The tent she packed to use during her epic journey through Africa‚ has only been pitched twice since 80-year-old Julia Albu set off on her travels in July in her trusted old Toyota Conquest.
Generous people have opened their homes and guest houses to Albu‚ from Jakkalsfontein in the Western Cape‚ since starting her journey on July 13 – her 80th birthday.
She has since made her way to Kenya. Her final destination is London.
The highlight of her trip thus far – the people.
“You will not believe how much kind and generous help I have had along the way‚ from my totally supportive family to total strangers.
“It was the people I had known for perhaps five minutes who astonished me.
“Invitations to come and stay‚ often in magical bush camps and beautiful private homes. The tent was only put up twice and has come back to Cape Town in disgrace‚” Albu quipped.
Her highlights include meeting the Masai‚ seeing the source of the Nile‚ organic vegetables along the roadsides and having breakfast with a giraffe.
“Sunji Island off the coast of Dar es Salaam – a sand island that completely disappears at high tide. So at low tide you take a boat and have a picnic‚” said Albu.
Albu had to return to Cape Town recently and is currently awaiting her visa to Sudan‚ while 20-year-old Tracy – the Toyota – gets her “nights and bolts tightened” in Nairobi.
She is also using her bucket-list trip to raise awareness about a cause she is passionate about – literacy.
Shine Literacy will benefit from her epic trip when she raises awareness about the work the Cape Town-based organisation does.
“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to drive through Africa. When I realised that my trusty Toyota Conquest would be 20 years old this year and I would be 80‚ there couldn’t be a better time to fulfil my dream and together with 100 years of life’s experiences‚ together we hope to set off on the adventure of a lifetime.”
She decided to go it alone after none of her friends took up her offer to accompany her on her African adventure.
“People look at me in horror when I tell them I’m venturing forth across Africa in a 1997‚ 1600 Toyota Conquest with close to 400‚000km on the clock. But who else would I choose as my partner in crime?
“For a quarter of my life‚ Tracy has been my trusty steed. Windows wound down‚ music playing‚ seatbelt clipped in‚ I could always roar off into the sunset when I needed to‚” she said.
So she loaded Tracy with a tent‚ duvet‚ stretcher for sleeping‚ a down pillow‚ a pot‚ pan and cutlery‚ biscuits for roadside kids and a carton of pens and set off.