L’Oeil Régional – The newspaper of the Richelieu Valley

July 20, 2022

In a modified van for six months

A dream of freedom on the roads of southern Africa

By: Vincent Guilbault

In 2017, the Gallant-Charron household left their residence in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu to tour South America for 5 months. After two years of sacrifice and preparation, the household of 4 (Jean-François Gallant, Eve Charron and their kids Loik and Elyane) had boarded their campervan-converted Dodge Caravan to go to Guatemala. This expertise ceaselessly modified the little household, who this time determined to go on an journey to go to southern Africa.

On the time L’ŒIL offered this interview on July 14, the household had simply moved to Durban, South Africa. Arriving on African soil on June 28 in Johannesburg, the household needed to wait for his or her automobile till July 19, transported by boat, to proceed their journey. Uninterested in the miles on a number of journeys, the Dodge Caravan was now not capable of present secure transportation for the household, who this time launched into the modification of a Dodge Ram Promaster, a kind of van utilized by contractors. Outfitted with photo voltaic panels (550 watts), an induction hob, beds, a desk, loads of cupboard space, a mini roof terrace and even a mini toilet, the automobile permits the household to be utterly impartial.

“The automobile is the largest a part of the preparation,” explains the daddy of the household. On his YouTube account, Mr Gallant has additionally revealed a video explaining all of the modifications to the automobile.

The second step is to organize the route. The household leaves South Africa after which travels to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe. “These are the most secure international locations,” emphasizes Eve Charron, to justify selecting these international locations. Some international locations in Africa are at battle, others have escaped authorities management and crime is excessive. “Nations all want completely different visas; you must discover the correct paperwork, it’s a number of preparation. »

Change of setting
Whereas we look forward to the automobile, life in Africa resembles that in America, says the household, who at the moment lives in an Airbnb rented lodging.

The household took half of their first safari in Saint Lucia, South Africa and extra are deliberate. We’re going to do at the least one or two safaris per nation, explains the daddy. Thus far, the quartet has been capable of see rhinoceroses, warthogs, antelopes, hippos and even an elephant. “We got here nose to nose with him. It is not very best. We obtained scared when it began charging.

Besides on the street, the place the villages present the good poverty in Africa. The household additionally famous the racial divide between whites, who’re wealthier, and blacks, who stay in poverty.

Jean-François Gallant additionally says he’s marked by the power disaster raging in South Africa, forcing the federal government to preserve power and plan energy cuts. “Any type of useful resource is kind of treasured (water, electrical energy). In America we devour it to extra! »
“As quickly because the van arrives, we’ll depart for Namibia,” explains Eve. We’ll see the oldest desert on the earth, see deserted villages the place the homes are lined with sand. »

We see a number of monkeys within the wild, Loik notes. They’re the squirrels of Africa, his father provides. “One entered our home; the patio door opens robotically […], and I see a little bit face go into the kitchen to steal cookies and depart. »

Vacationers additionally need to go to a Maasai neighborhood, a semi-nomadic indigenous folks residing in Tanzania and Kenya. “You possibly can’t go there with no information,” provides Mrs Charron. They’re a individuals who historically increase goats and refuse know-how. That is the place the household thinks they’re most misplaced.

To comply with the journey: “Spark of Freedom” on Fb, YouTube and TikTok.

life-style
Once they return from Africa in January, if all goes nicely, the household could have visited a complete of twenty-two international locations and all provinces of Canada.
The primary journey to South America was a terrific expertise, with only some technical points. The varsity on the way in which additionally went nicely and the return to class went easily.

“That first journey was the set off for our new lifestyle,” says Ms. Charron. That is how we’ll journey now. »
This sort of journey is dear and due to this fact requires a number of sacrifices and compromises, equivalent to residing crammed right into a caravan for months. “So we now have to concentrate on that, put our cash apart, deprive ourselves of the journeys. We increase our personal pigs and chickens for meals. However it’s a matter of will. Sure, I earn a great wage, however I believe you’ll be able to journey inside your means”, the daddy of the household thinks.

After all, returning to ‘regular’ life after a six-month journey comes with among the blues. That is one of many causes the couple hopes to stay that manner as soon as the youngsters are out of the home. “In just a few years we plan to retire early within the van, to get out of the home. The journeys have confirmed that we love this lifestyle,” the mom concludes.

To comply with the journey: Spark of Freedoms on Fb, YouTube and Tik Tok.

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