Taking the tractor out for a drive…

Tractor trailer groenTaking the tractor out for a drive up to the glacier today. Fantastic views, so surreal to be doing this. Felt a bit like I was dreaming.

schaappluis vatnajokull red dot
Links: these flowers in a country with only sheep in the landscape, I find that really funny.
Rechts: Tractor en me are now at the red dot! : )

Unfortunately I can and am not allowed to show too much yet of what I’m doing right now. But until monday, when the real trial-expedition starts and we’ll only have sat-phone connection, I at least like to show you some glimpses!
The real expedition starting in November will be a totally different story though. You will be able to follow that whole adventure intensely if you wish, I’ve all the help in the World to make that possible. Also today a lot of filming etc was done. And, my my, camera people have so much more gear than Tractor girls! Heehee.

Up up up!Up, up, up!

In need of a super mathematician! You?

Here’s an attempt (1 of about 50) at figuring out our 24hour driving system. Even when making it simpler than it is I run into al sorts of issues. The funniest being: the tractor to fast for the cars to catch up with (heehee).

E/S = Eat / Sleep
D = Drive
O = Other (everyone has different jobs to do)

There are 2 car’s, 1 tractor, and 7 team members. Continue reading

Trial-expedition: arived at the foot of the glacier…

Vatnajokul luchtfoto
The final trial of the tractor (&me;) is about to start…… Will we make it here in Iceland? Will I see my dream to go on a South Pole expedition by tractor become reality? I’m about to find out. But, have never before been as close as this….

We’ve just arrived at the foot of the glacier with the tractor. Tomorrow I get to drive the tractor onto the ice for the first time! The photo I took earlier from the plane. It gives a nice overall view of where the tractor and me are heading right? ; )

Tractor Baby-rompers & Kids t-shirts!

Yes, yes, yes, they are here!

Together with my twin sister and Lotte van Dijck I’ve created little tractor shirts for my webshop! Ever since the start of my journey, long ago (in 2005), I’ve sold tractor t-shirts. And thanks to these t-shirts I’ve been able to do the whole first leg of my tractor-journey. From the Netherlands, through the Balkans and the whole of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. How special is that!

And every time people would ask me if I also had something for kids. That inspired me to now start for the little ones!

Proudly presenting to you my ‘Tractor Girl’ baby rompers and kids t-shirts:

Click on a picture to go to the shop. Also if you’re curious about the different designs and colors… 

Lotte van Dijck, also ‘de Verderkijker’, designed the cute little tractor!
Soon the same little tractor will also be in a small ‘children’s book-app’ on this site.

Later this year we’ll have tractor t-shirts for adults available.

With the sales of these shirts we want to help make dreams become a reality. That why 1,- per shirt will go to The Hunger Project. A good cause I’ve found and visited while traveling in Africa, which I’m hugely impressed by. Shortly put: they give people all over the World a chance, and the tools, to realize their own dreams.

My sister and me…
Zusjes VOF
Rapapa-rapapa, there’s someone you all probably don’t know yet. But without her this whole adventure up to now would have neeeeeever been done! And that is my sister. Long ago, when I was still dreaming of taking a tractor around the World, and about how on earth I would be able to do that, it was my sister who offered to run ‘the webshop’. And while traveling through Europe, the Balkans and Africa, it turned out that every time I needed diesel or money for food there had been a couple of people buying a tractor t-shirt or a kilometer. That’s how I travelled by the grace of the inspiration it gave others (or just because they liked the t-shirt; ), isn’t that special? All because my sister (and the ‘home team’) kept sending those shirts out tirelessly, my whole journey became a reality. And it also, quite practically, helped me raise funds for inspiring projects I visited while traveling.

So we’ve decided to work together again not that my tractor adventure is getting it’s ‘Happy End’. I hope you like the shirts and rompers just like we do! Maybe then they’ll help me create the story I’ve been filming all these years….. ‘Sometimes you just have to do it! ‘ )

Click here for the: SHOP
Paypall, creditcard and iDeal are the payment options)

I remember it wel…

I remember it well…. Running into a BBC World crew in the drought of Southern Ethiopia. In their wake some humanitarian organizations arrived, bringing hay for kettle that had already died. Local people asked me; why is nobody really helping us? Maybe it was the politics that had stopped them all from coming sooner, but now that people had started dying the matter had changed. Maybe.
Ethiopia - Tough Woman Smiling - Southern Ethiopia
I was happy when the people from the BBC offered me to share a meal. And really relieved when I found out how involved they were in getting the stories of the people in the area across to the World. (even offering me the chance to do the same, something I’m still grateful for). For a day or two they took me under their wings and I had the privilege to see them in action. It really touched me.

Then I moved on to cross the border into Northern Kenya where no one dared follow me. It had just started raining in the area for the first time in three years, and the whole region ahead of me had flooded. The military post at the border had asked me: ‘If your tractor can do what you say it can, will you please call back from the next military post updating us on how many people and vehicles got stuck in the area so we can start trying to arrange help.”

With two soldiers on my tractor bouncing around, local people had a good laugh wherever I went. It opened up communications everywhere. But then we got into remoter territory and I passed truck after bus that was completely stuck in the mud. On the side of the road were woman and children, men sitting seemingly without food or clean drinking water. They told me they’d been stuck there for days.

Kenya - Dead Cow - Northern Kenya famine - 1Kenya - Soldiers on Tractor - Northern Kenya famine - 2Kenya - RefugeeCamp 2 - Northern Kenya famine - 1Kenya - RefugeeCamp 2 - Northern Kenya famine - 2

Over the course of many days I heard stories of people in the area. Stories of despair, displacement and tribal war. A local primary school director during a break stopped me and told me about how he’d witnessed a massacre exactly where we stood only half a year before, killing most of the woman and children of the village, leaving him and some others desperate survivors. ‘Something must change, he said.’ Around that same time a plane crashed into the hills of remote Marsabit town I was heading to. In it a whole group of politicians that had set out to the North to finally talk about peace in the area. That night I arrived in a chaotic Marsabit. And slept, not in my tent but in a ‘hotel’ that was more like a brothel.


I arrived in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, with a soldier on the back of my tractor and stayed a few nights in what white people would call a ‘poorer area’ of the city. The people I met were hospitable and friendly.

A few days later the Tractor girl story became the talk of town. I was asked to bring my sudden popularity to use by walking the catwalk of a fashion show organized by a UN woman’s group to give some support to a female Kenyan politician (the honorable Nyoke Ndungu) who was trying to get a law in place that better protect victims of rape. Now that was really the talk of town, high and low, nobody believed that law would come to pass.

Because there were no local men or woman that dared share their story, afraid of the stigma it would give, I shook the dust out of my hair, kicked off my boots, and gave a public speech in front of mrs Ndungu and a big group of others, about how in my own country only recently the law had finally changed. And how that had made all the difference……. to me.

The stories I collected of the people in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya are amongst the saddest and toughest I’ve come across in those 3,5 years of driving a very slow tractor through Africa towards the Cape of Good Hope. But they all travel with me on the back of my tractor to a continent where at least, there’s never been war. They all travel with me to the South Pole.

This article was written In response to the article posted by Martin Plaut. One of the most dedicated journalists I’ve seen. Martin and Rumella Dasgupta were part of the BBC World crew I met in the drought of Southern Ethiopia. It was a privilege meeting you. Thanks for all you’ve shown.
Martin’s article: http://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/on-a-tractor-to-the-south-pole-via-sudan-ethiopia-kenya/

Here’s the links to the stories I wrote on this website while on the road through Africa: Part 1 meeting at the border & Part 2 getting to Marsabit and beyond…


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