Gregor and I left Calgary on New Year’s Eve day to begin the road trip of a lifetime. Our goal is to drive our 1987 Volkswagon camper van to the southern tip of Argentina and back. We’re giving ourselves a year or so to get to Ushuaia (the farthest south you can drive in the Americas), visiting every Latin American country and camping in the van for most of the way.
In the last three months, we have been selling, donating, or trashing anything we felt we didn’t need.
A month ago, we sold our 3-year-old Mitsubishi RVR on Kijiji.
Two weeks ago we sold our 1000-square-foot bungalow.
Three days ago we finished loading all our household belongings in a shipping container, which is now in a storage yard in Calgary.
Our home (and office) is now an 80-square-foot VW Westfalia camper van named “Lucky”. Gregor will work remotely at his software development job (at reduced hours and pay) and will also be principal driver. I will take a sabbatical from my work as contract technical writer, and will be chief navigator, DJ, blogger, cook, cleaner, planner, document administrator, and negotiator of police bribes.
We’ve been carefully planning this trip for about 8 months, becoming more excited with each passing week. Our bucket-list dream was coming true! And there was nothing holding us back – no property to worry about, no debt to work off, no tedious office commute.
But if you asked us two weeks ago whether we thought we had made the right choices – selling our home, leaving creature comforts behind, and stepping down the corporate ladder to roam the Americas – we would have said: “I’m not sure any more”.
We started to get panic attacks, sleepless nights, scatterbrained-ness, and this weird desire to eat low-nutrition comfort food (for us, this means perogies, breaded/fried meats, and Vietnamese noodle soup). I was feeling particularly anxious and drove my poor suffering husband bonkers with endless “what if?” and “what for?” questions. It was awful.
And then my friend, Gill, helped me to discover why we were feeling such anxiety. Despite our travel history and passion for this type of adventure, she observed that we were having trouble with the idea of uprooting. Little by little, we had removed all our physical anchors to Calgary, so there was nothing to keep us “grounded”. Like trees trying to branch out into the great big world with no roots. We needed to do something to feel grounded again.
So we decided to spend our final days in Calgary to do some landscaping. We collected light and nutrients from friends and family – sharing our hopes and fears over a casual meal, having a laugh over coffee or at the bar, catching up with relatives across Canada over Skype/Facetime/text/phone/email. Then we drove to viewpoints around Calgary to see the rugged mountains, modern cityscape, and quaint neighbourhoods that drew us to this place. With each visit, we started to feel a stronger sense of “home”.
In our last four days in Calgary…
As we drove away from the city, we realized that all those material things we worked so hard for were really not that important to us. Our most prized possessions are the love and support of our friends and family.
Roots intact. Latin America, here we come!