A barber is only a professional, says Marcelly Sauer, from Rio. At 30 years old, she has been on the road to Alaska for five months alongside her faithful squire Stella, a four-year-old beagle dog.
Aboard a 1974 Beetle, she managed to transform the small vehicle into a house on wheels. Asked how the idea came about, she revealed that it was an old desire: “I always dreamed of traveling the world, and I always wanted to have a Beetle. Since I was little, I said that one day I would have one and go out there.”
She is expected to arrive in the northernmost state of the United States in 2025. Giving up comfort is not a problem for her, as she adapted to the nomadic life easily.
A resident of Maricá, a municipality in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, she sold her barbershop in the city for R$20,000 to carry out the project; however, the numerous renovations that the vehicle needed for the adventure consumed practically the entire amount.
To make more space available, all seats were removed, leaving only the driver’s seat, to accommodate the bed, cabinets and a portable stove used outside. On the roof are a solar energy panel and two PVC pipes as a water tank.
To cover all the expenses for the trip that has just begun, she divides herself by cutting her hair where the Beetle is parked and also doing sporadic work in barbershops in the cities where she stops.
Thus, she collects friends, stories and guarantees her livelihood. “I trust my profession. Everywhere there will be someone to cut your hair, that’s why I also wanted a Beetle with autonomy so I could live in it”, she says, currently in Piracicaba, in the interior of São Paulo.
Sauer still doesn’t know when she will leave the city, but emphasizes that until she raises money there, she won’t go to the next route: Goiás. Before that, she plans to buy an awning to make it easier to cook and also get a haircut on busy days. rain. “That’s why I’m working at this barbershop here to save this money, because it costs around R$1,500.”
Exploring the country and, in the future, abroad will not be an easy task. The problems appeared right at the beginning of the trip and served as an ordeal for the girl. On the second day of the journey, for example, the Beetle’s engine caught fire after starting at a gas station on the border of the state of Rio.
“It was desperate, I grabbed Stella and ran away screaming. Then three people came with fire extinguishers, but I didn’t think about giving up”, he says.
The support of her social network followers, albeit in small numbers, combined with haircuts over the course of a week, meant she was able to pay for the mechanical repair, estimated at R$2,000, when she only had R$400 in her pocket.
A few days later, two wheels broke, but she is already finding a way to solve it. “I knew it wouldn’t be smooth,” she says.
In addition to these problems, Sauer also had to deal with people who didn’t look favorably on his livelihood. On one occasion, when he was looking after truck drivers in a gas station parking lot, he heard from a gas station attendant that the owner didn’t want her cutting her hair there; something that made her upset.
Sexist comments are rare, but she remembers a situation in which a customer commented to the barbershop manager: “I wouldn’t care about her, because she’s a woman, but she cuts her ass well.” That didn’t intimidate her. “In smaller cities, people still think a barber is strange, but there are more positive opinions, because she’s a woman, a lesbian and drives a Beetle.”
One of the most common questions since he started the journey has been about his itinerary: the Pan-American route. “It starts in Ushuaia (Argentina) in the extreme south and ends in Alaska, making it the largest in the world.” She then explains: “There are more than 30 thousand km and 14 countries. And it’s spectacular to pass through so many places.”
The project is ambitious, costly and long, but Rio is in no rush. The traveling experience has also served as self-knowledge for the traveler, according to her.
“On the road, your perceptions are different, because each decision influences the next day. Everything is intense, choosing whether to go or stay, where to go, who to trust.” From Goiás, it will head to Tocantins, Maranhão.
Sauer decided to follow a path opposite to most travelers who take on the challenge of living on the road. Instead of motorhomes that replicate a house, she chose a small, old automobile for an extensive route.
Still, the people who cross your path have made this adventure less lonely. “The Beetle and the Stella help me make friends. And wherever I go, people have an affectionate memory with the car.”