ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – With 45 days behind and just 35 to go, Abilene’s 81-year-old adventurers Ellie Hamby and Sandy Hazelip are over halfway done with their 80-day trip around the world. So far, their travels have been filled with exotic encounters that counting the days may seem like a trivial task.
“We have our picture taken maybe five times a day at least with people when they find out who we are,” Hamby told BCH over a cellphone interview.
When BCH last checked in with them, the ladies had just left the north pole on their way to London where a CBS news crew was waiting to chronicle that leg of their journey. After leaving Europe, it was off to Africa for a few sunny experiences.
“Okay, that’s a given we don’t like camels… We got on the camels and Sandy went… how long Sandy? oh, two or three minutes,” Hamby and Hazelip said.
Their time in Cairo took them high above Egypt in a hot air balloon, crossing the desert sands on camelback and creeping through the underground tunnels of the pyramids.
“Oh and our guide was really really good, it was like it was coming from his soul… The history and architecture in Egypt are just incredible,” Hamby expressed.
They left Cairo with their heads full of history and hieroglyphs.
“What we can remember, I’m not so sure, so don’t give us a test over that,” Hamby joked.
From there, they made for the bustling streets of Zambia. They walked their way through crowded common areas and kept out of the roadways as cars roared and honked.
“I was telling Ellie the other day, taxi drivers in New York City don’t have a clue!” Hazelip said.
In Zambia, they explored a large spice market where Hamby said they were crowned the queens of Spice Island. The second royal title the two have received. Hazelip was called the ‘Queen of Easter Island’ just a few weeks prior, though they say their titles don’t seem to hold any royal weight.
“The only problem is no one’s listening haha,” Hamby joked.
According to Hazelip, the pair are averaging seven to ten thousand steps a day, sometimes with an armed guard Hamby said. The ladies searched to find the rare White Rhino, of which there are less than 16,000 remaining in the world. The man that guided them there was carrying a firearm to protect the rhinos from poachers.
“He said you can get out and walk, I have my AK-47. So okay, we got out,” Hamby explained.
The endangered rhinos were a rare sight to behold they said, but a much more common occurrence was the hospitality they’ve found just about everywhere they go. The said folks on every continent are happy to snap a picture and share a smile.
“Over and over we are told that we are inspiring other people and giving them joy by following us. And that just makes our hearts happy,” Hazelip expressed.
People are happy to follow along and even open their homes. As BCH interviewed the pair, they said they were headed from the airport in Delhi to an Indian family’s home to stay for the night, despite the lateness of the hour.
“Just imagine someone dropping in at 4:30 in the morning at your house. But they said, ‘Our friends are welcome anytime,'” Hamby added.
They said they have proved a claim they made at their farewell party more than a month ago: That the world language is a smile.