June 20, 2008

German couple visits SVG on their World Tour

After 635,000 kilometres, 75,000 litres of diesel, 36 tires and 168 countries, German couple Gunther W Holtorf and Christine U Boehme left St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) around 4:00 p.m. on Monday for Barbados on the MV Admiral Bay to continue their round the world driving tour.{{more}}

The couple arrived in Bequia last week Wednesday and toured the island in their 1988 Mercedes-Benz “G” Wagon 300 GD before arriving on the mainland Thursday evening. They toured the Kingstown area on Friday, the windward side of the area on Saturday and the leeward side on Sunday.

Shortly before setting out, Gunther sat down with SEARCHLIGHT for an exclusive interview. The former airline executive and pilot said that he had seen the world from the air and he vowed that when he retired, he would see the world from the ground. Gunther and Christine set out in 1990 and hope to complete their tour in 2009.

The couple sleep and cook in the vehicle, as it is more economical than staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. Gunther said that his strangest experience was in Africa, when while sleeping, an elephant began scratching himself against their wagon, giving them some mighty jolts.

Gunther contracted malaria six times and Christine was infected once. Last year, Christine was diagnosed with a cancer behind the left ear and had to have surgery. While she was recuperating, the couple’s grown son joined his father on the road until his mother could travel again.

The Caribbean leg of the tour began in Cuba and will end in Trinidad and Tobago, after which the couple will return to Germany to rest and prepare for the next leg. While in SVG, they visited Trinity Falls. Gunther said that the best thing about St Vincent is its rugged naturalness and abundance of fresh fruit. “We had mangoes for breakfast today,” he said.

Gunther and Christine have two grown children and two grand children. They travel for 6 to 8 months each year then return home, storing the wagon in the country they last visited until they resume the tour. Gunther said that they use their own resources to fund their travels, but the car’s manufacturer Mercedes-Benz said that they would like to acquire the wagon to put in their museum when the tour ends. Gunther said after their travels he will write a book and exhibit the photographs from their travels.