PLUS7dní – Jojo’s trip over Europe and Asia: Prestige photographer’s surprising drama in Belarus

Copyright © 2018 Expedition Citroën C3 Europe - Asia for 60 days

Do people at the bottom have dreams? Yes, they do. They can even make them come true. Jojo Samek is a proof: From the streets he has become a prestigious photographer and today he’s on a 60-day trip around the world.

Jojo has begun his trip on 1st of September from Dunajská Streda. The whole start was wholesome and surprising to the crew – Jojo Samek, who came up with the whole idea, and the driver, and his cameraman Zoli – a lot of people attended their departure to wave and say their goodbyes. On these long 60 days, Jojo lives his dream.

Sleeping bag in sand

“I don’t even know where should I begin…”, Jojo says after his first week on the road. In his voice you can hear how tired he is, but it swaps between euphoria, too. His humor doesn’t leave him despite the hardships he went through his first few days.
“Seven days have passed. Seven special days. The first few were more than amazing. We laughed, met a whole variety of people, and we were just enjoying it. It was great. The road was problem-free, people waved to us, everyone was interested, they asked about our expedition,” Jojo talks about the first moments since the start. “We went through Slovakia and arrived to Poland, and even the police helped us find a place to stay.” By that, though, he doesn’t mean a 5 star hotel. Jojo has his priorities: the important thing is to relax, not to sleep in luxury. And so, by Poland’s policemen’s advices, they went the way they were told to. They managed to fall asleep at 1 in the morning in their sleeping bags.
“When I woke up in the morning, I found out that we slept in the middle of a playground. Our sleeping bags were covered in sand, we slept in a sandbox,” says Jojo, laughing about his first night. That morning they packed their belongings, cleaned after themselves and went to the Belarus border.

On the edge

In Belarus they were left perplexed at the sight of barbed wire and armed customs. “When you live in the heart of Europe, you don’t really realize it that there is still a huge barrier with barbed wire, that should work in protecting our children’s sleep,” Jojo describes his first impressions from another country that awaited him. They didn’t welcome them with open arms, despite how it may have seemed before. “Going through the Polish checkpoint was a breeze. On the Belarus border however, we started signing immigration papers and declaration about our vehicle. They took out completely everything out of our car… And between our medicines that we took with us, they found two boxes of a certain type that’s considered a drug in Belarus,” Jojo adds to his adrenaline inducing experience.
They put their car to the side, and then into a garage. “We use a special kind of wheel-lock, that if you try and move it, it’ll puncture your tires.” The customs took Jojo’s keys, and they separated both him and his cameraman apart and now came long hours of waiting. “I started regretting that we took the medicines with us. Why did we even take them?… Cough syrup. We’ve got something for everything. Chosen cautiously. Even stuff for neurosis. They were there, and when they asked for who they were, I said that I got them as a sponsors’ support,” says Jojo, and it sounds like this experience will still resonate in his voice for a long time. “Between the customs, who slowly started bullying us and treating us like terrorists, came an older, bearded man. Really nice and friendly, tried to understand Russian. When I told him how we came across these things, he apologized and said that these are their laws, and have to wait for other investigators who are already on their way. I’ll be most likely held here until the whole situation gets resolved. And that can be a day, two, a week, if it went to court, even a month. In that moment I was covered in cold sweat. I realized that I didn’t even leave, and was already finished.”
An unlucky turn of events put the trip to a pause, and the joy from the beginning was replaced with hopelessness. The crew went through a physical exam, the car was x-rayed and investigators wrote notes. After a long while of uncertainty victory finally came across, but it didn’t taste pretty well.
“We’re continuing on our trip, the story has a continuation. The medicines in question were confiscated and sent to a laboratory, and then they’ll be sent to court. Hopefully it’ll be sorted in a form of a fine, otherwise this bad luck could’ve locked away the rest of the world to us,” Jojo sadly notes. The test results will be sent in a month and for now he can only hope the rest of the trip won’t be in danger.

Jojo’s trip continues to Russia and about when and how he arrived there, and what he experienced will be revealed to you soon.

Author: Janka Fialová

Translation: Jozef Samek Jr.

link: www.plus7dni.sk

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Jojo

For just about 10 years I've been working with cameras, and the last two with video production. You can find photos of my work on www.jojosamek.com. Photography is my way of life and it has brought me to this wonderful project.

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