(translation by Eelste)
For pictures, video and text: http://www.dvhn.nl/drenthe/%E2%80%98Gasten-ontvangen-wonen-en-reizen-op-8-vierkante-meter%E2%80%99-22602672.html
Eelste Abels (27) from Eexterzandvoort has a dream: traveling the world with her self build Tiny House XS, a sort living wagon pulled by a horse. Upcoming spring she’ll start. Who wants, can travel along. On the drive way next the the house of her parents in Eexterzandvoort Eelste Abels (27) looks at a large wood skeleton on wheels. “Befóre the winter it should have a roof, and walls”, she says, while stepping on the the old trailer via a stairs. “The skeleton has to be waterproof as soon as possible, so I can work inside the wagon.” With a drill in her hand she points at the corners of the construction. “Here will be the composttoilet, there the stove and in the back a bed.”
Its her dream, on which she’s been working for week already. Literally. With a drill, screws and nails. The skeleton on wheels has to become a Tiny House XS, or a Bed & Wagon. The name, she hasn’t quite decided yet.
At least horses will draw the mini-house, so Eelste can travel around Europe with it. And the idea is that guests travel along. “Receiving guests, living and traveling on 8 square meter.”, Eelste summarizes. Her eye lit up, just like her yellow jacket. With the dark cowboy hat, she radiates adventure.
“For a long time it was plan B, about which I’d dream, while writing my thesis.”, she tells. “Plan A was to promote, but when that didn’t went through, plan B became véry serious.”
The idea was born in her room in Swedish Göteborg, more than two years ago. Eelste did the master Gender Studies. One days she’s staring, bored of working on her thesis, to the map of Europe which hangs on the wall. It’s full of stickers. Each place where she has bee for a longer period of time, she puts one. France, Latvia, Sweden, Spain. “Just traveling through a city doesn’t count”, she tells. Because traveling according to Eelste is: to submerge into another culture, getting to know the people and their habits. While looking at the stickers, she realizes how she wants to travel much more. “When I’m on the way, I feel best”, Eelste explains. Hitch-hiking, couchsurfing, she’s done it all. “I remember I was standing in Bretagne, all alone”, she looks back. “I wanted to hitch hike all the way back to Amsterdam. It was impossible of course. One after another car passed by. Sometimes I was allowed to get in, but then they’d bring be a few kilometers further and I’d find myself alone next to the road again.” “Others might panic in such a moment, but a kind of calm came over me. It doesn’t matter if I can make it in one day, I thought. The world isn’t gonna disappear. I’ll find a sleeping place.”
More of this, the adventurer decides. Traveling around in its purest form is what attracts her. The horse and wagon seems like a romantic idea. Like Roma did, or Sinti. She fantasizes about it, in between the lines of her thesis, and the plan becomes livable in the end. Now – back in the Netherlands – she concludes with a big grin: “Secretly I never wanted for plan A to go through.” The pile of construction drawings and the cardboard model on the table prove once more how serious the plan is. “My brother is a joiner and has advised me time after time to get a caravan”, Eelste laughs. “But he get’s it now, how serious I am.” Meanwhile she sits herself down in the middle of the papers at the table, and points at the model. “That is the driving box. That’s where I’ll sit when I drive the horses. The driving box will become the private room for the guests.” She pulls triumphantly a floor from under the driving box. “Like this. And in these boxes I’ll put the mattresses, on which the guests – with a tent above their head – can sleep.” Eelste will live in the wagon itself. It consists of a composttoilet, stove and bed. “I have put all sorts of modern technology in the design. For instance, on the roof there’ll be transparent solar panels.”
People who want to travel along with the wagon, do it for the experience, Eelste says. “It is you, the horses and the surrounding. Back to basic. A story which will stay with you forever.” How it will look like? “I’ll arrange with guests where I’ll meet them. And I drop them of where they want. It can be a train- or busstation, with which they go back to where I picked then up. But maybe they want to travel forward by themselves.” “Guests pay a fixed tariff per hour or per day. They’ll be my main source of income. From the Netherlands I already have ten registrations. They can do it through my website, through which people can follow me too later on.”
To prepare for the travel, Eelste is already in training. “I have to get my driving license”, she says. “And the horses with whom I’ll travel, I have to train. I got to test how many kilometers we can do in a day. In that way I can predict how long it will last till I’m somewhere.” Eelste is also practicing with eatable plants. Elder is eatable. And ivy leaves chestnuts are good for washing. Could be useful, as I won’t see a supermarket every day.”
That dangers are present with an adventurous plan, is well known to Eelste. “But I’m not afraid”, she says bravely. “I think you need a healthy amount of fear and adrenaline, to stay alert. I’m not naive, but I do think that if you think well of a person, you speak to the good in a person. I want to believe that, and so far it worked.”
Although it’s not there yet, Eelste wants the Tiny House XS to be finished upcoming spring. To test the wagon she’ll first travel through the Netherlands. If that goes well, she wants to go to South-East Europe. “I think it’s super beautiful. And there are more smaller roads.” Drifting away: “I can already see myself with the wagon through a beautiful Balkan-village. That I’ll pause there, and a lot of people come to me, because I catch the eye. Pass by tonight, I’ll say. Take your violin, and some food. We’ll make it a cozy night.” Granted. It sounds a little idealistic. “And I am”, Eelste says with a big smile. “But I’m convinced it’s possible. And if it isn’t, at least I tried.”
For now there’s just a lot of work to do. But when Eelste is gone, we’ll not see her very soon again. “I’m gone as long as I can. And as long as it’s nice. I don’t have an enddate.”