Early after Brian and I started dating we realized we both had the dream of making a longer trip. We talked about it off and on and started telling people we wanted to do it but I don’t think anybody took it too seriously. Neither did we, it was nothing more than a dream.
But something changed early this spring, in mid-February. We had come back from another family visit in Africa and it was tougher than usual being back. Brian was really struggling with the Swedish climate and everyday life here and we were both missing Africa a lot. We had now been talking more about moving down and making concrete plans around it, saying we’d go in 2-3 years from now, when we had saved up a lot of money and the political situation in Zimbabwe had hopefully improved a lot.
2-3 years is a long time though. Especially if you’re struggling to get up in the morning to go to work in the dark and get home in the dark and just… live in the dark. I left one weekend to see my parents. When I got back I found Brian on the couch reading a book I had given him almost a year earlier that hadn’t been opened until now: “Africa Overland”. He had gotten through almost the entire book over the weekend and when he looked up at me, I knew he had made a decision.
When Brian has his mind set on something, it should preferably happen within the next week. Or rather within the next 15 minutes. While I’m the type of person who’ll take a long time to decide, then ponder my options, then worry about the risks, then slowly make it happen and then worry about the risks some more. However, this time, I was with him from the beginning. If we were ever going to do this trip, this was the time and we both knew it. Nothing tying us down in Sweden, no kids or pets or other commitments. And we were anyway moving to Africa – so why not just drive there?
Oh my, the thrill! The mind boggling, butterfly filled adrenaline rush to make the decision to do this trip! We were going to drive to Africa!
With Brian as usual acting as the engine of the project I took on my usual part as the brakes. (We usually balance each other out pretty well, we just hit a few bumps along the way and then we get there. Not as soon as Brian would wish maybe, but sometimes the risks really need to be worried about, OKAY?!) So with Brian pushing us on, and with my enthusiasm strong enough to conquer the worrying, we soon had a rough plan and somewhat an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. We were aiming to leave on August 17th 2012 (the date he arrived in Sweden in 2007) and be on the road for six months.
We began the research, reading travelling books and other overlanders’ blogs. How much money would we need? Which countries were we going through? How do you travel with a car through all those countries? Brian also started browsing the Internet for a vehicle.
The first few weeks were like the honey moon phase. Everything was so exciting, we had more fun than we had had in a long time and suddenly something great to look forward to, to help us get through the darkness of the Swedish winter. Then, one morning, we were talking on the phone about what to do with the apartment and all our belongings. Brian made some drastic comment about getting rid of everything and before I knew it, I burst into tears. I had just entered phase 2, and it sure didn’t feel like a honey moon anymore. This was the phase when it dawns on you what a major project this is. The mere idea of getting rid of our bed just made me cry (don’t ask me why the bed in particular had this effect on me, but it did). Why couldn’t we just take a chartered trip to Gran Canaria instead!?
I slowly recovered, Brian kept me busy with research and with time I had digested the idea of leaving everything behind, cutting the strings with my country and getting rid of most of our belongings, even if it was hard to think about. A friend put it well, she said to me “You’re not cutting the strings. Those are just materialistic things that you’re getting rid of. Your friends and family will still be here, you know.”
Since then we’ve kept on with the research, started planning the trip more in detail and broken the news to all our friends. I found it quite difficult to tell my folks, whom I’ve already caused a bit of worrying throughout the years. But mom’s comment was “I was starting to wonder when you were going to do it!”