Janet A Wilson

Janet's Empowering Journey

On the journey there were times I felt emotionally stripped naked. Other times, I marveled at my courage and resilience. I never knew what day held for me or for us, who I might meet, what challenges I might face, or what thrilling highlights I would experience.

Before I left, I wrote, “I wanted to be able to view my world without the clutter that filled it, the clutter of material goods but also of control. Society’s experts challenged my spirit of independence: I no longer needed to make even the most minor decisions. The nutritionist told me what to eat; fitness experts prescribed what exercises to do; physicians informed me how to manage my health; fashion designers determined what I should wear; the financial planners explained how to budget and save; the TV commercials told me what to buy; even the book reviewers recommended what to read. Everything was gobbling me up and spitting me out as a mind- less consumer.”

Later on the journey I wrote, “I loved the energy I had back in my life. During the times I’d felt empty, I was indifferent to whether I lived or died. There were also times I’d wanted to die. But now, I wanted my life back in full. I had lived for too long in one dimension: the pursuit of happiness and contentment that had led only to emptiness. I wanted to be unafraid to venture off the grid, to test myself, to be flexible and adaptable. Ultimately, there is no such thing as permanent self-fulfillment or happiness; they are just fleeting moments in our lives. I needed to know both my strengths and my weaknesses, both my genius and my stupidity. I needed to know all of me. Then and only then could I begin to know Tom and others.

Resetting a Marriage

Before we left, I wrote, “Like most couples, we had fallen in love when we had nothing but each other. We made love and laughed, which sparked a flame of excitement and passion in our relationship. Eventually, however, children, careers, and responsibilities gradually robbed us of time and energy together. Tom and I began to live parallel lives, checking each other’s calendars and schedules to see when we could fit each other in. Intimacy slid out through the cracks in our relationship, and a busyness took its place. And this became our ordinary, at least until our sons left home, friends began to die or get divorced, and my retirement loomed on the horizon. 

One morning, I had looked across the kitchen table at Tom and wondered, Who are you, Tom, and where have you been?”

Near the end of our journey I wrote, “Our journey had shown Tom and me that we could truly trust and depend on each other in the most challenging and tragic of times. Our humanity toward each other and strangers had been realized. I looked up at the cloudless sky, and a sense of gratitude that Tom was at my side on the journey welled up in me. I knew then that if I had made this trip alone, Tom and I would have missed out on learning the most important lesson in our lives: the essence of every meaningful and loving relationship is to be fully present with each other. We had unshackled ourselves from how we used to be in each other’s lives and the world. We had found each other again. We had reclaimed our Ubuntu.”

There are no simple formulas for achieving a sustainable, healthy relationship. Marriage is hard work and ongoing; love is not enough, and romance can be dangerous.

Adventure travels across Africa

We chose a Land Cruiser as it is the vehicle of choice for most organizations and is widely used in Africa. Our Land Cruiser had been specially modified for our overland journey.

We began our eight-month journey at Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans collide. Then we turned North, towards the West Coast of Africa, before heading to East Africa and finally north to Cairo in Egypt.

We began our eight-month journey at Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans collide. Then we turned North, towards the West Coast of Africa, before heading to East Africa and finally north to Cairo in Egypt. We camped in the wilderness, at missions, and, where possible, at a campsite. We kept off the beaten track and truly experienced the diverse richness of cultures, nature, wildlife and more. We learned so much about Africa and even more about ourselves. We laughed, we cried and never had I felt so alive.

Routes from Cape Town to Cairo

The Countries en Route

Southern Africa

East Africa

North Africa

Video of Africa Overland Journey