On a sunny day in June 2017 Julia Albu (80) and her long standing partner in crime, Tracy the 20-year-old Toyota Conquest, departed for a 12 000km Eastern route trip across Africa to her daughter’s home in London. Albu has 4 children and 9 grandchildren.
After a year of contemplation and planning, Albu decided that it was time for her to be the master of her own destiny and set off on a once-in-a-life time adventure with her companion Tracy.
When her and Tracy turned a combined age of 100 years, it was the perfect time to start an adventure that wasn’t just on the bucket list, but was the bucket list itself. Albu’s journey gained support, from followers and charities, she even started her own blog site to document the epic journey.
In just one year, Albu traveled across 11 African and 9 European countries to complete her journey of destiny.
She got the idea while listening to the radio, the host was talking about a well known celebrity who had spent a lot of money buying cars for his many wives.
“I was incensed about this expense and thought it was ridiculous,” Albu told Cape Talk. “So on the spur of the moment I called the station and told them that I was 80-years-old and that my Toyota was 20. We’re a combined age of 100 and we’re both 100% – so much so that I’m going to drive it to London to see my daughter.
“As soon as I’d said it, friends started calling me to see if it was true, so I had to bite the bullet and say that, well … I guess it was … even though I hadn’t thought it through. My partner of 33-years had recently died, I was broke and I couldn’t knit. But I thought that if I could research how to do it and team up with my favourite charity, I might be able to do some good for the world.”
Her trusty companion Tracy made the whole journey without so much as a puncture. “The only thing that’s ever happened is that one of the front wheels almost wobbled free after a particularly bad stretch of road coming out of Uganda,” said Albu.
Along the way, Julia was met with a few challenges, like when she tried to pass the Ugandan border but did not have enough car passports to be allowed across the border. “I’d used up more than I anticipated by taking a detour into Uganda. So I had to turn around and drive for another ten hours back to Nairobi to get a new supply,” says Albu.
The biggest challenge along the way was lack of funding, which made booking accommodation very difficult. “I met some very wonderful, hospitable, people via my blog who offered to put me up along the way, and they were always fascinated to hear about Tracy,” Albu told Cape Talk.
When asked about the highlights of her journey, Albu thought back on fond memories in Ethiopia.
“I remember just one time I saw a group of women walking along the side of the road in Ethiopia. They all had this most amazing halo of plaited black hair on their heads. So I stopped the car to say hello and to distribute some chocolate biscuits and a handful of the 2 000 pens I had been given by the literacy charity.
“I took some photographs of us and one of the ladies showed her appreciation for my gifts by opening this kind of pocket around her waist to share her meal with me. I’ve no idea what it was we ate, but it was so kind of her to show such hospitality to a stranger. After sharing lots of hugs and kisses, we parted as friends. There were so many experiences like that.”
Her voyage ended in England and Julia spent her birthday with friends and family exactly one year after taking to the road. Having accomplished this amazing feat, most people would expect Albu to throw in the towel and spend the rest of her days in leisure. But she has even bigger plans to one day do the Western route around Africa, and time her arrival perfectly so that she can meet the Queen.
Pictures: Facebook & The African Conquest