SA couple who quit their jobs to travel the world now cleaning toilets

2015-09-01 09:35 - Selene Brophy
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Cape  Town - Remember how envious we all were when South African couple Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger, both 29, took the brave step to set off on an adventure of a lifetime?

Well, Chanel has popped the boil on what it means to work and travel the world, in a startling honest and real account on their blog, How Far From Home

READ: SA couple quit jobs, travel the world, documents their trip awesomely

Staying true to their creative backgrounds, the two set off on 2nd March 2015 and decided to share their travels on social media by documenting the distance they were away from their Johannesburg home at any given destination, using a little chalk board.

But the truth is it has been messy, dirty and not at all what they or we had imagined.

Especially when you compare their initial rose-tainted approach to the experience when they said, "We’re looking at a journey that allows us to live outside of the shuddering comfort zone and gives us the opportunity to say 'yes' to a whole bunch of crazy cool experiences whilst fueling our creative needs."

Turns out they've had to say yes to scrubbing toilets, eating jam with crackers and having very little money, along with crazy experiences like carrying their heavy luggage through deserted streets at 01:00am in the morning in order to find their accommodation.

Chanel explains in a blog post about the past six months, that she felt it necessary to share the uglier side of their trip.

Coming from a luxury background, they admit they're now on the opposite end of the scale doing painstakingly hard and dirty work. And it has forced them to learn to adapt to having the least amount of necessities. 

"Don’t get me wrong... It’s bloody amazing. But it’s not all ice-creams in the sun and pretty landscapes. Noooooo. So far, I think we’ve tallied 135 toilets scrubbed, 250 kilos of cow dung spread, 2 tons of rocks shovelled, 60 metres of pathway laid, 57 beds made, and I cannot even remember how many wine glasses we’ve polished."

"The budget is really tight, and we are definitely forced to use creativity (and small pep talks) to solve most of our problems (and the mild crying fits)."

Chanel warns the bank of gorgeous photography is deceptive and shares that the experience has certainly affected them both physically and mentally.

"I am not at my fittest, slimmest or physically healthiest... Although we knew it wouldn’t be easy, we are certainly learning fast that this isn’t for faint hearts, and we need to learn to react and adapt to everything that’s thrown our way."


But the most profound lesson for the two have been how to use their freedom of time in the best way possible. 

"Mentally, it’s also a constant yo-yo between 'I have all this time – let me use it productively, let me get fit and do everything I’ve ever wanted to do,' vs. 'I have all this time – let me relax and enjoy it.' That, together with occasional bouts of boredom, demotivation and homesickness, makes this one hell of a ride."

"There’s nothing quite like swopping million rand advertising budgets for toilet scrubbing to teach you about humility, life and the importance of living each day as if it were your last."

And we have to admit, we're still impressed and a little envious. 

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