I just got a comment on the post about my Vermont van trip that really touched me. It’s not so much the comment itself as the story behind it. It’s a story rather common among van lifers. It’s a young couple, Milad and Maryam, who don’t have much money and are trying to raise some to buy a van, travel, and do the general #vanlife thing. In fact, it’s all the #vanlife pictures and stories on the internet that have inspired them to do this. Those of us who follow camper van stuff have heard this story many times before.
The difference with Milad and Maryam, though, is they live in Iran. The US and Iran have not been on particularly good terms for many years. Some Americans hate Iran, and some Iranians hate America. There are solid historical and political reasons for these beliefs. But this isn’t about politics. It’s not about our respective governments. It’s about a young couple trying to do the same thing the rest of us do, and with greatly reduced means due to the low value of Iranian currency and high cost of vehicles there.
We’re not so different, them and me. In fact, we both want the same thing — to travel, explore, and see the world. They’re not terrorists trying to kill me, no more than I’m launching a drone strike on them. They’re people, and our interests are the same. Personally I’d love to see pictures and video of their future Iranian #vanlife journey, because that’s something that I, as an America, will likely never get to experience.
This isn’t really any different than what Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman encountered during their Long Way Round travels. No matter where they went, locals would welcome them with open arms, and share their food, drink, and housing with them even when they had almost nothing for themselves. It’s the same thing here. We are united by a common interest, a desire to travel and see the world as it truly is, not as our media presents it to us (and I say this as a member of the media myself).
The old ad says “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.” I’ve found that to be true, but I’m also meeting the nicest people through the van life community.