Dolly Parton, Working and Twerking – Greetings from Barcelona

5 min read

Yesterday was our first very intense driving session. We left Amsterdam at 9:00 am and arrived in Barcelona at 2:00 am. That’s a total of…17 hours on the road. It took me ten minutes to calculate that, not because I am bad at Math, but because Thomas is distracting me with his singing about being on the road again. Anyone that spends a lot of time with me knows how I like to sing my words, Thomas is like me on steroids with the singing. I always tell him that if he was not a coach, author, serial entrepreneur, mentor, he could make it as a singer. Singing yes, songwriting not so much, but I could help with that.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene

What do we do for 17 hours in a car? I’m glad you asked. First of all we named her Jolene, so when I say Jolene you know who I’m talking about (if you instantly sang that Dolly Parton song Jolene, please reach out to me, we could be friends). A few people have raised their eyebrows about Jolene because we keep saying that we are traveling across Africa on an electric motorbike. Let me put your worries to bed. We have to transport said motorbike to the south of Spain so that we can cross over into Morocco via the ferry. Fear not, we will give you the Zero. That said, Jolene has been quite helpful so far. She has become our working station, kitchen, cafe, board room, studio, and library. It is pretty much business as usual, cramped space notwithstanding. We had one heated discussion about Drake. There are breathtakingly beautiful views on the way that I am almost always missing because I am busy writing or engaging on social media. We are constantly turning the AC on and off because it gets too hot for Thomas and too cold for me. But today we found a solution, I will put on a jumper and make it in the icebox that he has created. We respond to emails, talk strategy, create content, eat, listen to our favorite audio books and so on. 

Modern day working

Jolene is especially useful as a remote office for all things Changemakers for AfricaX. We are now more and more getting recommendations for who to interview. Our partners like Markus from Idea Seed Africa, MEST, Enpact and connections from GIZ Morocco have been very supportive (and many others that we are still following up on). It’s quite interesting to check out the innovative projects and their inspiring founders, and correspond with them while on the road. Figuring out what systems to put in place to make the process as seamless as possible. Creating a schedule equally divided between the interviews, visiting tech hubs, speaking to key players about the startup ecosystem, and of course touring. We also finished setting up our fundraising page, complete with a video description of how anyone can support us for free by using a voucher code from our sponsor Satoshipay. And when I say that it is interesting to do this on the road, please read as: we are using one of the oldest Samsung phones as a WiFi hotspot, and luggage constantly needs readjustment as they move to the tune of Jolene.

Philosophy of life from a gas station

Gas stations have become our best friend. We go to approximately four a day. All of them are self service, so no one to fill the tank for you or nicely clean your window while making small talk like back in Kenya. I especially like the ones where you don’t have to pay to use the bathroom. There was one time I came out of the bathroom after paying some 70 cents, and saw a guy jumping over the little paying stations to avoid paying – I would love to have a conversation with him about his philosophy of life. At the same station, a hitchhiker asked us to give him a ride. I was all for it and particularly sympathetic because Thomas had hitchhiked before as well. But we were unfortunately already quite packed in the car (and he finished his pitch with ‘I am very smelly’). The food leaves a little to be desired but that’s okay. The attendants at the counter are always speaking their national language, never English. And Thomas gracefully as well. He spoke French in France, Spanish in Spain.

Monday morning party

When we got to Barcelona, the heat and humidity was overwhelming even from within the car. It was a Sunday night, more Monday morning, and hundreds of people were still out on the streets. People talking, laughing, and dancing as they walk. Every single girl I saw was in shorts and heels. A particular group of girls twerking it out in the middle of the street, to no music by the way, just standing in a circle in the middle of the street and enjoying themselves. Next to them two men who seemed to be under the influence of something arguing heatedly. A few meters ahead, a very elderly man moving around on a hover board with a suitcase in tow. There were various smells that I will not describe, but they were not the good kind. There was a 24 hour mini mart every corner we turned. Bars and cafes equally open with customers seated outside laughing and toasting to I guess the good life. The city was alive at 2:00 am on a Monday morning. 

Home and away

Another of Thomas’ friend, Rafael and his partner Elena, were kind enough to host us as they are off traveling in Italy. We felt touched to find a sweet note from them and a bottle of bubbly.  For me the best part of my day is always the end. When you get home and release your feet from the pressure of shoes. You go to your room, get out of your day clothes and throw them in a designated corner because you are too tired in that moment to care. You slip into something more comfortable and just sink into your bed for a minute to breathe for what seems like the first moment in your day. Well this is subjective depending on what you do for a living, but sometimes days consist of endless action without even a minute to be conscious and present. So when you take a seat in your room, on your bed at the end of that crazy day, you can finally just ‘be’. And sometimes during the day, you can almost picture yourself doing just that at the end of the day in your very familiar room. Being on this trip presents a situation where I will not have just one room to go home to at the end of the day. So far everyday feels like when you get a wrapped gift from an old friend who you have not seen in a very long time, and you’re not too sure that they know you well enough anymore to get something that the person you have become will appreciate. I have the idea to take a photo of every single room we stay in for the next six months and make a picture book at the end. I am hoping for an exciting book, so far so good!

PS: If you would like to support our trip, you can do so here. It will only take two minutes and will not cost you anything!

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.