2018... You were generous

2018... You were generous

And we are grateful;

for every moment of family joy,
for old friendships and new friendships,
for new places we call home,
for all the lessons we learned on the road,
for our health,

and most important:
for becoming a family of 4 ❤️

We’re excited about 2019; it feels like big plans are rising… 😉

Wishing you all a joyful new year’s celebration and a wild and delightful 2019!!

Thank you, Portugal

Thank you, Portugal

Some spots are just hard to leave behind. This beach near Quarteira in Algarve was definitely one of them. Pine forest in the back, ocean in the front, kids playing everywhere and singing at camp fires at night with old and new friends. (It makes a big difference if the weather is sunny or rainy when living in the van!) This was an unexpectedly warm (literally and not literally) goodbye from our beloved Portugal.

Thank you, beautiful country, with your stunning coastline and irreplaceable people. We came with 3 and now leave with 4. Obrigado e até breve!

One big nomadic family

One big nomadic family

"Shall we play in the mud pools?" our boy asked to his little friend Anoú. Her beautiful eyes glinstered as she looked at him. They've been friends almost from the very moment they met. They speak to each other in their own language - Swiss and Dutch - and don't need a translator. Their tear filled laughter keeps echoing around the vans.

It started 2 weeks ago when we were looking for a place to stay for the night. We spotted some vans near the beautiful praia da Amoreira. They were 3 nomadic families as we would soon find out. Shortly after we were welcomed another van joined. Here we were, 5 traveling families with small kids having a great time together.

Two days later we went to Aljezur, a nearby town where soon the group expanded. The days and evenings filled themselves with jam sessions, full moon ceremony, hippie market, happy food, connecting talks and lots of playing for the children. Meanwhile, for the 3rd time (!) we bumped into our friends from Expedition Family Happiness... Life is too cool to believe in coincidence.
In total we were 9 vans from 7 different countries, joined together as one big family. Eventually we all continued our own paths, knowing they will cross again sooner or later. And simply feeling thankful to be part of this nomadic family! ❤

Meanwhile we've been back on the road for almost 3 weeks. We had more '(non-)coincidence' experiences, visited several old friends and slowly grow into our new family on the road life. And by the time we share this Bas' mother has arrived to be with us for a week. Too much going on to describe extensively; fortunately pictures can tell more words...

Love from Olhao!

On the road again!

On the road again!

After our magical ‘Birth break’ we are back to van life, this time as a family of 4! It feels so good to be back on the road and to live outside again. For our first nights we found a great spot in nature next to a lake. Sharing our cozy bed with 3 was not too bad at all; Bodhi sleeping arm wide in the middle while mom and dad were being pushed against the sides. Well, it’s all a matter of mindset.  😉 Tijn slept like a rose in his private room above us, what a luxury…

Welcome to van life Bodhi! ❤

Bye bye dear Colares...

Bye bye dear Colares...

You have given the most glorious gift to our family and the most beautiful chapter to our journey. It's a hard job to leave behind a place that has had such a transforming impact on our lives...! You were chosen by our child to welcome him with a paradise birth. It was our greatest love dance and the beginning of a whole new journey. It feels like we are leaving behind a new found Home.

Two more nights will we be here. Two more nights in the intimacy of one-parent-one-child sharing a bed; mother and baby in one, father and son in the other bedroom. All 4 of us have loved this new way of sleeping (as far as sleeping was involved). The amount of 1-on-1 contact with our children, the singing and feeding rituals in one room and story reading and hut building in the other, the awaking voices in the morning,... it will all be different when we move back into the van. We'll have a tenth of the space we have now, no oven, no bathroom, no washing machine. And yet, the road is calling us.


Dear Lisette, Marjorie, Hugo, Marsha, Radmilla, Kerry, Luis, Nuno, Sean, Elaine, Cris, Christiana, Bárbara, Kelly, Angela, Manu, Maartje, Tobi, Inge, Alex, Lúcia, Janaína, Liliana, Sofia, Luz, Vasco, Concha, Nadia, Robin, Oriana, Isaura, Johann, Tinkuy and 7Nomes:
Thank you. Thank you for crossing our paths in the time we were here. Thank you for showing us the magic of this region, thank you for mother blessings and baby blessings, for flying over to be with us, for sharing stories, wholesome food, divine massages, homes, clothes, music, surfboards, play mates, birthday fun, inspiration, encouragement, love and friendship. Words can't express our gratefulness, hopefully our love can.


Although it feels like we could settle down here, it's time to continue our journey. We don't like to say goodbye so we don't. All we say is: muito obrigado for having been our home, our gratitude will stay forever.


Until next time, all our love,


Miriam, Bas, Tijn Sebastian & Bodhi Eden

Brotherhood:

Brotherhood:

noun ~ the state of being brothers; the quality of being brotherly; feelings of friendship, support and understanding between people; the belief that all people should act with warmth and equality toward one another, regardless of differences in nationality, ethnicity, belief, sexuality, etc. ~ Synonyms: comradeship, fellowship, companionship, friendship.

One month of Bodhi

One month of Bodhi

Which is a good moment to share some updates told by pictures (on fb). This is - in a nutshell - what the past month looked like, and in which:

- We had a magical unassisted birth experience (sharing later);

- We moved from Bodhi's birth home to another special place;

- 2 angels came to visit us from the Netherlands;

- Our oldest son suddenly turned into a big boy;

- Ah... better let the pictures on our social media tell the rest!

Happy monniversary hugs from Penedo!

We love you, Magoito

We love you, Magoito

With grateful tears we said goodbye to our cozy temporary home in Magoito. Bodhi couldn’t have chosen a more perfect spot to be born. However, it also turned out to be a humid spot, being on a cliff right on the ocean. Quite often our garden was covered in clouds while it was sunny a few hundred meters more inland. The last 10 days or so, Bodhi was experiencing something that looked like a cold and quite likely this was due to the humidity of that specific spot.


Yesterday we moved to another wonderful place, a little further inland and up the hills of the fairytaily village of Penedo. Feeling grateful for this opportunity! So for now, we continue to stay in our newborn-bubble for a while before we get back to van life.

IT'S A BABY BROTHER!!!

IT'S A BABY BROTHER!!!

Ecstatic and totally love drunk are we as we present our miracle to the world! Born yesterday at home, in peace and in our own hands... Dear world, here is: Bodhi!!

We found our Spot! (or: life between fear and faith)

We found our Spot! (or: life between fear and faith)

Ok, so this was the plan: to find a cosy place and settle down for a little while as off about 1 month before our baby's due date (though we prefer to talk about due month). This is what happened in stead.

We were on our way to Alentejo when we stopped in Sintra area, near Lisbon. It was hard to find a place for the night and eventually we chose a spot behind a ruin on a cliff, trying to protect ourselves from extreme wind. We felt a little lost and in fact didn't know really which way we were heading. We had tried to stay away from bush fires, extreme heat and now the wind. But we didn't want to stay away from anything any longer, we wanted to be going towards something. All we knew was we wanted to follow our intuition, using our common sense and believe in the picture we had drawn for the birth period.


The picture showed a happy home in nature where we could build a firm, welcoming and safe nest for our youngest little love and meet the right people nearby.


Now 1 month before 'due date' had passed by and we still had no idea. Lots of reasons had kept us from finding 'it' when we wanted it, though we didn't manage to understand why. All we could do was trying to keep faith, eventhough fear and sorrow became stronger every day as we worked on plan b, c and d.


Two mornings later, on a more sheltered place nearby the cliff, our boy saw a dog. His name was 'Spot', as we would soon find out. We started talking with the lady who belonged to Spot and soon not only shared a beautiful, uplifting conversation but also received some valuable tips. Through her we met a wonderful doula not long after. And through this doula another world full of great people started to cross our path. It became clear: this is a good place to be. But we soon found out that this beautiful region would be impossible to settle down in for us. Near the coast, near Lisbon and high season: we won't find a home here.


Eventually we decided to continue our road to Alentejo where we met a most inspiring mother of 3 who shared her unique birth stories with us. We felt empowered from head to toe. And again realised we still hadn't found our spot yet. The Sintra region kept calling us back and meanwhile a dozen of people were searching for us too. We had asked agencies, many houses online, bars, local shops and everyone we met. One time we found a room and were utterly happy, but later received the message it was a mistake; the room was not available. All we heard day after day was: "Sorry, no place available until end of next month and later."
We started to feel a bit like Mary and Joseph...

However, by now we almost knew for sure this was where we had to be (we've had a few 'impossibilities' in life before). Almost, because the fear was still there ("What for heaven's sake are we doing?! We're about to have a baby and we don't even know where...!"). So every morning we greeted our fears and took out a word of wisdom for each of us, hoping to feed faith. Words like:

"Give yourself the time to just be there,"
"What is growing, is growing still" and
"The most wonderful tale is life itself."


Until 1 week ago. We went for an evening stroll on the beach and again our son met a dog. Again named 'Spot' (seriously). We started talking with the man who belonged to this Spot and...


... Now we're building our bird's nest in his family house which was (miraculously for this region) empty, surrounded by a most incredible garden, overlooking the ocean and submerged in wonder. 2 weeks before the 40 weeks date. The former people had just moved out, there was a bit of work to be done, it comes with a lot of toys and it unexpectedly fits our budget.


It took us a little while to believe this could be true. But then, when we asked our baby: "Do you want to start your life on earth here?" and a contagious dance move came as an answer, we realised: We are just puppets on a string in a world full of miracles.


Bye now fear, hello faith.

Adios España, Olá Portugal

Adios España, Olá Portugal

Sometimes time goes so much faster than we do, it's almost hard to catch up with all that happens. For example, we've been wanting to write about a fantastic new friendship with a Dutch family a month ago. #Gezinsgelukopreis, represented by Pieternel, Robert, Sofie and Simon, is a beautiful traveling family of 4 who as we speak just came home after being on the road for one year.

Their own resume about our week together said it all: a natural like-mindedness, our sons who became happy friends (and who at times look like real twins), daily river swimmings, sharing music nostalgia, dancing and very pure conversations under the Southern French stars. In the evening you could hear the gentle voices of the two fathers coming out of both vans as they read the children a bedtime story. Sweetest dish washing spot on earth...
Our time together was empowering in many ways, apparently for each of us.

By the time we started to miss our friends another beautiful family, Jessica, Nicolas, Ulyse, Basile and dog Sam from France, crossed our path. Again we spent a week together and even both our VW T3 vans seemed to enjoy each other's company. The daily play times for our children, swimmings and open hearted conversations continued gloriously.
We heartily treasure the joy of family friendships!!

And so our home on wheels roams through Northern Spain while:

- Bas gets spontaneous surfing lessons from our van-neighbours as we enjoy his contagious surf kick;
- just as spontaneously we have musical camp fires with the same neighbours and learn to make Tamari pop corn on it;
- we have a little tow adventure to the garage to have a leaking oil tube fixed;
- every morning before sunrise Miriam goes for a swim in the ocean;
- we have a great little reunion with Marie, one of the inn keepers with whom Miriam stayed during her pilgrimage a few years ago;
- through her we meet wonderful and very hospitable people with their great project #lenguajedeartista;
- we survive the extreme heat wave in Galicia and Northern Portugal by sheltering in and along the Atlantic coast;
- our boy is full of stories which he tells daily to Miriam's growing belly and
- the same growing belly brings us to the last chapter of this part of the journey.

A few days ago we arrived in Portugal. There were wild stories going around about record breaking temperatures between 40 and 50˚C and... Well, it wasn't really cold indeed. As we drive through dozens of kilometers of forests that dramatically burned down last year, we can almost feel the despair that must have raged here.

But what probably lives most in our minds now, is that last chapter that we've entered here in Portugal. This is where we will look for a home that feels good to welcome our baby next month. We now take the time to consciously absorb and then slowly leave behind the family that we currently still are:
The three of us on a journey, with our little morning and evening rituals, the moments alone when one of us takes our son for a walk and the moments with the two of us when he's asleep. Soon our togetherness will change in a way that we don't know yet. And no matter how much we look forward to that, the time feels very ready to be focussed, as much as we can, on the one who made us a family: our own petit prince.


Com amor e até breve!

Bye bye France

Bye bye France

The contrast within 24 hours time couldn’t be bigger…
Yesterday we still had a beach day in the (slightly too crowded) Southwest of France where we hardly found a place to park our van. Today, less then one hour of driving away, we’re standing on a piece of pristine Basque country in Spain and look at the same ocean which we now share with just a few cows.

First we were a little dazed by the contrast until we realised that these differences in energy, which sometimes follow one another in no time, are exactly what makes life on the road so interesting.

With a bit of melancholy we now leave our beloved France behind for an undetermined amount of time as we jump into the next phase of our journey.

Hello Spain!

The gift of encounters and nature

The gift of encounters and nature

Driving from town to town through France our journey leads from encounter to nature, to encounter to nature. It was a beautiful gift to meet the Zapp family two weeks ago. We've been following this Argentinian travel family and their famous story for some time.

In January 2000 Candelaria and Herman followed their dream: a 6 months road trip from Argentina to Alaska in their 1928 original Graham Paige. Soon after they left their dream grew bigger and ended into their current journey: exploring the world in the same Graham Paige together with their 4 children who were all born in different countries. Now their world trip is slowly coming to an end. In December, after 19 years of traveling, they will sail (!) home together with the car that drove them all over the world.

Although their adventure involves much more 'adventure' than ours, we feel enough similarities in our stories and visions. This became only clearer when we met.

As soon as we found out they should be somewhere between France and Switzerland we contacted them. Last year when we heard they were traveling through Europe, we didn't manage to meet. This time we had to meet. We agreed to gather on top of a mountain in the Jura, recommended to us by friends.

We were just preparing a few pots of pesto tortellini's and some side dishes when we heard the unmistakable sound of their pre-war vehicle and its classical horn. We grabbed our son's freshly picked flowers and cheered and waved as they arrived. Through the open windows we could hear them jubilating back. There they were, for real, all 6... no wait, all 7 of them; Herman's cousin Carolina joined them for a few weeks. Herman walked straight towards my pregnant belly to greet it abundantly. Already stealing my heart... as soon the entire family would steal our hearts.

During diner time the conversations became deeper. While our boy and the Zapp-kids joyfully jumped around each other, we talked about the lessons that travels bring. Gradually, we reached the ‘Home-topic'.
"Have you ever thought about what 'home' means to you?" I asked them.
Herman started: "What do you think is more important to give to your children: roots or wings?” We pricked up our ears. We always tell each other these are the two elements we want to give to our children. We never put a 'which one matters more' question there.
"I believe we are meant to explore," he continued. "We are not trees, we received legs to move. Our society is designed to live a static, sitting, comfort zone based life style and that's what children are being prepared for. To me home means to be free to go where the wind blows. And how great is it when we're able to share that with our loved ones!” he laughed.
His words reverberated with us for a while, as they would do more often.

Meanwhile Candelaria had been able to ponder and her answer was maybe as obvious as it was striking:
“Home is there where I can be 100% myself. Where I don’t need to adapt and where I feel understood and accepted, just the way I am.”
We captured our conversations in our hearts. Late at night when we went to bed under a dark and private sky full of stars, we looked at each other. What a sparkle!

In the two days and nights we spent together we explored the little villages in the area, our travel ins and outs, our playful thoughts about raising children, food habits and our similarities.
By the time we said goodbye, it became clear what we had started to feel for each other in these few days. Our heart-to-heart-talks, mother to mother, father to father, the children that had so much fun together and Carolina who stole our son’s heart… We now have a home in Argentina, they emphasized. Together with a kiss on the baby belly.

And they have a home with us, where ever that will be.

Not long after we met the Zapps we meet Nadia and Matt, who are just as pregnant as we are. Six years after we met Nadia in Laos, we now visit her and her husband in their home in a little village nearby Romans-sur-Isère. They welcome us with a divine vegan meal and soon we start to talk about our common interests. Slowly it becomes clear that their freedom of choice as inhabitants of France is much more complicated than ours for the things we care about: vaccinations, education, vegan life style (we’re not that far yet), working from home and pleading for animal welfare. More and more we start to realise how lucky we are to have our legal and moral freedom, which is less obvious than we may think. We leave with a strong feeling of grattitude and a hug from belly to belly.

The same night we end up staying at a beautiful spot where Caroline and Fabian’s invited us. We met them and their kids two years ago during our road trip and their holiday in Spain. Three months ago they moved into their double yurt with breathtaking view in the mountains of the Ardèche.
Upon arrival we can see straight away what they have dreamed about for many years. We know life in a Mongolian yurt a little by now, but this one is a true house, including look ánd comfort. We dinner until late at night while the kids, again unhindered by language barriers, ping pong around the yurt. We feel enriched by another piece of inspiration and hospitality…

In between and after these inspiring visits our prefered camp spots seem to show up every time: nature, privacy, river (very welcome in this weather), trees that ask for a hammock and with a bit of luck a water tap nearby. These peaceful spaces allow us well to reflect on the encounters and most of all to just be with our growing family. Because the growing… well, it just keeps growing!
Maybe the pictures can prove it… :)

Bises de la France! 

SPECIAL ENCOUNTER... meet the Zapps!!

SPECIAL ENCOUNTER... meet the Zapps!!

We're filled with joy to have met the beautiful Zapp family and their extraordinary travel story!

This is the story of an Argentinian family of 6 who travels around the world since 18 years in an original 1928 Graham Page. The 4 children were all born on different places.

We spent a few days of camping, exploring, playing, eating, walking and talking together in the Jura. What a gift to this journey! (Did we receive a glimpse of our own future? ;) )

For anyone who doesn't know them yet (make sure you will!) and/or would love to receive a boost for your own dream in life:
Do treat yourself on their unique story, written down in their book: 'Spark your dream'.
Www.argentinaalaska.com
Fb: Familia Zapp Family

Hugs from the road & à bientôt!

Sometimes it just happens (or: why we travel)

Sometimes it just happens (or: why we travel)

Sometimes it just happens; out of nowhere a perfect answer comes to a question you weren't even aware of.
That was exactly how I felt on June 5 around twilight, when we sat down a French lake near Luxembourg.

The weeks before we left had been stuffed with to do's which made us almost forget that preparations are a mental matter at least as much as they're practical. It took an evening stroll or two to find back what we really wanted to do and why:

We just continue our way. And therewith that what drives us.

Through time, we've had many valuable encounters and insights and that is our current starting point. This journey has 4 'themes':

4. to continue to explore the meaning of 'home' for us;
3. to share our experiences by which we give space to our creative passions;
2. to grow in our relationships: with ourselves, each other, in our parent-and-childhood and our surroundings;

and of course on

1. the journey to the birth of our second little miracle.

And right now, as I'm writing this down, it strikes me as I realize this is in slightly different words exactly the list of 4 wishes that we boldly toasted on at New year's eve (with bubbles because at that time we had no idea that the first wish was already on its way)...
I didn't realize that before.


The 'home'-part got already some special attention in the first few days of our trip. After the last goodbyes we drove to a family in Belgium who gave us a warm sparkle of their 'home'. They live a nature based life in a little house in the middle of the forest where we were welcomed at a table full of freshly picked and baked yumminess - definitely part of our home-ideas - , meanwhile sharing about their activities. They've formed their lives in a way that they are free to give their time to what moves them: making music, natural medicines and being with their cheerful 5-year old son, who is learning according to his own interests and at his own pace. What we saw was peaceful, grateful and simple. When we talked about the word home, the father pointed out a feeling that we recognize:
It's not necessarily a place, but moreover a state of being.

The next morning we met some more home schooling families during one of their weekly gatherings at the children's farm. I recognized a kind of freedom with the kids that I've seen more often with children who don't go to school. It's contagious, unforced. The subject school versus not school and especially all the options in between is surely one that we want to keep exploring.


Back to the lake.
The to-do-mode (read: must-mode) in which until recently we were acting is still in our system. Being on the road feels like slowly getting rid of it, real slowly though. I still wake up thinking: "What was on today's list again?" And when we summarize all the things that keep our minds busy, it's not easy to keep the must-mode turned off.
That's how I sat down near the lake thinking about all the things I wanted to be done, while our little boy was counting mating water spiders.

And all of a sudden, it was gone. The to-do-page was turned and a fresh new page came into the picture. What I saw went from 2-D to 3-D, as if I finally woke up. Under a red sky I sat there in between my two most loved men and an equally loved little soul in my belly. Surrounded by nature who, in her old wisdom, doesn't ask big questions but just shows us how to live and let live. We silently listened to a frog concert. All that my senses perceived was a perfect answer to anything that had filled the mind. This very moment, just this, is enough reason to be back on our journey.


Speaking about home...

Paths are made by walking

Paths are made by walking

While the boys discover the purple heathlands of Drenthe, I am chewing on the first few weeks of this journey. And on a beet leave from the children's farm, wondering how to preprare it tonight (the beet leaves).

We've had quite a colorful start with a lot of encounters. Trying to share everything would be like trying to write a book within an afternoon. So we rather tell about "our funnel" that is getting well-stuffed.

 

The first evening, after we found a sleeping spot between vegetable gardens and the IJssel river, we were talking with two garden owners. One of them, a 50-something year old man, took us along in the story of his long depression that he beated after he chose to listen to his creative passion. Now his first children's book is about to be printed. What an example!
He got us some parsnip and cycled home, leaving us in the warmth of his honesty and encouraged to stay focused on authenticity.

Meanwhile the other man was enjoying the last rays of sunshine in his heart garden, like he named it. He lives small and cheap with a yurt in his yard as an extention to his home.
"I prefer to work less and with more pleasure than to be away from home all the time because of sky high costs," he said. We recognize that feeling.
He was full of peace and it was not hard to associate his contagious calmth with his choices of living.

 

The encounters may sound small and insignificant. But to us they mean plenty. Enough to welcome them every day.

One of the things we notice is that it is openness that brings us right there where we need to be. On and off people like the garden men cross our paths with a piece of wisdom from their own lives.
I guess these opportunities must have been there all the time, but maybe we found it easier to see them abroad. And now that we're into explore mode inside our own country, maybe we're also learning to look and listen differently here.

 

The unplanned encounters seem like the glue between the planned visits. We've visited several projects in the beautiful provinces of Overijssel en Drenthe:

 

Aardehuizen Olst (Earth houses):
Beautiful pioneers project; neighborhood of 23 earth ships + common center house, built by the inhabitants; www.aardehuis.nl

Erfdelen (Sharing farm land):
Pieter Parmentier, creator of an idea that allows splitting up a farm lot for communal living; Social, sustainable, small scale and serving the country side; www.erfdelen.nl

Ecotribe Teuge:
Previously a military territory, squatted since 2001 by a group of free spirits; fully off grid

Het levende dorp (The living village):
Pioneers with a dream: to create the first village on earth with houses made from living trees; fully off grid; makers of The living village festival; www.hetlevendedorp.nl

De tuinen van toermalijn (The gardens of tourmaline):
Community in a farm house with amazing gardens; rebuilt into 8 units in which 10 adults and 7 children live according to peaceful vision.

De Hobbitstee (The Hobbit lodge):
One of the oldest communities in the Netherlands (1969); 11 adults and 7 children, a bakery, mushroom plantation; yoga, cob building and biological products; www.dehobbitstee.org

 

What we learn at each project is that it's the people who give a place its soul. No matter how well designed or spontaneously it started; it's a deep longing, a vision and the dedication of the inhabitants that determines the atmosphere and the future of a place.

Sleeping between tree houses, squatters and anti-squatters, communities, earth ships and with sweet friends, we get closer and closer to our own wishes. And slowly we dare to believe in the feasibility of it.

 

Meanwhile, it's evening time. The beet leaves turned into a stew and the heath is asking for an evening stroll. Tijn is swinging in between us and upon his request we're running from mushroom to mushroom. It seems like we're walking in nobody's land. All at once I feel a tremendous gratitude. I absorb the moment and try to let go of thoughts.

A bit later, I understand. Here we are again, together on the road.

That feeling was a bit gone this Summer, when we were put on hold during the repair of the van. It was a restless time and we had been hard for ourselves and each other. Apparently, all of it was needed to waken up, get our longings back in the field and determine our direction.
And, step by step, continue our road.

Bas has a fine habit of collecting the sayings of our tea bags. Today he read one that summarizes it all:

Paths are made by walking.

 

Twillight time. On our way back Bas is carrying Tijn. All the mushrooms are counted and the day seems satisfied. The dusk comes with a thick gray blanket of clouds.

"We're going home," Tijn says, "Van is home."

He's right.

 

Autumn love from our little house on a Dutch prairie

Hello road again!

Hello road again!

Today one year ago, we were walking through our house for the last time. Tijn was the only one laughing; we walked around with melancholic tears in our eyes as we said goodbye to each room and tree. We thanked the place for the years and phases that had passed by while each corner brought a 'Ah, you remember when...'-memory.

We had looked forward to the freedom after selling our house, but when the moment was there, we strongly felt how entering a new phase will always go together with leaving one behind. Therefore our tears felt welcome.

Today we closed another door behind us for an undetermined period of time. We left a nice house and 3 sweet cats, the last house sitting place of this Summer, because:

Yes! Finally, it's time for the road trip we had planned to do this Summer: exploring alternative living in the Netherlands. However, in June our van broke down and she needed a long time to get her new engine. Our roadtrip became a house-and-pet-sitting-trip which literally brought us to a halt. We're happy to share about what we learned from that, next time. 

Now we're focused on what we're up to next:
We want to visit people who live in a way that somehow triggers us, that inspires us in our own wishes of how to live. We've summarized our personal trigger-interests in a few key words that will hang in our van:

Nature
Sustainability
Authenticity
Little playmates
Natural parenting
Connection
Freedom
Awareness
Passion

We'd love to take you along and give you (and ourselves) an impression of what we mean by these words.

But most of all we want to be on the road together again; to feel what it was like to wake up between frogs and cows, to sing songs to the windshield and to slide through landscapes and be able to stop any moment. And to have an open road where our compass is hanging on the wall in 9 key words.

The weather forecast is funny: Summer days and Winter nights... Bring them on!

But first we've outsourced our little man for a night at his grandma's so that we can remind ourselves what it's like to not have to share each other, just óne last time...


With love

Hello Homeland

Hello Homeland

"Are you awake?"
I love the sound of morning whispers, especially closeby.
"Yes," I whisper back, "I'm writing."
"In the dark?"
"In my head."
"You can add this if you want."
I receive a kiss.
"Done."

We hear a little boy greeting the animals in his bed. Goose, blue elephant and big head monkey listen politely. We can hear how our homeland wakes up behind the curtains.

So yes, we're currently back in the Netherlands and waking up in the beautiful little second home of our dear friends. We've been back for a little over a month now and clearly needed a full month to 'arrive' (eventhough I still wonder if we actually did). We enjoy good times with relatives and friends while meandering through Belgium and Holland. It's a colorful time; fantastic, crazy, precious, intense, surprising and familiar.

Seeing our loved ones and especially meeting newborn beauties is priceless. At the same time, we notice how we've slowly grown away from a life that was once familiar to us. Where mortgage and alarm clock were rather determinative. That's quite far away now.

When we both wrote down our personal wishes some time ago, we funneled the content of our writings and squeezed 2 main pillars out of it:

 

Freedom & Connection

 

Free to give our time to what and the ones we love, to travel, serve, create and share and to raise our child in harmony with his nature.
Connected to ourselves, our loved ones, our surroundings, to like minds and nature.

These past couple of months have been filled with encounters that enriched our journey. We met the most heartwarming examples of people who follow their passions, sometimes bravely far away from anything familiar, but so close to themselves. Which encourages us greatly to follow our own paths too. That, and the great love, support and inspirational talks we share here back 'home'.

Meanwhile there has been a growing connection going on with friends in the Netherlands with whom we share similar dreams. That inspired us to continue our exploration within the Netherlands before heading abroad again.

So that's roughly what we're up to now: visiting people, places and projects about natural living in Holland and meanwhile sniffing the beauties of our own beloved country.

Eventhough we may suddenly cross a border here or there again to satisfy our van's addicition...

 

So who knows we might pass by, until then: love from pre-summering Holland!

Driving over lemons

Driving over lemons

Reflection time at the backseat of our van.

At my left side a little boy has gone to sleep. After I sang him 34 lullabies and congratulated him with a similar number of headstands on his bed. Once asleep I watched him for a while, even though my legs were asleep too meanwhile. The last bits of baby has gathered in his chubby cheeks and hands; he is a little boy now, 47 duplo bricks tall.

We had been chasing the sounds of frogs and beetles this evening and followed rabbit droppings till we found their holes. Seeing his face in full awe with each discovery I start to understand the meaning of 'worldlearning'. How perfectly unaware is he of my privileged feelings. That will probably last until he wakes up from his cosy trunk-bed and suggest to join our shoebox-sized bedroom. Half of the bed will be his, the other 65 cm for his immovable parents.

At my right side Bas is putting a kettle on the stove to wash himself. He shortened his beard, although I liked it a lot having my private Santa Claus. It suited well with our latest habit of collecting food from the wild: eatible flowers, wild lettuce, olives, almonds and oranges. Happiness! Avocadoes are even simpler: we just let Tijn stare at a farmer's picking and 5 minutes later he will come back with full hands.

We've been driving distances these weeks, especially through lemon-land. We must have driven most roads and slept at most rivers of Spain now, while having precious times at eco-projects, communities and friends. On the road we submerge ourselves in hobbit hills, lavender fields, patchwork mountains full of life and medieval towns. Both the impressively changing landscapes and the inspiration of all the recent encounters have filled our minds.

Sharing time with the people we meet does a lot to us. So many of them live from the heart, they stand for a dream and for peaceful living. If we had to name one thing that completes our travels, it would without a doubt be the people who share their hearts with us. We've come to realize that we long to live in a place where we share truthful, warmhearted contact with our neighbors. Where we live outside, learn from nature, grow our own food and where we're free to follow our passions day by day. And to come home to from travels. Would this roadtrip lead to Utopia, even when we're too scared to believe in it (or maybe too scared to arrive)?

This journey has become our big book of life lessons. All obstacles, bumps and tresholds to take, all kinds of weather conditions, floods to drive through and mud to get stuck in, every meter of challenge and beauty fills our experience like nothing else could do.

And not only the outside conditions do. Apparently our van is pretty well able to represent the challenging side of our relationship too: we've got rust, squeaky doors, lazy brakes, fiery engine, louzy wipers and a stubborn steering wheel. Just as much as we can feel mighty and on top of the world one day, we can feel small and vulnerable the other day. There are moments where one of us wants to go left and the other one right. Moments where we wonder what on earth we are doing. And so we learn to forgive. To speak from the heart and to listen. To cherish, again and again. And to celebrate all the good things we have in common with our van: the light, the colors that make people wave, the miraculous reliability, the wanderlust and the happy Herbie-horn.

Where ever our road will lead us, this is already an everlasting journey.

Meanwhile we arrived in the South of France where we dip ourselves into a some more inspiration for our living dreams before heading further North to meet our youngest baby nephew next month! After that... as always, our road is open.

Happy Springtime!

Sunseed and almond blossoms

Sunseed and almond blossoms

One of our main goals during this roadtrip is to find out how we want to live one day. Will we keep traveling for the next years or create a homebase someday? And if we choose one place to live will it be in the Netherlands or will we chase the sun? What is best for our child and where is our heart? In which ever way our exploration leads us, we care very much about conscious, sustainable choices. If we want to live in harmony with ourselves, we need to live in harmony with nature.

In order to find inspiration and learn more about this we visit people who live in alternative ways, sustainable projects and communities who are engaged with the things that interest us: eco-building, permaculture, natural parenting, natural energy sources.

The first project we visit this year is called Sunseed. Driving through a scenic semidesert landscape, unique in Europe, we fall under the spell of the pristine mountains that surround us. This feeling is about to be doubled as soon as we're being enthusiastically guided around through Sunseed. The township where it is settled, used to be deserted. Until in the 80-ies a group of sustainable thinkers came and restored the few houses that were there.

Sunseed is a fully off-grid project; there are no gaspipes, the energy is gained from solar panels and water comes from a well. The project's aim is to create and share knowledge through practice about sustainable living. Walking between almond blossoms and orange trees we receive explanation about the ecological food gardens, the compost toilets and the natural water cleaning system. The activities seem to be done in a relaxed pace. There is passion for the work that this lifestyle brings along and since we're not unfamiliar with this way of living, we relate to that passion.

While Tijn follows a cat in the meadow we learn how to make a solarcooker from 'waste' materials. A parabola of mirrors will lead the sun's heat to the middle and prepare a nice meal. Someone is playing beautiful flute music; it's made from the pita plant that grows abundantly here. This place has managed to go back to the basics and create an oasis of deep rooted peace. We feel a rising enthusiasm within us; who knows where we might apply these principles one day.

The terrace hills on which Sunseed is situated are filled with wild flowers and edible gifts from nature. This is the result of non-cultivation. There is so much to learn from nature if we respect her. And that is the base of this community. There is a lot to discover on this little piece of paradise; sweat logde, the mud building, the little paths along the river,... By the time we say goodbye we feel enriched by a boost of inspiration and some great contacts. Which is exactly what we are looking for during this trip. The answer to the question what excites us. Well, definitely the way of learning and living with nature from this place does!

Sending sunseeds and almond blossoms!


PS: If you want to learn more in detail about this project, check www.sunseed.co.uk.