Camila Caggiano with her Fiat Fiorino

​Travel without leaving home

Determined to realize the dream of traveling the world, Brazilian photographer Camila Caggiano turned her Fiat Fiorino into a motorhome

December 11, 2019 - "The world is a book, and those who don’t travel always read the same page". This is how the philosopher and theologian St. Augustine defined the human need to cross borders. Moved by this restlessness, São Paulo photographer and writer Camila Caggiano began her journey around the globe in 2017, traveling 15,000 km from São Paulo (SP), brazil, to Ushuaia, Argentina. But what makes her experience somewhat peculiar is the way she decided to see the world: her journey took place aboard a Fiat Fiorino that she turned into a motorhome.

Since adolescence, Camila longed for an activity that would allow her to combine her taste for sports and the desire to visit new places. Upon beginning her professional career, she became a photographer for surfing championships. Over the years, new job proposals moved her away from the outdoors and into the studios. "Slowly, I realized that my desire for money had replaced the search for what really matters: the realization of our dreams", she reflects.

At just over 40, Camila was in great physical shape and her dream of traveling was more alive than ever. "I was determined to see the world. But how should I do it? I started to analyze it and concluded that the biggest expenses were with accommodations. Then I got an idea: if I have a car that serves as a home, I won’t have to spend on lodging". During her research for the ideal car, Camila looked for a vehicle that gave her comfort, but that was also reliable on long road trips, often precarious.

Safira and I

The Fiorino had all the qualities the photographer was looking for, but the purchase of the vehicle was just the beginning. Turning the car into a house on wheels is a long process full of details. In all, it took five months of work before Camila could adapt the utility vehicle into a motorhome. "I acquired a lot of experience with electrical equipment while working in film production. The car didn’t go through a major structural change. I installed a second battery, pulled out a partition separating the cabin from the cargo area and I installed a countertop, cabinets and a 1.30 m wide sofa bed. I discovered in Fiorino a compartment just above the cabin that became my closet" says Camila. In all, she invested R$ 15,000 in the transformation of the vehicle.

Camila refers to her Fiat Fiorino as a she, not because she is a van (furgoneta, which is feminine in Portuguese), but because it has a name: Safira. She says the inspiration came from a fantasy movie called Eragon. In it, a young farmer establishes a relationship of trust and companionship with a large female dragon named Saphira. Together, they face many adventures. "I created a connection with my car similar to that of the fictional characters. On long trips she is my only companion", she reveals.

Camila sitting inside the vehicleCamila took care of all the details of the Fiorino's transformation into motorhome

On the road

With the car properly adapted and baptized, the photographer embarked in December 2017 for the 90-day journey to Ushuaia in Argentina. Before leaving, there were quite a few who tried to dissuade her from the idea. "A lot of people even said I wouldn't come back alive", she recalls. There were more than 15,000 km traveled between southern Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Life in a "crate", according to Camila, is not simple and requires preparation and detachment. Despite the difficulties, she claims to have experienced a sense of full freedom. "I've discovered how a simpler life can be rewarding. Before I used to think the pleasure came upon reaching the destinations, but this experience showed me how much I enjoy the journey. This coincides with the doctrine of Taoism, which I follow. We learn that happiness is in 'Tao', which means 'way'", she says.

Camila sitting inside the vehicleCamila took care of all the details of the Fiorino's transformation into motorhome

The traveler reveals that she felt fear at times, but assures us that she knew how to master this feeling, this being another of the many lessons learned on the road. While going through southern Argentina, she learned of the existence of a ghost town. When she visited the place, she was told that she should not stay there late at night, as many troublemakers were frequenting those areas. But the desire to produce good photos in that intriguing place was stronger.

"The night arrived with a beautiful moon that tinted the ruins in a silver tone. It was the sight I needed for my pictures", she recalls. Distracted by the photos, Camila did not realize that the so called "troublemakers" had parked their bikes right at the entrance to the city. With her backpack on her back and firm steps, she passed the group without showing any fear. Today, she considers the possibility that she might have scared those bikers. "The sight of a woman in a white dress coming out of a dilapidated city may have been the culminating point of the night for them!" she says amused.

That year's Christmas was spent on the edge of one of Ushuaia's beautiful lakes. When he arrived, there was a family that was having a barbecue, but soon after they left. Before leaving, Camila asked if they wouldn’t mind selling their lighter, because she had realized that she had forgotten hers. It was very cold in that region and she needed to make a fire to stay warm. "They gave me the lighter as a gift. I think this was one of the most important Christmas presents I've ever received."

Fiorino on the shores of a lake in UshuaiaChristmas 2017 was spent on the shores of a lake in Ushuaia. Safira got special lighting for the occasion

This gesture of generosity was added to many others that have also served for the traveler to realize the importance of gaining experience with people who make the road their way of life. "I've made a lot of friends with truck drivers. They taught me how to choose the best places to spend the night and fed me," she says. The experiences of the trip to Ushuaia were shared by Camila in Sob as Estrelas or Under the Stars, her personal blog. Since December 5, a documentary that chronicles the entire trip is available on the streaming platforms Now and Vivo Play. Check out the trailer.

New destinations

While overseeing the last details of her documentary, Camila was already preparing for the next journey: Alaska. "This is a journey of approximately a year and a half. It’s possible to do it in less time, but I am in no hurry. My goal is to climb and photograph all the mountains of the Americas", she says. Safira and Camila hit the road on December 3. To those who wish to live a similar experience, but are afraid, Camila sends a tip: "Insecurity is what prevents people from doing what they want. Pursuing our dreams is more important than any illusory sense of security", she concludes.

Fiorino on a road in ArgentinaIn December, Camila and Safira depart for a year and a half trip to Alaska in North America.

Words: Roberto Ângelo

Pictures: Camila Caggiano

Related Stories

The "little old lady" of the Fiat 500: ageless to run

Read More

​An award-winning sedan still coveted after 35 years

Read More