Posted on October 5, 2017 by mirtewashere on camping, europe, france, outdoor, roadtrip, story, summer, vanlife, work trip

Mister H • roadtrip • Western Europe

M          I         R          T         E             W          A         S             H         E          R         E

43°39’10.3″N 5°58’48.1″E

Why was Mirte here?
Every three months it’s time for a new project, county or home. After living in a teepee last summer, it was time to dust off the 40 year old Citroën type H- my father bought brand new in 1977 – and make it ready to live in. Meet Mister H.

Meet Mister H

The idea of slow travel is very true in this case: no highway’s are taken and we cruise around every little road with a maximum of 60 km/h. I can only admit that it’ s very relaxing, even when the noise gets louder, the smell worse or the temperature rises. There is only one thing you can do in that case, stop and check.

We call the van Mister H for two reasons. The “H” stands for the type. Citroën calls some versions just “Type H,” instead of “HY.” And “Mister” is out of respect. We treat the van like a human being. It’s funny. We get a bad feeling when he is alone too long, when we don’t take him for a drive for few days in a row, or when we sleep over at friends and not in the van. We get worried when there is too much wind, the road is too steep, or when it’s raining like crazy. And we talk a bit to Mister H too. When the van is happy, he will keep driving.

In 1977, my father bought it brand new. Actually it’s even more special than that. His father passed away way too young and with the little bit of money he left behind, my father bought this van. As long as we can remember, my brother and sister and I went with my parents on adventures during the summer; mostly three to five weeks criss-crossing Europe. And something broke every trip. My father wrote these things down on postcards. He bought a postcard to document the stories of our trips at every village, castle, and campsite we have been.

When my father bought the van it was empty, just a square box. He built a kitchen, bench/bed, and table that was all very practical for us. But when I was born, the van was actually a bit too small for five people to sleep inside, so he never finished making the “big bed.” My parents always slept outside in a tent while my siblings and I slept in the van. This summer, Sébastien and I finally finished the work my father once started. Now there is a big bed for two people. That was the only thing we had to fix, because the rest is how it was back in the day. Just bit of fresh paint and I made new curtains and pillows. Not many modifications in the last forty years, even the entire inside. The engine, brakes, and transmission are still original.

Mister H has been to about every country in Europe over the last forty years. And there are so many memories. There is not one particular moment or adventure that really stands out above another. Every trip was so full of adventures. Things are happening all the time, like breaking down in the middle of the road during a heavy rain, drinking coffee with the police that try to help out, meeting dozens of people, being unable to drive up a road that’s too steep, and rolling backwards after that, wild camping on the most beautiful spots (we have the best camouflage color), being photographed a million times, and so on and so on.

Travel with an old van is not always easy. Breakdowns and dealing with impassible roads is tough. Sometimes the road is too steep and driving slow can give some stress if you’re not used to it. You always drive together, never alone, because you get tired easily and you need each other to deal with traffic. You can’t park everywhere and finding some spots for wild camping can be a big mission here in Europe. Also, a van needs a lot of time, money, and creativity.
If you dream of it then go for it. Do it, seriously. It’s an experience you will definitely not want to miss. But don’t expect rainbows and unicorns all the time, because van life can be tough. Especially when you combine it with digital nomading.

Camera button pressed by @mirtewashere.