A few years travelling, 125 countries on 5 continents – at least so far.
We, Monika and Martin, met during our studies in Zurich, Swizzyland in 1978 and decided to spend some time together.
In 1980 we needed a student’s sabbatical to recover from the overwhelming stress at university: 6 months to earn some odd money and 6 months to backpack thru South-East Asia. We flew to Singapore, and discovered Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma (nowadays Myanmar), Nepal, and India.
The 1st weeks of the trip were a little unusual for Monika. It was her 1st journey to Asia; she discovered mozzies as big as vultures and cockroaches bigger than elephants. Nevertheless, later on, they shrank significantly.
For Martin, the experience started a little more relaxed. A few years earlier he made one of these odd overland trips to Nepal everybody had to experience at that time. So he was used to all kinds of mysterious incidents he wouldn’t dare to share with Monika.
After this adventure, we had to finish our studies, add a postgraduate year on developing world issues, and finally sought opportunities to earn something for our living.
Of course, after our studies we were convinced we could change the world. To comply with this conviction we took the chance to work with a big development institution in Germany.
We started in Haiti, the pearl of the Caribbean; moved on to Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin, Lesotho, and finally to Burkina Faso. In the beginning, we rather tried to apply what we had learned: we spread good’n’bad advice on how to irrigate land and increase agricultural production and thus enable farmers to improve their living. Later on, we considered it more relevant to give our all-important advice on more global themes: Monika on food security, Martin on governance issues.
During all these years we still found some time to discover the world. When not busy converting the world into a paradise, we used all opportunities to explore the surrounding of our respective locations or interesting places a little bit further away. So, an opportunity to discover many African countries on our doorstep, and during our scare leaves also trips to Asia and the Americas.
In 2007, we decided on another sabbatical: time for an extended 10-month backpacking trip from India to Australia.
Back to work, now in Lesotho, we planned our next trip at the end of our assignment: to drive back to Swizzyland. In 2012 the dream came true: another sabbatical and we were on our way from Lesotho to Europe. Somewhere in Turkey, near the end of the trip, we decided on the next step: Ushuaia, Argentina with a stopover at the Glacier Brew House in Anchorage – their Indian Pale Ale is fantastic.
Nevertheless, as a preparation we had to go back to work, improving our financial basis. Another assignment in West Africa, this time in Burkina Faso.
1½ years later, and after 30 years with the always same company we definitely decided to continue our trip to Ushuaia. In 2014 we said goodbye to our Mother of All Companies – MoAC (not to confuse in a certain context with MoAC meaning Mother of All Corruption, or MoAC as Ministry of Anti-Corruption in another framework). Well, we drove back to Swizzyland, a kind of a side trip on our way to Ushuaia.
Early 2015 we prepared everything for reaching Argentina: converted our African car into an officially Swiss-registered one, read a lot of rumors about traveling the Silk Road, learned some Russian, and renewed our equipment which got a little worn on the way thru Africa. Finally, we started in June.
Since then, bit by bit, we toured thru Central Asia, the Far East, Northern and Central America to reach our final destination – Ushuaia somewhere in the future. Adapting the journey to the local climate we normally travel for approximately 6 months a year. In between, we hibernate in Swizzyland, recover from the incredible stress of overlanding, organize the ongoing trip, learn some Spanish, process an immense load of pics and films, see our family, and just relax. End of March 2020 in Costa Rica, we had to postpone all plans to drive on due to these coronies. Impatiently we’ve been waiting for 2 years for the conditions for overlanding to normalize. Finally, on January 22 we took the risk to ignore all coronies, and drive on. To South America.
During the past 20 years, Prado has been accompanying us on all our trips. 2003 we bought Prado as a simple Toyota for our assignment in Benin. During our time in Lesotho, we converted it every month a little more to comply with the challenges of an overland trip. It got a stronger suspension to conquer the jungle of the DRC, a 2nd battery to keep the beer cool, a lodge on the rooftop, and all kinds of wiring to ensure that all indispensable electronic scrap maintains its life.
In the meantime, it got a little bit rusty, and got some bumps from trees, cars, or fences that were standing in its way.
Still, it always brought us reliably through sand, swamp, water, desert, and mountains – to the highest elevation at approximately 5400m in west Tibet and the lowest minus 50m at the Caspian Sea.
Prado is used to getting an extra load of sulfur enriched diesel after each hard adventure and we hope to enjoy its company much longer on the way to Ushuaia. And it got its 350.000th km – safe’n’sound. Well, it’s a Toyota.
By the way: we had long discussions on what language to choose for this blog. Due to the many friends throughout the world the decision was not an easy one: Sesotho, Chinese, or Wolof. Finally, we opted for English – a foreign language for us and many of our readers and probably a good exercise for those speaking Xiri or Zuñi.
So just relax, get jealous and enjoy as we do!!!