In Gualeguaychu, northwest of Buenos Aires, one of the last stages a few hours and 230 kilometers before the end of the journey, Herman Zapp wonders whether to say to himself “My dream is over” or “I made my dream come true” . true.” It doesn’t matter in the end. “Everything was nicer than we imagined.”
Originally a six month trip
In the beginning there was a couple, 31 and 29 years old, earning well, a house in a suburb of Buenos Aires, the desire for parenthood. But just before that, there was this old dream for two: a six-month backpacker trip, from Argentina to Alaska, with 4,000 dollars in the pocket. And then… And then someone offered them for sale this battered old collector’s car, an unlikely mode of transport: a 1928 Graham-Paige, wood rims “that wouldn’t even start” but that they fell in love with. So the journey would be in ancient times.
102 countries crossed
Ah, the Graham-Paige… “Family driving around the world,” as a sticker on the vehicle proclaims, she’s the star of the journey of 102 countries that’s traveled 220,000 miles. Even if, out of respect for her advanced age, she only rode a few hours per stage and not every day. “It doesn’t have the best seats, it doesn’t have the best shock absorbers and it doesn’t have air conditioning. It’s a car that forces you to be wary (…) But it was wonderful,” summarizes Herman AFP. A “machine for opening doors”, smiling, helping hands.
Four children born on the street
Of course, since the first kilometers it has changed – on the first day, January 25, 2000, he only drove 50, before the first breakdown… We had to get to the mechanics, even the main work: enlarge the car, 40 Add centimeters to this as the family grew. Pampa, now 19, was born in the USA, Tehue (16) on a return to Argentina, Paloma (14) in Canada and Wallaby (12) in Australia. Without forgetting Timon the dog and Hakuna the cat. Often the car was a “primary residence” where the kids slept in a tent on the roof, the parents inside, all surrounded by a large tarp for privacy.
Stays in more than 2,000 households
“The house is small, but the garden is huge, with beaches, mountains, lakes. And if you don’t like it, you can change!” jokes Herman. But truth be told, the Zapps have mostly slept with locals, guests in more than 2,000 homes around the world they estimate. “We never thought that people in the world could be so beautiful. This humanity in which we live is unbelievable”, Candelaria, 51 years old, still cannot believe. A meal, accommodation, free repairs… “Many helped us because they wanted to be part of a dream”.
The Discovery “It’s the People”
Of course, not everything was rosy. Distracted several times by a conflict, a crisis, they lived in Asia with bird flu, Africa during Ebola, Central America with dengue fever, Herman contracted malaria… Every three years they approved a stay of 2-3 months in Argentina for the family to see again Then they set off, actually attracted by something other than the landscapes, from Namibia to Everest, from Egypt to Peru: “What we discovered were the people”.
Three books about her journey around the world
Difficult to look to the future after two decades so full that three books filled – including Catch Your Dream which sold 100,000 copies – which partially funded the adventure. Herman speaks of “thousands of options” and conjures up a sailing trip around the world. Young children are not enthusiastic about the idea of face-to-face study, after years of training by letter or by their mothers. But with unparalleled geography lessons. Perhaps we can expect to settle down in a world that seems to be going from crisis to crisis. For Herman, this shouldn’t change the compass. “We are coming out of a Covid, we are entering a huge war. If we wait for the right moment, there will always be a reason not to achieve our dreams.”
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