Social Media has a lot of negatives, but one of the great things about it is all of the amazing people you interact with that expose you to a different way of living and inspire you. I’ve met some life long friends in Facebook groups and on Instagram. You have the chance to interact with people you may not have met otherwise. I learned about what Mayaan was doing in a Facebook group, and I’d been wanting to do the same thing myself for a while so I immediately followed her page, Practice Freedom and I’ve been living vicariously through her journey every since. Maayan was kind enough to share her experience with us, I hope she inspires you to live your dreams. If you’ve been waiting to go and do that one thing I hope her journey and story give you the courage to stop waiting and start doing. She has certainly inspired me.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
My name is Maayan, 28 years old. Born and raised in Israel. Proud mom of the sweetest dog in the world – Chai. I am currently traveling throughout South America with my dog and my little van, photographing and capturing our journey.
Why did you choose drive across South America? Can you tell us more about your trip?
My dream was to travel with my dog and a van. The destination wasn’t that important for me, all I wanted was beautiful landscapes and wild nature. I’ve examined the requirements for traveling with a dog in different countries and found that Chile was one of the easier countries to travel in. I hadn’t been to South America yet so it was the obvious choice. I started my trip in Santiago, where Chai and I stayed with two friends for the first month. I found a company named Suzi Santiago that consulted with me and helped me through every step of the van process. During that month I chose the right van, took care of all the paper work, and turned that vehicle into my dream home. I installed solar panels, water pump, built a kitchen and a bed, installed lights and gas cookers. Once everything was ready we hit the road. Only sleeping in the wild and trying to adjust our mindset to the simplicity of life. So far we have been moving south to see the beautiful Patagonia before it gets too cold. The only plan I have is to get as far south as I can, that’s where our plans end and the improvising begins.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by many things! The great untouched nature, the endless amount of stars in the skies, the complexity of details when you look at something from up close, the connection and communication you can have with other living beings, especially dogs. Musical pieces that take your breath away and your mind to another dimension. The fact that we are all people with the same feeling, reactions, and expressions even if everything in our lives has been different. But most of all I am inspired by People who follow their dreams and remind you that with hard work and a lot of optimism, there is nothing you can’t achieve.
What is your personal mantra or mission statement?
I believe in many things that have tangled together and define my way of looking at life. If I had to choose the most significant it would be that “everything happens for a reason” I believe that every life, like every journey, has it ups and downs. Sometimes you are in such a low place that it is impossible to imagine your future self in a good way. What we choose to do in those low moments will have a huge impact on how much time we are going to stay there.
In moments like these I remember all the hard times I’ve had in the past, and all the good times that have come since then, and I know that it was all part of my journey. The good, the bad, and everything in between. I couldn’t have had one without the other.
Steve jobs said: “We can only connect the dots looking backwards, but we can never connect them looking forward.” Well whenever something bad happens to me, I make up a story that will connect the dots looking forward, in which there is a good reason for every bad thing.
This mantra allows me to smile in the face of every hard experience, and maintain a never ending optimistic approach to life.
What does happiness mean to you?
What makes me smile the most each day is my dog! The relationship I have with Chai is one of the deepest I’ve ever seen among others and their pets. I adopted Chai almost 5 years ago and we have been inseparable since. He came with me to classes when I was a student in the university. I would take him to every job, every event, party, friend gathering. He waits outside while I’m shopping for grocery’s or going to the bank. Everywhere I go he always runs in front of me so everyone knows I’ve arrived. We spend so much time together, that I swear, we can read each other’s minds. seeing him here, deep in all this beautiful wild, is a dream come true. He inspires me to try and give him the best life I can and he has a big part in me making the final decision to actually come here and live this way.
Another thing that makes me happy is freedom! Being able to choose every morning how I want my day to look like, and just create that reality, is my way to achieve a long term, sustainable ever lasting happiness.
What are your hobbies?
I have so many hobbies, I can never find time to enjoy them all. I guess photography is a hobby although I really want to try and take it more seriously and see it as a profession. I love yoga and meditation. I play guitar and keyboard. I love scuba diving and free diving and anything that involves the ocean. I even brought my free diving equipment with me all the way from Israel. I love sailing. I have a skipper license which means I can sail boats. One of my dreams is to find a job sailing boats or yachts in the future, and maybe even live in one. I also practice dog training as a hobby but for me, working with dogs is a matter of communication rather then training. It’s more of a way of life then a hobby.
What are a few things you do every single day to keep yourself on track?
I try to meditate every day. Organizing the van is something necessary that takes a lot of time and has become a routine in my life. The transition between night and day takes a lot of moving stuff around. I also learned recently while trying to rush to the south that its easy to just drive for hours and forget to get out and enjoy the nature by foot. So, I try to do a 2-3 hours trek or just a walk at least one a day. Experiencing nature without a windshield behind you is a completely different thing.
If you could give advice to someone looking to do a similar trip would it be and why?
I think that more and more people around the world are beginning to discover that they want to live a more simple way of life. I am not a computer and media type of person but I was so inspired by others who shared their lives and experiences, so I felt like it’s my mission to do the same. To everyone who would like to travel through South America with a car or van, I would definitely recommend you to contact Suzi Santiago. It’s a company that is run by two brothers. They started it because the paperwork and regulations in Chile are so complicated and buying a car was close to impossible to someone who never did it before and didn’t speak the language. They arrange all the paperwork, help you find the right car, and will help you plan your trip. Also, whatever changes you want to make in your car, they can help you arrange it. I’m so glad I used their services. it would have cost me at least four times more if I would have tried to do it myself.
What has been your most rewarding experience so far? Work or personal
I haven’t been traveling for a long time yet but, building the car and designing everything inside was an amazing experience. Besides that, the best experience I’ve had so far is waking up to the sound of wild dolphins, swimming in the river 50 meters from my bed! I’ve never felt so rich.