“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
25 years, 113 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, 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 kind 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 Burkina Faso. In the beginning we rather tried to apply what we had learned: we spread good’n’bad advices on how to irrigate land and increase agricultural production and thus enable farmers to improve their living. Later on, we considered more relevant to give our all-important advices 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 paradise, we used all opportunities to explore the surrounding of our respective location or interesting places a little bit further away. So, an opportunity to discover many African countries, just in front of our door step and during our scare leaves also trips to Asia and America.
In 2007, we decided for 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 to the end of the trip, we decided on the next steps: Punta Arenas, Argentina with a stopover at the Glacier Brew House in Anchorage – their Pale Ale is fantastic.
1½ years later, and after 30 years with the always same company we definitely decided to continue our trip to Punta Arenas. 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 Punta Arenas.
Early 2015 we prepared everything for reaching Argentina: converted our African car into an officially Swiss registered one , read a lot of rumours about travelling the Silk Road, learned some Russian and renewed our equipment which got a little aged on the way thru Africa. Finally we started in June.
Since then we’re on our way thru Asia – roughly on a straight line to Anchorage; it’s all about Alaskan Pale Ale. We don’t move continously. We rather follow the best season at the current destination. In between we take some leave back in Swizzyland; mainly to organize the ongoing trip and to recover from the incredible stress of overlanding.
During the past 14 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 beer cool, a lodge on the rooftop and all kind of wiring to ensure that all indispensable electronic scrap maintains its life.
In the meantime it got a little bit rusty, 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 approx. 5400m in west Tibet and the lowest minus 50m at the Caspian Sea .
Prado is used to get an extra load of sulphur enriched diesel after each hard adventure and we hope to enjoy its company much longer on the way to Punta Arenas.
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!!!