Newsletter xmas 2009

Dear family, friends and supporters,

When the temperatures drop below zero, the first snow came down, homes and shops are decorated with blinking lights, stars, bells and shiny balls and every second song on radio has something to do with Christmas you know that another year has past. With another year belonging to history one can always look forward to a new one starting ...

With a somewhat mysterious 365 days coming up one can either hope that it would bring one just as much pleasure, fun and success as the 365 days which have passed or that what lies ahead will bring better luck, more success, freedom, love, happiness and less sadness, pain, worries and stress. In whichever situation you might find yourself, we wish each of you a wonderful, warm festive time with family, friends or with strangers in other countries or places you might find yourself at this time of the year. For the year ahead we wish you happiness, success, no stress and a kind of satisfaction which one can only really feel and enjoy in one's heart.

Congratulations to the winners of our website competition:

Tibor Gööz - Ungarn

2nd Prize (PHOTOBOOK COMBO 08 & 09*):
Mihai Dan Leu - Rumänien

3rd Prize (PHOTOBOOK 2009*):
Georgiana Busuioceanu - Rumänien

* The Photo Yearbook 2009 should be available by February 2010. This year we produced a hard-cover book with 120 pages and over 175 full colour photographs (photographs have not been published until now). The production cost of the books have gone up which is why we dropped our price and offer you the Photo Yearbook 2009 at our cost price + shipping cost. Minimum cost (minimum) Euro 48 (includes postage). The voluntary amount above the minimum cost is seen as a donation towards Expedition-Earth.

Until 2010, Carry On - The Walkers

Newsletter 08.11.2009 - 06.12.2009

“Tina, your liver and spleen are extremely large and you have a tumor in your liver. Despite your high fever, your white blood cell count decreased over the past 2 days where they should have built up to protect your system against viruses. You can pick up anything very quickly which could seriously threaten your health.

We suggest you go back to Switzerland ... go to your doctors and find out what your problem is ... we can not do much more for you at the moment” Those were (more or less) the words of the kind doctors in Craiova ... and then the headaches started , got worse and worse and just did not go away! Tina was only moaning in bed, nothing helped to ease the pain. She could not cry as the pressure in her head became so unbearable then that she was screaming with fear that her head would burst open like a melon in wrench! We called REGA, Switzerland's emergency medical rescue service where we are members ...

The Swiss doctor on the phone suspected meningitis, but had no time to continue the conversation ... “get to a hospital now” she said “and get back to Switzerland”. “Can I fly?” Tina asked. “It would be better to avoid flying” was the response. Since Tina was released from hospital at that stage, the situation was no longer classified as “acute” and, except for the limited free advice, not covered by the REGA insurance anymore.

GREAT!!! There we were out in the sticks in Romania ... Tina went through hell lately, we are so close to reaching our final destination but yet so far away. Thousands of questions go through ones mind at that stage: “what the hell is wrong?”, “where do we go?”, “how do we go”, “do we have enough money?”, “what about the dogs?” and one of the worst questions which threatened to drive us completely insane: “was this it ... is the expedition over now?”

Once again we can only praise the guys from “Bike Attack” and the Mountain Rescue Team of Caras Severin for their unbelievable support, quick reaction and enormous efforts to help us. Within 48 hours a bus with two drivers were organised to drive us (and the dogs) back to the Swiss border ... over 2000km away. We covered the costs of the transport, food and drinks for their return journey with a little bit of money which we put aside since the beginning of this expedition (to be used “in case of emergency”). Most of our friends and family were not informed about our emergency visit to Switzerland as it would have only complicated things ... we did not return for a holiday or a pleasurable break. We needed to get good medical care where we could communicate in our own language, find out what was wrong, get it sorted out as quickly as possible and get back on the road again.

The result of many tests and check-ups were partly good and partly bad. Tina does not have a dangerous tumor in her liver, her blood count, liver and spleen got back to normal and she does not have aids, cancer, meningitis or leukemia. Tina was diagnosed with the ”Ebstein Barr Virus (EBV)”. According to Wikipedia 98% of all adults over the age of 40 carry this virus which only becomes apparent when it breaks out. Tinas condition started with a bacterial infection in the ear which weakened her immune system. The EBV then had an open door for the virus to attack her system. High fever, a swolen spleen and mild hepatitis were the symptoms. The unbearable headaches were caused by blocked sinusses and the difference in altitude between Craiova and Steierdorf (where we stayed while sorting out our evacuation plan) which increased the pressure in her head which could not “escape”.

Tina is currently also waiting out a middle ear infection which is likely an effect of the EBV. EBV can not be cured through medication ... and in some cases not at all. Only time heals the condition and we have to wait. What we do know is that Tina should hold back on physical strain ... no hard walking (a difficult one for a walker pulling a trailer of up to 80kg across mountains). We should protect her ears from further damage or infections once the middle ear infection has healed (once again difficult for walkers sleeping in their tent throughout a cold/wet eastern European winter).

The EBV could affect her health for anything between 3 weeks and 6 months (or even longer). Currently Tina is nearly deaf with completely blocked sinusses. She has headaches and pain in the ears, very limited energy and her heart beats like mad when she walks up a flight of stairs (this is very unusual. After 5513km on foot Tina was so fit that she could walk 20-30km with her trailer and when necessary, even run a few kilometers without being out of breath for a minute) ... not the kind of condition to get back on the road yet ... we will have to wait it out a bit longer ... we are frustrated, angry, furious, sad and also nearly broke. We are The Walkers” ... damn-it! We “Carry On” ... we set goals and achieve them, we do things which will remain a dream for many.

During the planning phase of “Expedition CHARGE Across Europe” we identified low-, medium and high risk situations where the expedition could be delayed and/or abandoned. Right now we have to accept the fact that the expedition is delayed. The situation at present makes us believe that we will complete the rest of the 2500km walk as planned, despite this delay, and that we should still reach our destination within our own set parameters of maximum two-and-a-half years.

Ok ... enough of that for the moment. For those of you who reacted and wished us good luck and “get well soon” ... we thank you for your continued support and belief in us and this expedition. We are sad that we can not give you more “positive” news right now but thats the way it is ... some of you know our “3 rules in life” ... exactly!

The draw of the competition on our website will take place on the 15th of December 2009 and the winners will be announced before Christmas. So if you still did not fill out the questionaire ... why don't you do it now to stand a chance of winning a SOLAR-CHARGING-SYSTEM from SwissBatteries or PHOTO BOOKS from Expedition-Earth.

Carry On - The Walkers

Read More
Newsletter 09.10.2009 - 07.11.2009
We prepared for our departure the next day as we wanted to make use of the relatively stable weather to reach the Black Sea as quickly as possible. Through contacts of the Mountain Rescue Team, who we happened to meet in Resita, we had a roof over our heads for the night in Craiova. But on the same evening Tina complained about feeling weak with pain in her stomach and back as well as a pounding headache... Read More
Newletter 27.09.2009 - 8.10.2009

Dear newsletter readers

 The end of Expedition CHARGE Across Europe is planned for week 20 (May) 2010 (almost 4 months quicker than our original deadline of 2,5 years). We plan to reunite with friends and family for a few days after which our South African family will join us for the drive through Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy to the Swiss border.

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Newsletter 1.09.2009 - 26.09.2009
The border control building has been abandoned for many years and there was no police in sight as we crossed the border from Slovakia into Hungary in the blistering heat of nearly 40 degrees Celsius. A few people were hanging around drinking beer and amusing themselves with who- or whatever crossed the border... We were an obvious target as we slowly passed the scanning eyes and promptly two guys ran towards us and followed us into Hungary. Eventually we decided to stop, almost expecting to regret our decision ... Read More
Newsletter 21.07.2009 - 31.08.2009
A small gravel track guided us over the hill separating Poland and Slovakia according to our map and before we knew it we had left our 7th country behind, bouncing downhill into the first village in East Slovakia ... gypsy-village. With our worn-out, dirty gear and sweaty unwashed bodies we stood out like a Ferrari on a scrap yard ... we were in a different world ... Read More
Newsletter 27.06.2009 - 20.07.2009
** “What an amazing cloud formation!! Have you ever seen anything like that?” Tina shouted standing halfway up the hill and grabbed the camera to capture the moment. The dark grey-blue clouds forced themselves through a crack in the bright summer sky. The clashing winds up high pushed the heavy masses even more on top of each other like a moulding cauliflower into compressed, threatening, towering thunder clouds right above us. It was one of the first long-awaited hot sunny days since we left Warsaw and we were tackling the first higher hills. We did not count with a sudden change in weather like this. Tina was so fascinated with this spectacle, taking one picture after the other barely being able to control her excitement. The clashing hot and cold winds started twisting the massive “cauliflower” in an anti-clockwise rotation ... “Ruan, check it out ... it looks like a tornado!, Tina shouted in euphoria ... seconds later the formation burst open ...

** (From now on you can have a small taster from the book as an intro to the newsletter - something to look forward to! The book with the complete story available in 2011!)
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Newsletter 16.05.2009 - 21.06.2009
The phone rang while Ruan stood guard over the the two trailers in the centre of Augustow, Poland. On the other end of the line was the trembling voice of Tina: "They want to operate immediately" she said. "I told them that I want to talk to you first ... what shall we do? Akela fell asleep during the check-up and sonar ... this is BAD ... this is really BAD!" We knew right away that we did not have any options here. If we had not operated she would have died but the chances of loosing her during the operation were big due to her extremely weak condition… Read More
Newsletter 10.04.2009 - 16.05.2009
Our camp was in a strip of forest only 30m off the main road leading to Vilnius (20km further South). Enjoying our macaroni dinner, headlamps switched on, we were certain that no one would notice our being here – Let alone come and bother us. We were wrong ... Read More
Newsletter 12.03.2009 - 09.04.2009
Looking back at our time in Latvia, we probably had one of the hardest times of our long walk South until now. It was hard in mainly one aspect – the weather! When we pulled these sledges across the fjords and the “white desert” in Norway (Finmark) in March 2008 (one year ago) we had to fight with snow storms, extreme winds and temperatures below minus 30 degrees Celsius ... but it was a DRY COLD. In the Baltic States, during late winter and “supposedly” early spring, we were fighting against the constant combination of WET & COLD ... the absolute worst situation for living outdoors ... Read More
Newsletter 06.02.2009 12.03.2009

We are writing tonight while melting pot after pot of snow to stock up our water supply. We could not find any fresh water today - no shop or other reliable source of clean water - after dragging our tired and wet bodies for over 20km through dirty snow-slush on the main road between Tallinn & Riga, constantly being covered in a kind of sludge sprayed over us by the hundreds of speeding long distance transport trucks passing only a few centimeters from us ... 

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Newsletter 04.01.2009 06.02.2009

With temperatures recently between -10°C and +5°C and humidity ranging from 75%-90% it is a combination which is certainly less then ideal for a “little walk”, but  when a team member physically crashes it brings one back to reality with a bang.

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Expedition Newsletter January 2009
Christmas has come and gone and hopefully you slipped into the new year in good spirit, full of energy and ready to face the challenges which this new year will bring. It started well for us, “The Walkers” by winning the Homepage Award 2008

Looking back at the adventures of 2008 and the first 2500km on foot (see our Photo Yearbook 2008 available to order), we experienced ...
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