10 things that have gone out the window since leaving Berlin

5 min read

Thomas and I left Berlin one month ago on 5th June. So as the romantic and festive human being that I am, I thought it would be nice to set up a little date for myself. Light some candles, put on some background music and pour myself a glass of wine as I take some time to reflect. Well this is how I would have liked it to happen. But the reality is that alcohol is illegal in Mauritania, its daylight as I write this so candles would not really make sense (I am also not really sure that we have candles but I recall a lighter somewhere in the back of the car), and my background music is a French conversation between Thomas and a lady as they negotiate the price of doing our two weeks worth of laundry. That aside, the reflection shall happen. 

Now AfricaX has a lovely mission that without a doubt comes with unique challenges, and I do my best to rise to the occasion everyday. But there are (I believe) some reasonable comforts that have lost practicality on this trip. Let’s talk about those for a while. Some of the things that have completely gone out of the window since starting the tour.

1 English

I used to have a running joke that if I took a single step out of Berlin, I wouldn’t be able to speak English with anyone. It has basically been German in the rest of Germany, French in France, Spanish in Spain, and French again in Morocco and Mauritania. The exception has been changemakers and Thomas’ friends that we met along the way. A painful reminder of all the language classes I passed up taking.

2 Personal time

By definition, this trip is a two man job. Thomas and I, I and Thomas. Always. At all times. The only time we are not together is when I am in the car and he is on the bike. Usually that time is spent concentrating on not hitting him as he mostly rides in front of me, so it’s really not self dedicated time.

3 Work-life balance

Work-life balance This just sounds like a distant buzzword, a far away dream. A day off for us is when we are not driving. But even then, we stay indoors working. I am so glad I did not pack an emergency party dress as I had planned. It would have felt super unappreciated.

4 Skin care

Okay I am not a big guru on all matters skin, but I would at least wash my face everyday with face wash, and make sure to scrub twice a week. I most recently added a vitamin c serum and eye cream to my usual moisturizer. These days it’s just water and my bare hands for the daily wash, and coconut oil to moisturize.

5 Showering (in a way that I would like it)

You know what else I wash with my bare hands? My whole body, all because I forgot my loofah in a hotel somewhere in Morocco, it is unclear where exactly. This is so strange to me. But it is also super strange to Thomas that I always use a loofah to shower, is this a European thing? My whole life I have always used for example a wash cloth, sponge or loofah, it just does not feel like showering without it. But then I think okay I always wash my hands with just soap and water and they are clean so maybe it applies all over? Regardless, I am now on the hunt for a new loofah.

6 Hair maintenance

I have very short hair so this should be pretty simple right? Wrong my friends, wrong. Hair maintenance is hair maintenance, no matter the length. My routine used to be shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, curling cream, coconut oil, (maybe) laying of edges. I now use shower gel to wash, and a brush to keep things neat. 

7 Make up

I truly wish I was at that stage of development where I could say I am truly comfortable with a bare face, but I can’t. But it’s also just too hot, windy and sandy to put on a full face of makeup. Also sometimes I am riding on the bike and shudder to think of what would happen to said make up in the process of taking on and taking off the helmet – displaced eyebrows for example. So no make up.

8 Separating laundry

I remember being taught to wash clothes in three rounds when I was 13. You do your whites, then coloreds, then dark clothes to avoid tie-dye situations, which I have always followed strictly ever since. Now, I put all of them in and hope for the best. We just never know the next time we will get accommodation with a washing machine, and also stay in that one place long enough to give clothes the time to dry. So when these two magical things happen at the same time, I take it. The worst that happened is my AfricaX shirt which used to be white is now a very light pink. At least it’s all even though.

9 Ironing clothes

Four filters I always use when searching for accommodation: Parking, WiFi, Washing Machine and Iron. I never ever find the iron. And even when they say they have it, it’s either never in the room, or it loves to play hide and seek with me. If you see us out there with wrinkled shirts, don’t judge. 

10 Lunch

I don’t know where popular opinion is on food intake, but I like three straight meals a day. We never take lunch breaks because it would slow us down, plus try finding a restaurant in the middle of the desert. So just breakfast and dinner – I try to make it count as humanly possible in one seating.

Our view from the road sometimes
Our view from the road sometimes

Okay this was super fun and I laughed all through! I will do a blog like this every 5th of the month just as a check in. Curious to see the state of things when we get to South Africa!

Dulcie Mativo

From Kenya, Dulcie is the social media, content and operations coordinator for AfricaX. She is passionate about personal development, story telling and connecting with people. As a young African and changemaker she brings an inspiring perspective to the expedition as well as a burning desire to help young people on the continent discover their potential.