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I’ve finally finished compiling the footage I took on our overland trek from Johannesburg to Nairobi. I struggled with this package more than I do with most. I assume one of the reasons is because I am emotionally attached to most of the video, which makes it very difficult to edit pieces out.

I also found that while I wanted to write a script, I couldn’t find the words. I wanted to give the experience the weight it deserved. I wanted to make it poetic. But I found Florence and the Machine’s “All This Heaven Too,” said exactly what I wanted to say while letting the video speak for itself.  I hope you enjoy.

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And since I had so many nice moments left over, I put together some of the pieces which ended up on cutting room floor. Thanks to everyone on our trip who put up with me shooting video while you were sleeping, sweaty, and or just generally ruffled from camping for a month.

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For more stories from our African Adventure, start here.

~ Molly

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In July of last year we mapped out how we’d spend our five-continent oneworld round-the-world airline ticket and we found we couldn’t get a simple flight out of Nairobi, Kenya. The oneworld partners just didn’t have the routes we needed.  We tried many different scenarios but finally settled on flying from Nairobi to London to get to Dubai. This option wasn’t a favorite solution of mine at the time. oneworld counts the Middle East and Europe as one continent,  so we’d need to use two of the four flight segments our pass provides for each continent.

It turned out to be one of the best options we had.

Sometime in December, Eric, one of my oldest and closest friends, told us that he was thinking about coming over to London in February. And it looked like he could be there during the week we were flying through. It took one quick call to the American Airlines oneworld desk (ok, it took two because we were in Livingstone, Zambia and my internet time ran out) and we extended our one hour layover through London into three days. (Sidebar: That’s been one of the nice things about the round-the-world ticket. While we get charged for changing our route, we can switch flight dates and times as often as we want at no extra cost. We’ve moved several flights over the course of this trip.)

This would work perfectly. Eric was definitely one of the last people we thought would meet us on our trip, primarily because as a freelance stylist he doesn’t get paid vacations. (I wrote that line mainly so I could segue into a suggestion that you check out Eric’s work here and here.) One added bonus, Eric is one of the few friends in the world that I could absolutely count on to support our decision to buy a side table in Zanzibar with the expectation that he would carry it the rest of the way home.

It’s too cute not to show you again. Our elephant side table safe at home in NYC. Photo by Eric Launder

The only hitch in this plan was that it was snowing in London. In the 10 months worth of clothes we had packed for this leg of the journey, we hadn’t planned on cold. I had my winter coat in South America but I left it at home in the face of China in August and September in India.

So we did what anyone would do when given the opportunity to meet up with their best of friends after camping for a month through Africa and being away from home for more than 6 months. We layered up every warm piece of clothing we had and headed out into the cold.

Nellu and I at a cafe in London. Photo taken by Eric Launder. Note to self: when your best friend flies across the ocean to meet you on your round-the-world journey make sure he’s in the photo next time too.

And we had a fantastic time.

When we said goodbye, Eric checked one more time to see if I wanted to keep his coat for the rest of our journey. “Nah,” I said. “We should have warmer weather from here on out.”

Famous last words.

~ 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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