To Africa: Tubingen – Madrid

Back in September, when I came back from touring in Spain with Edelweiss, I met Lukas, a fellow tourguide in the hotel in Mieming, Austria. Lukas started together with me as a new tourguide this year, and though I hadn’t been on tour with him, I knew him from the training we did.

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Back then Lukas showed me a picture on his phone of an old firetruck that he’d bought. I was confused why he would buy something like that other than it being cool and cheap. He explained he drives them to Gambia in Africa to sell, and has always made a profit on it. It’s a cheap way to go on holiday and skip winter for him. I was so fascinated by it that I felt I had to try and come along.

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As the truck seats 7 people, he had a spot left, so by the first of November, I flew over to Tubingen, near Stuttgart in Germany to come along for this crazy journey. There I’d help prepare a little bit more and meet the other people coming along.

I didn’t know Lukas that well yet, just that he seemed like a guy who really knows how to handle things, he was a carpenter and tourguide before and has traveled to way more countries than me already. Even his house turned out to be fascinating. He owns an old house right next to the railroad, in the fields just outside Tubingen (which is a university town with lots of young people). Outside the house is an assortment of old vehicles and souvenirs from travels that makes it a very unique sight.

Even more fascinating I found all the people that live and hang out there. Everybody seems to live such a relaxed life, working as much as necessary to support themselves, but nobody is concerned too much with money, posessions or career. Just like in Norway or at the Krishna farm, it felt really liberating to be among people like this again. I also learned most of his friends and housemates had at some point come along with him on one of his journeys to Africa.

I just thought it was very inspiring how Lukas’ house works, with some people paying a bit of rent, a few living next to the house in a caravan or van, and people just coming and going every day. It was nice to see that owning property doesn;t have to be the prison I imagined it to be.

Apart from just hanging out, we also loaded the truck. While the thing is massive, they were bringing a lot of old stuff like clothes, tools and bicycles to donate in Africa. In the end there was barely enough space for everybody’s own luggage!

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The next day was much rainier, and after a goodbye brunch with dozens of people, we set off in the afternoon. Some people would only come along partially (I for example can only go until Mauretania), some will fly in later, so the crew is always in flux.

There was a first, very cold night of camping initiated at 3 at night, after driving 900km to the south of France. The whole bed & camping setup worked alright though.

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Another 4-500km onwards the next day, we camped at a parking lot in San Sebastian in Spain. It was the exact spot I’d seen a bunch of campers and vans with surfboards back in September, so I was glad I could contribute a bit by suggesting this spot. That night we had some fun going for Pintxos (a sort of Basque tapas) and beer in town.

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Continuing into Spain things weren’t as sunny as we’d hoped. On our way to Madrid we even had some rain, and after the rough night before I didn’t feel too great.

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The plan then was to stay two nights in the summer house of a Spanish friend’s grandparents. She’d come along last year and was glad to host us there. The cold, lack of heating and proper insulation in the truck cab along with constant drafts had taken it’s toll on me a bit. I didn’t exactly bring an abudance on warm cloths considering we’re heading for Africa and the Sahara, so I got a cold, with my nose running incessantly. I’m not the only one: at least 3 others are also sniffling and skipped on another night of partying in Madrid.

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So now things are drying outside, and I’ve gone to a bar in the sleepy town of Galapagar to find Wifi for this post. My nose is still running but it feels better than yesterday. Soon we’ll head on to Algeciras, to take the ferry to Morocco and set foot on the continent of Africa for real!

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