Hello everybody, this is the English author version of the article that was published in the august edition of the Hungarian Marie Claire.
For the Hungarian author version click here: Tengerpart négy keréken
Beach on four wheels
“What a day: We woke up under a roof that was growing for centuries in an endless dance with the wind who is blowing over the gentle waves of the sea of Marmara.
I am standing close to Zoé and we watch the ships driving along the coastline.
And sometimes everything happens more fast than you ever expect.
After making yoga on a beach next to an old castle, we took a ferry to Asia, walked through oriental streets, visit Troya in the afternoon and made beautiful love on our pirate beach hideout somewhere on the west coast of the magical Turkey. ”
Joshua Parksteinhoff: The journey of the sparrows
Hello, my name is Zoé Keleti. I am 26 years old and I am from Hungary. I am painter, psychologist and freelance author. When I was little, I wanted to be a garbageman. Later I changed it to psychologist. Until I was 23, I was concentrating on my study and continuously looking for possibilities to improve my skills. I studied one and a half year abroad, one year in the United States of America and half a year in Warsaw, Poland. I was spending my free time with voluntary internships at psychiatries, peer helping, animator works and little student jobs. Honestly, I was not so happy. The most joy in my life was traveling.
In the summer of 2012 everything changed with the decision that I will walk the Camino de Santiago. My friends were thinking that I was completely crazy. “Walking alone in a foreign country? You will get robbed, raped or sold as a prostitute.” – they were saying. Well, none of these has happened. What has happened instead:
I was walking 900 kms through breathtaking landscape. I was eating the best vanilla ice cream in my life. I was sitting with the birds on the top of a cathedral and in Finisterre, the end of the world, I saw the sun disappearing in the ocean. I slept in the shadow of a lighttower under the starsky and realized that a little backpack is enough for happiness.
When I came back to Hungary, everything was different than before. With my friends I did not find the common point anymore. I could not get used to the time pressure, the city rush, the noise, the pollution, the closeness of the people and the career fever. It was not my environment that changed, but me. Already in Finisterre I had promised to myself that I would not stop traveling. I was planning further travels to Amsterdam and back to Spain. In the end life gave me an option that I never expected before.
In the same summer my later boyfriend Joshua shuttled back and forth between Budapest and Berlin. He was working on his new novel and tried to put together his life after he left the world of professional music. The two years before he was living in a commune in the south of Spain. After returning to Germany he founded an artist community in Berlin. One of his travels in spring of this year brought him to Budapest and he fall in love with Hungary and the city.
He made friends and never really could leave the Dunau behind. Many times he returned to Budapest and stayed in the apartment of one of his friends. And sometimes this magical coincidence happens that change your life forever.
In September his friend wanted to leave Budapest and move to Mexico to marry his girlfriend. Joshua was looking for a place on couchsurfing where he could stay for a few days and I just registered on couchsurfing for planning my travel to Amsterdam.
I will never forget the moment when I met Joshua and his dog Skilo in the city park (Városliget). I was coming from neuropsychology class, Joshua was sitting in the shadow of a tree next to the castle and playing guitar. The first two nights we talked through and time stopped to exist as we danced through the streets of Budapest with cherry beer in our hands and our hearts free of any fear. Right now, three years later, I am sitting in our car in the south of France, writing these words and still have a smile on my face by thinking about these times. Love was there from the first moment and from this moment we were living together.
When we met, Joshua was traveling with a Volkswagen Golf 2 from 1988 that he transformed to a “mobile tent”, with a real mattress, sweet curtains and a little cooker. It was the middle of September, the summer was passing away and both of us missed the sea. We made a short trip to Italy and Croatia with his car. Although the trip was only a few days, we were talking about it for months. For me was surprising how easy and cheap traveling can be when your car is also accommodation.
We spent an amazing month together. But already before we met, Joshua had booked a plane ticket to the United States. So in October he left to spend three month on the West Coast of the US. I was on the last year of university.
After he came back, we decided that we want to travel together. Until I finished university we spent the time in Budapest. And the spring wind was bringing another change in my life: I started to paint. A new dimension opened up, bringing completely different perspectives. Painting is magic, a window to a beautiful world, where I can freely create and be myself.
And it was not only me who was enchanted by the colours and the canvas. Joshua who is coming from a painter family and all his life loved to paint, again went deeper into painting. Beside writing my thesis we spent every stolen minute and often the nights with painting. Although I finished university with honours and with an American diploma in my hands, I did not even make the first steps on the donkey ladder. I wanted to travel and to continue painting.
We were thinking a lot about the ideal way of traveling where we do not have to sacrifice any other aspects of our life. The idea was born: the beach on four wheels. The Golf was lost to the bloodhounds of Vegas, but this is another story…
We started to look for another car. In the end we were buying a Volkswagen Transporter from 1988. The car has been in the property of a nice family and transported vegetables to the market. After one summer of renovating and building it to a living car, we were finally again on the road.
For me this car is a dream solution. We sleep on a real mattress and more comfortable than in any hotel. A rainy day we can spend in the car without any compromise, we have place for our dogs and I can even paint on canvas. We can easily find hidden, safe and beautiful places where we can stop for the night and even for a week. Finally we found our beach on four wheels that takes us to discover the world.
The first travel lasted four month. We went through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, then through the Balkan back to Hungary. And again, the travel was bringing a lot of wonders: We were drinking coffee in a little village in Serbia with the wife of the shepherd, who saved our car from the mud. We were sleeping under the starsky on lonely beaches, were walking on markets that seemed to come out of the stories of 1001 nights and discovered forgotten worlds. We collected treasures, that were lost in the sea, danced with the ocean and found a hidden kingdom next to the highway.
The travel was beautiful and we realized that beside the living car we want to have a base. A place where we can recover, develop other fields of our life and realize ideas that are not possible in the car (for example: painting on 4×3 meter canvas, building a house, making stone sculptures, going deeper into gardening or baking bread).
We wanted a base where we do not have to pay rent or bills, where we can live healthy and create freely. We wanted free access to spring water, beautiful nature around us where we can walk with our dogs, sun, mild winters and to be close to the ocean. We were thinking about moving to the commune in the south of Spain where Joshua was living for two years before, looking for other communes on Crete, or buying an own property.
For my parents was important to realize that me and my brother have a place and a car. We already started to look for property in Greece, but the places we liked were too expensive for us. We returned to Hungary and spend Christmas with my family. From here we continued looking for properties on the internet.
A few days after new year I found the offer that seemed simply perfect. A place in a beautiful valley in the mountains of Portugal with an own spring, only 80 kms from the Atlantic ocean, south-west faced, with many matured trees and still unbelievable cheap. We did not hesitate for a minute. After talking about a few details with the owner, we booked the plain ticket and flew to Porto. When we saw the property, we fell in love directly. We made the promissory contract, went back to Hungary where we organized our moving to Portugal. In the end of February we started with our transporter in direction to our new home. Again the travel was amazing and brought us through Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the south of France and Spain to Portugal.
From the first day on we lived on our property. We wanted to build our house by ourselves and for that we wanted to observe the characteristics of the place. We wanted to see were the water is running in a big rain, where the sun is shining to the different times of the day and simply to try where we feel good, where we sleep good and where we have a good feeling to start to built.
We built up a little tent on a few places until we found a place that was promising. There we built up a bigger tent and our first base camp with a covered outdoor kitchen. Later we changed the place two more times until we found the perfect spot for our new home.
But for summer we had to leave again to work in Switzerland. We were helping a Swiss family with a little farm high in the mountains of the Swiss Alps to make the famous Alp Cheese and to take care of their animals.
After we came came back we finally started to built our house. We also wanted to live from the beginning on the place of the later house. So we were building around us. A technique that makes building sometimes a little bit more complicate and for sure more slow, but gave us priceless inspirations, that helped us to create a house we would have never imagine before.
For building the house we combined modern architecture with classical native building designs like tipi, yurt or kote and fitting them to the conditions of the Portuguese mountains. For us was always important to built with nature and not against it. We used natural wooden trunks, that we recycled from the forest around us, stones from the mountains or the river around us, straw, clay, jute and a lot of glass. We did not use any cement and did not cut any tree for the house. The first big storm in autumn proved that our ideas were working.
We were cooking and heating with wood and in emergency cases with gas. For providing electricity we built up a solar system. Up to new year’s eve we lived in the house, had a wonderful time and a magical Christmas. Then we went to the south of Spain, to direction Morocco, and left the house alone for two months. When we came back in early spring the house was in a very good state and we full of new ideas.
A lot of people ask me, how we finance our life and specially the traveling. Well, it is not easy but not impossible. Sometimes you have to change and reorganize your whole life. One step is instead of always making more money, needing less money. For this our car and our property are very important. We can sleep and cook in the car. For that we do not need to pay for hotel or restaurant. Already with this traveling is much more cheap. And our car needs very little petrol. Here we save money again. But it is not only the car but also the way of traveling. Instead of paying for highways, we prefer to go on empty country roads. We see much more from the landscape, have much less stress, find much more easy places to sleep, meet much more people and save again quite a lot of money.
The property on the other hand gives us a base were we can live for very little money. We do not need to pay for water, electricity or heating. We do not need to pay any rent or any bill. In our case not even taxes. We even can grow our own fruits and vegetables, so we do not need to spend too much money for food. And well, Portugal is not the most expensive country in the European Union and it is up to you to choose where you want to live.
For us also cooking is essential. If you bake bread by yourself, eat seasonal vegetables and fruits and use the almost forgotten knowledge of grandma, life is much more cheap and healthy. Some people think good things have to be expensive. We do not think so. You can buy very cheap clothes in a second hand shop and change them with a little bit of work to unique pieces that are perfect fitting to your body and nobody else can buy for any money. Or jewelery. With some creativity you can create with the seashells, the feathers, the stones and all the other materials that you find on traveling beautiful little wonders. In general we prefer to do things by ourselves. It is fun, you save a lot of money and you learn a lot of things. And sometimes you can later even make some money with it.
Apart from the car, the property and creativity another important thing is health. An unhealthy body and mind cost you a lot of money, energy and possibilities. Be honest to yourself and think a minute about addiction. Addiction is filling up inner emptiness. You can fill up inner emptiness with smoking, alcohol, sugar, fast cars and expensive hobbies. It will cost you a lot of money, destroy your body and mind but the inner emptiness will only grow.
In the same time you can fill the inner emptiness with love, with something that you like to do and that will make you in the end more healthy. For example playing an instrument, dancing or gardening. You will save money, the inner emptiness will slowly disappear and with it the addiction. I can tell you from own experience. This is your decision and this decision you can make at any point of your life.
It is true that you cannot live from love and air alone. But when you do not need a lot, the money you need is not so difficult to earn. Specially traveling does not only cost money but also gives you a lot of opportunities. You are on different places and you meet different people. Let us take as an example the job we made the last summer. When Joshua was living in the south of Spain, one of the people he met, a Swiss director was telling him about this possibility and about the website where you can apply.
Last summer we tried and although we had problems with the family, we liked the work a lot. And this summer we tried again on another place in Switzerland. Again we worked with a Swiss family on 2000 meter high in the Alps on a little farm. In the time that we were there we did not have any cost. The family provided food and accommodation.
Sounds good, isn’t it? We were thinking the same. Unfortunately not everything that is shiny is in the end gold. We did not get along with the family…
… So what will the future bring and where will we be? Right now we are in Hungary and probably will stay a few weeks more. After we do not know. Maybe we will go to India, maybe back to Portugal or maybe we just fly with the birds.
For sure we do not want to depend on the possibility of the work in Switzerland. We want to build up an existence from our art and from the things that we like to do. I want to paint, sell my pictures, organize exhibitions and discover other fields of art like sculpturing, music, photography, making clothes and jewelery.
Joshua wants to publish his novel, “Sternenkarussell”, record again a new album, build up a studio, and go deeper into painting and photography.
We want to publish together a series of illustrated kid books, called the “Children of the wind” and a traveling diary with photos, “The journey of the sparrows”. We are also planning an expedition with a boat along the Dunau from the source to the Black sea, documented with another traveling diary and photos.
We do not want to marry, but still we want to have a little family. We want to have kids for sure, but maybe a little bit later. Right now everything is very fresh and it seems that we need one or two more years to arrange our life in a way that more souls can join us on our travel.