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Author: Maria Zehentner / Translation: Elke Weninger
Beitrag vom: 29.12.2016

2016 – a year of ups and downs...

2016 – a year of ups and downs...

Autumn showed itself in outstanding glory, we were offered great colours when strolling through the autumn forest. The year was approaching its end and our excitement was growing from day to day. The final preparations were running at full speed, our heads were spinning.

We had tried to keep our blog regarding Akela, us and our plan – at least up to this point - chronological and informative, yet now we want to give you a closer and exclusive look behind the scenes, how Akela came into being.
We want to offer you a glimpse into our family ML2 (Maria, Lennox and Leander). Many matters and objects hardly anyone realised, yet brought us close to dispair. 

Each time when asked how alteration work was going on, we basically kept answering the same bullshit, “...that it was going fine, the whole project was very time consuming, we were watching our money disappear day by day, but we would be happy and positive and everything would be working out in the end.” Our goal to get going by the end of the year was approaching and coming into reach. It says belief can shift mountains, even those which have been created by doubts. Yet, unluckily it wasn't that easy...

I daresay from the beginning of 2015 up to now, Akela changed its location regularly between blacksmith, workshop, joinery, covered shelter depending on what had to be done at that specific point of time.

Storage boxes were constructed, dieseltanks mounted, water tanks built in, furniture constructed and fitted in, cables and lines lain. We were screwing, welding, timbering, painting, coating,...I could carry on without end and this might all sound like good progress, but we had to face the fact that our family life suffered a great deal in these circumstances.

Leander was spending his days from early till late for months with Akela and was working on its reconstruction. There were countless evenings when Leander wasn't able to say good night to Lennox, it was no rarity that he came back as late as 10 pm, completely exhausted and tired, even too tired to eat. 

He was, is and has been like Akela's head. Anybody requesting anything regarding Akela called Leander. His mobile phone was in use day and night, his laptop never switched off. Before any upcoming work could be done, Leander had to know how it had to be done. He always had to be one step ahead of the team working on Akela as he had to make decisions, give proper instructions to promote the reconstruction. His brain was in constant use, frequently even I wasn't able to understand his theory of chaos anymore.

All these tasks, the responsibilty, the stress, no more time for the family, no time for anything anymore...all this nearly overwhelmed him.

Meanwhile, I was trying to support Leander as much as possible. On my free mornings I helped reconstructing the lorry. If we had somebody to look after Lennox, we could share the work for the whole day or at the weekends. 90% of the evenings were spent on doing research or conversation and the remaining 10% we found ourselves sleeping in front of the TV. On top of that I worked 16 hours a week in a travel agency, and after my job being done, I often had to coordinate looking after Lennox, taking something somewhere or getting it from another place to ensure work on Akela could carry on without interruptions. 

Frequently Lennox told me when being taken somewhere that he hated Akela and wouldn't like to go with us on our big round-the world trip. I kept telling him that this lack of time yet high level of stress would only carry on for another final 2 months, and once we had closed the doors of Akela from the inside, starting our big journey we would have a lot of time together and time in abundance.

which was so important for us,
time for the family,
time for the partner,
time for nature...

All this we hoped to achieve by going on this journey. However, in the back of my mind the concern grew that we might spend more of our precious time than wanted on unpleasant things such as repair work, planning the route, obtaining visa or other administrational things...

How much of the so highly yearned for freedom and independence would really remain? This question did not only bother me, Leander had similar worries. When we seemed to 'have fallen into a hole' once again, we asked ourselves time and again, whether we were up to the right thing, whether we would be able to achieve it. Were we expecting too much of us and, above all, of Lennox? Were we about to re-invent the hamster's wheel and the rat-race we tried to escape from at home anew on our world trip? At times each of us wanted to throw in the towel and statements such as, “You can travel around the world on your own with that old lorry.”, or “I'm no longer interested in the whole business!” were said once in a while.

Yet we made up again, though sometimes it did take a bit longer. Any disputes were discussed and we compromised once or more often. 

At times we enjoyed a glass of wine or two. Later at night, once the wine had done its job to our minds and bodies we were speaking about us. We openly and honestly spoke about our fears and worries and that we were looking forward to this new event, let our thoughts run freely. Obviously the issue of “not seeing”relatives or friends frequently came to our minds. I noticed similar worries and thoughts in Lennox. How would we be able to deal with that situation?

Photography is not only Leander's job, it's also his hobby. It is his passion. It made him very sad and sick when thinking about how little time he had been able to spend on taking pictures. He only accepted few customers' orders, more wouldn't have been possible due to Akela.

Private projects, whatever those might have been, were out of thought and miles away. 

New technology in photography appeared on the market, new designs, new cameras, yet Leander had neither time to inform himself, nor did we have the money to get and organise essential equipment from our list. I knew how much he had been missing photography throughout the last year.

My own big passion, dancing, obviously was left behind as well. I was either too tired or didn't have the time. When dancing I got to know many new people, who by now I can call my friends and, yes, I will be missing you lot a great deal!

On top of that, activities such as going out for a meal, going to watch a film at the cinema, going on holiday, to the hairdresser, buying new clothes were deleted without substitution. However, we did make the occasional exception, but only for Lennox.

Our money, additionally to that spent on constantly required material and working hours, was spent on tyres, an oven, upholstery, mattresses, smoke alarm,...shall I carry on with the list? We were top customers at amazon. ...which makes me start telling more about this issue: In the last year I seemed to live in a logistics centre. At regular basis we received deliveries of spare parts for our lorry which we had ordered and bought online. We ordered seats for the lorry as well as manuals. Big parcels, small parcels – everything was delivered. Unluckily some parts came in an unsatisfying state – partly being broken or slightly damaged which resulted in complaints and correspondence with dealers or transport companies. Halfway through the year we both started panicking due to our household goods, which we had started to offer online. Leander being rather successful, I truly had my problems selling objects. 

However, unluckily selling household commodities wasn't the only thing we had to bear in mind. A world trip – at least ours – includes a hell lot of organisation. We wanted to be prepared as well as possible, hence a very good insurance regarding accidents or illnesses on our journey was of top priority and we spent a lot of time on doing research.

We had quite aburd ideas how we might be able to insure ourselves effectively and cheaply. We also had to find a good insurance for the lorry. How about liabilty outside the EU region? Are we covered by insurance or can we take off the number plates? Following the slogan “once we are in  Mongolia noone is interested in what or even if we have any number plate on the lorry”.We took along an old Enduro. Would we have to register it? Mainly it would be fixed onto the rear carrier, hardly ever in use.We are required to carry a Carnes de Passage, - no, we require two as the motorbike requires one, too. 


What the hell is CDP?


Compulsory nursery school and school start for Lennox were issues which had to be dealt with as well. Countless phonecalls and e-mails were necessary to get answers to seemingly millions of questions we had. At times we spent ages talking to people to make them understand what exactly we were asking for, what we required. 

Hardly anybody could grasp our idea and concept of going on a world trip, resulting in long explanations until we reached our aim. Being told to “call again at a later time” and hence being forced to wait until we got the required information demoralised and took away two things: time and nerves. 

Towards the end of the year our partners – companies, which we had managed to be interested in our project – asked us to receive promised material such as photos, blog entries, test reports yet unluckily we had already mounted and installed many of them in Akela for good. We were therfore under pressure and didn't have any photos either as Leander had had no time to take them, edit them, let alone pass them on.

Blog entries and test reports weren't able to be published online as our website wasn't suitable to be used by anybody yet. Our website, another construction area which had been unfinished for over a year. In our minds we had started the website with great thoughts. Programming the website, at the beginning on our own, ended up in quite a disaster. Finally, professional help overcame this problem.

To make sure that 'we weren't getting bored' we took part in a 16-hour Intensive First Aid course and afterwards could call ourselves First Aiders, bearing a diploma!

To be best prepared for an emergency in the Outback we could luckily find a paramedic from the Austrian army to train us. His hobby was to spend his holidays in the jungle so we were trained by him regarding treatment of bites of various nasty animals such as snakes, spiders, how to give infusions, how to intubate,...

In the course of this, we had intensive talks with a renowned doctor for tropical diseases and had to get vaccinations against various diseases we might encounter or/and get infected by. These vaccinations cost about €1,000, and as we had to have our passports in a duplicate version we had to pay another €450. Hundreds and thousands of euros changed their owners – from us to somebody in a shop or to an online distributor. Many hidden and up to then unknown costs which we had not calculated came up, unknown as we had not had a plan at the beginning of our preparation time. 

Our current state of knowledge based on two years' preparation time, the last of these being really intensive. Nevertheless, today we are here, and maybe we would do many things differently, but this  mostly seems to be true ;-).

As you can see, we were carried away. Jumping from one subject to another. Just I as it has happened to me in my blog/report. I hope you have still been able to keep up a bit. A lot more things and points of interest keep coming into my mind which I would love to tell you about, yet this really would go beyond the scope of this report. 

I was just sitting in the living room, my eyes wandering through our flat. It was getting emptier and emptier as we had been able to find new owners for many of our best bits and pieces. Gaps and vacant spaces which had taken over increased our spirit of optimism and made me fidgety and excited about what was ahead of me.

Despite all the pain and trouble, we are ready for it – more than ever before!



Documenting our trip in words and pictures is a lot of work. And as you have seen, our website is ad-free. We want to leave it that way and want to avoid annoying you with advertising, but due to that we don't earn anything either with our website. If you like our blog posts and would like to support us, we would be very happy to receive a donation so that we can continue to report. Thanks very much!


  1. JOhanna Furtlehner
    JOhanna Furtlehner
    Bewundernswert wie Ihr das Schafts . Ich wünsche euch weiterhin alles Gute. Ich werde es weiterhin verfolgen.
    Eure damalige Vermieterin in Anthering .
    1. Maria
      Liebe Johanna, vielen Dank für dein liebes Mail! Es freut uns sehr, dass du uns verfolgst
  2. Michaela Sirbut
    Michaela Sirbut
    ML2 :-) ihr habt meinen größten Respekt für so eine große Reise. Aber Ihr macht das schon. Danke für das tolle Fotos hihihi. Alles Gute wo immer Ihr gerade seit. Bussal Michi
  3. Gaby
    Liebe Maria, mir ist ganz schwindelig vom lesen - alle Achtung, daß Ihr das durchgezogen habt! Ich dachte Ihr seid schon losgefahren und auf dem Balkan, hab ich mich da irgendwie vertan? Ganz liebe Grüße!!