Two months ago we left home with the idea to cycle from home to Cape Town. Along the way we wanted to figure out how Africa could inspire us. Ideally we'd cross the Mediterranean Sea by boat, but as we already found out at home and which was confirmed several times during our trip, since 2016 there are no ferries anymore between southern Europe and Egypt. In Greece we also inform at several shipping companies that take passengers on their container ships, but everywhere we catch bone. The ships do moor in Egypt, but are not allowed to leave passengers ashore. And that applies not only to Egypt, but also to Sudan, Eritrea and the Saudi Peninsula. To Kenya and Tanzania there are no vessels at all on which passengers are allowed. On a beautiful evening with view at the sea we are drinking a glass of wine and we realize what we have known for a long time. We will have to fly...
During the second glass of wine we allow ourselves to think 'freely'. If we have to fly - something we both dislike because it doesn't fit in with our slow way of travelling - then the destination doesn't have to be at the sea anymore. We start calculating. If we want to cycle from Cairo to Cape Town and we want to avoid the hotbeds in Africa, then we have to cycle about 50 km every day, day in day out, without rest days.
We look at each other. Isn't that a typical Western European attitude? We would like to be inspired by Africa, but it has to fit within our idea of 'cycling to Cape Town in just under 365 days'. How much room for inspiration does that leave us?
When we see the bottom of our second glass, an alternative thought gradually emerges: If we want to be inspired by Africa, then perhaps we should really give Africa the time to do so and leave our strict plan for what it is.
We are going to give this new idea a day's rest, but it keeps both of us awake. A graceful line on the map from home to Cape Town is concrete, tangible and a beautiful story to come home with. Still, we decide not to go for that. We opt for more ‘spare time’ and therefore a better chance of more intensive contacts with the local population. We skip the North African countries and book a ticket from Athens to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. From there we cycle in the direction of Cape Town, with or without some detours. Whether we will ever arrive in Cape Town, we leave in the middle. Africa is allowed to 'kidnap' us; we will move along with what the continent wants to tell us.
We realize that with this new idea we suddenly no longer have a 'well-defined plan'. No clear route... Little tangible... We no longer take fate into our own hands, but hand it over. Although that - according to what we currently think to know - is very African, it also requires some switching in our heads. A new challenge in 'letting go'. But it stimulates us to take it on and move on without a plan.
Whatever stories are waiting for us... Africa, we're coming!