February 28, 2011 By Maynard M. Marcelo

Spark Your Dream

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Words by Maynard Marcelo, Photos by the author and Herman Zapp

The title for this article was borrowed from the book “Spark Your Dream” written by Herman and Candelaria Zapp, as inspired by their childhood dream of traveling around the world.

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I got the rare opportunity of meeting the couple when my friend Love Love Tioseco called me up last month and told me about a weird-looking car parked in her neighbor’s lawn. While we in the media world often get calls from friends and acquaintances about various oddities they or their friends saw somewhere, Love Love’s saying that it looked like Archie’s jalopy somehow triggered my curiosity. How often do you get to see Archie’s jalopy, right?

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So off I went to her house in Bel Air, Makati, a short distance from our office. There parked under a street lamp was a huge, black car, almost like a Sarao jeep. I soon discovered that the weird-looking car is a rare 1928 Graham Paige Model 612 that the Zapp family uses in circumnavigating the world. If you think traveling around the world in a modern car is already difficult, try imagining doing it in an 83-year old car with genuine wooden-spoke wheels. I have to meet this crazy people.

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Fortunately, the Zapp couple was home, or rather, at Joe Riley’s home. Joe Riley is Love love’s next-door neighbor and how he and the Zapps met is a story on its own. According to Joe, he was having coffee with a friend at a Starbucks store when he noticed a family of six pacing back and forth in front of the coffee shop. He somehow sensed that they were having some kind of problem; he also noticed that the guy, Herman, was already looking stressed so he took pity and went out of the store to offer some assistance. The following day, the Zapp family was staying at his home.

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I didn’t know anything about the Zapps or anything about their journey before I got there, so I was truly surprised when I heard their story. Their journey began long before they left everything behind in Argentina. Herman and Cande are childhood sweethearts and they basically grew up together in the Argentinean countryside with their cousins and ponies. They both share an insatiable appetite for discovery and for adventure; so much that they read expedition books of James Cook, Marco Polo, and Magellan.

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What started out as an innocent dream eventually became a reality on the 25th of January 2000. They’ve been married for 6 years and for the longest time, they’ve managed to postpone their journey for a variety of excuses; fear, the house, their work, and countless other objections. In fact, before they started out, the only thing they managed to do was postpone their ‘adventure trip’ to Alaska. According to Herman and Cande, the most difficult moment was to begin leaving everything behind: their families, their house, their work, and their friends.

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They initially planned to go backpacking; in fact, they didn’t even consider taking the vintage car until Herman came up with the idea. At first, Cande didn’t warm up to the idea, especially with the knowledge that Herman doesn’t know anything about fixing cars, much less, a car built during the 1920’s. But she eventually approved of the idea; at least, they won’t have to carry their heavy backpacks and they can go to places where buses won’t, plus they can carry all the clothes they can stuff into it.

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On their first day on the road, they managed to make more friends than cover distance, with the car encountering problems one after another even before they crossed the border to Chile. And with a car that guzzles a liter of expensive fuel every 5 kilometers, it was soon apparent to the couple that they would run out of money long before they reach Alaska. And run out of money they did after six months, and they were not even out of South America yet. It’s only with great determination that they decided to push through with their journey. It is, after all, their lifelong dream.

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With no more money to continue their journey, the couple became creative in raising funds by selling artwork. This was another fascinating discovery for Herman and Cande, for they didn’t know that they both had a talent for drawing and painting before they left Buenos Aires, and are now making money out of it. It was also during this part of their journey that they printed their first book titled “Atrapa Sueños”, which became the bestselling book at the International Book Fair in Costa Rica. This fueled their enthusiasm to pursue their dream even more. By the time they got to Alaska after almost 4 years of traveling, they had already sold 12,000 copies simply through the people they met along the way. It wasn’t much, according to Herman, but the proceeds from the sale of the books somehow helped them push through with their journey.

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But it was the selfless help of kindhearted people like Joe Riley, who opened their homes to them that really made the difference. The Zapps didn’t pay them anything in exchange for all their good deeds, nor were they were asked to. In the end, it was accommodating the Zapps into their lives that made the biggest impact on the generous benefactors, for somehow they were inspired to begin pursuing their dreams. The Zapps were living proof that dreams can become a reality if you’re just courageous enough to pursue them.

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To date, the Zapps have already spent the better part of 10 years traveling to different countries around the world, and it was during that time that they were blessed with four adorable children, all born in different countries; Pampa (USA), Tehue (Argentina), Paloma (Canada) and Wallaby (Australia). Aside from being Herman’s co-pilot, Cande assumed another important role; she became their teacher because she enrolled their children in Argentina’s home education program, and all their correspondence is coursed through Argentina’s consulate office wherever they may be. Last year, they completed their tour of New Zealand, and as of this writing, they’re here in the Philippines where they plan to stay for at least two months. In January or February 2011, they’ll begin their journey to 18 other countries in Asia. Pursuing a dream isn’t a crazy idea after all.

You can follow the Zapps’ adventure in their website: www.argentinaalaska.com/blog/We-are and in Facebook by simply searching Herman Zapp. You can also send a message to their e-mail address: three_americas@yahoo.com. You can purchase their book “Spark Your Dream” on Amazon.com.

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