Story: Selima Taibi|
Photos: Felix Starck & Selima Taibi
April 20, 2017
“Routine is the enemy of progress” - right?
Felix and I met when he cycled around the world for a year and I joined him for some weeks in New Zealand. His movie about the trip “Pedal The World” became the most successful documentary of the last few years in Germany. While he is making movies I am a singer-songwriter so apart from releasing my debut album I wrote the soundtrack.
We lived in Berlin with our Bernese Mountain Dog when we had the idea for our new project “Expedition Happiness”. Back home from our travels the creative, loud and dirty city got on our nerves. We seemed to have it all – love, success, money, a beautiful loft – but we weren’t happy. We started to ask ourselves: Why Berlin? Why Germany? And why settle down so early?
When we spotted an old American school bus online it was decided straight away. We were gonna build a tiny home on wheels and travel through North America. Only 4 weeks later we were on the plane to the states with a lot of camera equipment to document everything. But before starting our road trip we had to make an RV out of the 40 foot bus. In three months we took out the seats, and built furniture.
We even managed solar, electric, plumbing, and tiling the shower all by ourselves. A lot went wrong because we both didn’t know what we were doing at all. The hard work was tiring and we had to deal with a lot of setbacks, like a massive hole in the floor or a leaking ceiling. But in the end it was all worth it because our ‘Loft on Wheels’ as we like to call it, was so much more than a RV. It was our home.
Together with our dog Rudi we embarked on our biggest adventure yet. We crossed Canada and drove from Alaska to Mexico. We saw wild wolves, moose and a grizzly only metres away from the bus. We traveled to glaciers, crossed deserts and the jungle. Rudi had to have surgery and the US didn’t give us a Visa at first. We woke up in front of the highest mountain peak of North America and stayed the night at the lowest point at 86m below sea level.
The whole trip felt like a rollercoaster ride and was quite overwhelming at some points but the nature and having each other always gave us balance. Having my guitar and piano onboard made it possible to write songs on the trip capturing the inspiration while it was raw. Equipped with solar panels, a compost toilet and water tanks we were prepared for everything. We didn’t have to stay on campgrounds and could choose the most beautiful spots in the middle of nowhere. One of our favorite moments was eating my freshly baked chocolate cake in the solitude of the rocky mountains. What a combination of home and being far away!
In the end we noticed that taking your home with you only works to a certain degree though. We were lucky to meet amazing people along the way – Mexico especially was one of the friendliest and most hospitable countries we’ve ever been to. We were welcomed into homes and families nearly every day. But they still weren’t our families and friends whom we started to miss after a year abroad. Waking up at a different spot every morning and driving every day started to take its toll on us and we were ready to go home. Going to the same bakery every morning and settling down didn’t sound so bad after all. And so our travels and our search for happiness didn’t end at some exotic place on the other side of the globe but at the dinner table in Germany – with our families on Christmas.
Our movie about the trip is coming to German cinemas in May – with the international release following later this year. It is completely self-made and is an unfiltered insight into our experiences combined with stunning landscapes and an emotional soundtrack created on the road.