Germany cell: +49-170-8642-912
we made it on time!
On July 26, more than 14 months after leaving Germany with our Land Rover, Chiho and I arrived safely back at my parent’s house in Daun.
In a ceremony at the local mayor’s office we got married on August 8, 2008.
Our wedding celebrations turned out to be a wonderful event, perfectly planed and warmly executed by my mother and my father. We were humbled by the amount of neighbors, relatives, colleagues and friends who came to congratulate and share this day with us.
The wedding was also a great way to end our epic journey through Africa, with our trusted Land Rover performing his last duty of the journey as the official wedding car.
We were exhausted but happy and a little proud when we finally arrived in Germany. In 444 days of constant traveling we had driven 59.316 Kilometers (36,857 MIles), and circled almost the entire African continent overland.
On the map it looks like this:
We visited France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria on our journey.
38 Countries total.
The purpose of this journey was to get an overview. We attempted to learn as much as possible about the vastly diverse societies and cultures of the African continent in a very short amount of time. We were always very much aware of the limitations of our endeavor, but were also deeply grateful to be able to realize such a trip at all.
This journey was not a photojournalistic assignment. It was an adventure. Chiho and I will work hard in the coming months to put together a book about our Land Rover trip and we hope to be able to make it into our third published work.
The most important thing that remains to be said is that Chiho and I performed this huge undertaking together. Because of my work as a photojournalist we are often separated. I’m never home. To be able to spend almost an entire year together in Africa was a great gift and I am convinced that we will remember our Land Rover travels as one of the happiest times in our lives.
Many things have happened since we set out in May 2007.
While we were on the road we published the Iraq book, both in English and German.
I won some prizes, gave interviews and published pictures. We organized a show in New York and as the faithful reader of my dispatches will recall, on this occasion I had an operation on my butt.
We also managed to attend my sister’s wedding in New York and my mother’s 60th birthday in Daun. We were both forced to interrupt the Africa trip several times with excursions to New York, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Germany and The Netherlands.
There were sad moments too. While we were on the road my Iraqi colleague Khalid Hassan was murdered in Baghdad. An event that saddened my deeply.
Not so long ago, while we were in Egypt, we had an accident where a small girl was injured. A nightmarish episode and probably the darkest hour of the entire trip.
The little girl was rushed to a hospital after the accident and was surprisingly discharged immediately.
Over the internet I was lucky to find a German hotel owner in the small town where the accident occurred who volunteered his help. He was able to locate the girl and her family and had serious news for me. The girl, who’s name is Hanan, was more seriously injured than the doctor in the local hospital had realized. She has been receiving treatment in a specialized hospital since the accident for a swelling of her brain resulting from a concussion she suffered during the accident. I was deeply shocked to hear this news. At the same time I was greatly relieved to learn that Hanan’s family still did not accuse me of causing the accident and did not express any demands.
As a gesture of good will I was able to pay for most of the medical costs, which was made possible by the German hotel owner, who coincidently is one of several volunteers that work for the German embassy in Cairo in cases when Germans are in need of help in Egypt.
The good news is that Hanan’s condition seems to be improving and that she will be returning home soon.
So what will the future bring, now that our long journey is over?
Well, first Chiho and I will be going to Japan for yet another wedding, this time a traditional Japanese one.
After all these weddings we’ll return to Germany for the opening of a show in the gallery of my agency laif in Cologne, which will coincide with the Photokina (http://www.photokina.de/) Europe’s most important photography fair. The opening will take place on September 26. I will send out a separate invitation later.
In the beginning of October we are planning to finally be back home in New York. From there I will set out on shorter trips to the Middle East and Africa where photojournalistic assignments and projects are waiting for me.
If you don’t mind, I will keep you updated every once in a while.
All the best
currently in Daun, Germany
cell Germany: +49-170-8642-912