-Week One- freedom & the birth of Touki

At first, it didn’t feel like we had taken off for a long period of time, but more like a small getaway. I believe it was only on day four that I finally had it for the first time, the feeling I hoped to have as much as possible throughout the journey. I grabbed the old Go Pro to try and show the view and feeling of that specific moment.

It was a heartwarming feeling of sitting in the cockpit of our good ol’ Touki, driving her on a Spanish road in between fields covered in snow. It was the feeling of freedom, of living on the road and allowing yourself to live life unexpectedly. It also allows life to hit you hard, with unsuspected failures and downs, but also with positive twist and experiences. The lower the lows, the higher the highs afterwards I guess. Anyways, it’s the feeling why I took off for this adventure in the first place.

After leaving Belgium on the 18th, we headed down south and made our way through France. We had champagne in Normandy, slept in a communist holiday park, got to know Touki’s poor uphill driving skills and stayed at Belgians who chose the surf life at the coast in the south.

Touki turned a lot of heads while driving around, but not just because of her cool appearance. We discovered some slight issues that needed fixing and that not only drew our attention. The incredibly loud noise of the mud flaps scraping the floor in every corner we took was kind of hard to ignore. Pedestrians and bikers always knew we were coming around the bend. Safety first, right? We also quickly found out we were using way too much oil. One liter every 300km is not a good ratio at all…

After France we aimed for the Spanish border through the Pyrenees. We already knew that Touki was not a full breed mountain goat, but it got ridiculous at times. Shifting back to second gear was no taboo anymore, as were the countless trucks overtaking us. Not that the last thing didn’t happen on flat road, but still. We have feelings as well you know.

After not having paid for any sleeping spot in France, we laid our heads to sleep in cheap Air Bnb’s on the Spanish side two nights in a row. We then headed south east -still pouring in oil every now and then- since we were promised a place to stay to do the necessary repairs. A third issue had popped up in the meantime. When we switched on the lights, all the other electronics failed. That means we had no idea how much fuel we had, how fast we were going, nor did we have traffic indicators. Especially the last thing was a bit sketchy while driving in the dark. Another consequence was us not getting up the hill in the evening since we ran out of fuel. Luckily we had a spare jerrycan on top of the car to keep going.

The last four days, we stayed in a lovely holiday house of a Belgian dentist on the Spanish coast. After resting up, we got to work and jacked up Touki from off her four feet. It took us two day to raise her high enough and create the necessary ground clearance for Africa. While having a beer to celebrate the success, we officially baptised her as ‘Touki’. We were beyond happy it had actually worked.

Week one in short: cold but good weather to start off, cold but sunny in France and all kinds of stuff in Spain. We drove through warm, dry open fields to get stuck in the snow not even an hour later. Life can be weird.

The road is now open and our book unwritten. Let’s head to where we came for: Africa!

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