Rob Fox, 37 and Mareike Strahl, 33, meet on a farm in California in 2014. They now lives in a vegan community in the Algarve with their two rescue dogs
In 2014, Rob left the grey skies of the UK to travel around Canada and the US.” I started volunteering on an avocado and olive farm close to San Diego, where they offered food and accommodation in exchange for work ,” he illustrates. After a short trip to Death Valley, he returned to find a brand-new laborer at the farm.” I was telling everyone about my travelings and she seemed totally unimpressed ,” he recollects.” I felt she was a bit spiky at first, but I later detected she is just direct and honest .”
Mareike holds she found Rob’s floors “very funny” but wanted to know more.” I asked him lots of questions about his expedition. He seemed interesting and I wanted to get to know him .”
It didn’t take long for Rob to be won over.” By the second day I noticed how at home she seemed outdoors, attending for the rescued swine on the farm. She was so free-spirited and precisely lived in the moment. She was different from everyone else .”
The pair speedily became inseparable. Like the rest of the young volunteers, they were living in shared caravans.” We saw a minuscule angle of opening at the end of a caravan with a kitchen in it ,” echoes Mareike.” We expected everyone if they’d be happy for us to stay there together. Luckily they said yes .”
Rob says things” moved fast” because Mareike was only staying for a week.” After such a great time together, it stumbled me like a ton of bricks when I watched her leave ,” he says.
At the airport Mareike wrote Rob a character, inviting him to Berlin.” It was a six-page letter about what a great time we’d had ,” she says.” I said that if he was serious about a future, we could go to Berlin together. I knew it was a place we could live and work without him needing to speak German .”
When the note arrived, Rob didn’t hesitate.” I knew we’d connected, but when I receive it written down on paper it abruptly felt right .” He emailed her to say he wanted to prepare the move, and in December, a few days after he returned to the UK, he flew on to Berlin.” I wasted the next few weeks getting to know the city and then we went to stay with her family in Hamburg for Christmas .”
Mareike had already found wreak as a graphic designer; a few months later Rob got a job as a material director for an interior design website. They invested the next two years exploring the city, drawing friends and seeing the neighbourhood countryside. But they knew city life was not for them in the long term.” We both adoration being outdoors ,” says Mareike.” But the winters are so cold in Germany. We wanted to settle somewhere warmer .”
In March 2017, the couple bought an old-fashioned ambulance to revamp.” We drove it to Barcelona and a friend of ours from California helped us to turn it into a campervan ,” says Rob. After several months touring Portugal, they agreed at an eco-glamping site in the Algarve.” We volunteered there and built a vegetable plot. It was meant to be a short stop, but we terminated up staying for 11 months .” The duo have since moved their van to a vegan parish, where they have befriended like-minded people. They both work at a pizza eatery in the summer, while Mareike likewise sells fresh fruits and vegetables at a local market.
They love nature and have discovered a shared infatuation for rise.” In future I’m hoping to run cycling and clambering tours for sightseers ,” says Rob.” It’s what I’m passionate about .” The pair are working hard to build a home for themselves continues its sustainable lifestyle.” It’s going to be a little yurt ,” says Rob.” We’re making everything by hand .”
Mareike loves her partner’s sense of humour.” He always clears me laugh and I know that whatever happens, things will never be boring .” He adores her glass-half-full attitude.” She’s such a glad, positive party. I would never be living this amazing life without her- but it feels so right .”
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