After a chaotic summer, September it is!

Hey guys. We’re still here. Very sorry for the blog silence lately. We kind of hit the wall. It all just became a little too much to handle at once and for a while there we didn’t how anything was going to turn out.

You know on the tv show Amazing race, how the teams sometimes encounter speed bumps? They all of a sudden get slowed down, they have an extra obstacle to get around, everything gets even harder and sometimes it feels like they have to almost start from the beginning again. We’ve had to deal with a few speed bumps lately.

One of them being this:

















It’s a long and complicated story but to try and make it short: we had a water leak in our bathroom and it had to be taken care of. This caused a tremendous stress on us, especially when already being under a lot of pressure, not knowing how big a hole this would dig in our wallets. It was an expense we hadn’t budgeted for and we were already struggling to reach our budget for the trip. Plus – if the renovating would last while we were away we would have to pay for an empty apartment because we wouldn’t be able to rent it out – an expense we definitely hadn’t budgeted for. Being able to rent the apartment out was one of the criteria to be able to go.

Money was naturally our biggest concern but then also time. Nobody knows exactly how long the fans will have to stay in the bathroom until it’s dry enough to patch up again. The guy in charge is guessing 8-10 weeks. So for a while there two things were uncertain; how much it would cost and how long it would take (possibly also causing more costs).

We soon realized we didn’t have a choice but to try and start up the bathroom renovation as quickly as possible. Pushing it forward would definitely jeopardize the entire trip, starting the renovation straight away would only maybe have an impact on it.

Trust me, this wasn’t fun.

Lots of phone calls later to everyone involved we soon had workers in the apartment making it look the way it looks in the picture. We can now only use the toilet. We shower in an empty apartment in another building in our area, or at friends’ or at work, and we do laundry in the common laundry room.

So now we were at a point where we were already stressing about how to get enough money to be able to leave as planned and then – boom – bathroom renovation on top of that. I realized you can see it in two ways, either as a challenge or as a sign. Was this a sign we shouldn’t go on this trip? Was somebody trying to send us a message by throwing speed bumps into our preparations? Or was it just a challenge that we had to overcome, to prove how badly we want to do this trip?

I obviously chose to see it as a challenge, but at times it was hard keeping that viewpoint, trust me. All the stress naturally took its toll on our relationship, our communication and motivation, on everything. I hit the wall just after midsummer, wondering how I would be able to continue going. Brian hit the wall a few weeks later, all of a sudden looking pale and acting apathetic. It just got too much. Would this be it? Would we have to cancel the whole thing? Now that we were so close!?

And the wind just kept blowing in our faces…

Brian had sent his application off to the passport office in Germany (!), applying to keep his current one but also get a new one so that we would be able to travel through Israel. It seemed to just take forever, those passports just wouldn’t get sent to us.

Then we were in touch with Motormännen (Swedish equivalent of DVLA) and got some bad news, the costs of travelling by car through Egypt were now even higher, something we definitely couldn’t afford with the situation now being extra strained. We didn’t know what to do. Eventually we said “Then we’ll have to try avoid Egypt then.” We started doing research on how to get straight to Sudan. We found that quite a few people had gone on a ferry from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia over to Port Sudan in earlier years, but we found no recent information on this what so ever. And would it be a good idea to travel through Saudi Arabia?

In the middle of all this we came into the time of year where everyone goes on their summer vacation, usually for about 3-4 weeks. Most companies slow down their business for a bit, it’s hard to get hold of the right people quickly and some places close down completely. So now it was hard for me to get hold of potential partners and continue that hunt. When Expressen, one of Sweden’s biggest evening newspapers, asked me to come in on a temporary job for a few weeks I didn’t hesitate a second. On top of that I had been shooting weddings so I worked all day at the newspaper office and stayed up until midnight or later editing wedding photos to get done on time. At the same time as juggling questions around the bathroom renovation and all the stress around the trip plans.

I think by now you’re starting to understand the lack of blog posts lately? And hopefully starting to forgive me.

It was just like nothing was going our way. One day we were going to sell our row boat through an ad online that we had put up. As we came down to the lake just before we were about to meet up with the possible buyer, we realized the boat was gone. Somebody had stolen it! We filed a police report but there was nothing more we could do since we didn’t have a specific boat insurance for it. It wasn’t a matter of a big amount of money but since every penny is worth a lot to us right now, and with everything else already going on, it felt like being hit in the face.

But you know what? Then, in just a matter of a couple of weeks, things quickly started to seem like they were falling into place, eventually. Brian got his two passports, I applied for mine and was granted two, too. The suddenly raised fee for Motormännen could be taken down to its original level (thank you, Björn! Everyone who’s done a trip like this have been helped by the sweet lady Beatrice, but let me tell you, now that she has retired she’s been replaced by an equally nice and helpful colleague.)

And another huge thing could be checked off our list – we found a tenant! Not only did we come across a really nice girl who is a friend of a friend (it’s nice to have some sort of connection and not rent out to a complete stranger!), she was also looking for an apartment just like ours exactly where we live. And she was prepared to move in as soon as we’ve left even though the bathroom won’t be completely finished, meaning we don’t have to worry about paying rent for an empty apartment! Such a great relief. And we didn’t have to go through the hassle of advertising and interviewing a whole bunch of possible tenants.

We also found that with both of us working hard lately we now had a little bit more money coming in than we thought. And my parents are kind enough to lend us the money we need for the bathroom renovation. So even though we haven’t entirely reached our budget and we still have some big expenses during the last few preparations unless we can find a partner to cover that for us – with a few more modifications to the route and luxury expenses like activities and entertainment, it sure looks like we can go!

We haven’t dared to fully believe this is really happening just yet, but we have started talking about opening that bottle of champagne standing in the fridge…

And you have to see the good sides of it all, hey… With the fans in the bathroom the temperature in there is surely around 50 degrees. You start sweating after about 10 seconds in there. The only thing we use in there is the toilet (there isn’t anything else in there as you can see in the photo!) and we’ve just started realizing it’s probably some sort of strange way of preparing us for the trip, getting used to doing your business in the African heat…

However, we know we won’t make it for August 17th, the original due date to leave (which is the day that Brian moved to Sweden five years ago). We’ve added another two weeks to it and will now try our very best to be ready to leave by September 1st!

Max - August 1, 2012 - 12:01 am

Holy moly!

You sure went through a rough patch!
I do understand why blogging got sent to the bottom of the priority list!

But as I said earlier, I’m glad that, even though you might not be completely out of the tunnel, at least you are starting to see the light!

I really appreciate your long post, it was nice to get an explanation to the silence.

But know that when you hit those speed bumps next time (because there probably will be a few more) we are a few people out here that are sending loads of positive energy your way! You are doing something a lot of us only dream of!

Keep your eyes on the target and a few months from now you can probably laugh at that super stressful June and July of 2012.

Best of wishes
Max Holmberg

Anna - August 1, 2012 - 7:44 am

Thank you so much for your support, Max, really appreciate it!! :) I hope you’re right about that last part, looking back at the hard times is always easier than when you’re in the middle of them. And I truly believe the trip will be worth all of this!

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