I’m in the cabin of a truck. Sitting next to Bob, a cargo truck driver. We’ve been acquainted by way of the ‘Wereldomroep’ (dutch worldwide radio service), of which he’s been a regular guest, and the presentors of the show (Bob and Peter) ‘granted me permission to go on this trip’. We’re off to Paris, where I’ve got a special appointment underneath the Eiffel Tower. It’s dark outside, in the cabin of the vehicle there’s a dim light glowing. Bob has put on the latest cd by the band ‘Blof’, which I would very much like to have when I’m back on the tractor in Africa.
At night I sleep in the upper bed in the cabin, we’re parked on a big parking lot for truckers on the outskirts of Paris. Bob is standing outside, smoking a cigarette, politely waiting till I’ve installed myself.
Camping with a truck is very similar to camping with the tractor. Difference is, Bob’s got a fridge and a coffee machine, and I don’t.
In the morning I wash at the local petrol station, and hurry back to the truck. Later on, bob drops me at the closest underground station. It’s Disneyland Paris, and I’m getting the strange sensation that I’m still dreaming when walking past the castle towers, looking for the entrance to the subway.
An appointment with your southpole-guide. Yeah right. Under-the-Eiffel-Tower. Tssss.
Which stop do I get off? Why are the Subway maps not littered with little Eiffel Tower Icons? What about all the clueless tourists?
Errr. That one looks quite allright, I definitely must be closing in.
After I get off, and mount the stairs, a huge Arc de Triomphe arises in front of me.
Okay-okay, we’re near. A sudden flashback to 2002, when I was driving here, in circles, on my tractor, intent on ‘drinking a cup of coffee under the Eiffel Tower’. I dash off toward the Tower. “Here, at this traffic light, is where a tiny scooter halted: ‘I’m your photographer, follow me.’” Eiffel Tower, at last!
‘I’ll be wearing a pink hat’, she had joked in her email. Even so, I’m tracking every pink hat under the Eiffel Tower. There!
Nope, just a Japanese beauty with giant sunglasses. A woman, fitting the profile exactly, walks towards me. She’s carrying a professional mountaineering cane and she has a limp. It takes her a lot of effort to sit down on one of the benches. ‘If that’s her, I’m Calling it off’.
I buy myself a cup of coffee and sit myself down on a bench. I look up at the gigantic profile of the Eiffel construction towering over me.
At twelve o’clock exactly, a woman comes pacing toward me. She halts dead center under the tower and puts her hand to her brow. She looks round in a searching manner. ‘So, where can she be?’
Eeeee, should I approach her? Hop-hop, here we go!
We sit under the trees for hours on end, on a bench, configuring our plans. Matty, yes it’s the world famous Matty mcNair, knows exactly what the ice and snow look like on our desired route. She provides me with all the practical information I need to have the tractor prepared.
‘Do we take off from Patriot Hills, or do we start at the spot Sir Edmund Hillary took off with his tractors, 50 years ago? His route is closer to South Africa, so maybe we might still be able to take on that Ice-breaker-boat offer they made you’. We move to a terrace, and continue talking.
It’s fantastic to see her enthousiasm for the project. This woman, of whom everybody says: ‘well if she’s behind you, everything will be fine’. And I share that confidence. And we’re having fun. She tells me a funny fact: The moment you take your time to enjoy yourself, to take pictures or to film, will retrospectively turn out to be the time that you advanced the largest distances. A polar expedition is about mental effort, you keep telling yourself ‘one step at the time’, and that’s the way you reach your goal. Time speeds up when you’re enjoying yourself, and you see a lot more.
Well, I kind of noticed that myself, in Africa.
The only real massive mountain on my horizon, is the sponsoring part.
For heaven’s sake, how can I arrange for mega-sponsors, while toiling through Africa? Maybe anything is possible? In Holland, I’ve been doing a lot of hard work to find help in that department.
‘If every visitor of this website would donate 1 euro, I’d be halfway a polar expedition on foot. If every visitor would donate 2 euro, I’d raise the same amount for my charities as I would for my expedition’.
A visit to the ‘wereldomroep’ with Bob and Peer… Trucker Bob, who’s going to go for Paris-Dakar next winter, in his rig
My weeks spent in Holland were totally chaotic but wonderful!
It was fantastic to step outside my head for a while, to see with my own eyes that every one of you was stil there!! I’m feeling pretty queezy after way too litle sleep, but I’m all charged up for the next stage. the past period was spent reorganising home base (well, yes… now sis has to take care of a baby… -J.K.). I’d like to thank everyone that enabled this journey to happen.
From here on it’s back to Swahili, since I’m departing for Nairobi where I have a tractor and a dog waiting for me…
This time, using a GPS..
The past year, it became increasingly obvious that a tractor can take you anywhere you like, and from now on, I’ll probably be more off road than ever. My mother set out to find me a GPS, starting at the corner shop. On her return, not only did she have one, but it was fuly sponsored too. incredible!
Mum happy, for I can now send actual cordinates of where I am.
Me happy, because everybody was so nice.
Soon I’ll tell more about my arrival in Nairobi