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Friday, October 30, 2015

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Seven years, ten months and four days traveled Gunther Holtorf and his girlfriend Christine Boehme already around the world, as they wanted for the first time in a restaurant. It was Christmas 1999, this one time it should take even cooked off in the back seat of her SUV give some luxury: a stuffed turkey. In South America, they believed, admit it probably only in Georgetown, capital of the former British colony Guyana.

"Christine had been looking forward insanely," Holtorf says 16 years later. He pauses, his blue eyes sparkling. The little man now acts not like a 78-year-old, but mischievous as a boy. For since this little obstacle was: a jungle road from northern Brazil to Guyana, foreigners never happened. "Of course we were deep in the mud," says Holtorf and laughs. No progress. For hours.

They sat tight, as it was pitch black. sleep in hammocks? That would have been too dangerous. So they spent Christmas in an inclined position because the car stuck in the mud wrong. Instead there were turkey pasta with tomato sauce. "Symbolically we lit a candle," says Holtorf. The next morning they got free the car but had to return to Brazil. It could be one of those moments that bring solid relationships falter. And even the largest travel fools to curse.

Gunther and Christine but toured undaunted. For years, no serious quarrel with almost all countries of the world, even though they "lived together like Siamese twins" as Holtorf says. Restaurants they stayed away, a turkey-eating was no longer there. But they met in the Kazakh desert after 500,000 kilometers with Krimsekt on their journey, which had long since become an end in itself: you drove and drove - until death separated them. No retreat, no privacy. The shower: a turned upside down water tank. The living room: a three-square small, converted back seat with thin mattresses. This probably holds only true love.

Wall - out into the world!

Here, their relationship had started with a big chance. Holtorf had worked for Lufthansa as a state leader in South America and Indonesia, later for Hapag Lloyd. With many flights he stared longingly out the window and made a mental note: Given below I want to go again! Others dream when they look at the sky. Holtorfs dream started when he looked at the earth from heaven. 1988, 50, he got out. He bought a Mercedes G-Class, he banal "Otto" baptized and now sometimes affectionate "Ottilein" lists. He shipped the SUV to Nairobi, took a few test runs. Then he gave 17 November 1989, a personal ad in the "time", which changed his life.

"Are you interested in foreign countries beyond the mass tourism?" He asked. "Do you feel in the wild well? Are you sporty and active, slim, simple, open to interesting this world?" If so, then one could be so times to meet with a bottle of wine. Self described Holtorf as "athletic, sleek" optimists, "spatially and financially independent". The Berlin Wall was only like a week as Christine Boehme read this ad, on the way from Dresden to West Berlin in order to collect their welcome money. It was her first Western newspaper. They have always had wanted to travel. With the end of the GDR she was free at last and answered. More than 50 replies received Holtorf, with three women he met, only Christine was memorable.. "Although it was not the breakneck love at first sight, but it seemed very simple, sympathetic, resilient first she was shy as. West German I was for them indeed a bit like the rich uncle from America. "

27 lions next to the car

That Christine was a single mother of a ten year old, she hid until the second meeting, too, they feared a rejection. When the boy was placed in a boarding school and relatives took care of him, it could go. The plan was only a short trip through Africa. First she fell in love with this feeling of absolute freedom, then another. The best they liked it in the deepest wilderness. Once a giant pack of 27 lions tore a Cape buffalo next to her car. "We saw the lions doggedly in the intestines of Buffalo, was still alive and twitching," says Holtorf recalls. "Christine cried, but that is the nature."

For one day, they watch the feeding frenzy, their necessities they performed in a container in the car. They stayed a bit away and came back the next morning to the lion, which now days digested: "Basically, we have lived with the pack". Hazardous something was not. There was about this loud crack, the Holtorf perhaps saved his life. A hyena had bitten his soap dish. The noise woke Holtorf, the evening was asleep in his hammock. The hyena was almost right next to him, would have taken him for carrion and soon bitten. Another time attracted oranges scent of an elephant. "The trunk still stood open, I sat on the driver's seat, the trunk tip slipped past my right ear." The animal took apart the trunk until it finally found the fruits.

The trickiest but was a hell ride with previously dislocated shoulder and deep red tropical ulcer from Ethiopia to Kenya. Holtorf drove compass through open terrain, it was about every minute - perhaps he would lose his inflamed foot. Just in time he reached a hospital in Nairobi.

With meticulousness and penetrance: As first in Cuba

intriguingly, however, is: In all the time the two nothing worse has happened to a total of nine cases of malaria. They drove through the Sahara, just before there tourists were kidnapped. They settled in Gaddafi's Libya their government minders just stand and called it a "victory of impudence". And they drove the first tourists through Afghanistan, as there already was a war. Nevertheless Holtorf says: "We have even felt safe in Kabul." Naively he does not act. Rather meticulous. He can recite statistics on virtually every country. He has been robbed not once. He rarely stayed two nights in the same place, almost never twice navigated in dangerous cities the same street.

Holtorf is the alternative to the cliché stoner-outs. He financed his trip with the first detailed map of Jakarta, which he completed in 1980 after three years of fieldwork. Since she had sold millions of copies, and so it was worthwhile to update it and for it to stop now and then the journey. With the same patience with which he surveyed unfamiliar side streets, he was planning his trip. So he applied for years for a visa for Cuba and North Korea: countries that had traveled no foreigner previously with private car. Holtorf but eventually got the papers by penetrance, happiness and contacts - about thanks to a friend who worked in a garage with a son of Fidel Castro. "Madness, Cuba!" Says Holtorf and sounds as if he had only just received the promise.

At the end, the couple gets no tropical disease, no tax collectors, no broken axle. But a tumor behind Christine's ear. To chemotherapy and radiation, they were in Germany. "But in between she insisted to travel on," says Holtorf. 2008 went to the Caribbean, 2009, after France. As from Dresden felt that she would not cure cancer, they wanted their travel companions to marry at least. The plan that was actually the end of the trip. Now she had to hurry.

Sad onward journey

"She has it so desired, that their bodies once again reared" says Holtorf perceptibly affected. The terminally ill took it with gallows humor: you do not know whether they'll say yes, they even joked in the registry office. That was in the summer of 2010. Two weeks later she was dead, buried not 30 feet from the registry office in a village on the Chiemsee. At her husband only had one request. "She told me: When I'm on Cloud 13, I want to see what you do and Ottilein." So Holtorf drove on. At times accompanied him Martin, Christine now adult son, whom he had adopted. With it, he crossed North Korea and drove to Mount Everest.

Only four years after Christine's death ended Gunther Holtorf his journey. He had traveled almost all countries in the same car and was it made its way into the Guinness Book. To record it but never went: "We have made this trip for us." After 899,592 kilometers and 26 years he slept on 6 October 2014, the last time in Wroclaw on "Otto" backseat. He then placed the still roadworthy SUV Daimler CEO Zetsche, who wanted to use it for advertising purposes. Holtorf but would like to travel further, albeit by train. "Why not InterRail?" Asks the old man. And sounds like a teenager who has yet to discover the world.

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