I win the lotto I'm likely to blow it travelling and experiencing and seeing all those out-of-the-way places that are awaiting exploration. And why fly when you can drive? I love driving, even long-distance. It's in the journey, as well as the destination.

There are probably a good few more reasons, but let me send this one out into cyberspace while Blogger still works...

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Quest for the 'Drover

And here I thought oldish Land Rovers were WAY beyond my budget? Well - think again, blonde! Just found this site, with Landys for sale. And waddayaknow - they're not badly priced.

I'm not looking for a state-of-the-art anything, just something that's reliable, functional, will go the distance, and that I can find spares for in the heart of Africa. By all accounts, that would be an on-the-old-side Land Rover (though the debate continues between Landy and Toyota owners...). Still wondering about the merits of diesel vs petrol. Will have to speak to someone more knowledgeable than myself about that!

Next step? Talk to the bank.... Although I'd prefer not to get into debt for anything, I don't have cash lying around under the mattress, so would need a little "advance" on my "allowance", if you know what I mean. And with a low enough sale price, it would be not too much of an issue to repay it quickly. (The alternative is, of course, to take those payments, store them up and then go get one down the road cash!)

I don't rightly care what the beast looks like, and I don't care if I need to put a bit of elbow grease into it either. The more I get my hands dirty, the more I'll know what I'm doing later should problems arise. And getting my fingernails full of grease is what I plan on anyway.

So the quest has begun! So many Landys to choose from - which one will be mine?

First Steps

By pure chance I ran into a wonderful book on sale on Friday - 4x4 African Adventure, by Peter Baker. Calling it an investment, I snapped it up - and read it cover-to-cover within a day!

It's an excellent guide to travelling Africa, especially East Africa, from South Africa on up. Not only does it give his adventures, but a LOT of information regarding what to take, where to go, how to go, and many useful contacts here in SA. There's a full list of what should go in a medical kit, how a GPS works and an example of plotting a journey with one, what Malaria is all about, and a check-list of things to pack/take/acquire.

He writes the book with a huge sense of humour, and an equally large sense of adventure. He's a firm believer in fully experiencing every place he visits, getting to know the locals and treating the environment with respect as you go. I would love to sit down with him and talk for a couple of hours!

It's a beginning. I'm starting to get a feel for what we'll need in order to travel safely and not die of dehydration/starvation/disease/government official. It's a down-to-earth book, honest and clear.

Going through the list of things we'd need to take, I was amazed at how many of them I already have - and amazed at how many I will still need... A trip across Africa is by no means a cheap "let's get in the car and go" affair. It requires careful planning and a good deal of courage.

But I'm starting to really think it will work. Sure, I have some concerns. Including whether travelling as a single vehicle is wise or whether I should try get some travelling companions...

This morning one of our Botswana students was in my office, and I asked who would be best to speak to with regard to travelling in his country. He gave me a local contact at the Consulate, but also said he'd bring me a lot of extra info - stuff that they won't tell me, like dealing with the police etc. I aim to track down students from as many other countries we're likely to pass through as I can. We're blessed with representation from about 47 different countries, and I'm sure to find a couple that can give me insider info. The more I can learn before we leave, the better.

Today I get cracking on a bit more research into AA membership, insurance etc. Info-gathering supreme!

Here's to Dreams!

This is the start of it all - where fulfillment of a huge dream begins. Although I already have a blog, I've set this one up to document the planning, the thoughts, the doubts and inspiration that will go into our Africa Trek.

My plan is to pack up the kid at the beginning of 2007, sell or store all our possessions, and head north from Cape Town to wander the continent of Africa for at least a year. If cash and vehicle hold out, we plan to travel further - through Europe and Asia, perhaps ending up in Australia where my parents live (for which we will need to hitch a ride on a container ship...).

Planning our trip is a little like getting into the seat of the world's scariest roller-coaster. Once you're in, you're off! No getting out along the way, and scary as the ride may be, it's worth it!

Let's hope we can make this one a reality.