Words and Photos by Shane Quinnell unless otherwise credited.
Much like puberty, teething is something each and every single one of us will go through in our lifetimes. Unlike puberty, however, almost none of us can actually remember our own teething experience. Rather we experience it through stories told to us by our parents, their friends, or maybe via the experiences of other kids when we are old enough to remember it. Whatever the case, the consensus is; teething is tough.
My experience in life is that teething is not only experienced when we actually grow teeth. We experience it each and every time we try something new and grow from it. With this in mind, it’s safe to say Tarryn and I have been teething.
The last few months of our lives have been a blur of planning, actions, obstacles and finally long awaited results. All of this activity has been fuelled by a decade long dream to experience the “real Africa,” by doing an EPIC overland trip 20,000km long and in the middle attempt Africa’s five highest mountains.
“While we appear confident in what we are doing… we are pretty fresh off the print…much of what we are doing is new to us.”
Shane and Tarryn Quinnell - Team Tane
The truth is that while we appear confident in what we are doing, we actually haven’t done anything like this many times… ever. Yes we have climbed in Cape Town and attempted Mt Kenya, yes we have travelled quite a bit and done road trips in Badger to Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland, but really we are pretty fresh off the print.
Unlike the veterans of the African bush who wear khaki and whose skin looks and probably is as hard as leather, much of what we are doing is new to us. Through Wizerd and Suzuki Bryanston we recently learnt to drive a 4x4 over things more daunting than a speed hump; through Opposite Lock, how to fit a solar panel to a battery system and through Suzuki South Africa, how to do a proper service on our own little Jimny, “Badger.”
Between us, Tarryn and I only recently learnt how to use Photoshop, use a GoPro and edit videos properly, and how on earth to build a website. Finally and possibly most poignantly, Tarryn only recently learnt how to lead ‘trad climb (short for traditional climb; the style where you have to place your own protection),’ which is mandatory to climb Mt Kenya.
As I am sure you can imagine, all of this learning has at times left us close to redlining with our overheating brains threatening to melt and drip down our faces. This was particularly true in the last week where we spent hours, and I mean HOURS, at Suzuki and Wizerd’s and underneath and inside Badger, on Skype with Smartgrid figuring out their satellite modem, talking about emergency response plans with International SOS, learning how to load the awesome Tracks4Africa live map onto our website and trying to import our Mont Bell sponsored apparel from Japan. The patience and support we have been shown has been remarkable.
Nevertheless, despite all the craziness and the odds, which frequently looked insurmountable, here we are on day eight of our dream; Suzuki Africa Sky High. We can’t say that the teething has stopped, it hasn’t. We are still figuring ourselves out, still optimising our packing space and growing our relationship with Badger, but the learning curve and teething pains have slowed. The most important thing though is that we are here, in Botswana, doing it and loving it! We made it.
To conclude, in our experience living your dreams is possible. The only catch is that it requires a huge amount of hard work both from you and the world around you. The truth is we could not have done and be doing this alone and have to take this opportunity to thank all the amazing people who are behind us. Firstly, our great sponsors who helped make our expedition possible. Then companies like Bridgestone (who are now a sponsor) Front Runner, National Luna and Channel Print who stepped in when it counted, i.e. in the last week, to respectively, assist us with much needed new tyres, toughen up our roof rack, lend us a working fridge when ours failed a day before departure and print us a banner for the mountain summits. Finally and most importantly we want to thank you; our family, friends and followers who have shown interest in our dream, liked our stories and commented our pictures. As much as this journey is for us, it is for you. Without your interest and belief in what we are doing, the fire of our passion would be long dead. After all, what good is a story if no one wants to hear it?
With this, we thank each and everyone who has helped us and look forward to sharing our dream with you, in the hope of inspiring you to embark on your own and share it with us.
Keep an eye out for our next blog where we give you the inside to life on the road living our dream.