Hi, my name’s Matcha, aka Wild Potato, and I’m travelling with two humans – nobody’s perfect – Anna and Thibault. Born in the French vineyards, south of Lyon, I quickly left my furry siblings to move to Paris where I lived in a cozy apartment close to Canal Saint Martin for three years. While I had a great friend on the 6th floor, unlimited access to Pigeon Channel, a decent amount of organic cat food – not my favorite, but being a hipster has a price – and vacations in the South of France every summer, the crazy humans decided to pack everything and move to South America to live in a campervan!
Even though, everybody told them that bringing me along would be a disaster, that I’ll end up as stray dogs’ food – wait, what? – they were reckless and convinced that they couldn’t live without me and that I probably needed some fresh air too.
First, Anna and Thibault had to get me to the vet – I don’t even want to think about it – to get me a passport, my rabies shot and the usual vaccinations package. Then, they had to find an airline that was willing to take me on board: they picked Iberia since the maximum weight allowed (travel crate included) was 18 kg, and I’m not a skinny one. I think that they put me on a diet the weeks prior to our departure, just to make sure that I wouldn’t be kicked out of the plane, hence my amazing furry bikini body. Eventually, we went back to the vet 10 days before leaving to make sure I had no deadly disease and to fill out an official form to enter Chile.
Up in the air
I took the plane for the very first time –the first one in my family to fly– and I’m not sure I ever want to do this again. I had to pee in a folded cat litter in the humans’ bathrooms, I couldn’t run freely and had to stay in my travel crate for 14 hours. Flying is overrated.
Home new home
Let’s be honest, the first two months were pretty harsh: we moved from Airbnb to Airbnb while Anna and Thibault were looking for our perfect rolling homes. I did scratch a few sofa and curtains, Chilean cat food wasn’t my favorite and I had no idea that there could be so many dogs in one place; but, they found Red Rocket –that’s how they called our home- and we moved in this rad campervan together last June. Our very first spot was on a beach in Arica, I was dreaming about treading on the sand, eyes on the horizon…when they put my harness on to walk me on a leash, could you believe this?
Lucky me, they soon realized that I’m a free spirit and they let me out with only my collar on. The first few days I wouldn’t go too far, always keeping the van in my sight but the more we travel, the more confident I get.
Have you met Georgie?
I forgot to talk to you about my furry friend! Georgie and I are the same age, the only difference is that she’s a dog, and I’m a cat. She lives with Kyle and Jimena, who also travel the Americas, and she comes from Hawai, which is so damn cool.
It took us some time to adapt, she really has a strange way of playing, and we’re more like “friennemies”: I run when she runs after me, she screams when I scratch her nose, I jump when she scares me…the usual.
Since we’ve started our journey, I’ve met a bunch of cats and dogs, a couple of calves – they’re so much fun to play with-, horses –way too big if you ask me-, guanaco, nandu, and so many more funny animals.
I’m not a psychopath
Speaking about animals: birds, lizards, mice, and flies are my favorite preys. I can spend hours hidden in the bush just to catch them and play with them. Yes I know, I kill them too, but I can’t help it. There’s only one thing that bugs me: I cannot bring them back into the van. Anna and Thibault don’t like the idea of having dead animals inside, I don’t really understand why, but I compromise.
My daily routine
I sleep at the feet of my two humans or curled up against them in winter, and I’ve got a big responsibility in the morning: making sure that Thibault gets up and doesn’t go back to sleep while Anna makes breakfast. If we stay at the same spot for 2 days or more, I go out in the morning to do my stuff, come back when I’m hungry, thirsty, when I have a bathroom emergency – I’ll never poop outside, I have some decency- or if I need a hug or two, no judgment.
When my humans call my name I know that I have to get back to the van, but lately, I’ve been a bad boy and I’ve let them wait for a few hours. They even tried to scare me when we were in Chiloe: they started the car, drove for 500 meters and waited for me to chase them…but I know they’re never gonna leave me so I’d rather do my stuff and have my own schedule. That’s why I cannot go out in the morning anymore when we have to drive, I’m kind of grounded. They have a special weapon though: if they slice open a melon, I drop everything and run straight toward them, but don’t tell anyone.
The rest of the day, I take a few naps, play hide and seek with Thibault, explore the neighborhood, climb on trees, kill birds and I come back home around midnight to sleep.
Whenever we’re on the road, I lie down on the bed and watch the landscapes or I just take a nap.
From city life to van life
If you’d ask me what has changed in my life since we’ve left Paris, I’d say everything. Anna and Thibault are way more relaxed, they spend so much time with me –too much sometimes-, I get to live my outdoor dream life, I quit my bland organic cat food diet, I’m fitter and way more agile, I have new friends and so many people take pictures of me, I really think I could be Instagram famous. The downside is that I have to go to the vet way too often: before every border crossing, they take me to a clinic so that I can get a flea drop and a new health certificate. The vets are always impressed with my size and weight, as the average cats in South America are half my size; they’re more like mini- cats.
I forgot to mention the sniffing dogs at the borders, they come into my house with their big smelly bodies, they look for I don’t know what – dogs can be so stupid – and sometimes my humans have to put me in my travel crate so that I don’t attack the dog…or the other way around, I’m not sure.
Overall, van life is super cool! I got used to moving around a lot, I can tell when a stray dog wants to play…or kill me, I feel like they are so many more places to explore. I just hope that when we go back home, we’ll have a big outdoor area for me to roam.