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Past Traumas

Dear Readers,

Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a 1982 VW Vanagon and older than most of the baby smooth plastics rolling by me nowadays. But that just means I’ve seen a lot. Actually, my adventures have taken me around half of Europe. I guess that’s why the PTNS squad invited me to join up. They needed a partner who could drive them almost 6000 km along the coast of the North Sea. It was a daunting proposition at first, and we had our roadblocks along the way.

Hi. Call me Nordzy.

We met about a year ago. I had ended up living in Flanders with an odd guy and his family. He didn’t really give me a lot of attention, which was ok, because I didn’t really like him all that much. First of all, he was taking me to a mechanic who must have gone to a Russian military school, because my engine kept blowing up. And second, he was always slamming this or hitting that. I felt like I was in an abusive relationship. That’s when the PTNS team took me in.

I wish I could say things turned on a dime for me, but after a trauma like that, it takes some time to get your head and your body back in order. I’d lost some confidence, but nothing a 39 year old couldn’t get through. Or so I told myself. Well, I’m Van enough to admit that the first time they put the key in the ignition, I felt triggered.

A cracked engine, a broken heart

I needed some help. But by then, I was already out on the open road with my new friends. I guess after that abusive relationship, I just wasn’t ready to put myself out there again. I could feel my temperature rising. I couldn’t keep myself from boiling over. Just like that, poof, my engine was fuming white smoke out the back. I don’t remember much after that. Some kind of ambulance picked me up and got me to the garage the next day. I don’t know how Jennifer and Joseph made it the 150 kilometers back to Antwerp. I never asked, too embarrassed.

Just like a broken heart, my engine needed time to heal…and several trips to the mechanic.

My engine had burned up again, cracked like a heart. At that moment, I really thought of throwing myself into a gutter. But they replaced it…all of it. With a great mechanic. Don’t know what it must have cost them. I appreciate what they had done for, but just because they give you a new engine, doesn’t mean everything’s going to be alright. I wish that was the last time something like that happened. That I was “cured.” Whatever that means? But after that, I got to know the ambulance service really well. I became a regular. An addict. A junky. 6 trips in 5 months. Every time the PTNS team tried to get me out on the road, I lost my head. And as an old-timer once told me, “where the head goes, the body follows.”

Building a Relationship after the trauma

Well, I can finally say, I’m moving past whatever I was working through last year. The three of us made it all the way to Denmark in August. And it went off almost without a hitch. Almost. I lost my nerve twice, but just little things. They took care of me on the spot, and we made it back home safe and sound.

And this year they have even bigger plans. England? Scotland? Norway? Sweden? They’re beginning to trust me. And after all those times they put up with my drama, I think I’m beginning to trust them too.

I’m keeping a journal, so I’ll have more stories to tell by the time we get back.

Until next time,



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About the Authors

About us

Joseph Puglisi (travel writer. & photographer) - Jennifer Schleber (Chef)

Setting off in Scandinavia, known for its fierce seafaring history,…

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