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#31: So much has happened!

“Do you know the Mantocos?”

The question came from another Steyr driver who lives in a truck with his wife for six months every year, traveling the world. There are those that only dream of and talk about an expedition vehicle. Then there are those that buy or build one, but never start on their trip. Sometimes there’s too much else to do; other times it’s a lack of the courage to not just leave the comfort zone, but to completely lose it out of sight.

Truth be told, I’m often a dreamer! Doing the work is hard. Too often, it feels like I’m not moving forward, standing still.

Mantoco – they are MANni, TOmmy and COnny. An MAN truck, Thomas Lehn and Constanze Kühnel. Eleven years ago, the passionate world travelers sold almost all of their possessions and moved into their expedition truck. Since then, they have been living full time on the 120 square meters of their tiny house on wheels.

There are not many in this community that have dared to take the leap and stay the course. After a time, you know each other. Better earlier than later, I thought in regard to Mantoco – I really want to get to know them!

I couldn’t have imagined a better place to celebrate my 40th birthday than the camp area of the Abenteuer & Allrad offroad and overland trade fair. Talking about the mutual passion, finding inspiration at the exhibitor’s stands and meeting new people makes up for the fact that a huge camp with thousands of people really isn’t my thing. Too much individuality in one pile, too much noise too late at night and too early in the morning.

I make the best of it. Enjoy the moments that make me feel good. Knowing that soon, I’ll be parked at the ocean, in the mountains, in the middle of unspoiled nature. And I see a familiar vehicle in the camp. Manni! I chat up the man next to it and meet Tommy. It’s a short conversation, right before dinner. But the next day, I meet him again on the fair grounds, together with Conny.

The two have a small stand and are selling their books: a breathtaking, 432 page opus about Africa as well as their first book about leaving the bourgeois life and going on a “world trip rehearsal”. I rarely buy anything anymore, but I need this book. Conny writes a dedication, a written kick in the ass at my request: “Don’t just dream it … DO IT!”

I need a wake up call every now and then, a little reminder that I have to do something for my dreams. The book will be my companion – a living chronicle of the life I am aspiring to – as I deconstruct my old life and build up the expedition truck. And Connys admonishing words will remind me to take a little step in the right direction every day.

On the drive home, I remember I have another book on the coffee table. Precisely one year ago – for my 39th birthday – my friend Lars gave me Wohnmobile selbst ausbauen und optimieren, a book about DIY camper building and optimization. The book, a sort of bible for world trip capable expedition trucks, has accompanied me over the last twelve months. From buying my Steyr 12M18 to choosing a cabin builder (I’ve decided to let a professional do it), it was an excellent advisor.

From theory to practice – between Lars’ present and my own gift to myself were only 365 days, and so much has happened. We tend to forget that: how far we come, when we take one small step after the other.

You know what they say: Every journey starts with the first step.


Yours, Ulrich

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