German couple takes to the road on their truck to see the world
A German couple — Tina Weidinger (52) and Klaus Jentschke (53) who’ve been married for 28 years — lives a life that most of us only spend a lifetime dreaming about. And the dream is to ‘throw our worries to the wind and hit the road.’
While for many it remains a tea-time conversation topic, Tina and Klaus decided to give up their routine lives in Munich, and embark on a world tour in a MAN truck called ‘Shumba’. The word Shumba is derived from a Zimbabwean tribal language, meaning lion.
The couple has been globetrotting since late 2012. They set out from Munich in September 2012 and after crossing a major chunk of Eastern Europe, entered the Middle East via Turkey and into Iran. They arrived in the UAE at the end of January, and since then, they have spent two months in Oman, went back home to Germany for the summer, and returned to Dubai in October.
The couple’s travel expenses are fully funded by them. They celebrated Christmas in Dubai and love the city for its multi-cultural environment, pleasant weather, and affable people. “We went out for dinner at a restaurant in the Burj Khalifa and got German cake,” said Tina.
Khaleej Times caught up for a chat with Tina Weidinger speaking to her about their ‘adventures’ while being on the move. They have seen most of the seven Emirates and park their truck in Jumeirah or at the cycle park in Meydan.
Tina used to be a Human Resource manager for a firm and Jentschke owned a bicycle shop. After selling their businesses, house, furniture, and other belongings in Munich, the couple decided to pool in their joint resources to fund a habit that they both love — travelling. “I don’t think we’ve risked anything. The entire trip has been carefully planned, and some of our things are in a storage unit in Munich, in case we decide that we want to go back, we can sell the truck and settle somewhere,” said Tina.
“We’ve always loved to travel and in all the time that we’ve been married, we’ve worked, collected the money required, and set out to see the world. We’ve spend several of our vacations in Africa, several of which extended to about five to eight weeks,” said Tina. “The decision to take up this journey was made when we were in Botswana, crossing across the Kalahari. We were sitting around a fire, and we thought, there is more to life than just this,” added Tina. “After giving the idea some serious thought, we began to calculate costs and risks and decided that the MAN truck is an appropriate vehicle for us,” said Tina.
Speaking about some of the more remarkable moments in their journey, Tina said that there was an occasion when they met with members of the Bushmen tribe in Africa. “We communicated with them by writing hieroglyphics in the sand. While sitting around fires, we heard lions roaring,” said Tina.
“We have been in Dubai since the end of October. We are waiting for our visa procedures to Saudi to clear, after which we hope to travel into Sudan through Saudi Arabia. From Sudan we want to drive to Cape Town, South Africa, and eventually take a ship to Buenos Aires, South America,” said Tina.
The MAN TGM 13.280 4×4 truck, usually used as a fire truck, is fully equipped and looks like a living room on wheels. “It has a toilet, fresh water supply, GPS navigation, and we can survive comfortably for 11 to 12 days in isolated areas. The truck is equipped with solar panels and all machinery inside the van is charged using solar power. It is like a 12-metre apartment,” said Tina.
“We take turns driving and the biggest advantage with the MANtruck is that you can take it off the road. There are several bad roads in Africa and what we love best about our travels is the opportunity to meet new people. We don’t want to be in airports and live in cities. We also like to spend time in these countries and if we have a good time, we end up staying for a longer time,” added Tina.
As part of the world tour, the couple has driven the MAN truck across countries like Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Armenia, and then eventually into Iran. “We came over to the UAE by the end of January and after spending a month here, we left to Oman and stayed there for two months,” said Tina. After this the couple came back to the UAE and eventually went up to Musandam and spent a week there. They got back to UAE, during the summer. “We thought it was too hot for us and we decided to fly back home to Germany in June for four months and got back here at the end of October,” said Tina.
“It doesn’t matter how you travel as long as you are meeting interesting people, learning about new cultures, traditions and the way of living in a different country along the way. People are mostly polite and hospitable. There is so much war in the world, but when it comes to one person or a few people in a little village or a tribe, there is hospitality and there is freedom, which is most impressive.” As long as they consider themselves fit and healthy, they intend to keep travelling.
Before embarking on the journey, the couple has travelled to Indonesia, Sumatra and Borneo Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, and has travelled across African nations on motorbikes and cars. “We’ve lived in Libya, Nambia, Malawi, and Mozambique as well,” said Tina.
Tina and Klaus have not set a time frame to complete the travels and once they complete the African nations, they intend to cross the Atlantic into South America, drive to the North, and eventually complete Alaska. “We still haven’t seen Australia,” said Tina. The couple is documenting their travels on the website www.shumba.eu for their friends back in Germany to know that they are safe.