Navigate on Trust in South America

For more than two years now, Fenja and Roberto have been travelling through South America. Sometimes on bumpy buses, sometimes on swanky planes, and sometimes on their shabby-chic green ’71 VW Campervan. They do not follow any particular route, and there are no fixed timings or destinations for their journey. That is because Fenja and Roberto are navigating on trust!

It all began a few years ago, when Fenja went to Ecuador. On the blue Ecuadorian ocean shore, she fell in love with Roberto—a longhaired Ecuadorian surfer, whose wisdom goes much beyond his years. It was a cross-pollination that changed their lives forever, fortifying their longing to lead a life different from what most modern societies demand. A life with greater meaning. A free life. A simple life. One that does not jettison the most important factors: love, growth, purpose, friendship, and giving. Fenja is originally from the Netherlands, and when she met Roberto, she was (and still is) working as a design researcher and creative project developer. She has worked at various locations throughout the world, while her home base is a self-restyled industrial apartment overlooking the railway in Amsterdam ‘Oost.’ In contrast, a few years before their encounter, after being the National Coach of the Ecuadorian surf team for almost 10 years, Roberto decided to give up all material possessions, barring a surfboard and a tent, and live full-time under the stars, always in and close to the ocean.

In December 2012, they left their old homes, and embarked on their trip through the South American continent—not only to start an adventure, but more importantly, a life experiment on the other modes and and other ethics of living. ‘Navigate on trust’ became their motto—the plan to have no plan, and let the moment, the road, and their intuition, lead them to wherever they needed to be—unconsciously adapting the age-old philosophy of detachment and uncertainty. The law of detachment says that to acquire anything in the physical universe, you have to give up your attachment to the outcome. That doesn’t mean you give up the intention to concretize your wishes and desires, but you give up the attachment to a specific result, and let life handle the details. You can still have the intention to go in a certain direction, you can certainly set a goal, but in getting from Point A to B there are many possibilities (literally and figuratively). Because, if you have a very complete and definite idea of what you’ll be doing, let’s say next week or next year, and get rigidly attached to it, then you’ll shut out a whole range of possibilities. With uncertainty factored in, one is free to change direction at any moment when one finds a higher ideal, a better solution, a more suitable road, an even better goal, or just something more exciting.

And, so, Fenja and Roberto found themselves crossing the continent with their hearts as their compass, no big savings and no particular destination in mind: only the intention and desire to connect with people, encounter new ideas, insights, and worldviews. They grounded themselves in the wisdom of uncertainty, the field of all possibilities—always open to the new, and enjoying every moment, even when not knowing the outcome. This led them from living a simple life on the countryside of Uruguay, exploring a true life off the grid, to the highlands of Bolivia and Peru, investigating the Andean Cosmology of ‘Buen Vivir’ (Living Well), to an extended journey on the ‘Ruta del Sol’ (the Road of the Sun) along the Ecuadorian coast, exploring a life living in and working with nature as two simple surfers in ‘El Verde,’ a 1971 VW Campervan (a journey that was picked up by an Ecuadorian television company).

Their life with El Verde stole their hearts, and after converting the caravanette, with an almost non-existing budget and some help here and there, into a beautiful tiny home, they decided to push their experiment even further, and brave the diverse and rough South American terrain and drive the ’71 vehicle from the Ecuadorian Pacific coast to the Atlantic seaside of Uruguay. An almost 8,000-km journey, crossing the highlands of the Andean mountains of Peru and Bolivia over passes 4,500 metres in altitude, to green jungles, the immense hot and almost impassable Paraguayan ‘Chaco,’ to the lush coast of Brazil, before arriving at the green hills of the Uruguayan coast.

Thanks to El Verde’s maximum speed of 80 km/h, it became a true slow-living adventure, and the eight-month journey allowed them to grasp all the details, and digest all the new experiences that crossed their path, but also let them actualize their philosophy of navigating on trust in an even more profound manner. They learned that every problem turns out to be an opportunity—a gift in disguise—and behind each difficulty there is always that gives something better in return. A broken car meant a place they needed to be to meet great people, an empty wallet offered the opportunity to strengthen the mind, and sometimes even surprising opportunities to refill, and getting lost led to them stumble on amazing places. Fenja and Roberto slowly realized that the human search for security and certainty through material objects is actually a very delusional thing, and security and safety can never come from money, a job, or even a home alone, but only a true connection, and the knowledge of one’s inner self, can make things settled.

And so, instead of chasing a life of safety and comfort, by embracing uncertainty, Fenja and Roberto delved deep into the fertile ground of creativity and freedom, which connected them to a new concept of home. An environment of security and happiness, but one that is not related to any external object. An inner home. A home they can take wherever they go, to any place around the world, and one they can always rely upon.

You can follow their journey on their blog:

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