By Lindenberg Junior and Sandra Lobo | Translation: Ricardo Dantas
“This is a dream which we had since we were children”, says Hernan. They met each other for the first time in Buenos Aires when she was eight and he ten years old. They felt in love during adolescence and since than began the dream of traveling. The trip which they had originally planned to do with back-packs, became an incredible adventure when, five months before their planned departure, a mechanic offered a 1928 Graham-Paige vintage automobile including the original motor and wheels. When they arrived in Colombia, they baptized their 1928 antique by naming it “Macondo Cambalache”.
Its top speed of 30 mph caught the eye of many and opened doors to many homes of families who befriended them along the way.After traveling 44,000 miles from Argentina to Alaska, the dream of an Argentine couple became reality when they touched the Artic Ocean with their own hands. Candelaria (33) and Herman (35) Zapp left Buenos Aires on January 25, 2000, in a 1928 automobile with plans to reach their goal in six months. It did not turn out the way they had planned and took more than 3 ½ years to reach the Artic Ocean. They ran out of money on the way and, in North Carolina they became parents.
They left Argentina with the mind set of learning about different countries, various landscapes and realized the most important thing learned was the generous of people. The places they visited will always be in their minds, but the people will forever be in their hearts. They lived with different people who were generous in hospitality and apologetic for not being able to offer more.
According to Candelaria, running out of money was a blessing in disguise. It was from that experience a whole new world opened up and they grew a lot. It was from necessity they learned the things they were capable of doing. Candelaria, began painting, Herman framed her work, and then sold it. They purchased handcrafted items in one country and sold them in another.
In Colombia, an acquaintance printed up a postcard portraying the Zapp’s trip, which he hand out in exchange for monetary contributions. In Mexico, they sold calendars and in Costa Rica, they printed their first book, “Atrapa Suenos” (Dream Chaser). The old Graham-Paige took them to extraordinary places, starting from “kilometer 0” in Argentina.
They crossed the Atacama Desert in Chile and saw the ruins of Machu Pichu in Peru. They ran out of money in Ecuador and built a raft and floated down the Amazon River to Manaus. While in Brazil they met Indians who had never seen a car, ate piranhas, ants, alligators and all sorts of jungle animals, and joined an indigenous wedding. From Brazil, they crossed over to Venezuela, where they visited the Caribbean coast and the Margarida Island, than Trinidad and Tobago.
In Colombia, the Suarez family managed to get shipping companies to transport their car to Panama. The solidarity of the people continued to surprise them as another company paid their air fare.The Zapps are sure that they would not have made it without the help and support from the people along the way. The car is now in better condition than when they left. The mechanics and antique auto clubs were always willing to help “Macondo”. In Halfmoon, N.Y., a group of people rebuilt the engine for no charge. In Texas, they received as gift brand new tires, donated by people who they didn’t even know. After the birth of their son in North Carolina, they lived with the Burkholder family and this family helped with other donations including covering their medical expenses. The local community also donated baby items and clothing.
Two years after September 11, Candelaria, Herman and Nahuel arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, and finally had accomplished their dream. They learned nothing is impossible and the secret to accomplishing a dream is to start that dream. They are currently trying to find a ship that will transport “Macondo Cambalache” back to Argentina. The Zapp’s begin another adventure which is getting back home. They plan to write their next book, raise the son in their country and build cabins, in order to extend an invitation to all the dreamers and folks who gave them a hand along the way.They crossed all the countries in Central America. While in Guatemala they had “Romantic Moments”, in Belize they found out Candelaria was pregnant. And in June 4, 2003 she gave birth to their son Nahuel Pampa, in Greensboro, N.C. They visited Detroit where “Macondo Cambalache” was built, and by way of Route 66 arrived in California.