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Day 28

In the travel log of our trek through Africa, I have only briefly mentioned some of our traveling mates. Part of the reason is they didn’t sign away their lives to me and the rights to their stories the way I assume my family has. But to be honest, the people we traveled with were really the heart of our journey. You don’t spend 28 days with people in a truckbus going from campsite to campsite without either growing to love them or hate them. In this case, it was love.

Thanks to Christina Ungar for the photo. Back row (l-r): Bob, Claire, Line, Nellu, Me, Kristine, Janine, Andre. Front (l-r): Christina, Caroline, Chloe

When we first started out on our trek, I was really concerned with the introverted nature of our group. While we all sat around staring at the campfire, I would ask, “Does any one have any good stories?” At one point someone told me I put everyone on the spot when I asked that question. For some reason, I was almost hyper about getting us to blend. I didn’t need to be.

But by the end, our group had settled into a comfortable rhythm. We easily enjoyed each other’s company and embraced the eccentricities of the personalities within our little circle.

There were eleven of us together for the whole 28 days. Including Nellu and I there were:

Bob and Christina – father and daughter from Canada (although Christina is currently living in Saudi Arabia working as a nurse. We got some great stories from her about life there.)

Kristine and Line (pronounced Leena not line) – two Danish ladies doing a bit of traveling before finishing up their studies

Claire – a British woman living in Australia working as a geologist in Perth

Janine, Andre, Chloe – the Stucki family. Janine is from France. Andre is from Switzerland. But they’ve been living in Australia for the past 40 years and their kids, Chloe and her brother, grew up there.

Caroline – our German architect who quit her job in November and decided to go to Africa. (She has a job waiting for her when she returns.)

I like to think of us as a tribe.

Nellu Mazilu

Chloe, Line, Christina, and Caroline join the Maasai women in a traditional dance. Photo by Nellu

I found myself feeling fiercely protective of our group. At one campsite as I walked to the bathrooms, I overheard Raymond and Mazza talking to another overland group about how low-key we were. Most of our friends preferred to go to bed early rather than spend late nights drinking at the bar. (Every campsite had a bar.) One woman said, “They’re boring.”

“We are not boring,” I shouted back from the darkness. Even though Nellu and I would often go to the bar for beer and conversation, I was happy that our group wasn’t made up of hard-core partiers. I liked them just the way they were.

And even when we were in the Serengeti, when members from another group encroached on our campfire, I had to fight back the urge to kick out the outsiders. It’s weird how quickly my psyche tried to categorize “us versus them” even though our group had been randomly assembled by fate just a few weeks before.

I am actually surprised by the lack of pictures that I have of people!  But over our trip through Africa, I tried to take a new piece of video footage every day, which will give you a better look at the awesome people we traveled with. I’ve started working on putting a package together but I need to devote some serious time to doing it justice. Please look for it soon after our return to the States in June.

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On this last day all together in Nairobi, we hung together not wanting to say good-bye. But as the hours and days progressed we would lose a couple of people at a time until it was just Nellu and I and the Stucki family.

The Stucki Family. Thanks to Chloe for the picture.

We were really excited when the Stucki family decided to stay at the same place we did in Nairobi. (The hotel that our Gap tour uses was too expensive for our traveling budget.) They would be staying there for three nights as well, which meant we would have family there the entire time. We went to the airport together.

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While I’ve been writing about our trek through Africa, we’ve been in Europe and had the pleasure of visiting Caroline in Berlin and Line in Copenhagen and got the chance to chat with Kristine on the phone. It was such a joy to spend time with these ladies. There was an ease about their company that usually comes with friends you have known for a much longer time.

I guess once a tribe, always a tribe.

~ Molly


Back in August, Nellu and I signed up to do an overland Africa adventure with G Adventures, formerly known as Gap Adventures (more on the name change later). We had planned to do some kind of safari while in Africa and after some complex and not so complex justifications, we signed ourselves up for a month-long trek. Our route from Johannesburg to Nairobi would take us through 6 countries in 28 days. (For more of our itinerary, click here.) It was certainly more than we would normally take on, on our own.  The fact that we’d need to do 21 days of camping… well, we needn’t worry ourselves with such details especially with a part of our trip that was more than 5 months away.

Johannesburg to Nairobi Adventure Map from G Adventures

When we arrived in Johannesburg on an overnight bus from Cape Town, we hadn’t fully wrapped our heads around what we were getting ourselves into. But one thing was for sure, the idea that for the next 28 consecutive days we knew where we’re going to sleep was filling me with a deep sense of joy. (To be honest, I didn’t know where were going to sleep. But I knew that someone knew and that’s all that mattered.)

If we could make it to the airport, our hotel the first night of the trip would pick us up from there. So Nellu did some extensive research via the intraweb and figured out a train we could take from Park Station in downtown Johannesburg to just outside the airport. We’d need to walk about 1.5km from the train station to the actually airport because it wasn’t South Africa’s fancy new airport Gautrain, but the regular old metro. The route was straightforward and it cost just a fraction of the Gautrain. As Nellu put it, “All the people who work at the airport, this is how they get to work everyday.”

We definitely got some looks on the metro, but that happens a lot. I assume it’s because we’re carrying massive military duffels on our back but who really knows. When we were finally in the van on the way to our hotel, our driver pointed to the very metro we had just gotten off and said, “See this train. Never take this train. This is the train where the robbers get robbed.” Good to know.

We made it safe and sound to the hotel, and from there on we were in the hands of G Adventures. But I was nervous, mostly about our stuff. We assumed that most of the people who do this type of trip don’t do it as a part of a longer 10 month round-the-world adventure. What if our bags didn’t fit on the truck? We had emailed back and forth with our G Adventures representative Amanda to make sure it would be all right. But you never know for sure until you know.

And then there was the issue of the people. There would be 20 other people joining us on this portion of the trip. What if the other members of our group didn’t like us? And more importantly, what if we didn’t like them? This was like the first day of school all over again.

To Be Continued…

~ Molly

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