You have these kinds of people who mesmerize you. Everything runs smoothly because they take life as it comes. Because that’s the way you can grasp life for a moment. Where my energy vibes spark in every direction, theirs seems to move consciously forward.
When Laurence let me know that she is on her way to Congo with Adrien and their three-year-old kid Jules, and that she wanted to drop by for a couple of days, I was thrilled. Africa! With Jules! On the road for one year! Bye, bye hype around #vanlife, welcome #jeeplife! Being on the road, I still miss it every day. My last trip dates back from ten years ago when I was backpacking (with a jeep!) through Armenia & Georgia with Russian friends. It’s not that I don’t travel with Davy but for me, there is a big difference between getting permission to leave on a holiday or just deciding to leave and see where life takes you. Laurence confirms this. We already gathered in the kitchen sipping from a cool porto tonic. “Traveling is the interaction between a traveller and a different culture. A holiday is a one-way traffic where a tourist wants to get the most of his summer break. I nod. Holiday is the employer who needs to charge his battery before returning to the bureaucratic trenches. The men don’t agree. Adrien doesn’t understand why there should be a difference and Davy looks at me with challenging eyes: “When I travel, I am on holiday.” The three-year-old toddler couldn’t care less. “I want Jeep,” he repeatedly asks. The wisdom of a kid existing in the now (which makes him the perfect traveller). It takes a whole grown-up life to regain that ability.
House on wheels
Jules goes totally bananas about his dads custom-built Land Rover. “During the whole trip this car will be his point of recognition and his home,” Adrien explains. A tent folds out on the roof and the trunk contains cabinets and metal boxes stacked up with clothes, dry food, herbal medications and tools. They cook under a panel that folds open to the top, a filter cleans water and a huge canvas on the side keeps everything dry. It stings a bit when I think of all the sunsets they will see from underneath the canvas. Adrien customized the jeep while Laurence meticulously supplied it. The only concession we made is Jules’ push bike. “He adores that bike and I am a bit worried about when he will have to share that bike. He is very defensive with everything that has wheels.”
Africa with love
Laurence and I met in 2007, emotionally stripped, after a long period abroad. She had been working in Congo around Human Rights for a year ( four more would follow) and I got home after a troubled year in Moscow. We seriously had to adapt to Belgian legislation and its hasty life. But look at us now; ten years later I am living in Portugal with my husband and she is driving through Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria- “we don’t really follow a specific route”- to Congo with her family. I guess the adaptation didn’t go as planned, waahaa! Adrien himself is a connoisseur de l’Afrique himself. Ten years ago he already travelled with a friend along the African East Coast. It seems I am the only Asia lover because Davy lost his heart to Africa as well. Before he started his company he travelled by foot or with taxi brousse through the continent. He slept under the open sky or with people who offered him a bed. Not difficult to guess what we talked about that evening. Traveling.
A problem-free philosophy
Traveling, excuse me, that holiday feeling gets under your skin and at some point doesn’t let you go. Ikea can be as inventive as it wants with shaping your house to the maximum of your desires and Instagram can project as many lifestyle hypes and life hacks: nothing can beat the open air & the sensation of being on the road. Waiting in overloaded stations and bus depots or garages, having an ocean of time, the hospitable and amazing people you meet, the open look that expands with the sun and the moon, the fear of the unknown that changes into an urge to see what’s on the horizon… A traveller doesn’t cage himself for a long time and that’s what you see with Laurence & Adrien as well. And Jules, the little fellow, will be brought up with these wonderful experiences. No dragging between kindergarten, babysits and grandparents but every day a beautiful sky, fresh food, his push bike and a box full of miniature cars. And a real-life super-duper Jeep, yeah!
Laurence tells me you need to be lucky to be able to travel with your kid, but my guess is that children copy their parents in many ways so that you need to be lucky with your parents too. Laurence & Adrien are parents who fearlessly look at the horizon in search for an unfeigned & straightforward life under the sun. Perhaps it’s a kind of restlessness that pushes them forward, or a resilient desire for simplicity, with and for their son… In a small jeep but surrounded by the whole world… They handle it so easy it mesmerises me.