It's only natural to contemplate the past, as we round into the New Year. For me, this was certainly the case. I questioned some choices I had made, thought about new years and the way I have spent new years in the past. This year, I decided to take a more relaxing approach to the holiday and traveled to Todos Santos, a small town about 40 minutes north of Cabos San Lucas for some sun, swimming and relaxation. One of my favorite activities, while traveling or at home, is to spend some time with a good book. New Years day, it was serendipitous that I ended up opening up a book called The Art of Non-Conformity. The book is about helping you realize how to live life differently. Think different, live differently. After an hour or so, I needed a break.
As I joined a few friends from the resort I was staying at, lounging on Cerritos beach, I was introduced to Yohan Ricca. As we talked surfboards, sun and swimming, these thoughts were fresh on my mind.
As I contemplated this idea of unconventional opportunities, what that means and how they may present itself, I found that this new character I met has been living unconventionally for some time now. Yohan has been traveling between Canada, the US and Mexico for the last 6 months living out of his van.
In my eyes, this is as unconventional as it gets. This goes against what most see as a life norm. So obviously, I was intrigued. I asked if we could continue our conversation and a little later that evening and I joined Yohan where he had parked for the night next to Cerritos. He casually finished preparing dinner, tuna rolls, while we talked.
“I love to travel. When you are traveling you meet new people, see new places, every day can be different.”
This isn’t the first time he’s traveled and lived out of his car. A few years earlier he travelled to Canada and lived out of a station wagon, for 6 months.
“I worked for 3 years and spent 6 months in Canada, when I got back home, I knew I wanted to do it again. I worked for 4 more years and hit the road again. During those years I saved about $30,000. When I got to Canada, I bought this van, luckily it was already insulated, and I built out the rest. Sometimes it can be hard, travelling alone but after a while, I’ve found, it just makes me happy.”
Yohan explained that most of his travels right now is spawned from his love for climbing. He started what he explained to me as his one-year journey, in Canada. The summer began in Winnipeg working on a farm before moving to Kenmore, climbing when able but he began to have back problems. He moved to Vegas and recently decided to check out Mexico to relax and surf.”
He is originally from Switzerland and his trade is installing HVAC systems. When he returns home, his friends bombard him with questions. “My friend asked me, Yohan, when are you going to settle down and do something with your life? My answer is I’m doing it. I am happy. If I stay anywhere too long I have to get back in the car. Sometimes I feel it’s hard going home because friends will ask me, how was your trip? What can I say, there is so much to say but it’s hard to tell them.”
What I learned and was able to take away from this conversation is that if you find something you want to do, whether it is looking for an unconventional means of living or otherwise, take action. Yohan seemed to agree.
“Many people say sometimes, I want to travel more, for long periods of time, but I’m afraid, I would have to quit my job and leave my apartment. But just do it. I tell them, just do it. You have too. I don’t regret my decision. When I’m ready to go back to Switzerland, I’ll ship the van back so I can live the same type of lifestyle. I want more freedom to be able to go on a whim. “
So what’s next for Yohan? “I think I’ll go back to Vegas and climb for a few weeks then it’s on to Joshua tree, maybe Sedona, Zion. My visa for Canada is up in April. I may try and find a job and snowboard in the winter. I’ll try and decide what to do from there. Right now, I am happy to keep looking forward. I don’t miss home, I’m just excited to keep moving.”
So what else did I take away from this conversation? Forget about 2015, let’s keep moving forward.