Rob Fox, 37 and Mareike Strahl, 33, match on a farm in California in 2014. They now live in a vegan parish 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 meat and adaptation in exchange for work ,” he illustrates. After a short trip to Death Valley, he returned to find a new craftsman at “the farmers “.” I was telling everyone about my roams and she seemed totally unimpressed ,” he recollects.” I recollected she was a bit spiky at first, but I later discovered she is just direct and honest .”
Mareike insists she found Rob’s narratives “very funny” but wanted to know more.” I asked him lots of questions about his journey. 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, caring for the rescued animals on the farm. She was so free-spirited and merely lived in the moment. She was different from everyone else .”
The pair soon became inseparable. Like the rest of the young voluntaries, they were living in shared caravans.” We met a minuscule angle of room at the end of a caravan with a kitchen in it ,” remembers Mareike.” We questioned 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 few weeks.” After such a great time together, it affected 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 word arrived, Rob didn’t hesitate.” I knew we’d connected, but when I ascertain it written down on paper it suddenly felt right .” He emailed her to say he wanted to form the move, and in December, a few cases epoches after he returned to the UK, he flew on to Berlin.” I invested 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 received make as a graphic designer; a few months later Rob got a job as a content manager for an interior design website. They spent the next two years exploring the city, drawing friends and seeing the local countryside. But they knew municipality life was not for them in the long term.” We both adore 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-time 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 determined at an eco-glamping site in the Algarve.” We volunteered there and built a vegetable garden. It was meant to be a short stop, but we intention up standing for 11 months .” The pair had now been moved their van to a vegan parish, where they have befriended like-minded people. They both work at a pizza restaurant in the summer, while Mareike likewise sells fruit and vegetables at a neighbourhood market.
They love nature and have discovered a shared anger for climbing.” In future I’m hoping to run cycling and climbing tours for tourists ,” says Rob.” It’s what I’m passionate about .” The duet are working hard to build a home for themselves to continue their sustainable life-style.” It’s going to be a little yurt ,” says Rob.” We’re making everything by hand .”
Mareike enjoys her partner’s sense of humour.” He always makes me laugh and I know that whatever happens, things will never be accepting .” He adores her glass-half-full attitude.” She’s such a joyou, positive party. I would never be living this amazing life without her- but it feels so right .”
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