After 17 years, 100 countries and countless memories, a family from Argentina will soon end their around the world adventure – but only after a recent visit to County Down.
The Zapp family have been travelling the world since 2000 and have ticked Northern Ireland off their list of destinations.
The family of six travel in a vintage 1928 Graham-Paige car.
In the past few days, they’ve been staying in Annalong.
When they left Argentina 17 years ago, Herman and Candelaria Zapp had £3,000 in their pockets.
“It’s one day after another day and we are so happy,” Herman told BBC News NI.
“We never thought it would be possible to travel for so long
“People ask us: ‘Are you not tired driving for so long?’ But how can you be tired arriving in beautiful places like this and meeting people every day and learning about so many cultures?”
So how does a family afford to travel the world for 17 years?
It’s all down to the kindness of strangers – the Zapp family has relied on people around the world to provide accommodation, food and petrol for their car.
They also support their travels through the sale of a book documenting their journey.
“We had our old car and no knowledge of what we were going to do, but we were willing and I really believe if your dream can be accomplished with money, then that’s a cheap dream,” said Herman.
Their four children – Pampa, Greensboro, Paloma and Wallaby – were all born on the road.
“It was a challenge to give birth in different countries,” said Candelaria.
“The children were born in the USA, Argentina, Vancouver Island and Australia.
“It is more of a challenge to educate them along the way. The school is on wheels but the school is also the world.
“I use the world to apply all that we learn and it’s great because we went to Nasa to see a space shuttle taking off, we went to the Great Wall of China and we visited the pyramids in Egypt.”
Kindness of strangers
Candelaria doesn’t feel that the children are missing out by not attending school or engaging in a formal education.
“They know languages, they know about religions, food, culture and how people live in different countries.
“We’ve spent 2,000 nights in family homes all around the world with all kinds of religions and every house has prepared a bed for them and they learn so much.”
The couple said the highlight has been the people they have met and the kindness of strangers.
The hardest part, they said, was the first day when they left Argentina as they didn’t know what lay ahead.
The Zapp family will travel to Dublin before they visit Wales and then travel on to The Netherlands with their belongings packed into their vintage car. They will soon return to Argentina.
Candelaria said she hopes their journey will inspire others to follow their goals.
“We thought we weren’t ready for our dream, but then we realised that the world was ready to be part of our dream.”