Trouble in Paradise

Josephine Ris

22 September 2016

Ok, hold your horses guys. Contrary to what this title might imply, we are still doing fine. This post it about the struggles prior to leaving and about the (in)famous arguments between David and me.

As you might know, we had been planning this trip for quite some time, a year, approximately. For the most part, it was all fun and games and it just sounded like a cool plan. You don’t think about the actualities in the beginning, or at least, I did not. Of course I did realize that what we were going to do was nothing like going on holiday, but still, optimism reigned. Approximately a month before leaving, the worries started to hit me.

One of the things causing many restless nights was (and sometimes is) the financial burden. You might not know this, but we have not fully paid off our car. Dox was actually too expensive for us, as you may have read in David’s previous story (if not, you can read it here), but thanks to Gert, we were able to make a good deal. I should not forget to mention David’s mum, as she is our guarantor for the open amount, for which we are very grateful. If all goes well, this “debt” should not be a problem, but if something does happen to the car, we will have to find a way to pay the remaining amount. A similar set-up is the one for our Carnet the Passage. This is a kind of passport for your car (or motorbike) which you need in order to enter certain countries with a foreign vehicle. The purpose of the carnet, which is issued by the ADAC, is to guarantee you will not leave behind or sell your car in the concerned country, as car prices vary strongly. In order to be able to guarantee this, the ADAC requires a deposit, the amount of which is determined by the value of the car. For us, this meant a deposit of € 15.000,-. As you might have guessed, we did not have a spare 15 thousand euros laying around, nor was there any chance of making that much money, in addition the money we needed for the trip itself, before our estimated departure date. In this case it was my father who was able to help us out and, again, we are very grateful for this! But here the same thing applies: if the car breaks down or gets stolen, we will not be able to get it out of the respective country, meaning we will have to pay a large fine. This we will have to pay ourselves, obviously.

Looking at the Moldau River in Prague

Now, the last thing I want to do is complain, as these are first world problems in it’s purest form. I mean, we do not have to go on holiday for nine months. We are only able to do this because we have a financial situation that allows us to provide in our basic needs as well as enabling us to save up a relatively high amount of money. In addition to this, we have parents who are able and willing to support us where we fall short. And, not to forget, a currency and “home” economy that is a lot stronger than that of the respective countries we visit, meaning our money goes a long way. In fact, I also wanted to write to say how lucky we have been to have all of this. I even feel a bit of guilt about our situation sometimes. Especially when people, like the national park ranger in Djerdap Serbia, Aleksander, asked us how we are able to afford making this trip. I tell them, a bit uncomfortably, that in the Netherlands, if you have a reasonably good job and live as cheaply as possible, you are able to save quite a lot. I tell them that it was one year of working, not multiple, that enabled us to go. And of course, because I have David, who’s talent seems to be making money.

“In fact, I also wanted to write to say how lucky we have been to have all of this. I even feel a bit of guilt about our situation sometimes. “

To go back to the complaining: the financial “burden” is something we carry along and does take it’s toll on our relationship sometimes. With all the other things we had to arrange in those last weeks, you can imagine this was at times rather stressful. David and I are both not quite the “conflict avoiding kind”, so we have had our fair share of arguments (and still have). We jokingly said that we would call the blog “David and Josephine fighting at the other side of the world”. We had even agreed with our friends Ted and Lin to be our body doubles when one of us would opt out, so the finish could be reached at any cost. At the goodbye party that Judith, Davids mother, threw us, they sang us a song which basically repeated ‘no fighting in the car’ a lot of times (click here for the song, in Dutch). Of course, all of this was meant as a joke and we are still going strong, but at times we do feel weight on our shoulders.

Another funny aspect to leaving is that close to the departure, you start to be very melancholic about your current situation. It seems like everything is better than ever. How come you did not realize earlier how good your life was? You have amazing friends, you are have having a blast at your work, you love the city you live in and have the best relationship with your family. You must be crazy to leave this perfect life of yours! Of course there is truth in this. We have great friends and family and we did really appreciate our jobs. This becomes clearer to you when you are about to leave it behind. I mean, it is not for no reason that people say ‘you don’t know what you have till it’s gone’. The fact that people put in more effort to see you or to pronounce their appreciation when you are about to leave them for a while, adds to this feeling of melancholy. Last but not least, you can add to this that that the time ahead promises uncertainties and change, which, as much as we may want to deny, scares us. Leaving means not knowing what you will be in for and this can make staying in your comfort zone an appealing alternative. It can make you forget that change is what you were looking for in the first place.

There is one other thing that started to bother me the closer we got to the date of departure and this was partly triggered by an email from my grandfather. He asked me, whether with the current situation in Turkey, Pakistan and surrounding countries, it would still be a good idea to drive the route that we chose. He also suggested a different route. I found it difficult to write him a reply, as I did see the dangers that we would potentially expose ourselves to. On the other hand, I think (Western) media are good at reporting the bad stuff and less so in surveying positive stories. Driven by these newsflashes, we create a one sided, extreme vision of a country. I am still afraid of what, for instance Pakistan is going to be like, although I believe that it is a beautiful country and that people in general have good intentions. It is the unknown that scares us and the only way to get rid of this fear is to find out your own truth, so that it where we are heading.

All in all, it is good to be finally on the road! Some worries vanish, some new ones appear, but overall it has been great so far.

For those of you who wonder, next post will actually be about the trip so far, so stay tuned!