See you later, Alligator

Another two months have passed since our last blog. The last period in Portugal we spend in the Northern part of the country. We enjoyed every minute of it! We went to two National parks and visit the city of Porto. Porto is a cool city. A bit rough on the edges but incredibly beautiful from the inside. We visit some great parts of the city and biked to much 😉 uphill and along the Douro. There is a “small” competition between the cities of Porto and Lisbon and in both of the cities the people think, their city is the best.…. We were unable to choose and we felt both cities deserve a visit for sure.

The North is very beautiful and is completely different than the South part of the country. Our first national park was Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela. We drove to the highest mountain (2000 meters) which is in the middle of the park. Ella (our beloved camper) did an amazing job by going up and down the small roads of the park. Piece of cake. Even do Ella isn’t “fancy” and no 4×4, we are so happy with her. She does her job well. After an extreme windy night without a lot of sleep we enjoyed waterfalls along the road back down to the valley. We did a lot of walks and enjoyed the surroundings.

Right at the border between Portugal and Spain there is a city called Viana do Castelo. For some a good spot to surf for us a nice spot for the weekend. We spend the weekend at the farm of Hugo. For the first time since ages, we had a little living room of our own (part of the hostel, but no guests) and we enjoyed the weekend with other travelers who we met through social media but never met in person. Nice and relaxed! Our Second national park was Parque Nacional Peneda-Geres. THE park of Portugal for almost all of the Portuguese we met during our travel and what an incredibly park it is. We spend 1,5 weeks in and around the park. Did two long walks around 15 km each in two different areas of the park and spend nights in the middle of nowhere. Luckily the borders between Spain and Portugal reopened a couple of days before we entered, so were able to drive along and through the borders of the park without any issues. The last days in Portugal we spend enjoying massive waterfalls and very cold dips.

After 8 months, it was time to say goodbye. Portugal gave us so much. More than we could ever imagined. It gave us a home away from home. It gave us a home in strange times. It gave us friends for life. It gave us new insights for our future. It gave us a new path to travel. It gave us amazing views and wonderful walks. It gave us music. It gave us Covid (unfortunately) but most of all it gave us exactly what we needed, lots of love and happiness. We almost decided to go and live in Portugal for the next couple of years but we also realized due to travel, that our family and friends are very valuable to us. We will come back, that’s a promise! And for us, a promise is a promise.

We left Portugal with mixed feelings and drove easily through Spain toward France. We took a risk of not doing any PCR test but we had no issues at all at the borders. We only got stopped once in France by a toll station controller. No request of test, just our route. We spend two days with an old colleague of Stephen, and his wife on their farm. Before we drove to the Netherlands, we made one other stop at friends we met at the Fabriça in Lisbon. We had a great evening with the whole family playing domino and getting way too much spoiled by delicious food.  

Coming home to see family and friend is always awesome. Even do we really wanted to see all of our friends; due to the short period of time we mainly focused on our family. Both of our dads needed a lot of love and it felt really good to be with our families.  This was the second time we came back “home” during our 2,5 years of travel but this time it felt different. The first time the difference between India and the Netherlands was massive and due to the way we came home (urgently,) it wasn’t measurable. Now, after arriving from Portugal we found the difference much bigger. We noticed much more the neatness of our country and the materialistic approach on life. We realise that our minds are changed and we are more and more adapting to a less materialistic and rushed life. We know money is a necessary but how much depends totally on your own state of mind.

We arrived in Sweden yesterday and are excited about our trip through Scandinavia. We had butterflies in our stomach. We will start off our trip in Götenborg and Stockholm and after the cities we will go into the beautiful national parks of Sweden. For now, we will go up all the way to the border of Norway and Finland. Hopefully we can cross into Norway. For now, the border of Norway remains closed till further notice. If the border stays closed, we will go down through Finland.

We are still in a search for a winter job. We prefer Switzerland but also Austria, Italy, France or Norway (when it opens up) will be an option. Dates are flexible. So, if any of you know a nice job for 3 incredibly lovely nomads……. Let us know 😉

De kyss från oss tre!

Are we there yet?

Topic number one, always and everywhere…. Corona. Every conversation we have with whoever, within 5 minutes we talk about Corona. Logic because we are still in the middle of it.

The world is still fighting back. We believe this virus is touching us in a good and a bad way. We have more quality time with family and friends, we are more helping each other and we are slowing down to realise which values are really important in life. In the beginning there was a positive curve for the environment and the world was finally taking action on climate change.  Unfortunately, the environment and climate change were the elephant in the room during the elections in The Netherlands. There was not a lot written about this topic on the political agenda of our biggest winning parties during the election. For us it should be on the top of the agenda of any political party. 

We never took Corona for granted but we did not fear it. After posting our last blog Stephen got sick again from the corona virus which was still in his body. After 3 weeks of being better it made Stephen sick again. The first time all signs where “clear”.  Heavy headache, tired, loss of taste. No doubts. The second time parts of the virus went to the nerves of his brain. This had a huge impact on his behavior and character. After a couple of bad nights without a lot of sleep Stephen was telling Lillian he had a new personality. He was a completely different person and this was his new him. After a massive talk and a lot of googling Lillian found out the virus was still in his body. Stephen couldn’t believe the impact, he thought he was in psychosis. It felt like a very bad LSD trip without controlling it. His had an accelerated heartrate and could not control his body. Bing watching Netflix was the best remedy. No influences from outside and without thinking. After 2 weeks Stephen thought he felt much better but it came back after a too busy day. This time it took over his body, he was shaking and Lillian had to carry him to the toilet. Other people from Fabrica Braco de Prata had the same signs. Panic attacks, hallucinations and physical complaints. Surprisingly this are signs you don’t hear much. We never underestimated the virus but certainly Stephen was skeptical about some of the government’s choices. It was a mind-blowing couple of weeks. We maybe don’t agree on everything but we certainly understand more about all the precautions of the government. After already 4 healthy weeks we are happy the virus is hopefully really gone. What a strange time…

After all of this we finally did the things, we love to do the must. Hiking and being in nature. People told us the most impressive and rough coastline was along the province Alentejo between Villa Nova Milfontes and Odeceixe. The trail called the Fisherman’s trail which we walked a small part of. We walked two times, one walk of three days walk and one two days walk. At the first walk we did 44 kilometers and the second walk we did 32 kilometers. We are still not good in calculating and planning. Poor Morgan….. We calculated through a walking app it supposed to be around 44 km. Oops. Morgan is our hero! With her six year of age, she walked all without complaining. We are so proud! We slept on the most amazing cliffs and on the beach with our little tent. The tracks are incredible. After the two walks we decided we wanted to do much more of this and so we will visit Scandinavia after Portugal. There are still many places in this world which are like heaven. We hitchhiked back to the camper. Super funny.

We keep on meeting great people. Wild camping in Portugal is very hard at the moment. The government adjusted the rules because there where to many campers standing everywhere. We still wild camp but with a risk of a ticket of 200 Euro. In Zambujeira we met Jason, Isabelle and their two children. Stephen did a morning run and came across the property of Jason and Isabelle. He just went up to them and ask if we could sleep on a little spot on their land. They offered us a place where we could stay as long as we wanted. They live in small paradise, Inspiring people! After Zambujeira we visit Patricia, Camille and Enzo in Aljezur. We met Guy and Patrica on a beach in Goa last year. Us with our van and they with a house in the area. We kept contact and after we found out that we both were in Portugal we came together. Unfortunately, Guy was in Swiss but we had a great time with Patricia, Camille and Enzo. They took us into their little community. We enjoyed amazing food and were accompanied by many beautiful people.

We made up our minds for the rest of the year (for now). Like we said before after our walks we decided to spend the summer in Scandinavia. We love hiking and after the hike with Morgan we felt that Scandinavia is the area to go. Luckily for us and our family and friends, our small little country is on the way to Scandinavia and so we are able to say hello to everybody we love. After crossing Denmark, we start off with Sweden, do some volunteering and hopefully after that we can enter Norway. For now, the border of Norway is still closed but they are talking about reopening in July. After the summer we will find some work in the snow (now we are able to do so). We will of course collect our snowboards and hope we can combine business with pleasure. 🙂  Our first intention will be Swiss but we will see.

The last couple of months we spend a large part of our time in the Alentejo region and mostly around Villa Nova Milfontes. We slowly fel in love on this beautiful little village. The people and surroundings are incredible. The next couple of weeks we will explore the northern part of Portugal but not before we saying hello to our second home and family at Fabrica.

Big kisses and lots of hugs from the three of us.

Fábrica Braço de Prata

4 months since our last post, unbelievable. We were a bit busy, hahaha, so time went fast.

After enjoying the northern part of Portugal, we wanted to visit Lisbon. Many people told us it’s a great city with a nice cultural vibe. We planned one week to explore. The city is quite due to Covid-19. No mass tourism. Shop, restaurants and event centers were open but did close on the 15th of January (we arrived 22/10/20) for a complete lockdown. To find our spot to stay, we make use of an app called Park4night. An App with places for wild camping, campgrounds and parking spots in Europe. A massive number of spots to stay entered by other travelers all around the world. In big cities we never do “wild camping”. We feel the camper is not secured and it doesn’t feel relaxed. We always go for campground or secured parking lots. During our last 2 years of traveling, more than 70% of our spots to sleep were in the “wild”. Sometimes a beautiful green surrounding and sometimes a horrible grey one (parking lot with a lot of concrete). The non-wild spots were always in cities.

Fábrica Braço de Prata

We found Fábrica Braço de Prata through Park4Night. A cultural hub with a big parking lot as a garden for around 25 campers. We instant fell in love. We did a lot of exploring in the city and saw some great live musical performances in Fábrica. For us Fabrica looked from the outside a little bit like Berghain in Berlin (yes, we know we have a lot of imagination, so let say a far cousin perhaps). The vibe in the building is incredible and is hard to explain – but you can feel positive energy flowing. Before Covid-19 there where at least 3 to 5 concerts going on every night – 4 nights a week. Some of the best musicians in Portugal are playing here. There is a music school in the building which brings musicians & bands together. There are art exhibitions, which are rotating. Everywhere you look you will find the best art, instruments, books. It felt like coming home! The people who are working here and the owners of this place are amazing and incredible inspiring persons. Yes, it sounded like a dream.. but it was all and even more. We went to the owners to ask if we could do volunteering work. Work 4 to 5 hours a day (5 days a week) and get food/drinks and accommodation for free. We saw opportunities to help out. A lot of cleaning needed to be done around the campground / garden and they needed a hand with the day-to-day business with the campers who would arrive and stay.

We had to convince them to agree on our proposal at first but after a couple of days we were not allowed to leave. They were very happy with us. We really did our best to help out and to make things better. In these hard times extra help and revenue is more than welcome at culture places. The family adopted us directly. Morgan played the whole day with Violeta and Gabriel, the children of Nuno and Sylvia (founders of Fábrica) and Fábrica was in our opinion the best spot for home schooling to Morgan. We saw almost every night live music and learn about the way of living from the people who work and played at the Fabrica. They offered us an apartment in the building where we could stay, 2 rooms and a private bathroom. We rejected because we love to stay in our “little house” Ella. We also met very nice people on the campground – travelers from all over Europe. With some of them we build up great friendships. It kept us busy for almost 3 months!

We spend Christmas and New Year together with our new friends and the people of Fábrica. We almost forgot about Covid-19 because we were living in our own Fabrica bubble… We were already philosophize on how we could stay and earn some money. But we also found out that we were not ready to stop traveling yet. Unfortunately, Covid-19 for the second time hit hard in Portugal and Lisbon. During Christmas the government gave “carte blanche”. Everybody was allowed to visite family and friends without any restrictions. After Christmas the virus did spread heavily.  Due to this decision Portugal is again in a total lock-down as of the 15th of January and borders are closed to other countries.

After 2 weeks lockdown, we were unluckily and got Covid-19 ourselves.  Stephen started and his first 2 days were accompanied by heavy headache, loss of taste, tiredness and some bad hallucinations. Because the apartment was still vacant, he went to the apartment to be in quarantine. After 4 days he could go outside again, off course being very careful. Luckily, he felt much better after 3 days but tired until the 9th day. With advice of friends, we took a diversity of vitamins. With us others on the campground also got infected. Everybody had a completely different experience in regards of what Covid-19 did to them but we all could say that we had the feeling of less symptoms and faster recovery due to the vitamins. Lillian got sick after a couple of days after Stephen his first signs. She lost her taste and smell completely and had strong muscle pain. But not really ill. Women are stronger, we know now for sure. Haha…..Morgan wasn’t infected at all. We thought we ticked the box but the last couple of days Stephen got a second “attack” by his Covid. The tiredness came back with some mental issues. Slowly he is recovering again but we were surprised by the impact.

We decided in January that we would leave Fábrica to continuing traveling. There is much more to see in Portugal. What will be next after Portugal doing summer time, for now we don’t know yet. Will it be Scandinavia, Italy, Balkans, Greece or Iceland? To many options and possibilities. What a wealth we live in. Living in a camper, being with your loved ones and see the best places in the world. For us it can’t be better.

We left Fábrica with so much more life experience. All the marvelous conversations, incredible lunches and dinners and all the love– we will never forget. A big thanks towards the musicians and artists, we loved being a part of their life and adventures. We hope to see the other travelers we met at Fabrica again on the road somewhere in our shared big garden, the world.  

Fashion models

Due to Fabrica , Morgan and Stephen took Piano lessons. We bought an electronic piano (which fits in the camper) and started online lessons. Thank you, Victor, Nuno & Duarte – we got so inspired by you. Sorry Maarten, Stephen switched…

We hope everybody is doing well. Of course we are thinking a lot about the situation in the Netherlands and in this strange world. We really hope we can go back to our normal lives as soon as possible, giving each other big hugs and enjoy the good things in life.

Love towards all of you – Morgan, Lillian and Stephen

Back on track.

Time goes fast, our last blog was already from June.

During summer we enjoyed being in the North of the Netherlands. It was really great to be with Lillian sister, Wiranda and Egbert, Nynke & Yenthe. We realised how special it was to be part of their family live. Even do Lillian and Wiranda are sisters, normally we would not be able to see each other’s life this closely. It made our time with them incredible valuable. Morgan played every day with Nynke & Yenthe and it was big fun for them and for us. When Morgan woke up, she went straight outside to play with them on the farm. The last 2 weeks before the summer holiday she was even able to join Yenthe to school and see how life was at school.  After these week’s Morgan told us she realises that she has a very relaxed “school” period with us:-) During the summer months Morgan joined swimming lessons and after a couple of weeks she passed her ” exam” and received an official swim certificate from the Dutch swim association.

In the meantime, we were busy catching up with family and friends, helping out on the farm and making plans for the next coming year. We were still hoping that the world would become a bit more “normal” again in regards of Covid-19. Unfortunately, that did not happen, borders around India are still closed today and the virus is spreading fast. We spoke with people in India and they told us that even do the media is telling different, life is quite normal. But our feeling is and was still that we didn’t wanted to be stuck in India.  We have no regrets we came back home. At the end of June, we shipped Ella (our camper) back towards the Netherlands. It was a hard decision because we knew that the dream we had (Australia) ended right there and then. We will not know what the further will bring but for now it’s not an option. We can’t get into the country and we need to take care of our cash flow as well ;-(

In August we stayed for 2 weeks in Amsterdam, taking care of a cat from our friends Sander & Iris while they were on holiday. It felt great to be in the city! Exploring beautiful Amsterdam and also being surrounded with a diversity of people, shops and cafes. We love Amsterdam, it has such a good vibe even in Corona times. At the end of the 2 weeks we could pick up Ella from the port in Rotterdam. After 2 months being on the ocean, we were so happy to see here again – our house and transportation was back! She has seen a bit more of the world than us. She went from India towards South Korea, stopped in Hong Kong, Djibouti, Egypt and finally arrived in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She looked ok, but was very mouldy. After cleaning her (which took as a week) we found out we had a leak on the roof. It caused a part of the mould and gave us major electricity problems. We had to replace 2 essential control panels and because the camper is 17 years old it was not an easy fix. We (the garage) could fix one part of the issue. The other part of the issue had to be sent to Italia and we do not know when it’s repaired. Luckily, we still could go and we hope that DHL will bring our fixed panel somewhere in Portugal.

So, we are back on track! Last week we left The Netherlands and drove directly towards Portugal. It’s great to be back in Ella! To have all the freedom to go where and whenever. Our first plan was to take it slow, see a bit of France and Spain. But because of all the negative developments around Covid-19 we just drove directly to Portugal. We were afraid that borders where closing and we would not be able to move around anymore. Portugal will be our hibernate spot. Relax, sport, learn to surf but also to do volunteering work. Our first impression is that people are very nice and a lot of nice places to visit. We are surprised how many other travellers we meet on the road in a van or camper. It’s incredible to see. After being in countries like Iran, Pakistan and India where we were almost alone as campers, here it’s the complete opposite. Every spot we found till now is occupied with other campers. Probably it will be for a reason everybody is in Portugal during winter so we are looking forward to find out why! The only real shame is that with all this massive camper life here there is a lot more rubbish and waste on the grounds. We try to take as much rubbish with us when we leave a spot but it will never be enough. The source needs to change as well.

During the next couple of months, we will keep you posted again about our life in Ella. We hope that everybody stays safe and looks out for each other. What a world we’re living in. Sometimes we just cannot believe what is happening to world. Big changes in health, freedom, happiness and the economy. When we post photos, we try to show our impression of this beautiful world. Because there is still a lot of beauty to share. It distresses us that EVERY day there are 200.000 people more joining this planet… How will it look in 50 years? We are treating this planet as waste. We have to changed our way of living to give this planet the respect it deserves. We, our family of 3, are trying to do our utmost during our travels but we are far from perfect. Properly no human is but we can always try to do better.

Big hug and love from the 3 nomads.

New page

Who would ever thought we would write this next blog on a cough somewhere in the beautiful area of Friesland, one of the provinces of The Netherlands.  It’s a new page in our book of travel and definitely not the last. Luckily, we still feel we are in a foreign country due to the dialect in this part of the country. We still can use google translate on a daily basis so nothing changes so far 🙂 Due to some beautiful photo’s Morgan took with here own (old fashion) camera we still have prove we traveled around in some amazing countries.

Photo’s from Morgan’s camera, from Iran through Pakistan into India

When we left India, we felt pretty said of leaving without even getting to know the country. We heard so many different stories about India and after traveling for one year we knew we just need to find out ourselves. Opinions are incredibly personal but for a lot of people it unfortunately is often the truth. We always look with our own perspective but sometimes it’s hard to do so with so many prejudices. After many discussions to leave or not to leave we finally decided to leave “paradise, Dudshagar plantation” and fly home. We didn’t want to give up but with all the limitations of traveling we really couldn’t decide different. The most important part was to make sure we had an option to ship the camper back to the Netherlands. After mailing and calling for two weeks with different shipping companies we found a really good one who felt trustworthy (Thanks Alex!). Our first intention was to drive back with our camper to Mumbai and put Ella on a boat ourselves. But after the heavy lockdown we were unable to drive between the states. We decided with the owner of the farm (Ashok once again thanks a million!!) that when the car had to go back, he will drive with our camper too Mumbai after the lock down. We also had hope (still have a tiny bit) that we would be able to fly back to India before August and continue our trip.

We called the Embassy to change our city of departure from Mumbai to Goa. We put ourselves on the list for repatriation. They straight away told us there was a new mailing in regarding to a flight that night going from Goa to Brussels. We did not receive anything so they resend the mail…. The plane was leaving at 3AM that night while it was already 1 in the afternoon. It was the last plane leaving from Goa area…… After trying to book for 1,5 hours (fast WIFI is so 2019) we finally reserved both flights (Goa – Rome, Rome – Brussels). We never worked so hard to be ready. We had to clean the complete car, get all of our staff in different compartments, pack our bags and arrange a letter from the government of Goa for allowing us on the road towards the airport. What a surreal day. We were cleaning the car in our bathing suits because of the nice 38 degrees. We finished cleaning and packing at 8.30PM got our last amazing diner at the plantation and had to say goodbye to Ajit, Ashok & all the families working on the farm. With a “see you later” we left. After a 2,5-hour delay and a stopover in Rome we arrived in Brussel on the Friday 7PM Dutch time. With the help of my sister and one of our best friend Sindy we could pick up a rental car at Brussel Airport to drive to Zeeland for our 14 days of quarantine. We drove around 28000 km in 12 months to finally end up in India and flew back in 11 hours. On the one hand we always said to family and friends, we can be back in 24 hours if we have to but it’s still strange to experience it in real life. All those beautiful memories and encounters were created in the year we traveled on the road and they just passed by in an 11 hour flight.

Due to the fact we arrived at the farm before the lockdown in Goa and we did not leave the property during, we were curious how the world would look in “Corona Times”. To see the streets of India, empty with only cows and other animals on the road was already a strange sight. But to see all airline staff completely covered in suits from head to toe was really weird. It looked like a movie. When we arrived in Rome after a long delay, we had to wait for another 3 hours. We took a large coffee (Yihaaa good coffee again ;-)) and called home. During our flight Lillian’s sister arranged a place to stay for our quarantine period. We could stay in a great apartment with the best friend of Lillian sister. The apartment was situated in Eelde which is a 4 minutes drive from the Belgium border. The flight from Goa to Rome was completely fully booked, with a mixture of old Italian hippies and some Dutch and Belgium travelers. They always say Italians are temperament full but in combination with Corona and an Italian Fly company it was crazy. The flight from Rome to Brussel was very relaxed and with not more than 20 people in the plane we arrived at Brussel Airport. Everywhere we had to wear masks and all the airports were almost empty. Such a strange sight.

The 14 days of quarantine went very quickly. The first week we adopted again of being back in Holland. We got so spoiled by all of our family & friends with flowers, cards and presents. We felt incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends. Even do we left everybody to travel the world we still were in their minds and hearts. Because we were in the south part of the Netherlands were, we normally never go, it didn’t feel like being home. We explored the surrounding and enjoyed the beautiful nature in the area. The second week we did a lot of running, reading and video calling (fast internet is something special now). Because of the virus we were not allowed to help out on the farm unfortunately but with 1,5 meters apart we did do a lot of coffees together. Once again thank you Tim & Annemarie to take care of us like that. After our 14 days, Lillian’s sister Wiranda came to pick us up and drove us to Friesland. She lives on a beautiful piece of land in a “woudhuisje”, a farmer’s house with her husband Egbert and her two kids, Nynke & Yenthe. Yenthe is the same age as Morgan and Nynke is 10 years old. It still surprises us how it feels to see family again after such a long time. We skipped the 1,5 meters (sorry but he, we already did two weeks of quarantine) and we could huge everybody for ages! Because of the amount of land on Wiranda’s property they decided we could stay in a place on their property for as long as we wished or was necessary. We cannot describe how grateful we are towards Egbert and Wiranda to have us on their land. The place they had needed some (many) redecoration so we were sanding, painting and decorating a bit for the last weeks. When we left our old house, we sold everything we owned except our bed. We always slept really well in our camper but the first night of sleeping in our “old” bed was like sleeping in heaven 🙂 The complete interieur we got from neighbours, friends & family. No need for new stuff and everything we had to buy we bought second hand. There is already too much stuff in this world so re- using is so much better for this planet we feel.

We also spend a week with Lillian’s parents in the North of the Netherlands, a village called Hippolytushoef. The village lies close the The Wadden Sea and for Dutch understanding we had great weather that week. We still went from 38 degrees to 17 but there was sun so all good. We got extremely spoiled and Morgan loved the time with her grandparents. It’s so funny to see how easy a child adapts to different situations. Yesterday we were in India and today in the Netherlands. She acted like she never left. How hard it was for us to realise we were back how easy it was for Morgan. Sometimes we wished we could look more with children eyes into this world. Just living in the “now” and don’t care about the past or the present. Life would be so much easier.  The village is also close to a lot of flower field so every day we biked through all the beautiful fields. We feel so privileged to be born and raised in the Netherlands. We never “left” the country because we don’t like it. We just left because we feel the world Is too big and beautiful to stay in the Netherlands. To show Morgan the differences in this world.

Not once we felt we made the wrong decision to go “home”. There are so many uncertainties in the world wright now that we do not know what the next page will be. For now, it’s just a new page we to fill with memories. We are enjoying being home and being around family. Due to the corona we aren’t able to see friends but slowly things are getting a little bit more relaxed in The Netherlands. You can meet people again but taking the 1,5 meters into consideration… We don’t want to make a decision yet but we will wait till the end of June to see if fly bans are released. The coming land borders from India were a challenge anyway with all their regulations but with corona in place it makes it much more uncertain to be able to drive through Myanmar, Thailand etc.

We hope everybody is ok and healthy and we’ll update soon. We will not end our blog because we are in a “new” country with still a lot to explore. We just expected the flag to have different colors and some mountains instead of flat land 🙂

Big hug and kiss from the three of us.

365

One year ago we moved out of our beloved house in Utrecht and moved into our new house on wheels.

When we got in our camper and drove off we were speculating “ were would we be next year same time?? “ Would we be already in India, did we got stock somewhere in Europe…. What would we write on our blog. Lists of number of km, number of illnesses, number of beers, number of countries……. All these nitty facts were nobody gives a damn about but so fun for us to put on paper.

Exactly after one year we write this with many tears in our eyes. We are at the airport of Goa waiting to board a plane to Brussel. Our believed Ella ( our camper) is still at the farm waiting on our return or to be shipped to wherever is possible. Prob. The Netherlands 😦 We can not believe for now our travel had to stop, we did not reach Australia but were stopt by a virus in India. We know deep in our hearts it’s is the best thing to do but for now we only can be super sad. We try to stay safe. Big kiss from us.

Dearest friends & family

We are ok. We are still at the farm in Goa – India were we do volunteering work and it’s the best place to be, in this strange situation. 

Every morning we start of with “ we have to go home” but were is home. Our “ house” is here and in the Netherlands there is of course family and friends waiting ( which were are not allowed to see) but nothing else. We are so not finished with traveling yet but we have the feeling the world is finished with all the traveling people for now.  In the afternoon we try to find different solutions for not going back….We really don’t know 😞 

We are closely monitoring everything what is happening in the world but for now with all the lock downs we have to wait till beginning of April to see what to do next. We wished we could predict the future but I think the whole world would like to do that right now.

We keep you posted. Please stay safe 

Big kiss from us

Back to reality

After traveling for almost 11 months (and enjoying every minute of it) last week for the first time we wished we were back home. 

We started off with Morgan who got the famous “Delhi Belly” and within 4 hours she was hospitalized for sincere dehydration. We were shocked how quick it happened. In the morning all was fine but after lunch she got really ill very quickly. At one moment we were not able to reach her for at least two minutes. Unbelievable scary! Later we found out it was a fever convulsion (which we never saw before and hope never to see again) We looked up the best hospital in Jodhpur and went straight away to the emergency. Within an hour we were submitted. The doctors were great and after an “ok” from our insurance company everything was possible 😉 To make sure the fall out was no epileptic seizure they also took an MRI and EEG. Luckily all was good and after 4 days of hospital Morgan was strong enough to go home.  Finally, at home, we got very sad news that a dear friend of us, Leon passed away very suddenly. He died much to young with many “unfinished” wishes. 4 days later Lillian parents called also with the news of losing a very close and dear friend suddenly. Life can be really unfair sometimes. 

Morgan getting better in the hospital

When you are travelling it feels horrible to be on the other side of the world in said times. We realize that you have to follow your dreams…….. but for now, we wished we were home. Being with family and friends, giving them lots of hugs, love and just being there when it matters. Our thoughts are with all of you right now and you are in our minds and hearts. We are unable to be there for you and it that feels very tough.

India was the country where we did not know what to expect. Some countries were high on our” list to see” but with India we always had a bit of mixed feelings. We heard so many negative stories about the country we got a bit scared…. scared about the noise, busyness, no camping spots and all other stuff.  It really depends which route you take but for now India is beautiful and nothing to be scared about. In India it’s all about the money again. We had to get used to that again. In Iran – Pakistan, is was opposite so the first days in India we had quite some discussions. Tuk – Tuk drivers are the worst! We decided after Amritsar, Kapurthala and Jodhpur to directly go to Goa. Just slowing down the travelling and finding a spot to work for a while. We will (unfortunately) skip the bottom of the country and go up again via Rajasthan to Himachal Pradesh. The weather will be very hot in April till June and the monsoon will hit the south first. After receiving negative news about our extension for the carnet (we tried to extent our carnet till October for India) we have to be out of India the beginning of August. In July we will visit Nepal but we have to reenter India again to go to Myanmar for our next destination. 

After watching the boarder closing from the Pakistani side we drove through the same border (which was the coolest border crossing we ever did) and saw the India side. What a difference! For the first time in 1,5 months we saw ladies on the streets again, without any cover, dancing!! We realized what kind of impact it had during the last 1,5 months of our travel. We were so surprised to see women again, driving on scooters, in cars, on the streets and not completely covered. The closing of the Indian side was much more color full and less authoritarian. We also saw tourist again. In the last months there weren’t many tourist but as soon as we crossed into India, we were not the tourist attraction ourselves. 

When we arrived in Amritsar, we had to see the golden temple. The most religious place for the Sikh. A beautiful believe we really felt connected with. Every day 100.000 people will get food in the temple and everybody will help to get the food ready. It so beautiful to see the connection of people in this place. Amritsar was a nice place to get all our stuff arranged. Every time we cross a border, we have to fix a couple of things. SIM cards, insurance for the car, routes and we also always have to adjust to the country. 

After Amritsar we drove to Kapurthala. In this city the family Singh lives. They are the relatives of our friend and tailor Harjit from Utrecht. He was not around but his family welcomed us like we were family. They showed us the beautiful Kapurthala and overwhelmed us with their love. What an amazing couple of days. After two days getting spoiled, we drove to Jodhpur and visit an amazing fort. Despite the fact that Morgan got ill in this city we still enjoyed it very much. The area of Rajasthan has enormous forts and castles. Beautiful buildings with a great architecture. When we go back up north after our volunteering, we will visit this area fur sure. After Jodhpur we went in 2,5 days down to Goa. 1500 km to go to the beach. For us it means driving 2,5 days from 6AM till 7PM. Morgan is getting used to sitting. It sounds silly but after all the cold of Pakistan and the north of India it was so nice to feel the warmth again. We went from 15 to 35 degrees. Maybe a bit too much but he, who’s complaining 🙂

Goa feels like every bounty beach in Asia except for the cows. They are also chilling at the beach which is very weird to see. We first arrived in Arambol in the North of Goa. After one night in this party place (we are getting so old) and meeting our swiss biker friend Matthias again we moved to the south and the more relaxed beaches. We stayed for 5 days in Galgibaga and enjoyed the silence. The last view days we were in Agonda. Not as quite as Galgibaga but a nice little village with some shops and restaurants. It’s still strange to see so many tourists again. In Goa, tourists are very common (off course) and so it gives us also a break of all the selfies. We now get asked by all the western tourists how in the **** we got all the way down to India with our own car J

Yesterday we arrived at Dudhsagar Farmstay & Plantation, Karmane. It’s a beautiful place in the middle of the jungle in Goa. There are 5 beautiful huts which guest can rent and there is a big plantation of 50 hectares of Jungle. Full with all kind of fruits and spices. We will help out with the farm and the guests. Lillian will do a little bit of revenue management and e-commerce and Stephen will help with some Sales structures (back to our roots!!) We are looking forward to stay on one spot for a while and hopefully we can learn Morgan to swim properly. It’s already going well but with a beautiful nature pool it has to work out great. 

Live your dream, don’t dream your life.

Big kiss from us

“To stare or not to stare, that’s the question”

After all the police escorts we got “released” in Multan. We drove to Islamabad on a brand-new Motorway (with nobody on it, super weird). We needed to arrange our visas for India. We understood that this visa could be difficult but to be honest it was very easy. We asked for one year with triple entry and we got it, so nice! We don’t know how long we will stay in India but having the flexibility is great. They only small detail we still have to fix is getting the government of India to agree that our camper is also allowed for a year 🙂 Which is unfortunately almost impossible, 6 months per year is the max normally. At the moment we are planning to stay in India and Nepal for 6 months in total, if we get the extension, we will go further south in India and will do more volunteering work. 

We stayed for one week in Islamabad and this city has in our opinion not really a heart or a soul. Luckily, we could stay in a very relax place and we met with our biker friend Matthias again. We also wanted to see a bit more of the northern part of Pakistan. “They” say the northern part is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are five mountains above 8.000 meters and the area is huge. Unfortunately, for us we were in the wrong season in Pakistan, too much snow and temperature go’s down from -10 to -25 degrees. We went towards Swat Valley to explore a bit of the mountain area. We stayed on the farm of Niaz and Shujaat, two brothers. Another five families do also live at the farm. They worked on the farm and there were many many kids. We had a warm welcome and Morgan made quickly new friends so we decided to stay for a couple of days. The families where amazing to us and showed us around in the valley. 

Morgan wanted to see some snow so after Swat valley we went up north to look for it… well, we found it… Our goal was to visit Kalam but 10 km before the village we decided to stop driving. The snow chains were in use but the roads were full of snow and the valley expected even more the next day. We made a massive snow man and kicked some asses with a snow fight! The next day we drove 120 km towards Besham, it was our longest 120 km ever and it took us 10 hours … On the top of one of the mountains police was very worried about us so they gave us an escort again because of difficult road conditions, or so they said. We really didn’t want it but looking at the faces we decided just to wait. After two hours we finally could drive again, with our snow chains sliding down a steep mountain. An adventure on its own. The next day, the police wanted to escort us again but they didn’t expect that we drove off at 06:30 in the morning. Due to their laziness (nobody around at that time) we could drive ourselves without any escort. 

Lahore is a city which has huge diversity, we cannot believe it sometimes. We stayed one week in the city and there is so much to explore. The city has 12.5 million inhabitants. It’s a crazy but also mysterious. For example – in Lahore the are a lot of Sufis. Sufism is a liberal stream inside the Islam believe based on spirituality and philosophy. It is also a mystic tradition inside of the Islam. On Thursday evening people join at holy shrines, were important Sufi’s are buried. With a lot of singing and dancing they welcome their weekend. Stephen went to see a gathering and was quite impressed of the ceremony and scenery. In the city itself there is much to see, big mosques and craziness everywhere. There is also a darker side. Many poor people and people with handicaps on the street, begging for some change. We give what we can but it’s never enough for everybody. Morgan has a lot of questions in regards of this and sometimes it’s hard to explain what is wrong and how some people get treated by other human beings.

Stephen always had “some” issue with authority 🙂 but we found out in Pakistan that he really does not like it….. We got stopped so many times by police that it slowly gets irritating. The stops are meanly for curious policemen who want to see our camper. The area where we drove was safe. They don’t know what to do with our passport (they can’t read it) and also are unaware about our visa. They just want to show some authority in their district. After a couple of “clashes” with strange cops we decided that Lillian will do the word.  Sometimes you just have to except.

In the country side there are almost no women on the street. When we see them, they are wearing a burka. We have read that a lot of women in Pakistan have a hard time. In the cities it’s changing with little help of the government but still there is a lot of suffering due to mental or physical violence. We start to see the difference between “classes” and behaviours between people. People are very happy to see us. We feel safe and welcome but with that said the part of the human rights does make it difficult for us to completely enjoy our stay in some areas. Some men intent to have a conversation only to Stephen. They don’t say a word to Lillian and just ignore her. The world is different here and there are things we don’t understand, difference in culture and habits are enormous.  Off course we also meet many nice people with super very friendly faces. The hospitality is great, like Iran everybody wants to help (but first a selfie ;-)) 

We got used to the starring, really…but again we have to get used to this level of starring. The question “to stare or not to stare” has past and people go in all the way… Everywhere we walk people look at us. In Iran they looked and then people would say hello. In Pakistan, people just stare with extreme intensity. On the touristic places (for Pakistani) people ask a lot for a selfie. Sometimes after numerous photos we get so tired and we say no – people here don’t understand, the world is only turning with mobiles nowadays so way don’t make a selfie with tourists … Good practice for India, we heard it’s going to be more extreme.

We fell in love with the Pakistani art on the trucks, tractors and Tuk-tuk’s. After driving around a couple of weeks, we felt that Ella (our home) also needed to get some colours on her “skin”. We found an artist who could make something for us. We asked him to first make a suggestion and after approval he could start making it real life. We didn’t hear anything but after 2 days he told it was ready… Luckily after seeing the result we loved it all the way!! We asked for a Peacock and he created three. In many countries the peacock’s symbol means, beauty, dignity & wakefulness. We describe them as three flying traveling birds with the names: Morgan, Lillian & Stephen.

Tomorrow we will cross the border to India. The border crossing is a special thing between Pakistan & India. The closing of the gate is great to watch from both sides. For the first time in our lives we went to a border (even without our car) and did not cross it. We saw it from the Pakistani side. Tomorrow we will see it from the Indian side. It’s a big show with a lot of testosterone. In the past both countries fought a lot and still there is a lot of anger from both sides. (example is the Kashmir region)  

Would we go back to Pakistan, yes for sure! This country has so much to offer and we really want to see the nature in the north one day!

Love from us.

Next Level

We did it! Yesterday we arrived in Sukkur……. It still feels surreal. Five days ago, we crossed the border of Pakistan and as of than Levi’s (British Police Reinforcement) guarded us. At the beginning of our trip we had a lot of doubts about Pakistan. If you take a look at the travel website of our government, Pakistan is coloured almost completely red with a little bit of orange. Which means, do not travel…. (just to compare, South America and a big part of south-east Asia are already yellow which means, be careful, safety issues). We know red is a different colour and it made us insecure. We were not sure if we wanted to cross Pakistan. We could skip Pakistan and take a boat from Iran to Mumbai but we really wanted to drive as far as possible. We spoke to so many other travellers and they all said GO to Pakistan! The Baluchistan area is not safe but you will be protected by Levi’s and the rest of Pakistan is really safe and great. The country is massive, Pakistan is the size of France and the United Kingdom together and the population is around 220 million people!

Pakistan was often voted as “best place to travel” in many magazines the last couple of years. Especially the North with the start of the Karakoram Highway but still we had to cross Baluchistan. Slowly we gained more confidence due to all the reading and talking. We made the decision and applied for our Visa. We always said to each other, we can do “stupid” things but we have a big responsibility with our daughter and we will never put her at risk. The night before crossing we slept well and drove off early in the morning to cross the border. The crossing was really easy and after 3 hours we arrived in Pakistan. We got picked up by the Levi’s straight away at the border and were brought to the police station to wait on our escort. In Zahedan (Iran) we met Matthias, a Swiss biker who joined us the whole way. We laughed a lot together so it made it all less “heavy”. All the Levi’s were super friendly and curious about who we were. After a night at the police station (sleeping in our camper next to jail including prisoners) we drove the first day 300 KM to Dalbadine. It took us the whole day. We stopped at many checkpoints to give our passports and visa. We felt like celebrities. We had 24-hour guards with big guns and even more than in Iran were watch and starred at. It again felt like a different world. Definitely back in Asia. The roads are worse, houses are made of clay in the small villages. The different is that there are no ladies on the streets. In the last couple of days we say just a handful.

The second day we arrived in Quetta. Only 300 km again but it even took longer. Changes with cars and Levi’s were every 20 – 30 KM. The last 13 KM in Quetta the guards changed at least 6 times. New car, bike in the new car and new Levi’s. We later found out that’s because the police have only authority in their own district. Everybody was very friendly but bloody serious with massive guns and protective vests. It didn’t help it rained the whole day and when we arrived in Quetta it was dark. We never felt unsafe but it felt we were in a (cheap) action movie with us in the main role. Extremely impressive. In Quetta, we needed to get a NOC paper (road clearing document towards Sukkur) and Stephen got it at a different police station. Five different bosses needed to approve it:-).  Six hours later we got the papers. We were camping in the police station again. On Thursday we could drive our last 400 km and, in this part, we understood why all the protection is necessary. In Quetta and surrounding were many soldiers and the look and feel of the people in this area made it a bit scary. It wouldn’t be a place where we would do some wild camping… After 11 hours we arrived in Sukkur. Sukkur lies in a different province and is safe. We had read that some people found the whole escort horrible because you really aren’t able to do anything without a Levi. You are not allowed outside the premises of the police station and are guard 24 hours. They found it not necessary and irritating. We felt the escort is necessary and we feel privileged Pakistan is willing to do this for their tourists so we are able to visit this beautiful country. 

We got so used to all the habits of Iran after almost three months we now have to adopt again in Pakistan. We left Iran on the same day President Trump decided to kill two high military guys of Iran and Iraq. It’s going to be an uncertain time again for our friends in Iran. We wish them lots of love and strength. 

The December month we spend in the South of Iran on the Persian Gulf. True heaven. 26 degrees on the beautiful islands of Qeshm and Hormuz. We spend a lot of time just relaxing at some beaches between the camels. After Qeshm we went to Kerman. We celebrated Xmas with other French travellers and had falafel as Xmas diner. Perfect!.Morgan even could hereself a Xmas present! A new gitar. Iranians are living in a different calendar in the year 1398. They also don’t celebrate Xmas and New Year and their New Year is on the 21st of March. We saw all the Xmas photo’s passing by on social media but it didn’t feel at all like Xmas. Next to Kerman, you can find the Kaluts, Lut desert. Before leaving to Pakistan we wanted to go deep into the desert and find some beautiful sand dunes again. Unfortunately, our car is not able to go deep into the desert (even do we try sometimes :-)) so we decided to go with a guide in his 4×4. What an experience! The Kaluts were fantastic and driving through a dessert is something special. Funny enough we got stuck after 15 minutes but after help, we drove around for 3 hours with perfect steering. On the 30th of December, we drove to Zahedan to prepare for our border crossing. We “celebrated” New Year with Matthias. No fireworks or early mornings this time but it’s all good. We are living our dream so we aren’t complaining.  

After a deserved resting day, (Morgan did amazing with all the driving and waiting) we probably will drive directly to Islamabad tomorrow to get our visa extension. We don’t know how long our visa will be for India so better have a bit longer in Pakistan just in case (for now we “only” have one month) Some say you get 3 months; some say 6 months India Visa. If we get 6 months and we leave within a month out of Pakistan we will hit the rain season in Nepal. If we get only 3 months we will move faster and will be in Thailand when the rain season starts. Which is fine but quick… We just arrived in Pakistan but are already busy with the next countries. Sometimes it feels strange to do so but better plan a bit ahead…. Life of a traveller can be hard sometimes 😉 

Once again, we wish everybody an incredible 2020 and lots of love from Pakistan.