nearbySjoerd Vernooij (33) and Rea Bex (32) spent six months traveling through the beautiful landscapes of South America. “Before we got into a relationship, we were separately saving up for our dream trip. Nine months after we met, on Valentine’s Day, we took off together to Argentina.
“Sjord has been traveling for a long time, and this is my first time.” Rhea says.
“We’ve mapped out our journey globally, but we don’t have a very fixed plan.” He tells the couple. “It soon became clear that we wanted to find South America, so we chose Argentina as the starting point. We spent a month volunteering to do this. Global Opportunities in Organic Farming, we stayed on a farm in exchange for working five hours a day, six days a week. Then we went through Bolivia to Peru, where we have been traveling for six weeks. Tomorrow we will travel again and leave for Ecuador.
“We are true naturalists and like to explore the most remote places.” Riya says excitedly. “We love active activities. Hiking, cycling or rafting are the activities we like to do. The environment is definitely perfect for this. We often stay in one place for a few days before continuing our journey, but we prefer to stay longer in places with more nature.
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The ultimate sense of freedom
The couple has mostly stayed in hostels during their travels, but recently they ventured out with a tent for the first time. “It’s the ultimate sense of freedom for us. You can sleep wherever you want in the most beautiful places in the middle of the mountains. We saw beautiful places there and experienced funny things that usually never happen to you. For example, when we were cooking on the back burner, a cow suddenly came to visit us. As we unzipped the tent, curious donkeys suddenly stood in front of us. Awesome!”
Besides their stay in hostels and in the middle of nature, Sjord and Ria sometimes end up with a host family. “The hospitality of our host families was outstanding. One family even lent us their car because we wanted to go somewhere that was hard to reach. When they got home they had arranged a barbeque evening to which we were kindly invited. To thank them for their hospitality, we organized a Dutch evening. What was on the menu? Carrot Stew, Liquor and Dutch Hits!”
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Paste the stickers
Sjoerd and Rea like to immerse themselves in other cultures and share that with the home front. They keep their friends and family updated on their adventures through their blog and YouTube channel. Additionally, they devised a way to immortalize their visit to South American countries. “We had stickers made at home with our own logo. We stick these in special places where we have been so as not to harm the environment. We also give these stickers to people we meet along the way, asking them if they want to stick them in a special place too. For example, our sticker is now hanging in a landfill in the US, and backpackers we met in Argentina found our sticker in Bolivia.
Evening with friends
Although both are thoroughly South American in nature, they miss something about ‘their’ Arnhem. “Of course, life goes on at home. We miss our family and friends, and if we get pictures of a good night at Juicy Lucy’s, we’re a little sad we weren’t there. But now there are so many good things in return and they’ll be back.
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Haven’t come home yet
“We don’t have a ‘never going home’ mentality, but we have a ‘not going home yet’ mentality. We initially agreed to be away for about a year, but I think it will be longer. Sjord says. “Anyway, once we’re done in South America. We want to go to another continent. Asia and Africa top the list. Who knows, you might even book something for a stopover in Amsterdam. It will be great to see our friends and family again, but after that we want to discover more of the world!
Indebuurt is looking for fellow citizens living in other countries to produce more articles in the ‘Arnhemmers Abroad’ section. If so, are you or a long-term traveler or do you know someone who has left Arnhem to live in another country? Let us know, because we’re curious about the story! Send an email to [email protected] and you will be on site soon.
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