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!