25 years in the same job, 17 years in the same house, 8 years with the same car – what an amazing sense of security, but we’re giving it all up to travel in one car, with five people, through seven countries, for 13 months, sleeping in over 70 different places. We depart from Durban and head down the South African coast before making our way to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The timing is perfect. My girls (Sarah and Hannah) have just finished school, our son Joshua will get to enjoy car/hut/beach-schooling, I have a year’s sabbatical from my university after completing my PhD, and Nicky, my wife, and master planner, has designed the most epic adventure possible. So we’re packing our entire house up in Durban and heading out along the coast to experience the wonder and beauty around South Africa’s shores.
However our travels are not just about seeing amazing places, we are intending to GET as much as possible out of this adventure. By this I mean we intend to live by our GET principles:
G – grow in knowledge and love
E – experience new and old places
T – touch people’s lives and be touched
This means we want to truly experience the places we visit – not just their beauty but the lives of the beautiful people that live there. And so our intention is to dive into the culture where we can, learn and listen to the stories whenever possible, and seek out those special people who are touching and changing lives in these “wish-you-were-here” places.
Extricating ourselves from the dusty, cluttered tendrils of 17 years of accumulation is no easy task. But such was the need as we packed up our entire home and sent it off to storage. While packing up a home that you’ve lived in for so long is a big task, it is also a fascinating and therapeutic task. Fascinating, in the discovery of items long forgotten, such as a collection of toys I had saved from when I was only about nine (kept safely “alive” in a box pricked with air holes); therapeutic, as the clutter of life is sorted, dumped or given away.
There is something hugely cathartic in this process, as more and more of life’s needless baggage is stripped away. It is no easy process as each item is evaluated and some nostalgic or other reason is found for its continued storage. Yet despite this, bakkie loads of our hoardings left our home to new homes or to the fiery pits of the dump. Finally our home was clean, every room exorcised of years of clutter. All our worldly accoutrements were either in storage or going with us on our adventure.
It’s interesting that our trip of 13 months will be not only a physical journey but one that will also take us to many unexplored mental spaces. How will it be to have no “home” besides our car? How will it be to sleep in over 70 different places in a year? How will it be to only have one small bag of clothing for a year – this one is particularly concerning for the girls. How will it feel when the new and unknown is our routine? How will we be impacted by the places we visit? How will be changed by the people we meet?
These are some of the new mental spaces we will explore in the journey ahead. But already we are experiencing paradigm shifts. As we packed up our home we experienced a strange sense of unloading. It’s cathartic in a sense that we are letting go of baggage, but equally it is disconcerting as we wonder if we will need these things we have come to rely on for so long.
Behind us lies our baggage and our past. Before us lies the unknown and our future. Now the adventure begins!