Tuesday, June 06, 2017


Artist: Marcus Linnenbrink - WHATEVAHWILLBE

Sunday, May 07, 2017

In memoriam Paulo Varela Gomes, 1952 - 2016



JULIAN’S HOPE


Julian Amery, an Englishman, 39 years old, bought himself a Mercedes 608 D van which had already belonged to ten owners, abandoned his professional life and, in the Winter of 2007, left for India across Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. This was decision was triggered by a brutal heartbreak, he explains. Before he left England he put the van in the hands of a young artist (Ben Saffer), who painted it in the manner of the street arts: we can read the word HOPE over geometrical motives. “I’ll live in hope”, says Julian with a smile.


Hope is parked today in a south Goa beach that I shall not name. You can see it here: www.powblam.blogspot.com. It is accompanied by half a dozen vans of German, British and French plates. They all came from Europe by road and we can find them only in this beach because there is a large level rocky surface with road Access right in front of the beach, a stream of river water, a village with its shops. This meeting point of vans appears in no guide or web-site. People tell each other in coffeehouses and ghadas in Isfahan, Kathmandu or Arambol.


This is why, between October and April, sometimes a dozen auto-caravans and vans meet at this beach. Some look absolutely anodinous like something out of a European campsite. Other are real fortresses, powerfully built on top of their big wheels, exhibiting spare tanks with protection meshes, double paned windows, reinforced doors.


The adults and children who meet here like to share the stories of their long journeys and the plans for the journeys to come. Images of intense places. Tunes. They especially like to share the cool silence that sets after the night falls on the beach. Some will carry on across India, to Thailand and Vietnam. Many have arrived through the longest and coldest route, across the heart of Asia: Siberia, China, Tibet. Those who, like Julian, chose the old Hippie Trail of South Asia don’t find it as easy as it was back in the 1970s. Julian, like others, had to journey with an armed escort through southern Iran and Pakistan. He smiles when he hears the story told by a young couple - he a Croatian, she a German, two children - whose van and escort were caught in a gun fight in Belushistan from which they came out unscathed.


The fact that he travelled with Hope proved to be wise: the Mercedes 608 D van model is still used as a transport mini bus in those parts and it was therefore easier for Julian to find spare parts. “All one needs is equipment and information”, he says. “And luck”.

I asked him about the lonely nights when he had to park the van somewhere in the middle of the Turkish or Iranian plateau, nowhere land. “There is always a truck driver’s parking place”, he replies, “or a little roadside shop”. And when there is nothing, there’s Hope.


- Paolo Varela Gomes


Published March 2009 in Publico, Lisbon


Monday, December 05, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016