Epic Africa drive after brief meeting
Share this article:
Ged Meechan, 63, told the Cape Times yesterday that he started driving 81-year-old Julia Albu’s Tazz Conquest, named Tracey, from Alexandria in Egypt on November 21 and arrived at her family’s home last Sunday.
Albu had driven the car to Alexandria to fulfil her lifelong dream of driving through Africa but fell ill and was unable to drive back.
Recalling their brief meeting in England, Meechan said: “It was a random meeting. I really couldn’t believe she was attempting to do (the trip), but I loved the idea.
“I was travelling about two months behind her in my own Citroen from Birmingham when I became aware through her Facebook that she had become seriously ill in Italy.”
Albu had contracted bilharzia from snails in an Ethiopian river, according to Meechan, who said she had been airlifted to South Africa and left her car in Alexandria, Egypt.
He said it was after he contacted her family with an offer to drive Tracey back to Cape Town from Alexandria that they had agreed to his completing the journey.
Meechan said the biggest challenge was to get the car released by the authorities in Alexandria, “but as soon I got the car I felt a massive responsibility to get it back to Cape Town".
“Can you imagine the embarrassment if I had to say: ‘Julie, I smashed up your car, or it has been hijacked or stolen’.
“So, I decided to drive as quickly as possible to Cape Town. I drove through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa in 26 days.
“The car is incredible, I’ve not had a single problem. The biggest problem I had was a lack of fuel.”
Albu’s son-in-law, Joost van der Ploeg, said he and his wife Katherine accompanied Albu during her drive.
She is still in hospital.