Rob Fox, 37 and Mareike Strahl, 33, gather on a farm in California in 2014. They now live 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 meat and adaptation in exchange for work ,” he shows. After a short trip to Death Valley, he returned to find a new craftsman at the farm.” I was telling everyone about my travellings and she seemed totally unimpressed ,” he recollects.” I concluded she was a bit spiky at first, but I later detected she is just direct and honest .”
Mareike contends she found Rob’s narrations “very funny” but wanted to know more.” I asked him lots of questions about his excursion. 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 swine on “the farmers “. She was so free-spirited and just lived in the moment. She was different from everybody else .”
The pair soon became inseparable. Like the rest of the young volunteers, they were living in shared caravans.” We knew a tiny area of room at the end of a caravan with a kitchen in it ,” echoes 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 touched me like one tonne 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 character arrived, Rob didn’t hesitate.” I knew we’d connected, but when I visualize it written down on paper it abruptly felt right .” He emailed her to say he wanted to make the move, and in December, a few dates after he returned to the UK, he flew on to Berlin.” I invested the coming few weeks getting to know the city and then we went to stay with her family in Hamburg for Christmas .”
Mareike had already noticed drive as a graphic designer; a few months later Rob got a job as a material director for an interior design website. They spent the next two years exploring the city, realizing friends and seeing the neighbourhood country. But they knew municipality life was not for them in the long term.” We both affection 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 age-old ambulance to renew.” 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 resolved at an eco-glamping site in the Algarve.” We volunteered there and constructed a vegetable garden-variety. It was meant to be a short stop, but we ended up abiding for 11 months .” The duet 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 too sells fruit and vegetables at a neighbourhood market.
They love nature and have discovered a shared heat 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 couple are working hard to build a home for themselves continues its sustainable life.” It’s going to be a little yurt ,” says Rob.” We’re making everything by hand .”
Mareike affections her partner’s sense of humour.” He always acquires me laugh and I know that whatever happens, things will never be bearing .” 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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