Landisa: These South Africans hitch-hiked from Durban to Los Angeles in eight months to watch Ellen

2019-11-15 07:32
Luke MacDonald, Jordan Deall and Donovan Orr in Hollywood (Supplied)

Luke MacDonald, Jordan Deall and Donovan Orr in Hollywood (Supplied)

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Cousins Luke MacDonald and Jordan Deall, and their cameraman Donovan Orr arrived in Los Angeles, United States, last week after hitch-hiking all the way from Durban. 

The trio, who started their journey in March, travelled over 17 000 kilometres by receiving over 200 lifts in the ultimate aim to meet television host Ellen Degeneres, who they met on her show shortly after arriving in Los Angeles. 

Their aim was to get support for their ten-part documentary series, Hitched, in which they would hitch-hike into the heart of the Congo in search of a mythical dinosaur. 

Landisa spoke to them shortly after they left Los Angeles to start volunteer work in Mexico. 

What made you decide to visit Ellen Degeneres in Los Angeles in particular? 

Luke: We knew we wanted to take it to Hollywood by taking our first season (in search of the Congo dinosaur) international in that sense. And we figured, where better than Hollywood? After that we just went and put a vote on Instagram where for funny reasons we picked Morgan Freeman, Kim Kardashian, Frodo Baggins and Ellen. Ellen just beat Morgan Freeman. So we set out with the idea to get on The Ellen Show which led to eight months of hitchhiking through 14 countries.

What did you learn travelling through 14 countries? 

Jordan: What struck me in general with this type of travel was just that thing of human kindness and how it's one of those things that's pretty much universal across all different groups of people. We met so many people, and we were just overwhelmed by the kindness. I think through the news and media and stuff, you’re so often bombarded with the more sinister elements of society.

The thing with travel is, landscapes often fade easier than the people you meet along the way. And I think that's just the kind of experience that will stick with us. We travelled through Ethiopia and Sudan, and at the time when we went into those countries, they were in complete chaos. Well, according to the news they were in complete crisis. Ethiopia had a coup going on and Sudan was experiencing civil uprisings and there were hundreds of people getting killed and thrown into the Nile River. 

Especially Sudan... going into that country with the mindset of, "This is going to be an incredibly dangerous crossing, and who knows what could happen?" Arriving there and receiving this incredible welcome from every person we met - it was insane. Even just in Khartoum, the city was overrun by the military and by all appearances, everything was off. But everybody we met was more taken by the fact that there were tourists in their country. They were just so happy to have guests. 

What are your plans now? 

Jordan: The theme of our show, Hitched, is although we like to pick these sort of ridiculous quests that walk the line between what's possible and impossible. But, the deeper theme is to try to showcase the places we travel to as close to authentic as we can as we are still foreigners travelling through a place. That's why we like to do the hitching. It's a very real day to day encounter with local people and each place that you travel through. You kind of get to local stories and local experiences. 

I am especially saying this because so much hatred and prejudice come from that thing of "the other" - not understanding where someone else is coming from. So many times we've been challenged on that ourselves, thinking that the way we do things and the way we think is the norm. The more you travel, the more you see there's a different way of thinking; there's a different way of doing community. And you also see how it works and the advantages of it, and how, in many ways, it's better than your culture.

Do you have a story to share? Send it to and include your contact details and a photo. Visit Landisa for more stories. 

Read more on:    hollywood  |  landisa  |  jordan deall  |  ellen degeneres  |  donovan orr  |  luke macdonald  |  ellen  |  hitched

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