via El Diario

Going backpacking is a dream many of us have. Traveling countries, visiting little towns, getting to know amazing people. The food, the unknown, the adventure. How fascinating does it sound?

Imagine doing it inside a Volkswagen Combi. No, I’m not making this up. It is how this Venezuelan couple did it. They embark on a trip through South America in a van. And it took them two years to roam it all.

They surely aren’t the first to embark on this adventure, and definitely won’t be the last. But isn’t it amazing every time we read a story like this that makes you wanna leave all behind and just go? Well, don’t quit your job so quickly, let’s read how they manage to do it.

Miguel Pich (33) and Maria Gabriela Ruiz (28) were a common couple living in Caracas two years ago. Before making the decision, Maria Gabriela was working as an economist and Miguel as a communicator.

They decided to make this trip, without a return date and a specific plan, but they knew deep in their hearts the experience was worthy. They started by buying a yellow Volkswagen combi from 1993 for $400. They called it “Ananda” (Supreme Happiness). They spent 10 months restoring and conditioning the van. Finally, on 19 October 2018, they were ready to go.

In the beginning, they’d planned a three-month trip since they didn’t have enough money. But once they got to Lima, Peru, a country whose people’s solidarity change the course of the couple’s journey.

The initial plan was to sustain by selling arepas (a flat, round kernels of maize), but the plan soon fell apart. They had to come with a quick solution to manage their expenses. One of the strategies they applied was to work in each country they visited.

Another obstacle they faced was mechanical troubles with the van. None of them knew anything about mechanics, but luckily it wasn’t an impediment. However, when crossing the border between Paraguay and Bolivia, the engine of Ananda started to fail. Uh-oh.

But once again, that didn’t stop the couple. They asked for help from a group of travelers and miraculously help came to their rescue. So read this: complete strangers send them an engine so they could continue their journey. Talking about noblesse, huh?

And don’t get me started with the pandemic that forced them to stop and stay in the same place for 7 months. They are now stuck in El Bolsón in the north of Patagonia in Argentina. Don’t worry, they are having a blast.

“The best thing about traveling by combi is the freedom to go anywhere at any time. Being where you want to be, sleeping and waking up in the midst of incredible landscapes,” says María Gabriela in an interview for El Diario.

So, if you ever needed a sign to plan that trip you’ve always dreamt of, maybe this is it. Go, risk it, and live your life.