“By mountain bike, on motorcycle, hiking, hitch-hiking or in a 4×4 camper van. There were many different ways but the philosophy was always the same, discover the world by ourselves and always ready to capture it with our camera. Have a look to all our expeditions.”
Between April 2013 and May 2017, we visited nearly 70 countries on motorbike. When we returned home people asked us, “And now what?” Many people think that after fulfilling a dream you have to start a process of “returning to normal life”, but we’ve been doing this for so long that life on the road simply feels normal to us. However, if we could change one thing, we would continue traveling in a van instead of a motorcycle.
When we traveled via motorcycle, we explored areas like Patagonia and deserts like the Sahara and the Atacama. We reached the northernmost point of Alaska, the heart of Australia, and the African savanna. We’ve seen various mountains, like Pamir and the Andes. Our motorcycle took us to so many amazing places but exchanging the motorcycle for a van allows us to imagine all the new possibilities of future trips and projects.
Even with all the above being said, we finished the trip after 170,000 km and 1,476 days on the road.
Only 3 days after getting our driver’s licenses, we got lucky. We found a 1989 VW T3 Syncro in Barcelona. We immediately took a plane to check it out and ended up buying it on the spot. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but the next day, we were traveling in our new van to Macedonia (Ivana’s born country), where we would transform it into the perfect vehicle for a route full of adventures.
Our to-do list consisted of:
- Engine and gear box restored
- New suspension system with Old Man Emu shock absorbers and the complete Powerflex Polyurethane Bushes kit
- Customized 2mm bumpers
- Bull guard
- Led bars
- Electric winch
- Roof rack
- Rear door rack for spare wheel, fuel canister and mountain bikes
- Camper conversion
- Cleaning of oxides and paint
- Many other small adaptations and accessories
We also wanted to be more prepared for our project this time around, starting with some sponsors, designing the route and goals, investing time in adapting and transforming the van, and making sure to collect all the gear we need. We almost gave up a few times in this planning process. Trying to have everything prepared before leaving on a trip is a slow process and those months of preparation were filled with confusion. The magic and enthusiasm of that first moment when you decide to pursue a dream were starting to disappear. Also, the inertia we had of continuously traveling and taking things as they came did not align with the idea of spending six months in one place working on a project.
After a lot of hard work, we finally finished and were ready to start the journey by putting the van on a cargo boat to America. Before leaving for the long adventure, we decided to do quick health checks and unfortunately, Manu’s results came back with some indication of cancer. Boom! This was something we never could have suspected – one of those little jokes that life seems to play on you.
So suddenly, all of our plans became secondary. In April of 2018, Manu flew back to Spain the next day to see what was going on.
There’s no doubt that this news was shocking and intense, but we quickly remembered that during our 10 years of traveling around the world, we were taught that things happen for a reason. It did not seem like a coincidence to us. During all this time, we had been doing only what we liked, finding ways to keep going and financing our dreams through selling handmade crafts to tourists, selling our photographs, writing our stories for magazines, and organization spontaneous events with small talks for donations. After so many years of traveling around the world, 4 of them on motorbike, we pushed our bodies to the physical limit in extreme climatic situations. We coexisted with viruses and bacteria from all around the world, and we never had a single visit to the doctor.
We are confident that this is just a small shock for us to recover from and to remind us of our strong philosophy before returning to our trip plans. For now, we just have to wait for the results of all Manu’s tests to confirm what the final diagnosis is. What we’ve seen so far is that the first consequences of this situation are only positive. We have rediscovered a huge desire to travel and explore the world again. We appreciate more of life every single day and we have continued to gain motivation to quickly overcome any medical hardship if the first diagnosis is confirmed. The route calls and waits for us.
Around the World /// Van Tour
First Phase: Arctic to Antarctica (Tuktoyaktuk to Ushuaia)
Van: Volkswagen T3 Syncro 1989
Starting Point: New York City (May 2018)
Estimated Number of Countries we are Going to Visit: 20