From Russia, through Africa

Irina Sidorenko with her dog Greta, they have traveling together. PHOTO Supplied.

TRAVELLING by car across Africa, one would imagine there would be a number of creature comforts that you would miss. For Russian born Irina Sidorenko, it’s perfume, Moschino I Love Love perfume to be exact.

Sidorenko, who is currently in Durban, has spent the past year, travelling Africa and living out of her car. Missing her perfume is the kind of response that would make Linda Buck and Richard Axel happy. They were both awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2004, on the account of their revolutionary study on the sense of smell, which brought a whole science based on perfumes and its wearers into focus. According to their study, perfumes have time travelling propensities, evoking either some past pleasant memories or prompting a future vision of the wearer of the perfume.

Irina Sidorenko stands next to her Hyundai Elentra, she has been using it to travel the world. PHOTO Supplied.

The intrepid traveller said she had travelled through 48 countries in her trusty 2005 Hyundai Elantra, accompanied by her dog, Greta a half husky/half labrador. The car, which has clocked more than 190000km has no added special features, and according to Siderenko, is roaring to get going again. She said she is currently in Durban looking for ship to move cross the Atlantic ocean, preferably to Uruguay, where it is easier to enter by car and with a dog. From there she plans to go through North and South America, Asia and then back home to Russia.

“I always wanted to travel. In 2015 I met a married couple who had just finished their world trip by car, and it was then that I realized that’s exactly how I wanted to travel. I got my driving license in 2016, bought a car beginning of 2017, did a few test trips to Crimea, Georgia and Morocco, and on May 5 2017 I started traveling around world,” she said.

While there is a global perception on how unsafe the world is, Siderenko says if you open to the world, the world opens for you. “If you’re looking for peace and serenity the world will give it to you. You just have to also follow the basic rules of safety,” she said. However, Siderenko recalls the most frightening incident she encountered on her travels happened in West Africa, in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, where some items, including her Moschino I Love Love perfume was stolen. I was caught in the middle of rowdy strikers who broke into my car. Local journalists came to my rescue. They alerted Russian Company (RUSAL) who sent representatives very quickly to rescue me,” she said.

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“I met a lot of travellers from all over the world during the journey. When I am tired, depending on how safe it is, I stop the car on the side of the road and sleep. I would do 300km a day depending on the road, there were times I did 1000km in a day. Sometimes I would go a day without driving. This happened when my car broke down and I had to get it fixed. In Senegal, I had to pay a penalty fine, because they only allow cars not older than 2008 models on their roads, and mine is a 2005 model,” said Siderenko.

The 20 countries in Europe Siderenko has travelled to include Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Belorussia, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, France, Spain and Gibraltar. She then moved on to Morocco, and from there travelled through West Africa: Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon before entering the Congo.

A local fixes Irina Sidorenko’s car. PHOTO Supplied.

“In Gabon I met some friends and they flew me to DRC to Angola in a military aircraft. Then came Namibia and finally South Africa, Cape Town, and from there. I have to been to Grahamstown, the Addo Elephant Park, the Drakensberg (reached Lesotho border) and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park. When I was in Cape Town I asked if it was possible to get a ship to South America, and was told that I better look for that in Durban, because Durban is a biggest port in Africa,” she said.

“I have manged to travel all of Africa and my short term goal now is to travel the rest of the world. My long term goal is to return home safe. I am also planning to return to my professional life of being Public Relations, and may be open my own workshop, because I cant see my life without car from now. I am rearing to go, and ideally i would like to get into cruise ship. I went through special training, I have a maritime certificate so I can be part of the crew and that will also ensure that I Greta and the car with me. Greta has experience of sea travel. If all that fails, another possibility is to ship the car and me and Greta will have to South America,” she said.

Sidorenko who has no sponsors, relies on friends and family support to fund her trip. She is currently based at a Christian Mission in Morningside and lives in her car. “I have looked everywhere for my Moschino perfume without any success, more reasons for me to go to America to look for my fragrance, I might find it there,” she said jokingly.

 

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  AUTHOR
Rudy Nkgadima

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