Last week I was at the annual Explore Travel Fair at the Karen Blixen Museum and had the rare privilege to meet the amazing explorer couple of Herman Zapp and his wife Candelaria.
For those who may not know, Herman, a former IT specialist, and his wife have been making global news since they set off from their home in Patagonia, Argentina in 2000 to begin a spectacular journey around the world in their 1928 Graham-Paige vintage car which, for the last 13 years has also served as their home.
The Hermans have since covered over 300,000 KM across more than 40 countries around the world traversing the coasts of South and North America, Asia, Australia, and Africa with their 4 children they got as they went along!
The story began when Herman, 42, born in San Francisco, moved to Argentina to work on his grandfather’s cattle ranch as a boy. It was while in Argentina that 10-year-old Herman met his 8-year-old childhood sweetheart, Candelaria (40) and the rest reads like a Mills & Boons romance bestseller.
When they got married in 1996, I guess you can say they both got bitten by the travel bug and as if Herman’s grandfather sensed it as well, he gave them the 86-year-old Graham-Paige car he used on his farm and accompanied it with some equally old and wise advice, “If you want to get far, you need to go slowly.” The Graham-Paige, whose top speed is only 64 KM per hour, has made sure this golden rule has been observed for the last 13 years of this epic journey.
It was not long before the Hermans run out of money after setting-off on their maiden trip. They increasingly had to rely on the kindness of perfect strangers to give them shelter, food, and petrol. They have found hospitality and warmth in over 2,500 homes of more than 12,000 strangers from all walks of life including Christians, Muslims, the rich, and the poor from around the world who became dear friends.
The Herman kids are equally as interesting as their parents but it is their multicultural diversity that is even more fascinating; Pampa, 10, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Tehue, 7, was born in Argentina, Paloma, 4, is a native of Vancouver Island, Canada, and the youngest, Wallaby, 3, is from Australia.
I asked Herman if Kenya had inspired him enough to consider honouring it with the 6th member of the family – he just laughed.
The children are home-schooled by their parents through an online service that gives them a regularly updated curriculum. Every time they stop and are near a computer, they print-off the latest classes and teach them to their kids.
The couple has written a book, Dream Chaser, which was a bestseller in Costa Rica. Their second book, ‘Spark Your Dream’, is a best seller in Argentina. These guys have no plans of ending their earth odyssey any time soon!
As I leave the Travel Fair, Herman shares with me his most precious lesson in all of this – even though people look different and pray differently, we all have the same dream – to have a home and someone to love. In the end, we are all the same. What a powerful statement! I wish Kenyans are listening.