Julia Albu, the South African granny who is putting younger explorers to shame has finally made it to Cairo in her 1997 Toyota Conquest.
Albu set off on her road trip on 13 June 2017 and has been detailing her adventures on social media.
A Jakkelsfontein, Western Cape resident, 80-year-old Julia Albu, has been driving her 1997 Toyota Conquest across the continent on a solo road trip to raise awareness for literacy.
Albu’s idea for the trip started more than a year ago when she pondered why so many South Africans relied on more modern, expensive vehicles just to drive on ordinary roads. She was confident her modest 20-year-old Conquest could just as easily tackle the rougher terrains of Africa.
And it has!
Following the death of her partner of 33 years in 2015, raising four children and being a “gogo” to her nine grandchildren, Albu decided that it was finally time to take charge of her own destiny and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
Albu’s car, nicknamed Tracy, had already clocked almost 400,000km in the 20 years she had been behind the wheel.
Albu departed from the West Coast on the 13th of June 2017 and arrived in Cairo two weeks ago.
“It took approximately 4 – 5 months because I had to make some stops on the way for repairs.”
Albu says that she took an unplanned trip to Uganda because her son urged her to visit the festive country. Albu adds that when she reached the Egyptian border, she ended up sleeping in a cafeteria with 7 Egyptians for two nights.
“The only time I felt insecure was when I gave a lift to somebody, and at the next border post they pulled him out of my car. After some yelling and screaming we managed to sort it out.”
Albu’s end-point is London, via the east African coast, then catching a ferry across the Mediterranean Sea and driving through Europe. And she is doing it all for a good cause: literacy and education.
“You can’t do this for nothing because it’s a waste of time, no matter how much effort you have. You have to take a charity,” she says.
While distributing books and offering reading lessons to children along the way, Albu will be raising awareness of the Shine Literacy organisation in Cape Town.
“It is an early learning [charity] for children, but not just learning how to read. It teaches them the meaning of the word. You can read but you don’t know what you are reading and this teaches children the meaning of what they are reading.”