Adam and Emily Harteau are living one of those lives we’ve all fantasized about at some point, but very few of us would actually have the guts to go through with it. They have traveled together across Southeast Asia, North America, Polynesia, New Zealand, Southern Africa and Japan over the last ten years. They are currently discovering South America, living in their Westfalia van with their daughter Colette, born in 2011 and adorably nicknamed “the ambassador of love and joy.”
These three adventurers are determined to explore as much as possible while they’re on Earth and to soak in the beauty of nature and people for as long as they can. They share their journey through their blog, ouropenroad.com, which is filled with breathtaking images and fascinating, intimate thoughts on the places they see and the people they encounter. We had a little chat with them about the inspiring life they live, and it was nothing short of enlightening.
LF: How was the dream born?
OR: Our dreams of leaving the game and wandering the globe have been growing as long as we have been together. We met at art school and have been together since the summer of 2000. Traveling around magnificent California, Baja Mexico and the Western States, we took our first big international trip together in 2004 visiting Thailand & accidentally Burma.
LF: How do you choose your next destination?
OR: While Emily was pregnant with Colette, Adam was working as an artist on a film project that would have put us in India & Nepal for several months… when that fell thru we set our sights on our next big trip. We brainstormed a ton of options, then fell in love with the plan to overland the Americas.
On the road, there are many factors that go into us deciding the next stop. Currently, we are heading to northern Chile because our 3 month visa in Peru is up & so is the swell! Usually however, we read guide books, do internet research, read other travel blogs and best of all- speak to other travelers and locals. People are much more willing to divulge their favorite secret spot in person.
LF: How do you make a living on the road? Can you explain the concept behind 24-hour bazaar?
OR: When we departed, we had enough funds for a 1 year journey. Since deciding to slow the trip down, we had to figure out finances. We came up with the idea for 24 Hour Bazaar- which is what the name implies- a bazaar for 24 hours! We curate an assortment of fair-trade, hand-crafted items such as rugs, textiles, blankets, jewelry & clothing directly from the artisans, photograph them, assemble a pdf and email it to our list of clients. Once sent out, the clock starts ticking… we receive orders, shop & ship accordingly. If you would like to be added to the list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We always dreamed of opening up a store brick & mortar location, Adam took an export class at LA City College, & Emily has worked in all fields of fashion from design, buying, and sales. 24HourBazaar merges the best of both worlds allowing us to support our traveling habit while support craft traditions the world over.
LF: Do you manage to get everything you need?
OR: Adam made a poster a while back titled « The Essentials » which was a type piece that said: Food, Water, Shelter, Love. Yes, we are blessed in that we have everything we need!
LF: How long did you initially plan on leaving?
OR: Our initial plan was to be gone for 1 year, traveling to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina & back. It is now looking like 2+years before returning to the California for a stint, then continuing on to some more open roads.
LF: Do you think you’ll ever be able to stay in one place?
OR: No way!
LF: How does Colette deal with the life you have chosen for her and what do you hope to give her through this experience?
OR: Children are amazingly adaptable- they know what you show them, so for her, this is normal. We have a photoalbum with pictures of our close friends & family. Skype and viber are also fantistic use of technology. She has the oportunity to meet new people of different cultures daily and is always so excited to make new amigos! We hope to gift her an open heart and mind.
LF: Were there any places that you loved more than others and why?
OR: We loved Baja for the solitary beauty, Oaxaca, Mexico for the vibrant culture and amazing food, the great surf from Baja to Chile, Colombia for the warm and welcoming people, Peru for the stunning ruins and living culture. We could go on & on – we are so in love with the world!
LF: What is your favorite thing about living on the road?
OR: It is the ultimate freedom- when we have seen our fill or get the itch, we buckle up and head on out… there is always a new adventure to be had. That, melded with the comfort of our home on wheels is just bliss for us.
LF: What is hardest about living on the road?
OR: Being unable to teleport ourselves back to visit friends & family is the ‘hardest’ part of this journey (what a first world problem). We are blessed to have such an inspiring, loving, & talented tribe back in the states.
LF: What surprised you the most about your journey? Any epiphanies? 🙂
OR: No epiphanies… more like slow revelations. There is just a deeper love for humanity, varying cultures, dying languages, topographical understanding, smell memory & human differences. Our brains are adding new data daily, and that exercise is so very soul filling.
LF: Any advice for other people who are thinking on embarking on such an adventure?
OR: We have met numerous travelers from poor countries that have made their dreams of travel a reality. Cyclists that juggle at stoplights, a Japanese guy who works at Japanese restaurants in the bigger cities he passes thru, families that make & sell jewelry. People hold themselves back. The American Dream that has been instilled in us- well, we are re-examining it, discovering our own world truth. If you set your mind to it, think creatively, and are willing to sacrifice some creature comforts, life on the open road awaits you!