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World travellers enjoy Tortola call
   
 
“I think it was mid-life crisis. We were married since 1969 and by 1983, we had no children and since retirement, we were going through a routine doing the same things over and over again, watching life passing by. It made me think of making a break, but I didn’t want an ordinary vacation. I suggested to my wife that we drive through Africa in that car”
– Emil Schmid
 
Emil and Liliana Schmid.
 
The vehicle is stocked with supplies needed for a worldwide adventure. • Photos courtesy Angela U. Burns-Piper..
 

A Swiss couple travelling around the world in a jeep left the BVI on Monday after spending the past week touring the island of Tortola, the Tourist Board reported.
Emil and Liliana Schmid began their journey in October 1984 when they were both 41. Their mode of transport is a 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 and their first stop was in New York, from where they travelled to 39 countries in North and South America, 34 countries in Africa, to Australia, 30 countries in Asia, 45 in Europe and now to several countries in the Caribbean.
Most times, they would travel with their vehicle when it was shipped from port to port, but on other occasions, they would be required to send the vehicle on a ship and they would have to take a commercial flight. In each country, the Schmids would drive around exploring the destination.
When asked why they were doing this, Emil said: “I think it was mid life crisis. We were married since 1969 and by 1983, we had no children and since retirement, we were going through a routine doing the same things over and over again, watching life passing by. It made me think of making a break, but I didn’t want an ordinary vacation. I suggested to my wife that we drive through Africa in that car.”
Well, it took him one year to convince his wife to take a vacation, but she does not regret she did. Said Liliana: “I’m so glad he did, because this is the life I like – meeting new people, seeing beautiful landscapes, experiencing different religions etc.”
The Schmids have been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for having made the longest journey – 19 years; driven the longest distance – 581, 647 km or 361, 424 miles and through the most countries – 149 in a single car.
Over the past 19 years, they have used the same vehicle, had around 153 flat tyres, used 63 tyres, 27 batteries, 120 spark plugs, 22 air filters, 46 shock absorbers, made 83 oil changes with 47 oil filters and 94 times greasing. And the Land Cruiser keeps going. It even survived a crash into another vehicle in Macedonia as the Schmids scurried to escape would-be robbers in a life- threatening experience.
In terms of other statistics, the adventurers have had to take a ferry or a freighter 195 times to cross a river, lake or the sea; apply for 66 visas, which filled seven passports; visited more than 150 countries with 50 different languages and 125 different currencies and driven in 18 of the 24 time zones.
This world tour is self-funded and they intend to continue travelling until they have possibly covered all countries.
They are now on their way to Montserrat, Antigua and Anguilla, having come from the United States Virgin Islands. From the Leeward Islands, they hope to journey to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and then to the Pacific.
Before their departure from the BVI, the Schmids expressed gratitude to the people here for their hospitality, especially Tourist Board officials who made their trip a success. Schmid pointed out that through the Board, they were able to avoid much of the bureaucracy encountered in other countries, such as customs and port duties, environmental levies, bonds and taxes etc.
They said they enjoyed the beauty of the BVI and their trip was quiet and relaxing, but commented that these islands were very expensive. Their average expenses per day ranged from $22-$50 in the various countries.

 
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