A dream that luckily didn’t come true
When I was 20 years old, I had the dream of conducting a completely independent life away from the usual way others do. It should be in a VW bus at the age of 30, so more or less with 10 years of time. Or in a kind of RV in which you can take care of yourself for the long term and live comfortably. Having this feeling of independence, never living in the same place and being able to go wherever I wanted to, impressed me and was more than worth orientating myself towards.
The dream was not even abstract, or had anything to do with the awry life of a misplaced hippie. After all, some of the vintage vehicles that are older than our own grandparents still roll through world history nowadays. So why shouldn’t that also work with a kind of rolling vintage apartment? It was much more about curiosity to live an exciting life away from normality without the socially established pressure to succeed. Without all these characteristically nebulous goals like status symbols, making money or driving the fattest car. Because ‘normal’ is only what we know and what we want to get used to in our everyday life. I found it much more impressive to do the right thing that fulfilled me with happiness in a harmonious way.
I believe that the dream of this way of life is based on an unforgettable experience of my childhood. It must have been either in 1995 or 1996. During school holidays, either around Easter or autumn. I went on my first vacation without my parents together with my godmother and her boyfriend, whom she later married. So, I must have been 7 or 8 years old. Her partner at the time had a VW bus in dark blue and we drove somewhere to a camping site near the beach. It must have been Renesse, in the Dutch province of Zeeland.
His Volkswagen T2 probably drank more on these trips than the entire Russian national ice hockey team during an entire season. But in the 90s, no auto-aggressive and lashing manner was attempted to save the world from ecological doom. You just did it casually whatever you wanted and then it was fine. At least I can’t remember any demonstratively worn jute bags and ecologic wiseacres in the zeitgeist of the 90s.
For me, not only these holidays were an indescribable adventure, it was not just about camping itself and sleeping in another place. Above all, it was especially about the outward journey. This graceful looking VW bus fascinated me so much back then and I was probably the proudest child in the whole wide world that day. Especially because I was allowed to sit in the front to represent a serious co-pilot for the trip. The ride was so exciting and it felt incredibly long. Just as long as this bus was big inside. As if it had the dimensions of a spaceship and I had enough space for every childish stupidity activity during the ride.
It is a pity that human eventually abandon this childish sense of time and spatial imagination and want to grow up. But that is apparently unchangeable and also important. Because remaining and behaving forever like a child is certainly not the meaning and purpose of life.
Now, of course, life doesn’t change suddenly when you turn 30. But nevertheless, the big 3 caused me quite a bit of problems before. It started around the middle of the 28th year of life, so it was actually the worst just before the 29th birthday. A so-called quarter life crisis.
Quickly finish a master’s degree before your 30th birthday. That was a serious goal of myself. After the bachelor’s degree and with my first job after completing my degree, I was simply not fed up. Neither spiritual, nor in my demanding attitude. A bachelor’s degree is pretty good and nice to have, so why not adding the next higher stage?
The dream with the life in the VW bus did not threaten to burst. However, the goal pushed the dream aside and took its place. The time until the 30th birthday and the acquisition and the odd life in a rolling vehicle moved literally far away.
But seriously: Try to find a decent VW T2 model somewhere that is still in a good condition. The last T2 from VW rolled off the assembly line in Brazil in late 2013 and in Germany in 1979. Wow! The T2 in which I was sitting as a child must have been quite old already in 1995/1996.
In my life, there has been always a twist or two. And it was that time again for another one during my master’s degree. I studied at the Chaotic University of Murcia (UCAM). Or was the ‘C’ for Catholic? When I visited the course, it sometimes seemed to me that both terms could fit perfectly to that abbreviation.
Thanks to the internationally well-connected vice dean of the tourism faculty of my university, Ginesa Martínez del Vas, the best students had the opportunity to complete the master’s thesis and the mandatory internship thanks to her contacts in well-known / befriended organizations and business companies.
I was one of those few chosen and told her about my dream of returning to South America. After all, I had already been able to spend a semester abroad in Lima / Peru during my bachelor’s degree and I fell madly in love with the South American subcontinent.
My master’s degree was hitting the home stretch, it was really only about the best places and I was again looking for the extraordinary and special. And Señora Martinez del Vaz made it possible and arranged an internship and project for me at the Ministry of Tourism in Paraguay. I am still grateful to her for that.
After all, it was one of those unique opportunities, of which there are surprisingly many in my life. At least that’s how it seems to me. And hey – Paraguay is just a stone’s throw away from Brazil. And what was produced in Brazil until its abolition? The T2 model from VW.
As a small and interesting anecdote to be told, the Paraguayans are even considered the happiest people on this planet. You may not have known that, do you? Or where Paraguay is exactly on the world map. No, it is not this Uruguay country – And the Urus live on the floating islands on Lake Titicaca.
But things turn out differently than you and I think. The culture shock with the acclimatization to the completely new and unknown Paraguayan Guaraní culture was for me brutal and psychologically pretty heavy. I often felt misunderstood, quite lonely and completely left alone.
I am all very grateful to the great characters and personalities that I got to know in Paraguay in these short four months who helped me out. Hopefully one day I can go back, visit these people and make them even happier as they statistically already are. After my internship at the Paraguayan Ministry of Tourism, my tourist visa expired, there was no way to find a decent job for a gringo like me and my residence permit was nearing the end. Consequently, I had to leave the country for sooner or later.
Unfortunately, I also have had a feeling of incompleteness. However, this was less the case for the dropout life with rolling accommodation. But because Paraguay is a very exciting and unknown country and I was not allowed to travel and get to know everything as I had imagined.
But what had made me extremely happy were the VW buses that I was able to see and experience in the Paraguayan capital Asunción. That made me permanently happy, brightened my mood and gave my psyche an emotional kick every time I saw them. Of course, a kick in a positive and motivating sense.
The dream of wild and unbridled life in a VW bus could not come true for me. But I was so damn close (!), that from an emotional and nostalgic perspective, at least the dormant desire for a T2 could be satisfied. Even if the dream could not be fulfilled in the end, it has not burst on the other side. Even without a purchase and a wild life in a VW bus, my children’s heart laughed again after all these years.
Maybe it was also a bit fortunate, that this dream may not have come true either. It would have been impossible for me to imagine what would have happened if I had had a flat tire or even a mechanical breakdown somewhere in the underpopulated hinterland. Not being blessed with the biggest engineering talent, a self-repair would have prevented from being realized by myself. And would inevitably have made me starve or die of thirst anywhere in the desert, in the mountains, in the jungle or wherever else. It was maybe better to have navigated to a different path.