On a One-Way Trip to Mali

Cantabria – the campers delight.
A huge golden Mercedes van doesn’t go unnoticed, neither do the two lovely people inside. Alex and Eric are a couple from Belgium on a unique one way trip that let’s our project look really small.

Starting in Belgium they go through France, Spain, Portugal, Marokko, cross the Western Sahara, Mauretania, Senegal, etc… to finally end up in Mali where they plan to stay, if the political situation there gets better.

What is the reason for two people to leave everything behind, friends, family, work?

The answer is easy for the two lovebirds. They just wanted to travel together, to share something big and to begin something new in another country. The van is their first home together, the first time they share a “flat”. Both have their own reasons for the trip. For Eric the most important thing is to discover different parts of the world, to find new opportunities and to do something that makes sense. “Of course you can find sense in Belgium or Austria but we want to try it in Africa. And this trip makes sense for us.” Alex was born in Belgium her mother is from Mali and her goal is to learn to speak Bambara to get closer to her roots. And for their relationship this journey is a kind of warm up before many more great adventures together.

Too people who are not afraid to go out and discover the world, even though it is hard for their family and friends to let them go. And some of them just don’t understand how they can just leave everything behind and not work for a year. Things like that just don’t look good in your resume and what about their pension? But the two don’t need material things like a job, a home and mortgage to feel secure. As Alex says, “being bound with things doesn’t give me a sense of security.” They made their choice, planned their trip for month, saved money and worked a lot before so they can afford to take some time off. But still they have to be careful with the money and cannot go and eat in restaurants all the time or sleep in hotels.

And they don’t need to because they have their “Baby”.  As a good companion on their way they bought the old Mercedes van specially for the trip and plan on selling it in Mali or where ever they’ll choose to settle down.

As it is with old cars like this they have personality. Sometimes you have to talk to them, encourage them to go on when the road is steep, praise them once you reach the top and smile happily when the engine roars while you go down. And once you start talking to your car it is definitely time that it gets a name. Genderwise it is more a she than a he, they told us, and the right name will come to them when the time is right.

When you see two people in an old van travelling the world it reminds you of the 60s, love, peace and rock and roll. And in Eric’s opinion there is a link between the 60s hippie movement and the travelling generation nowadays, because as the young people then, we are also looking for another sense. We cannot live the same way our parents did before us and are looking for another way. But it’s not quite the same, it’s not about one love and smoking marijuana… It’s just about enjoying live with other people and to meet them in a peaceful way. To be present now in life.

Alex is a little more sceptic: “All people I met wanted to experience something else. We travel to meet people, but still it’s not a dream, it’s real live and of course you will not love everybody you meet on your way and sadly there isn’t peace everywhere.”

They don’t plan a lot because things keep changing anyways. It all depends on the opportunities you get when you are open for everything. And they appreciate the luxury of having time to travel slow so they can adjust to the changing conditions and manners in different places. Because on a trip like this you have to adjust yourself to where you are, to feel the place and act on instinct. They feel that as long they can do that they will be safe.

And for all the people out there who have thought about an adventure like that they have one message:

“Discover! Discover! Discover! Feel confident about the world, about the people around you. Be who you are and do what you dream about! Just do it! It’s definitely worth it and it’s not as difficult as you think.”