A 20-minute chance encounter between a British man and an elderly South African woman led to him offering to drive her Toyota Conquest from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town, after she had become too ill to do so herself, the Cape Times reported.
In June last year, Julia Albu, 81, left Jakkalsfontein before dawn to start her trip to Egypt and then England to raise money for a literacy charity in her 21-year-old Toyota Conquest, News24 reported.
The plan was to drive it back herself, but she became too ill on her way back home.
According to the Cape Times, Ged Meechan, 63, started driving Albu's Toyota, named 'Tracy', from Alexandria in Egypt on November 21, and arrived at her family’s home last Sunday.
Albu, a mom to four and granny to nine, last year decided to set off on her bucket list adventure after recently losing her partner of 33 years.
Before Albu fell ill, it had been a smooth journey in style with Tracy, which had almost 400 000km on the clock.
The vehicle was souped-up in anticipation of the adventure.
'I loved the idea'
"She has been my only car and we have built up a relationship. She is the most trustworthy, wonderful car," Albu told News24 from Beaufort West last year.
Meechan and Albu reportedly met randomly in England. "I really couldn’t believe she was attempting to do (the trip), but I loved the idea."
Albu fell ill in Italy after contracting bilharzia from snails in an Ethiopian river, according to Meechan.
Eventually, she was flown home to South Africa in July and her trusty Toyota was left behind in Italy to be shipped to Alexandria, Egypt. She planned to return to Egypt in September to complete the journey home, but wasn't able to.
After getting the necessary authorisations, Meechan drove the Toyota through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa in 26 days.
According to the Cape Times, the only problem Meecham ever encountered was a shortage of fuel. Other than that, the 1997 model was tip-top.
Albu is reportedly still in hospital after a knee replacement.
Julia Albu. Intrepid 81-year-old adventurer. Travelled from Cape Town to London in the company of her trusty 20-year-old Toyota Conquest. Check out her journey: https://t.co/dRjGwWOtBk #ToyotaStoriesSA pic.twitter.com/gB17t4quzp— Toyota South Africa (@ToyotaSA) November 9, 2018