We love travelling and nature so much, we gave up our civilized lives and home in Belgium to make a life in Chilean Patagonia (The Wild). Having spent the last year in hotels, camping sites, sleeping on my mum’s couches, pitching tents in the middle of nowhere, we have learned that home is a fluid concept. It’s not a particular place, nor a type of construction, home is wherever we are sleeping that night.
Now feeling at home goes deeper than having a place to sleep. Feeling at home is a basic condition for a human to feel safe, protected and comfortable enough to relax and recharge. Feeling at home is necessary for general well being. How do you manage that feeling on the go? How do you keep on feeling at home without having a home of your own?
We, a family of three incl. a teenager, have surprisingly managed it. Honesty requires me to state that
a. I was worried about this before we leaped into our adventure,
b. there have been times we wanted to kill each other.
One year into our adventure we are still alive and feeling quite happy actually. I spent some time thinking about this and I identified the following coping strategies we (unconciously) practiced that might have helped:
- Energy from the past
We travel with a little angel bear holding a star that used to hang in our Christmas tree each year. We hang it wherever we make home for the time being, it’s a symbol of our past and represents homely coziness. It’s energy makes any place it hangs in OUR home, OUR space. Our daughter travels with her pillow, a stuffed bear and a soft toy elephant. She has slept with them every night, since we left our house in Belgium.
- Decorate / Beautify
Wherever we are, we decorate. We have collected a few little items on our travels, shells, river stones, herbs, books, postcards. In cabins we rearrange furniture where possible, we clean, we open windows and finish with placing our collected items on show. We already like them, so they make our space look more familiar and we keep on being reminded of the places and moments tied to the items. In camping sites we would use stones to create a space of our own, a path leading to our tent, circles around where we would eat. Bring over nice looking logs to sit on…. Decorate, decorate, decorate, always together, for the place to have our family’s stamp on it.
- Cooking good food and eating it together
Life will not be sweet every day, but there’s always something you can do to make things a bit more tasty, a bit more beautiful. So we cook. Not just for the sake of eating, rather for the sake of living. When we eat our food, we talk, fight, cry, laugh, it’s our time on the shrink’s couch.
I left Belgium the typical modern city bio organic type of mum that wants to cook real food, with real ingredients, as pure and natural as possible to keep my family healthy, but cooking like this has not been easy nor possible at times. Little village shops at the end of the world do not have a wide range of products on offer. Coconut cream, broccoli and ricotta are a few of the many unknown things.
It took some time and lots of patience, but we finally reached city life cooking levels again, despite the difficulties in The Wild and we have been eating and cooking like glam city slickers. I learned enough tricks and recipes for gourmet cooking on the go to share recipes and all things Patagonian food related with you. My new blog ‘Gourmet cooking in the Wild’ will be the home of our culinary adventures and discoveries.
We have also booked progress in business matters. We are 99% ready to create our business and will be busy with it in the coming weeks. We will write a post telling you all about it once it’s official. However, I needed our daughter to realize these pending steps would tie us to Chile, not making us able to return to Belgium that easily anymore. Until now, we could have left any day. I gave her the chance to say: ‘let’s go back to normality, I’ve had enough of this’ if that was how she felt.
She answered: ‘Mother, I feel at home here, even in this little cabin, this is my home now.’
Feeling at home without a home of our own – CHECK!