Marielle Wunderink at Mamallapuram | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Marielle Wunderink and her van have been drawing attention from locals and tourists alike in Mamallapuram since her arrival here over a month go.  
Fishermen, tourists, police and kids gather around trying to steal a peek inside. The Maruti Suzuki Omni van is painted with mermaids, flowers, and a free spirited woman with her hair let down: images that resonate with its owner’s personality. More unusually, it is wrapped in heady notes of sandalwood, cinnamon and jasmine.
“I like to call it my temple on wheels, where I carry my passion all over the country,” says Marielle, settling down at a cafe after a four hour long surf session. “The van is not just home, but also my business on wheels. Besides, all my surfboards and skateboards are stacked on the roof, which allows me to surf anywhere I see a wave break.”
Marielle lives and travels in this minivan. Originally from the Netherlands, she first arrived in the fishing village to participate in the Mahabs Point Break and Covelong Point Surf Festival on July 29. Though she didn’t make it beyond the semi finals, she was so captivated by the town that she decided to stay back in Mamallapuram to work, and also surf everyday. “I got the van in Delhi and travelled through Rajasthan to Goa, moved in and around Goa a lot, and then to Bombay, Mangalore before heading to Chennai,” she adds.
Since 2020, Marielle has been running a small business, called Jampa Creations, out of her van, selling organic, handmade scented candles, incense and oils. Explaining why she is likes travelling by van, she says she says, “this way, I get to see offbeat, undiscovered places. And since the van is my home, I can stop wherever and whenever I want and explore.”
The vehicle has a built-in bed and storage space. Marielle also finds space for a yoga mat, books, her clothes, a rug, skateboards and surfboards and most importantly, her speakers. “It’s important to keep the van clean and uncluttered and therefore organisation is key,” she says.   
While travelling she keeps an eye out for petrol bunks with showers and washroom facilities. Sometimes she finds families that allow her to use their washrooms. If her batteries run out on her mobile or laptop, she goes into a café for a meal, so the equipment can charge. 
A firm believer in the joys of campervan life, she is happy to talk to curious visitors as she feels that this is an ideal way for people to balance work and travel, now that work from home is a possibility in the post-lockdown world.
The van brings a sense of independence and saves a lot of money and time,” she says. It also enriches her life by being a conversation starter. Marielle’s vision is to buy a tempo traveller with solar panels next to make this style of living more sustainable. 
She says it makes for a much simpler life: a dinner of grilled vegetables and the chance to sleep under the stars.

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Printable version | Sep 15, 2022 4:27:30 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/driving-around-india-in-a-colourful-van-meet-marielle-wunderink-from-the-netherlands/article65835796.ece
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