It’s all gone very smoothly so far. I couldn’t prepare a lot until I knew the car was as mechanically ready as any 17 year old car can be. In the last month I have been a bit neurotic about having the tiniest bump locally just before I go, as it would almost certainly write my car off. For this reason I had to leave the important vehicle check to the last minute and then cram everything else in afterwards in a relatively short time frame. However it’s surprised me how little I have needed to do as far as mechanics and equipment goes.
I have bought a few things, a new pair of cheap croc sandals (I love them), a tow bar (not a tow rope), and two mess tins to cook my porridge in each morning, and a car kettle to boil the water for my peppermint tea. Everything else I already have, most of it is well used and worn which is good because it can be donated or left behind where it will be put to good use by someone. I bought 500 pens to give away in Africa but they are in metal cases and weigh a ton, so I will give them away before I reach Athens and buy some more in Egypt.
Because of customs regulations I have to empty my car boot of everything at Athens and freight it over to Egypt. I will follow on a flight as I cannot accompany the car on the ship either, (I will try to get on it, but don’t think I will succeed). I am not allowed to leave anything in the car whilst it’s being shipped over to Alexandria in Egypt. However there may be a change of plans by the time I get near Athens. I will call it Plan B for now
The paperwork side has been time consuming, getting the right documents together, copying them at least 6 times so you have enough for border crossings. E-mailing everything to myself so if I am robbed of everything I have a chance of printing it off in an internet cafe somewhere!!
The carnet du passage, an import export document necessary for most of Africa doesn’t appear to be available anywhere in Greece, even though it should be!!!! So I have made the application here in the UK and was in the process of paying for it pending reaching Athens. Plan B however is now putting that on hold for the time being. Once I get to Greece and know a little more. Plan A is the UK office can send it to me via DHL, although it can take 4 weeks to process it unless you pay extra to express it. So I will decide on what to do when I know more about Plan B!
I really do want to thank a few people for their help so far.
First : Paul at PT Signs and Print, Unit 6 Levis’s Trading Estate, Old Station Road, Birmingham B33 9AE Tel 0121 789 7771 who immediately said he would do the vehicle graphics for free as soon as he heard I was fundraising for charity. Paul has been in the business 35 years and still works long days. I admire anyone who keeps going with such energy after such a long time. Thank you Paul you are very kind.
Second: My mechanics Richard and Stuart who I have known for over 20 years at Swallow Garage, Well Street, Hockley, Birmingham B19 3BG Tel: 0121 554 2830. He didn’t laugh too much when I first spoke to him about this project, and has now passed the car as fit for the journey. I am aware of how difficult it is to get parts in the UK so Africa should be a real challenge 🙂
Third: Sal at Wrap Art, Units3/4, St Andrews Ind estate, Sydney Road, Birmingham B9 4QB. Tel 0121 773 9991 or http://www.wrapart.uk They do amazing things to expensive vehicles that probably cost a fortune, but he gave me a very good price for tinting the windows on my car (for security and sun shade reasons) and was also a lovely guy.
Last but not least, my lovely wife Leila for organising a surprise going away party, although she had to tell me because she hadn’t got contact details for either the British Red Cross or my Arabic classes. What a great day I had, there were so many nationalities present, it was my idea of heaven, and for them to meet my family and visa versa was wonderful. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I think it was quite special because of the people who managed to attend.
Thank you too to my son David “Penga Penga” (which means mad man in Chichewa a language from Malawi) who did a great job of cooking for the occasion. It was a great send off and reminded me of how wonderful my family and friends are. I will miss them all a lot during the trip, but hope the blog gives them some entertainment on the way.
It will be an interesting trip for me as I will be alone for long periods of time with no one to talk to. Normally I am on public transport etc and there is always someone to pester, sorry chat to! (All those who know me will be getting up off the floor from laughing) I’ll no doubt have to save it all up until I either stop for the night or if really lonely, just pick on a local shepherd or goat herder at the side of the road 🙂
It’s Sunday 23rd September and today I checked the oil, water, and tyres on the car, they seem fine so that’s about it. Must get petrol tomorrow and remember to check oil etc at least every 2 days really…..I’ll do my best ! The cars almost packed and the little details are in hand now that make all the difference to the trip. eg knowing where your wallet, passport, torch, sunglasses, penknife and bottle opener are at all times is very helpful.
Oh and my son David will be delighted to know that I now have a Cairo to Cape Town road map. He seemed very disturbed yesterday that I was going to rely on Google maps and a few other apps. On reflection, (I’ve been busy) it does seem a good idea to carry and use a map on route so thank you David. The warnings in it though are pretty scary for some places !! I ordered one yesterday and good old Amazon it arrived today. Makes me feel quite organised now 🙂
Finally I’ve looked at the route again and think I need another 2 months insurance, just in case my wanderings take longer than I thought, so I am now insured up to 31st March 2019, Six months should do it…..and I cant think of anything else at this stage.